Saving the Best Part

Written by John Paul Carter, Guest Columnist, on May 19, 2011

Due to all the inspiring entries for our Memory of Mom (MoM) contest, it’s been quite some time since we ran a story by our favorite guest columnist, John Paul Carter. So today we check back in with JP, reprinting his ruminations on friendship: Saving the Best Part. Thanks, as always, John Paul!

The western art that fills most of our home’s wall space recently welcomed a new neighbor–a painting unlike any other in the house. It’s a small abstract watercolor by our lifelong friend Gale Johnston, a signature member of the Southwestern Watercolor Society.

We bought it last fall at an exhibition of her work in a gallery on Camp Bowie in Ft. Worth. We were attracted to it, not only because it was Gale’s work, but also because of its beautiful colors–especially the cranberry red, the aqua, and the golden threads. I also love its shapes, which invite my bizarre imagination to see a face with a long nose, a dog reminiscent of Gus, and a pacifier which reminds me of Maddy and her newborn sister.

But the most intriguing thing about our 6- by 3 1/2-inch picture is that it was once part of a larger 18- by 40-inch painting. A friend commissioned Gale to do an abstract depiction of the instrument panel of his airplane to hang over his fireplace. After almost completing the painting, Gale decided to start over. However, she saved and matted that part of her work that she did like. And that’s the painting that now proudly graces our dining area.

The painting itself reminds me of what the philosopher George Santayana wrote about friendships. “Friendship,” he said, “is almost always the union of a part of one mind with a part of another; people are friends in spots.”

Another wise person put it this way, “A friend is one to whom you can pour out your heart–wheat and chaff together–knowing that they will listen, keeping the best and letting the wind blow the rest away.”

As I view Gale’s painting, I’m reminded that the best friendships are based on mutual respect mixed with tolerance. I give thanks for those who have saved the best of me out of the worst and call me their friend. I hope to always be as gracious.

The watercolor also reminds me that on the night before he was crucified, Jesus told the 12 that he no longer thought of them as mere servants, but as friends. (John 17:15) Having been with them for three years and knowing what was ahead, Jesus clearly chose to trust the best in them. When the dust had settled, it was that friendship that sustained them as they took the good news of God’s unconditional love into the wider world.

Jesus offers us–each and all–that same grace-full friendship.

Lord, thank you for seeing and saving the best in us.



More stories from: Featured Story