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I wish for you the kind of good friends I have!Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at 8:58 AM
It was March 28, 2011. That Monday was my day to fly to Phoenix for a conference, leaving Indianapolis at 3:10 p.m. Friends in a study group to which I've belonged since 1996 were meeting for lunch and at noon I joined them at the Greenwood Ryan's Buffet. I walked out of the restaurant at 1 p.m. knowing that I had just enough time to park my vehicle, go through security, and make my flight.
Only my front passenger window was shattered with glass spread everywhere. My vehicle had been burglarized in what the police called a snatch and grab.
Dazed and confused I walked back into the Ryan's, rejoined my friends, and said "I've just been robbed. Help!"
Here's the thing about friends. They don't wait for a plan of action to follow. They simply respond.
Six people immediately got up from the table and ushered me back to the parking lot. One had a vacuum cleaner in his trunk that suctioned glass; he started sweeping up the mess. Another had brooms in the back of his van; he started cleaning up the area so that my vehicle and other vehicles wouldn't have to drive over all the glass. Another called the police on her cell phone only to discover they wouldn't come to the scene; I would have to call in a report later on. Another began an inventory of what was left in the vehicle; we came to realize that only my briefcase had been taken. Another loaded my luggage into her van and announced she was taking me to the airport. Another declared that my vehicle would be parked safely in her condo's garage until I returned from my trip.
Here's the thing about friends. They wouldn't accept my protests. They knew how important my trip to Phoenix would be.
They took over my life and made everything right. Or at least as good as it might be given the situation ...
Sometimes the universe surprises us with things just not logical by our reasoning. My briefcase held few valuables except for my checkbooks, my calendar, and many irreplaceable mementoes of my late parents (like photos, etc). On the passenger seat, untouched by the thief (thieves), was an open carrying case with my plane tickets, cash, and other valuables that could be clearly seen if they had only looked. My camera was in plain view and wasn't touched. Stereo equipment and CDs were covered in glass but unharmed as well as my luggage and other valuable items all in plain sight. The thief (thieves) saw a briefcase that must have slid under my dashboard while I had applied brakes. They thought that was most valuable because it looked hidden. And while I wished it had never happened I've come away from this experience much wiser. I've learned that our good folks at the local PNC Bank would go out of their way to work with me and protect me. I've learned that several in my congregation and community offered to help me even if it meant wiring money to Phoenix so that I could eat.
And most importantly, I've learned that our friends somehow have all the right "supplies" at just the right time when all we can do is be dazed and confused and yell for help.
Remember that the next time you see family and friends gathered at the hospital emergency room trying to offer what help they can. Remember that the next time you pass a waiting ambulance that's surrounded by friends and strangers who are assisting the injured any way they can. Remember that the next time you see volunteer workers building a ramp or putting on a roof or painting a home for people who thought they no longer had friends.
I wish for you the kind of good friends I have!
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.