It is written: Who is mighty? He who turns an enemy into a friend.
Not by flattery. Insincerity gives the lie to good intentions.
Not by silver coin. Who can be bought once can be bought twice.
Not by promises one cannot keep. Nor by bestowing favors one will not repeat.
But by extending a hand in friendship, with motives pure and undemanding.
By listening to grievance and paying heed.
By being forgiving, even if not forgetting.
O Lord, mighty is the enemy, mightier still is the friend, but mightiest of all is the enemy who becomes the friend.
“Motives pure and undemanding” exemplifies two meals Rich and I shared last week. Neither one was originally script to be memorable, but they left indelible impressions not for the excellence of the food, but the people who played roles.
The first meal was a dinner last Monday night with Rich’s sister, Georgene and her boyfriend, Pat. They’d met in their teens when they both worked at a McDonald’s in Anaheim, California. I don’t know how long they stayed together, but for they took separate paths as adults, marrying, having children, engaging in careers, divorcing, and reconnecting a dozen or so years ago.
In January, Rich had lunch with Georgene and their brother, Ralph having not seen her for over ten years, and speaking infrequently by phone or via email. I hadn’t seen her since around 2003, and had met Pat briefly in the same timeframe.
On Monday evening, we drove to the Red Hook Brewery for dinner. Shortly after we’d arrived, Pat shared that in his early twenties, he went to dinner with his boss who paid for the meal. The occasion made a huge impression on him. Afterwards, he resolved to make enough money to be able to afford to take people to dinner and pay for his meals. He concluded by saying that’s what he truly wanted to achieve in life.
His story was fleetingly acknowledged before he launched into another subject. Like a notch in a wheel, throughout the evening, my mind kept wandering back to what he’d said. When we returned home, I commented to Rich about Pat’s life objective to earn enough money to treat people to dinner. Rich was equally enthralled with Pat’s selflessly, generosity, and benevolence.
Many people, who yearn to earn lots of money, imagine spending it on travel, houses, cars, and other material items. Pat, however, sees money not as a way to get “more stuff,” but share with others. What makes his life objective even more astonishing is that Pat is extremely successful. His business has branches around the world!
Our second memorable meal of the week took place on Saturday morning. Whenever there are coupons for McDonald’s, Denny’s or other national chain, which arrive in the mail or newspaper inserts, Rich skededabbles to an apartment complex within walking distance of our Kirkland house. He shuffles through the trashcan by the complex’s mailboxes where resident chuck the mail they don’t want… including “valuable” coupons.
Most of the coupons we leave on the “free” table where I work, or give to other people. On Saturday, morning, with coupon in hand, we had breakfast at Denny’s. After ordering, Rich walked around giving coupons to other diners, including a family with two kids.
Towards the end of our meal, the father approached our table, thanking us for giving him the coupon. I replied that it was our pleasure. Then the man said he paid for our meal.
Rich and I were speechless.
Twice last week, we experiences “motives pure and undemanding” and the true meaning of friendship and goodwill.