Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors and speakers, talks a lot about his friend Paul Sheldon and the role he has played in his life.
Brennan is a recovering alcoholic, former priest, and all-around ragamuffin (his words, not mine).
In a talk he gave a while back, Brennan talked about how a friend is someone who stands with you in the bad weather of life and that Paul Sheldon is that kind of friend.
I am paraphrasing here, but here is the story that Brennan recalls:
“Back in 1973 when I was an alcoholic, a drunken bum in the gutter for 18 months, I was in Ft Lauderdale FL… alone… on the street.
I had lost everything… my friends, my family — so much shame…
My closest male friend at the time was Paul Sheldon. And Paul flew every two weeks at his own expense from Mobile, Alabama to Florida and sat with me on the curb in the gutter with me…
He put his arm around me… he didn’t give me any lectures, he didn’t give me any ultimatums… just put his arm around me and and said ‘Brennan I love you’ and ‘You’re going to be oK…”
Twice a month for 18 months he did that… just sitting with me, buying me some breakfast, just holding my hand — and for me, Paul Sheldon was the human face of Jesus Christ.
You are never more like Jesus, than when you are choked with compassion for people…”
Here’s to praying that everyone would have a Paul Sheldon in their lives! Amen.