NAIL IN THE FENCE
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper, so his father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same.
"When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there. "
A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us.
Cherish your friends and family members with all your heart.
They are all we need to get through Life - they and the Lord.
Honor them at every chance, and make those chances happen, often.
An Episcopal priest once told me that while in seminary, a young Judaic scholar came to him and asked his forgiveness for anything he might have done to hurt him in any way. He was startled by this, partly because he could not recall any rancor between them, and curious, because he was unaware of a requirement of the faithful in the youth's religion. The Jewish New Year was approaching, and at that time each year the tradition of observant Jews is to consider their relationships over the past year, and to visit those persons who they have wronged to ask their forgiveness. In this way, they purge their hearts of anger, and turn themselves toward renewing and strengthening the bonds they have to family, friends and colleagues.
Now whenever the Jewish New Year is celebrated, I think of the faithful Jews who observe this ritual, and especially of that young Judaic scholar who felt this obligation in such a tender and caring way. I wish this tradition was retained in the Christian culture, because it flings wide the door to mending fences. It is sometimes very hard to say, "I was wrong", and some people rarely look within. How wonderful if the American culture were to embrace at our New Year - not the voicing of resolutions r that we will probably break, and silent prayers over the years for forgiveness for our hurtful actions - but actual visits with those we may have wronged, so that we might extend our hands and hearts often in the healing power of friendship.