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On the Corner

BY ROBERT DOCTER – 

Woody and Buzz Lightyear place their lives in serious jeopardy on behalf of others as they struggle courageously through the plots of Toy Story 1 and 2. Each rescues the other from certain calamity ­ even destruction. Often, they turn their joint effort to those around them ­ Bo-Peep, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky the dog, Sergeant. They seem able to do this because of the confidence they feel in the other. Villains seem particularly ugly. Circumstances are always risky. Danger lurks around every corner. But Buzz and Woody are up to the task. They’ve got each other.

Randy Newman wrote this great song that he sings in the manner that only he can produce. It’s about friendship. He sings it as the story line depicts the relationship between Buzz and Woody.

You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead,
And you’re miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said,
Boy, you’ve got a friend in me
Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me.

Great lines echo through the verses:

You got troubles,
And I got them too
There isn’t anything
I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together, we can see it through,
Cause you’ve got a friend in me.
And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die …
You’ve got a friend in me.

I have friends like that in my life ­ friends who are always beside me even when they have just finished exploring with me a recent choice needing to be examined. There’s a closeness that has a spiritual component. It speaks with words like “love” and “brotherhood.”

It does not demand close physical proximity ­ it’s just always there. We mutually assume longevity. It won’t wear thin over time. There’s reciprocity ­ giving to each other equally. There is no assumption of debt — no expectation of payback. No retreat from mutuality. No embarrassment in receiving. No reluctance in giving.

Eugene Peterson, in his beautiful book on the life and times of David, Leaping over a Wall, explored the relationship of David with Jonathan and found within it characteristics described by Martin Buber, a great Jewish man of God. Buber said: “The greatest thing any person can do for another is to confirm the deepest thing in him or in her ­ to take the time and have the discernment to see what’s most deeply there, most fully that person, and then confirm it by recognizing and encouraging it.”

Peterson then observes: “Each of us has dealings with hundreds of people who the moment they set eyes on us begin calculating what use we can be to them, what they can get from us. (They) slot us into a category so that they won’t have top deal with us as persons … and if we have constant association with them, we become less.

And then someone enters our life who isn’t looking for someone to use, is leisurely enough to find out what’s really going on in us, is secure enough not to exploit our weaknesses or attack our strengths, recognizes our inner life and understands the difficulty of living out our inner convictions, confirms what’s deepest within us.

A friend.

Like you ­ I’ve met all kinds. I’m wealthy in that a few of them are Jonathans.

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