I talked to an old friend for the first time since I was a young teen. He was black and lived on an adjacent street. I used to sit behind him on his bike with the banana seat as we pedaled to the corner store for a bag of chips and a soda. I was probably one the first white boys in my mostly Methodist town to sport a full Afro. My friend taught me to carry a giant comb to keep my hair huge and fluffy like his.
As we spoke of old friends, he said Tommy died at 42 from an overdose, Billy drank himself to death, and Gary shot himself. He also told me I used to read the Bible a lot and one time I placed my schoolbooks across a railroad track and explained that the books represented a bridge. As we puffed on cigarettes I placed a small Bible in the middle of the bridge and somehow convinced him the only way to cross it was through Jesus.
He told me he remembered my “parable” throughout his life and it saved him from the same fate as our friends.
Although my search for truth has taken many turns since then, I do remember that moment on the train tracks. The lesson to be learned is that whatever you do or say now can have such a lasting impact on someone’s life.
That is profound.