November 18, 2012
Sunday, 4:00 p.m.
Letter #251: Old Goats and Good Friends
“A goat and a blind horse walk into the forest together …” Sounds like the beginning to a disturbing joke, right? This, of course, is just a rhetorical question, though I have never personally heard a joke that involved a goat. (My apologies to you goat-joke fans, for the letdown.)
Well, according to a recently broadcast documentary, this story is no joke. On a small farm, a goat named Henry and a horse named Charlie became friends—not your standard “hang out after school” friends or “invite you to my party” friends, because most goats and horses drop out of school and thus cannot afford parties. These guys were the kind of friends who just liked each other’s company.
Every day, they would spend time lying in the sun, and then Charlie would lead the way through the forest to a meadow where he liked to eat, while Henry the goat just followed and would nap while his horse friend ate. When done, the two would take the 20-minute trek back through the forest to the farm.
After a few years, Charlie’s eyesight diminished in his left eye, making it difficult for him to navigate the forest as usual. So, his good friend Henry the goat took the lead, walking just in front of Charlie and to his right, so he could still see him.
Soon, however, Charlie’s eyesight gave out altogether, making him completely blind. Hesitant to enter the forest, Charlie needed Henry’s calm encouragement to enter again. He knew he needed to reach the meadow for food, and the daily walk was helping him to stay healthy.
Henry patiently walked in front of his blind friend, and Charlie, listening to the little goat’s footsteps, followed him all the way to their usual hangout place in the meadow. Day after day this continued—for 15 years, until Charlie finally died.
Henry never went back to the meadow, as he had no need to be there. Henry had spent his days leading his friend there to find what his friend needed.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t help but tear up as I saw the evidence of compassion so clearly in this humble creature. The fact is, little Henry the goat reminded me of so many of you.
There are many ways that I can no longer be the type of friend I wish I could be. I can’t be the brother, uncle, or son I wish I could be either. With limited mobility, technology, and resources, I identify in many ways with the complete uselessness of Charlie the horse, often seeing the glaring, vast difference between what others do for me compared with what I’m able to do in return.
I don’t have a full-time job and family to care for like so many of you who still take time to write or jot me an email to encourage me. I don’t have concerns about the economy or my house payment or rent, since I’ll still receive my $5/month with room and board no matter what. Yet, despite the down economy and pressures vying for your time and energies, so many of you pray for me and send me stamps or paper so that I can try to be a good friend.
So, in this season of Thanksgiving, I have much to be grateful for. I’m grateful that God has given me incredible friends and family who care about me (or at least are kind enough to not tell me that, in fact, they don’t care). 🙂 I’m grateful that God has given me this time of not being so independent, so I can learn to lean on Him. He makes sure that I get all that I need—and all I could ever need He has already provided for me through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. So much I don’t deserve from so great a God.
Thank you for being a good friend to me, even though that friendship is so lopsided. The meadow of your kindness is refreshing, you old goat. (Ha! My first goat joke!)