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Since retirement four months ago, I have reflected deeply on my four decades of ministry.
I have been thinking about those special and true friends that have graced my life all along the way.
I have been richly blessed by people who have truly cared; loved me when I was far less than my best; even at my worst.
I think of those who never gave up on me and always pointed me beyond where I was to possibilities yet to be fulfilled;
who inspired me to go further and grow into fuller maturity.
It is to these that I pay tribute and offer thanks in the following poem.
Thank you!  You know who you are!  Thank you!
(I state it in the present tense as I trust there are more true friends yet to be!)

The Stars of My Stage

In the course of a day or week or year or lifetime,
how many people enter and leave the immediate stage of my life?

More than I can ever remember or anticipate.

They play their part in the drama of my life and then one or both of us exit the stage,
but the drama continues.

Some make a significant difference, and others pass by so quickly I discern no noticeable difference.

Some touch me and others are touched by me.
We dance a dance together, and then move on, but never forgetting the dance.

I am thankful for each actor and actress, for they constitute and enrich the acts and scenes of my life.

But every once in awhile someone enters the stage who plays his or her part so well that it changes the quality and very direction of my life drama.

It is these who are the leading ladies and men and children of my stage.

It is to these I give a standing ovation of loving and endearing appreciation.

It is these who are the stars of my stage and bear the name – true friends.

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