FRIEND

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The sound of distant chimes is probably the best way to describe the melody that is played. When the ice starts going out on a river, the song may be loud and boisterous. Certainly many describe it as a roar; however, when around a pond or lake, there is a different song. Each morning there may be a new sheet of ice that reappeared when the night time lows fall below freezing and the daytime highs are attempting to vanquish the frozen, rock hard reminder of winter. I prefer the soft jingle, or perhaps one may say it is the “aquaorchestra” that is playing for the morning sun in the gentle breeze.

Oh, I am not claiming to have listened to this music for a lifetime, but I do remember when I started to lend an ear. I remember the spring well. And my friend helped me realize the beauty and freshness of the song. As we walked the shoreline, I must say that his fervor for life was helping me to overcome the enduring and nagging pain of death.

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His senses and exuberance for the song and setting amused me. I walked much slower than he; nevertheless, the melody awakened my spirit and the melancholy was replaced by an attitude of appreciation.

My reaction to the hushed rippling of the waves, with the exception of the ice song, never did come to the same level as his. My friend would literally chase the waves, racing the foam and the ice, seemingly desiring more than just the relaxing music. I laughed inside at first and then aloud, as he would nip at the next incoming wave, catching it in satisfaction and not being the least bothered that his face was all wet.

Shep was an amazing friend. Oh, did I not mention that my friend was a dog?

My mistake…

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Shep was a beautiful English Collie. He was an adult when we acquired him, but we did give him a name that was preferred by us.

Shep. Sort of an ordinary name for a dog, I realize. The name is not as common now as it once was. But for me at the time, it was the perfect name. We had another dog named Shep when I was a young boy. He was a Norwegian Elkhound (mostly). He was brown in color with the characteristic curly tail. I shared him with my brothers, Lyle and Lee. Oh, I suppose Dad and Mom enjoyed him as well and perhaps my sister did, too. But, I always figured he was sort of “us boys'” dog.

So this English Collie received the name Shep as well. But in those days of walking the water’s edge, it was sort of him and me. I know Lana liked him, but she was still in school, and I am sure my brothers would have liked him…
But Lyle and Lee were not available to walk that shoreline with me in those days.

Lyle and Lee had finished their walk on earth. And it was here at this body of water that they stepped into glory with Jesus, just a few years earlier.

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I cannot say that I was pondering that moment of death while I was listening to the song of the ice crystals. I do know that my life on this earth has never been the same. I also know the value of someone to walk with in the days following life altering events. I also know that it takes someone special to help one to hear the music as life goes on.

I am so grateful for Someone else that has walked with me continually through this life. Jesus has never let me down and I know that He has helped me be aware of His presence in each day and the hope of each new tomorrow.

My friend Shep continued to encourage not only me, but other family members as well. One day, a magazine salesman came to the ranch. He was the kind that would not take no for an answer. As he finally left in a certain amount of carelessness, his vehicle hit my friend. The salesperson never even stopped. Perhaps he did it out of innocence. I talked to my friend and assessed his situation…His leg and foot were crushed. It was not good. That would be my friend’s last day.

My heart was broken and I was angry. I never saw the salesperson again, which was probably for the best.

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Over the last days of spring thaw, I have been hearing the song that Shep and I so enjoyed, and I have been reminded of my Friend Who has always been with me when others slip away into eternity. Perhaps the melody of the ice crystals would blend well with the old hymn…

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

The Hymn "What a Friend" written by Joseph Scriven.

Larry ReinholdComment