The better shot

May 1, 2015 -- Living City

The better shot
Sometimes life gives us a second chance

Spotting a red-winged black-bird during a recent excursion, I remembered another time when, as a boy,  I shot one with a bow and arrow in South Brooklyn. The shoreline area offered us endless hours of adventure: exploring, playing army and hunting. When I shot the bird, my friends marveled at my accuracy, but my initial feeling of triumph turned into sadness. I had felt bad about ending the life of a beautiful creature. How I would have loved to get a second chance to fix the situation!

Sometimes life does give us this opportunity.  A few years ago I was speaking on the phone with an old college friend, whom I will call “Joe.” We got into a discussion about politics, and we both had strong but differing opinions. Neither of us had any problem expressing what we thought, and our conversation did not end well. Time passed, we lived far from one another, and we ended up not speaking to each other for years.

Not long ago, I learned that Joe had a terminal illness. Through this circumstance I felt God was giving me the chance to repair our friendship. It just depended on my taking the initiative, being the first to love. So I contacted another mutual college friend, whom I will call “John,” and said we needed to visit Joe. They had also had some difficulties and had not spoken in years. I think the idea that we would go together gave us the strength to make this visit.

So one day I drove over two hundred miles to pick up John, and off we went for another fifty miles to visit Joe. When we arrived, Joe was not home. I had wanted to surprise him, so we had not told him we were coming. Had our long trip been for nothing?

As we sat in my car, John checked his cell phone for an old number of Joe’s. Not sure it would work, he made the call. Joe answered and said he was on his way home. He was surprised to see us! He took us to a restaurant, where he usually only took his family. He told us about his illness, but we also had many laughs about our times together in college. The friendship among the three of us was rebuilt. We left, and when I dropped off John, he said I was an angel. He too had needed to find a way to reconcile with Joe.

So I shot another red-winged blackbird during a recent excursion— this time with my camera. The photo captured its color and beauty, and it definitely was the better shot.

— Mike Murray, Maryland