Tag Archives: friendship

“The Little Things”

“The Little Things”

Wayno Guerrini

October 14, 2009

Steve N. (crica 1977)
(Steve N. Circa 1977)

Is it possible to measure a man by things he did in his youth?

I am re-acquainting myself with someone who is definitely an “Old Friend” after several decades.

This person, while on the sideline of my life for years, made profound influences. Not by doing something great, wonderful, or earth shaking. It was in the tiniest, most fragile of things, we often find memories which remain as indelible as ink.

I met Steve while I was working with the Federal Aviation Administration in Palmdale. Not unlike my present surroundings here in Tucson, the Antelope Valley in California is also a desert environment.

The things that I remember most about Steve, were his un-yielding smile and enthusiasm, attention to God, and prayer. He always had a smile on his face, rarely a frown, and a kind word on his lips. Steve was neighbourly. He was also, quite humble.

Steve seemed to have three passions: A love for the outdoors (especially climbing), painting, and tea.

I have shared in all of these passions.

The only time I’ve ever been rock climbing was with Steve at a place called “The Devil’s Punchbowl.” While I nearly passed out from exhaustion, Steve was able to get me to safety, and I survived to tell the tale. I still have a rope burn scar on my right hand. A reminder of the incident.

I remember hiking through the Yosemite Valley with Steve and some friends. Hours of what seemed like arduous and tedious driving. Made worth it in the first few moments upon seeing one of the natural wonders of the world.

Steve’s passion for life, drove me into a life long involvement of doing Youth Ministry. (outcastpress.org and a Facebook group I help moderate: Christian Goths) I have always worked with kids. Steve was far from being a kid at the time, but that impish grin of his sometimes betrayed his appearance.

Steve’s second passion is painting. I never knew if Steve would become a successful artist, but he showed remarkable talent. I’ve been fortunate in having one of Steve’s early paintings, adorn the living room of every place I’ve lived for over three decades now.

A daily reminder of my youth, and time well spent with an “old friend.”

But in the most humblest of offerings, Steve’s true nature was born.

Tea. Steve had what I surmised, to be the largest collection of loose Tea. We’re not talking “Lipton” here.

The very first time I’d ever heard of “Earl Grey Tea” — was not someone saying: “Tea! Earl Grey! Hot!” Rather it was Steve saying: “You ought to try this!” And so with care, he brewed a couple of cups. We sat and talked, and I enjoyed my first cup of “real tea.” Ahh. The little things. The one’s that you never forget.

To this day, when I have a cup of tea, I am always reminded of Steve’s humble circumstances, and this precious gift.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41 NIV)

And so it goes…..


Purposes in Life

Simple question really. Why are we here? Have you ever thought of that? What is my purpose in life? Why am I on this rotating ball of boredom? The answers may surprise you.

I had made acquaintance with Mike Williams eons ago. I never really knew him well, but he stood out in a crowd, with a long mop of red hair. I guess it must have been the Irish in him.

Mike was a singer in a Christian Band. And he was good at it. Kids from all walks of life, would gather to hear his story. He would tell them stories from the Bible, and of his friend Jesus.

One day, I found out Mike had AIDS. How he acquired it, is of no concern. That he had a deadly disease, is what mattered.

Some of the other members of his band were going to drive out to Tucson from San Diego to meet with him. Since I wrote for a Christian Heavy Metal Magazine at the time, (“Gospel Metal” aka Keith Day), I was invited to tag along.

I asked Judd flatly: “Aren’t you afraid of getting AIDS?” “Well” I said, “I sure am. I am not sure this is a wise idea.” Judd said: “No, I’m not afraid.”

“Why aren’t you afraid Judd?” I queried. He said, “Because I know that God will protect me.” Ahh a 23 year old guy had just taught a 43 year old guy, a valuable lesson. But this would not be the last lesson learned on this sojourn to the Sonaran Desert.

As we approached Tucson, I said to Judd, “What do we do now? I don’t know how to treat Mike, I don’t know what to say.” And about one million other excuses seemed to exude from my tongue.

I watched Judd closely. I had a strange feeling God would use him again, to teach me. I just had to be open to God using anyone in my life, even if that person was younger and less “experienced.”

When we arrived, the door to the trailer flew open. There was Mike, with that long mop of Red Hair. Well, at least that didn’t change. But, what do I do? Do I shun this guy as a modern day leper, or do I welcome him as a brother in Christ?

Ahh the next move was Judd’s. Judd embraced him warmly, and nearly hugged the stuffings out of him. I had to make a split second decision? What was I going to do? Maintain a “safe” distance, or greet him as a brother?

I watched what the 23 year old kid did. He didn’t judge. He was just glad to be with his friend. Then I remembered what Judd had said earlier: “I’m not afraid, because God will protect me.” I turned to Mike, and warmly embraced him.

In that instant, God transformed me. From being a cowardly lion, to a person of compassion and mercy. It is one thing to see death, but to see Mike, whose body was literally wasting away, was quite a shock. This sure didn’t look like the normal healthy person I knew from a year ago. He looked emaciated. Ahh but do we “judge books by cover, or by
content?” as Martin Luther King so aptly said.

I decided to judge not by what I saw. It was revolting. In that instant, I saw Mike as a brother. One deserving of my love and compassion.

I was not finished with Mike. About 4 months later, I drove back out to Tucson. This time to say “goodbye” as he was suffering so. I asked him, “What can I do, to help you?” His answer surprised me. “You’ve got a car, right?” “Yes,” I said. “Let’s go see a movie.” “What? do youwant to go to a movie? Okay, but you’re buying the popcorn!” So we got in my car, and drove around Tucson, for awhile, and arrived at the theater.

“What movie do you want to see, Mike?” “Tom and Huck (1995)” was the reply. So we watched the movie. I spent more time watching Mike then the movie. He enjoyed just getting out, and doing “normal” things. I was glad I was able to distract him for a few moments, from all the suffering I knew he was experiencing.

When we returned, I asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” “Yes” he said. Please massage my feet with some of that olive oil over there. I was quite humbled, and crying inside, as I massaged his bony feet. That image has never left me.

The last night I was with Mike, I said, “Mike, I want to ask you a very hard question. It is hard for me to even ask this question. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

“I’ve seen you suffering with this affliction, and there is nothing I or medical science can do to alleviate your condition. You WILL die. Mike, what has stopped you from putting a gun to your head, and ending it all? The words just spilled out of my mouth. I gasped. I thought, “Oh my God, what did I just say to him?”

Without hesitation, Mike said, “Because I know that God will heal me. Either in this life, or the next.” Mike found the ultimate healing a few weeks later. I had learned yet another valuable life lesson.

I have faced many adversities in my life. I am facing one not unlike Mike’s. I don’t have AIDS, but I do have a life threatening condition. “Lord” I’ve prayed. “Mike never gave up on you. My faith is wavering. All I want from you is to emerge from all this with my faith intact, just like Mike showed me.”

God answered the question, of why I am here in these scriptures:

2 Cor 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. NIV

That’s why we’re here. To show God’s love and compassion, to any of those God brings into our life.

E. Paul Ryan —
August 29, 2007