Brothers

It’s dark on the road we’re driving. The gospel music is so loud I can only hear pieces of their front-seat conversation, but I don’t mind. I’m not in the mood to talk and to listen well, and their conversation is scattered; sometimes their comments are serious, but more often they laugh. In the dashboard glow I can almost see their faces, different in almost every way. One is clean-shaven, the other bearded. One wears glasses, the other wears a hat. The size of their ears, the line of their noses, the shape of the skin over their cheekbones and foreheads- they are not alike. No one would suspect them to be born brothers.

They are not. They are the other kind of brothers, the kind that you choose and build and fight for. I knew them separately before they knew each other; I have watched their friendship grow and deepen, as much as you can watch such a thing without being part of it. I can see, in both of them, how much they have changed each other; sometimes I feel like I lost them both a little bit to the other. But I like to see them: the writer in me thrills to watch any relationship that matters, and there is something ancient and wonderful about brotherhood. Christ had brothers of this kind, eleven of them.

I admire this relationship, though I cannot fully understand it, and I am jealous of it. I have never been brothers with anyone, and knowing that it is good and it is needed isn’t enough to keep me from being small sometimes, because I am not really part of this story. I am in it, sometimes; they are generous in inviting me.  My biggest role came at the beginning. I do not say it would not be without me; I believe some relationships matter enough that God would not let another person’s choices prevent it. We come from tangled lives and there are many ways they might have met without me. But I like to think that I brought them together, even without meaning to. I like to feel that I matter in this story, no matter how small my role may be.

It is a story worth seeing. There is a strength and a depth and a roughness in brotherhood, outside of my ken. They laugh much together, but they do not cringe away from the subjects that matter. They are not afraid to disagree, or to agree. They see each other seldom and they have full lives apart, but it is not hard for them to share this day.

They are good men, both of them, and in this dark car I like watching them be that together.

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