I’m stepping along a cracked and randomly tilted sidewalk enjoying the sycamores that stretch to form a green lush canopy atop smooth white trunks. The leaves are swooshing and whooshing in the sharp north wind that knocks down blackened twigs crunching under my feet. I’m thinking about the importance of Touchstone people in my life. I pray you have known them in your life, the people you trust your heart to, the ones who don’t go away. I’ve been blessed, I’ve always known who mine are. Those people who see the best in me when acquaintances are buttoning their coats to take their leave. Touchstones tell you your truth when the mirror lies.
Some of my Touchstones have died. Two died young, one died well mature – but each too young, all taken by cancer. I miss them. Their unique wisdom, their honesty, and their deep faith in me kept me from searching for guidance or acceptance in life.
I pass a poorly dressed man with a bicycle. He is searching in blue and green trash cans. I guess at what he’s looking for. Maybe its bottles to recycle or food discarded from bountiful tables. He stops when he sees me, he straightens his bicycle to a dignified angle and he comments to me pleasantly about the day. He shares his appreciation for the beautiful cool that has overcome the previous day’s heat. I smile and agree with him then walk on. That man knows about heat. He has an intimate appreciation for the cool moving air of this day. I wonder if he ever had a Touchstone in his life, or if he has one now. I wonder if the lack of one led him to that green plastic trash can in the land of plenty.
Some of my Touchstones share life with me now thank goodness. Others are yet to come into view and I’m comforted by my certainty of it. They may not know who they are, but I’ll know them when they appear. Touchstones represent an unmistakable truth, they are evidence in my life that God loves me.
I hope my Touchstones know who they are. I don’t write emails to them addressing them as “Dear Touchstone”. I’m ashamed to say that I am hesitant about describing people’s meaning in my life.
A four story office building is being built on a corner. Bare angled steel criss-crosses skyward forming a skeleton that heavy glass will encase. My Touchstones can see steel beneath my veneer and unpolished façade. They see empty spaces hidden deeply from view. They long to see them filled with people and meaning and love.
An unseen dog behind a decaying redwood fence barks fiercely as I pass. A tiger-striped cat crouches down on a narrow lawn, its green eyes assess my passing. Someone plays piano in an upstairs apartment while young men crowd a smoky kettle BBQ across the street. The cooking beef smells like summer. Another man on a porch above hoots and waves a beer at his friends. A group of kids on bikes zip past gleefully pushed on by the wind.
The wind swirls under bushes and flowers breathing life into the scene I’m part of. I walk on the blessings of my Touchstones. My life’s path has been paved by them. Though cracked and random my path is made beautiful and shaded by the canopy of their faith that I shelter beneath. They should know they uplift me, and how their faith in my goodness makes my step light and joyful.
Perhaps I will write to them.