“Dearest Friend,” wrote Abigail Adams on sheet after sheet of stationery in letters to a husband long-absent, too-often away on decks of swaying ships or in stifling Parisian apartments. “Dearest Friend ,” to a man too-much away to be well-known to her. Or was he? Do words perhaps say more sometimes than the expressions of the face and the gestures of the animated hands?
I have a friend coming to see me this week whom I’ve never met before. We’ve exchanged photographs but never seen one another’s real faces in real life and real time in six years of talking. In a whole lot of ways, though, I know her better than so many of the people I more literally live among. Because we have a camaraderie based on words. And so those mighty things, those earth-shattering thoughts, those holy and fragile things that must be said in words and which most of us can’t bring ourselves to say — we’ve said. Words were all we had.
We who are Christ-followers have been called a people of the book. More significantly though, we are the people of the Word. For the Word was words on pages for so many ages. Then the Word became flesh. And we got the best of everything.
I write a kind of letter to One who is all-seeing and Who already knows. And I call Him Dearest Friend because despite the distance and the silence and the waiting, He is.
The Black Berry—wears a Thorn in his side—
But no Man heard Him cry—
He offers His Berry, just the same
To Partridge—and to Boy—
He sometimes holds upon the Fence—
Or struggles to a Tree—
Or clasps a Rock, with both His Hands—
But not for Sympathy—
We—tell a Hurt—to cool it—
This Mourner—to the Sky
A little further reaches—instead—
Brave Black Berry—
“I mean that we here are on the wrong side of the tapestry. The things that happen here do not seem to mean anything; they mean something somewhere else. Somewhere else retribution will come on the real offender. Here it often seems to fall on the wrong person.”
(G.K. Chesterton, The Sins of Prince Saradine)