Sometimes it's the little things you remember about a person that speak volumes about their character and personality.
Fifteen years ago, in another lifetime, I was walking down a busy street on a very narrow shoulder with a good friend of mine, Andy, the afore-mentioned "Improbable Bostonian". He made a point of making sure I walked on the inside, near the grass, while he took the more dangerous position on the left. I asked him about this gallant gesture and he replied that his mother told him that a guy ("a gentleman") always puts a girl, "a lady" as his mother put it, on the right when walking on a street.
I could tell several things from this one exchange. One, he listened to his mother and put into practice the things she taught him. Two, he put my safety ahead of his own. Three, this was not merely a gesture but habit. And four, it was one of the rare glimpses of his serious side.
It was one of those small moments when reality is cracked wide open and we see ourselves as cared for, companioned, given hospitality, and we are humbled by it. It doesn't take as much as we think it should to make a difference in someone else's life. A kind word, a touch, an apology or the acceptance thereof, a smile, a hug--all these can become habit when we practice them often enough.
And before I existentially ooze all over the place, Andy is also one of the few persons I can be totally irreverent with and not have to listen to the refrain, "But you're a minister!!!" It's important to have friends who knew you before you became you. He's also one of the few with whom I can wax lyrical about "Star Trek" and all its incarnations without rolling his eyes or letting them glaze over. He's been able to become a grown-up without losing his sense of humor nor the ability to let lose and have fun; in fact, it's become more acute over the years (if you haven't been to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, one that Andy directed me to, it is a must, especially if you like Monty Python). Besides all that, he's one of the two or three who actually reads this blog! A true test of friendship if ever there was one.
Live long and prosper, my friend.
(Andy: two points if you can name the movie from whence came the title for this blog entry!)