Two Friends

It was an unusually difficult week. Friends in crisis, world events, and demands coming from all directions crowded in on me and made me wonder where I would find the grace or patience to get through the days. Then two friends--one I had never met before--came to visit.

I had been inspired by Karl Gaspar's writings for a long time and had prayed for him during the 22 months that he was in a Philippine prison. And then, at the very moment that Ferdinand Marcos was on a plane heading out of the Philippines, Karl walked into our midst. Given the turn of events, he had canceled his appointments with Congress and decided to give his whole day to us at Sojourners.

Karl carried with him a sobering reminder that the struggle in his country is still a long journey, but he also exuded a bright and solid hope. His warm smile encompassed my wavering spirit and began to rekindle my fragile hope.

I was present at the historic meeting of Karl and Nathan Tamialis, an 11-year-old member of Sojourners Community. Like hundreds of other children around the world, Nathan had sent Karl a Christmas letter during Karl's imprisonment. Karl was answering Nathan's letter, detailing his prison experiences on paper, when he got word of his release. The letter ended with news of Karl's first celebrations in freedom: a trip to the beach and an ice cream cone.

As Karl and several members of our community sat around the Tamialis family dining-room table, drinking a special pineapple-coconut drink Nathan and his brother Michael had made for Karl's visit, he shared stories. Karl sparkled most when he talked about young people--the many committed young men with whom he shared a prison cell, the children from faraway places who had sent him greetings, and the young couples who come to him for counsel in his pastoral work.

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