As Madeline and Bara and I have been working on the finishing of this book at Crosswicks Cottage, in Connecticut, we have been surrounded by the folds of Litchfield Hills. Between sessions at the computer we've made excursions to buy corn at the local farm stand, or to go to the Congregational church on Sunday, or simply to buy groceries, or take mail to the post office, driving along the winding country roads.
Very often our companion along the way, following the turns in the road as we drove, was a hand-built, low stone wall of the kind common in New England, erected as much to get the stones out of the fields as to keep cattle from straying. It struck me today that a wall like this is a metaphor of friendship. There's some time-consuming skill involved in putting it together without cement or mortar of any kind. There's nothing artificial binding the individual pieces of rock together; they stay in place simply because they fit, the convexity of one stone nextled in the concavity of its neighbor. Even the gritty texture of the granite stone has value, preventing them from slipping apart, keeping their surfaces in touch.
When well built, these walls last for generations. They are not only useful, they are ornamental, an integral part of the landscape. Like the stones in the wall, we see the skillful hand of God at work, using even our rough, gritty surfaces, fitting us together in love, in friendship - companions along the way.