Horror gripped the heart of the World War I soldier as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle. Caught in a trench with continuous gunfire whizzing over his head, the soldier asked his lieutenant if he might go out into the “No Man’s Land” between the trenches to bring his fallen comrade back.
“You can go,” said the Lieutenant, “but I don’t think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your own life away.” The Lieutenant’s words didn’t matter, and the soldier went anyway.
Miraculously he managed to reach his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder, and bring him back to their company’s trench. As the two of them tumbled in together to the bottom of the trench, the officer checked the wounded soldier, then looked kindly at his friend. “I told you it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing it,” he said. “Your friend is dead, and you are mortally wounded.”
“It was worth it, though, sir,” the soldier said.
“What do you mean?” responded the Lieutenant. “Your friend is dead!”
“Yes sir,” the private answered. “But it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive, and I had the satisfaction of hearing him say, `Jim, I knew you’d come.”
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
Henri NouwenShare on Facebook