A little Halloween blogging cheer on a PERFECT Halloween day in Southern California, that time of year when summer splashes us for a few final days.
I’m going well off the “writing about writing” grid today with a blog that woke up inside me this morning, and I feel compelled to share.
To start, I’m not a big fan of Facebook, mainly because of how increasingly intrusive on our lives it has become (not to mention the free shipping of data to the NSA and government). I use it because it’s required for work, and sometimes, for photos and personal messages. However, in the past 24 hours, I’ve been privileged to watch Facebook work at its finest.
A long-time friend of mine, Len O’Bryant, is fighting for his life with cancer. He’s carried on this fight for a couple of years with incredible courage and determination. Now he faces his most daunting challenge, as treatments thus far have not stopped the spread.
I met Len in the mid-1980s, when I was going through very tough times – basically learning the hard way how to make good life choices. A music minister with a wonderful tenor voice, he and his beautiful wife, Vickie, befriended me, counseled me, had me over for dinner quite a few times, and did a great deal to make me spiritually and emotionally strong again. You know how the ideal people show up right when we need them, and no matter what else happens later, they remain entrenched in our hearts forever? That’s how I feel about Len.
The five years that followed were among the very best in my life. And it’s been a nice ride through my writing career since. I’ve told Len before how directly impactful his friendship and mentoring were, but he’s so humble he simply thanked God and did what he does best – pay the compliment forward by lending a helping word or hand to many, many others. With his trademark combo of a wall-to-wall smile and well-chosen words. That’s what great ministers do.
A little more than ten years ago, Vickie died of cancer. Now Len faces the battle that she and so many have endured, many surviving, many not – including both of my parents. Fortunately, he found love again, and his wife Brenda is right there to fight the fight with him. Len loves life so much that he would never consider otherwise.
Back to Facebook. Yesterday, Len posted his status – that the cancer has spread and treatment options are running low. He asked for prayers, which I know was hard for him to do: he’s a giver. Not a requester. Boom! His site flooded with more than 150 messages. I reposted his message on my site, and many of my friends turned out, too.
Then I thought about it … all the personal life stories, backgrounds, locations, spiritual journeys and affiliations, posted on the two walls (and I’m sure others copied his status to their walls, too). With everyone praying for this man. So were people in many churches. Tara Clements, whose son Noah I coached for three years in cross-country, was thrilled to see my post because Len’s name popped up on a prayer list at her church in Morganfield, Kentucky – Len’s old church. The church where I met him. Tara wrote how great of a minister Len was to she and her friends.
This mighty prayer chain mushroomed into all corners because of a single post on Facebook by a man who has the gift of touching and inspiring people’s lives, and helping them see joy and hope no matter what they’re facing. So no matter what else I feel about Facebook, or how much I growl about it from time to time, for these last 24 hours, I have watched the site make it possible for my friend to get his due – the tribute of love, prayers, support and admiration of those whose lives he has made better by his presence in it.
If anyone’s going to beat this, Len, you are. With a global flotilla of prayers carrying you over these rough waters.