May 4, 1997

Friends Indeed

Filed under: Media,Spirituality — schroder @ 12:00 pm

It was 6 a.m. on Good Friday. Our staff had spent most of Thursday stuffing newspapers and personally addressed letters into envelopes and paper bags to be delivered by hand to hundreds of business prospects around the city. We were launching our newest paper, Atlanta Downtown.

Associate Publisher Jan Butsch and I had drawn the predawn duty of pulling the newspapers hot off the press and putting them into the bags along with bagels from Highland Bagel. We had 45 minutes before the courier showed up. Despite our optimistic spirit (which had brought us downtown in the first place), it seemed doubtful we would make it.

Usually on Friday mornings you will find me at a bar near Lenox Square. I meet with a group of men to drink orange juice and coffee. We talk about spiritual issues and whatever other topics arise during the hour we spend together. Mostly it’s a bunch of guys looking for more meaning in life.

I found the group during a rather dark period in my life. I’d suffered a series of setbacks that affected my personal life, job and health. I was in the north Georgia mountains with my two children in a state of shock when the phone rang. My college roommate (with whom I hadn’t spoken in several years) was calling from Hong Kong. I had no clue how he got my number. During the course of the discussion he said he wanted me to meet his brother-in-law, who lived in Atlanta. I did and his brother-in-law asked me to join him for breakfast at the bar near Lenox.

The guys at the bar talked about the inspiration they found in the Bible, a book I hadn’t looked at in years. They wanted me to come back every Friday. I did and found some much-needed support, both from exploring spirituality, as well as from the fellowship with the other men.

A couple of years later, I started working for myself. People that do that have to spend time looking inward, searching for more energy, creativity, direction. Sometimes it just isn’t there and doubt creeps in. We begin to feel depleted and don’t know where to turn.

That Friday morning, Jan and I stood outside the door to the Flatiron building as I struggled with my keys, our arms full of newspapers and our bodies feeling the bone-wearying fatigue of the past few months of frantic preparation for this first issue. Neither one of us said anything, but I think we both felt our energy declining.

Just then a car pulled up and a voice called out, “Looks like you two could use some help.” I turned and saw a guy from my Friday morning group. Then two more came. These three men had gotten up early and had driven downtown to help us put newspapers and bagels in bags. I have no idea how they found me. I hadn’t even told them where I would be – just that I couldn’t make the meeting. Somehow, they figured it out from there.

Jan and I looked at each other in amazement. We knew angels when we saw them. And that they had been sent by a God who has a great sense of timing. We made the deadline.

Some people think angels only come in life-or-death situations. And putting bagels in bags or even putting out the first issue of a newspaper doesn’t qualify. But once again I received support from an unexpected place, and once again my spirit was renewed.

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