The Side of the Road

She stands there, broken.
Gone to pieces.

We think the words mean that someone has lost control of their emotions, but they do have a double meaning. Both meanings fit my friend standing here today.  I call her my friend, but for all the time I have known who she is, I have never really known her.

Yet here she is, weeping as if she will never stop.  She may not–not inside anyway.  I talk with her and wipe away my own tears which well up without my permission.  The moment passes and she gains control, enough that we can take care of the business she came for.  But, once more before she leaves, the emotions pour out unchecked.  Through her sobs, she apologizes. I stutter out that we will pray, and she is gone.

Broken.  Gone to pieces.

And, I can’t fix her.  She may never be whole again.  Like Humpty Dumpty in the old children’s rhyme, she has fallen from her solid perch and been shattered, with no chance of human intervention which will undo the hurt that has been done.  Broken.

Funny.  Mere moments before, another woman stood in that very same spot, and I laughed with her as she described her little boy and his broken arm.  Yes, we laughed.  The boy has moved from the pain of the newly broken limb to the realization that he has a weapon with which to defend himself from his siblings.  And, he is using it.  Broken, but mending.  And, we laughed at the mental picture.

Just yesterday at lunch, I called the Lovely Lady’s attention to another poem in my little treasure book.

“That…” I said, pointing out a rather lengthy poem, “That describes exactly who I would like to be.”

The poem was one I had read in the dim dark past, but had forgotten, now rediscovering it just days ago.  It touched a sympathetic chord that resonates deep inside of me.

She read the whole thing.  Nodding her head in agreement, she quietly handed the little volume back to me.  We went on about our business, as if nothing had changed.  Perhaps, it hasn’t.

But today, I rejoiced with a traveler who was rejoicing in healing, and I wept with one who was moaning in the agony of loss.  Perhaps, as I say, nothing has changed.  Then again, perhaps it has.

I won’t repent of my resolve, but will do my best to live and serve here, by the side of the road.  I’m not an adventurer, nor a hermit.  I’m not even a world-traveler, but I find myself coming into contact with just such people almost daily.  There may yet be a way in which I can serve.

Our Savior was a friend of sinners.

Perhaps, I can be a friend to man, as well.

The House By the Side of the Road

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
     In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
     In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
     Where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road
     And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
     Where the race of men go by,
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
     As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
     Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
     And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
     By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
     The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears,
     Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
     And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
     And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
     And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
     And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
     Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
     Where the race of men go by;
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
     Wise, foolish–so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
     Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
     And be a friend to man.

(Sam Walter Foss~American poet~1858-1911)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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