Saturday, June 24, 2006

My Brother's Birthday

Although I never had the experience of growing up with a brother, I met one just a little over 20 years ago. He became my brother-in-law (we married sisters) Kerry and he is celebrating his 45th birthday today. Over the years, Kerry and I have walked many roads together and it was and is still comforting to have the company of my brother, whether it be in person, as it has been many times, or to hear that familiar voice on the other end of the phone.

Today, on his birthday, I'd like to pay tribute to Kerry with a couple of poems that remind me of him and of the quality of our friendship. And then finally, I want to share a couple of letters between two men, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who in their old age had been close friends for some 50 years. It's my wish that our "brotherhood" will last as long as we do and that it will bear God's good fruit for our generations.

A Time To Talk

by Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, "What is it?"
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

The Busy Man

Author Unknown

If you want to get a favor done
by some obliging friend,
And want a promise, safe and sure,
On which you may depend,
Don't go to him who always has
Much leisure time to plan,
But if you want your favor done,
Just ask the busy man.

The man with leisure never has
A moment he can spare,
He's always "putting off" until
His friends are in despair.
But he whose every waking hour
Is crowded full of work
Forgets the art of wasting time,
He cannot stop to shirk.

So, when you want a favor done,
And want it right away,
Go to the man who constantly
Works twenty hours a day.
He'll find a moment, sure, somewhere,
That has no other use.
And help you while the idle man
Is framing an excuse.

From Thomas Jefferson (some four months before his death) to James Madison

The friendship which has subsisted between us now half a century and the harmony of our political principals and pursuits have been sources of constant happiness to me through that long period. It has also been a great solace to me to believe that you are engaged in vindicating to posterity the course we have pursued for preserving to them in all their purity, the blessings of self-government, which we had assisted in acquiring for them. If the earth has beheld a system of administration conducted with a single and steadfast eye, with a general interest and happiness of those committed to it, one which protected by truth can never know reproach, it is that to which our lives have been devoted. To myself, you have been a pillar of support through life. Take care of me when dead and be assured that I shall leave you with my last affections.

A Week Later Madison Replied...

You cannot look back to the long period of our private friendship and political harmony with more affecting recollections than I do. If they are a source of pleasure to you, what ought they not to be to me? We cannot be deprived of the happy consciousness of the pure devotion to the public good with which we discharged the trust committed to us. And I indulge a confidence that sufficient evidence will find it's way to another generation to insure, after we are gone, whatever of justice may be withheld whilst we are here.

Cheers And Happy Birthday Kerry, May You Have At Least 45 More!

Your Brother and Friend,


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