Monday, August 5, 2013

Just mending fences.....

Very often in the morning as Beth and I are getting ready to start the day she'll ask, "so what's your day like today?" My answer,..... "mending fences, babe." Often I will give it no more thought or I'll still chuckle inside at the double meaning of it. Having installed over a thousand hidden pet fences now, I spend a lot of time repairing them and such is life in being called by Jesus to never stop mending relational fences. The other day as I gave my pat answer, I got to thinking about Spike, the true author of my response.

     When I was a student at Wake Forest many years ago, there was a gentleman whom we simply knew as Spike. He was a slightly built elderly man well worn by his years who wore a burlap sack around his slumped shoulder and walked the campus each day with a simple stick and spike on one end, thus the nickname. Spike's job was to pick up the trash that we students thoughtlessly discarded anywhere. 
     As he made his way around campus it had become a requirement that when you saw him, you greeted him by yelling, "Hey Spike, how's business?" To which he would dutifully but cheerfully reply, "oh it's pick'in up, boys, it's pick'in up!" We would laugh, he would laugh as he probably had 50 times already that day and we would continue in our opposite directions. We continued on our way with a certain sense of superiority as cocky students headed for law school, med school, or business ownership one day. Picking up trash at age 55 was Spike's sad lot in life.....glad it would never be mine. Humility? It's tough to be humble at 19 nor to be expected when as Wake Forest students we simply knew we were predestined for a better life than Spike. Dear Old Wake Forest, that institution that we paid a lot of money to had told us so, and confirmed to us with each passing class that we were the crème of the crop by our mere acceptance there.
We graduated with diplomas in hand, having successfully made our first installment on becoming the doctors, lawyers and business owners we were simply drawn by greater powers to be. The next installment was reality.
     For those of us led by our superior intelligence to become doctors, that nice new white coat and stethoscope were feeling pretty fine until we were met by, "So, you wanna be a doctor eh? Well, let us show you how to digitally check a man's prostate, there see? you give it a try."....."Hey Doc, how's business?"
     Those of us foreordained since birth to be lawyers went off to law school, where we quickly came to understand that a lot of lawyering basically came down to this;....find a couple of kids butting heads about something. Walk up to whichever one you think has the most to gain and tell him that if he will give you one of his tootsie pops you'll help him win his gripe and get what he wants from the kid he's arguing with. What's more, you tell him there's a good chance you can work it out so the other kid will be so scared that you won't even have to go tell on him to his Dad! .... Hmm... but wait, you mean if I can't find a fight to settle, no tootsie pop?   How's business, counselor?"
     And for me, I went off to run that business. Since my Dad was a music teacher, I realized real quick that if I wanted to run a company, I'd have to start my own. This, I came to know, meant pounding the streets trying to sell something of value to someone at a higher price than what I  paid for it. And once I've sold it, I had better make sure it keeps working to their satisfaction if I want to keep selling it to more people and stay in business. And so now, many of my days are spent walking yards with a spool of wire and a spade over my shoulder, looking for a wire buried in the ground that has been cut. How's business, Mr. CEO? ... "Oh, it's mending fences, Spike, it's mending fences!" and yes, I love it! It is just the job for a Wake Forest graduate.
     So here's to you Spike, Senior WFU facilities sanitation manager. May God rest your soul. You taught me a lesson only realized many years later, that doctoring may just be about loving everyone you meet each day with care, a smile and a joke, in hopes that it just might heal not only the body but a weary soul or maybe change an arrogant one. You taught me that being a good lawyer starts with coming to know that there is a greater justice than what the world can offer and that it begins with love. And that running a business isn't always about the bottom line, but providing something  that makes the world a better place for those you meet along the way. Those are lessons that simply weren't taught by all the Phd's in those Wake Forest classrooms and that all that tuition money just couldn't buy. I wonder what I would have learned if I had only thought to register for Life 201 from Professor Spike, out on the quad..........

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