Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My friend James

A few days ago, I talked with a dear old friend.

James played guitar and other instruments with me on the road for 10 years. They were some of the best musical days of my career. Every night, he added so much to the evening. People would come up after the concert and ask all kinds of questions about “how did all of that music come from two people?”

James was tender and gentle. Always gracious and kind.

I’ve lost count of how many years ago we stopped traveling and playing together. But it’s been, probably, another ten years. I tried to stay in touch, called every long once in a while to a phone that I thought was his home, but got no answer. I let it go. We’ve both move far, far along.

But the other night, I got a voicemail and it was James. His voice was the same gentle voice I’d known all those years. He said he was sorry that he’d not been more in touch, that he was sorry to hear of the struggles and troubles of my past 5 years, etc.

I called him the next day because in his message, he mentioned that he was facing some “stuff” of his own. Of course, the mind takes over and starts to write an imaginary script of all the worst things you can think of….illness, failed marriage, death of a family member, accidents, whatever.

His wife answered the phone so that was a good sign and, for the moment, eliminated one looming question. She put him on the phone and we talked for 10 or 15 minutes.

After exchanging pleasantries and apologies for not being more in touch, he asked questions that I answered, followed by mutual expressions of our collective appreciation for fresh definitions of old words. Words like grace and mercy. While “God is good” can, sometimes, come off trite and flippant, it certainly didn’t in the course of this conversation with James.

James told me (and I don’t think he’ll mind me telling you . . . he’s asked for prayer from everyone. Please do!) that he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma three or four weeks ago. He thinks the prognosis is good and that there’s a good chance they’ll be able to beat it.

My breathing stopped for a moment.

This isn’t the first phone conversation I’ve had like this. But you’re never prepared and it’s never easy to know how to respond.

And I find, even as I write these words, I have little if anything, profound or exceptionally spiritual to say. I’m just a little deflated and tired of what happens to this body.

I’ve felt bad this whole year. But my stuff is minor compared to this. My stuff is done and fixed and I’m thankful every moment of every single day.

I’m concerned for James and praying for James and his wife. But as in all things, I know and am more convinced than ever that we just don’t know everything that God is up to.

He is a Mystery and will always be. Faith requires that we trust what we cannot see or understand. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be faith at all.

Whatever you’re facing today. Trust God with the unknown and the unknowable. Smile in the face of Mystery and enjoy the fact that so much of all of this is out of our hands – and safely in the Palm of His.

Wayne Watson
October 7, 2009


Anonymous said...

I'd seen you in concert many times with James by your side, and you two always seemed to so enjoy each other and playing music/worshiping God together. And that boy could play.

There seems to be a lot of those hard times (reminds me of a song....) going on lately. Same with me. But I just continue to audibly confess Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." No magic, formulaic stuff, but just to remind myself and bear witness to others that I love God and that I know I've been called according to His purpose. And also to reaffirm that I don't need to be able to understand the "Why"s in this life. If He is who Scripture says He is and I say I believe He is, then He's in control, completely.

May the Lord Jesus be glorified in James' life, and in your life, Wayne.


Harriet said...

Hi James - We can't tell you in words how much your friendship, your talent and support have meant to us over the years. We miss you so much and have often said, "Wish James and Bill Pickup were there - those were the good old days" on our way to a concert and they were. I always referred to you guys as Tonto (you) and the Lone Ranger (Wayne).So many good times we had together-the Mum Festival in Ohio where somehow you put a sound system together I think it was Bill's first time as Road Mgr. and Wayne kept telling "Billy" to turn it up, and he was in rare form - he yelled out to the crowd "funnel cakes for everyonee" and "take a ride on that dragon" - then in Wheaton where the mishap happened with the stool (I won't say anything more), the time we had lunch all together at a Thai restaurant in Chicago and you got something so hot it made your face go red. Then I remember the last concert you played in Red Wing, MN - we had to be there for that at the gothic theatre in downtown Red Wing. And then saying goodbye the next day after church, we cried. It was to be our last time to see one another.

I miss those times and we haven't heard much from you since. That has hurt the most but we try to understand how this felt for you.

I'm so sorry to hear that you have cancer. Four years ago in November I found out I had Stage III breast cancer. It's been a long battle and as much as I try to handle it, there are times when I don't. Right now I've been cancer free for the 4 years since my double mastectomy (praise God) and because Dave had his own business, he went with me to every chemo, every radiation treatment, I couldn't ask for more from someone and thank God He was there for me and Dave was there also.

I'd love to hear from you - I have someone who is desperately looking for you - he wrote me by email and then sent a letter to our house.

I don't know if you want me to send that on but I'd love to hear from you. I'll need an email address.

We'll be praying for you, our friend. We really have missed you.


Dave and Harriet