"Hey, old friend, how have you been?  I haven't heard from you much lately.  I'm just wondering if you're doing OK."

"Oh, hey, thanks for checking on me.  I really appreciate it.  Yeah, I've be super busy lately.  You know -- work, family.  The usual.  Other than that, I'm doing pretty good."

"That's good.  I've heard about some of your new job position you were hoping for.  Can you tell me about it?"

"Thanks!  I absolutely love the new assignment examining firearms, bullets, cartridge casings, etc.  I'm still in the early stages, but there's so much I've been reading, studying, and writing lately.  It keeps me on my toes and it challenges me.  But it's been so much fun!"

"What about your physical fitness?"

"I've been training hard.  Running a lot.  Hittin' the gym.  I've been training for a half marathon, as well as the Tough Mudder.  I've been pretty happy with my progress, but I'm starting to really feel the effects of my age in my lower back.  It keeps me up at night."

"No kidding?  I haven't heard about that.  Why didn't you say something?"

"Nah, you're too busy.  You've got better things to worry about.  You feed the poor, work in homeless shelters, help the needy.  You don't have time for my little problems."

"I have plenty of time for you, my friend.  Well, did you at least get the letters I sent you?  I worked hard on them, and I meant every word.  I was hoping you'd answer."

"Yes, thank you!  I received them.  But they were just so long...most of them, anyway.  So I kind of skim through them here and there when I have a chance.  You know, a sentence or two.  But I've been piecing it all together rather well, I think."

"Oh.  I was hoping you'd put a little more effort into it than that.  I did."

"I know.  I'm sorry.  Tell ya' what.  I'll start doing that first thing tomorrow."

"Why tomorrow?  What's holding you back today?"

"I'm sorry, I've just been so busy.  Not only do I have to wake up early to get to work, I also wake up an hour earlier -- 4:25 am -- to make it to the gym for a workout before my 12-hour work day including drive time.  Then when I get home, I spend time with the family, wrestle with the boys, and talk to my wife about our day.  By the time we put the kids to bed, my brain is mush and I just want to vejj out and watch some Tiger baseball or Duck Dynasty or something.  Then it's off to bed to do it all over again the next day.  You know what I mean?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do.  I'm just hearing excuses, though.  But I know busy.  I have a world to run, Michael.  I've been visiting people in Boston who've had their limbs blown off by a couple bombs.  Remember that?  And you should see what their families are enduring right now.  Some of them don't have enough sick time built up at work to take the day off so they can attend to the needs of their fallen comrades and family members.  I know about busy.

"And have you heard about what's happening in Sudan?  That carnage has been going on for a long time, now.  I've been crying with the broken-hearted, encouraging survivors, raising up strong leaders.  I know about busy.

"I've been raising up willing servants to travel to some far-off lands that have never seen the wonder of electricity or running water, who bathe in the same water in which they relieve themselves.  How would you like to like to live in those conditions?

"How would you like your own children to ignore you on a consistent basis after all you've done for them?  How would you like your wife to ignore your love letters and only 'piece them together' here and there when she has a spare moment?

"I've created all of this beauty you see around you: Warm sunshine.  Billowy clouds.  Refreshing rain.  Sunsets.  Mountains.  Oceans.  Snow.  Crisply cool starry nights.  Friendships.  Love.  But when I look upon all that I've made, I'm most pleased with people -- because I made you in my image.  But when I look upon all those people, you're busy scurrying around -- too busy to take in all the beauty.  Instead, you're shopping at the mall for the latest gadget.  Hurrying through the grocery store checkout lane without taking the time to notice the cashier is crying because her son died in Iraq.  You're pumping gas without noticing the guy rifling through the garbage cans trying to find returnables to scrape up some spare change for a meal tonight.  You're sitting in traffic jams cursing at other drivers when the person on the side of the road is going to get fired for being late to work.  You're preparing for seemingly important business meetings while ignoring the fact that your boss has cancer.  You're training your physical bodies while ignoring the health of your souls.

"Believe me.  I know busy.  But I also know you.  And I want to be known by you.  Could you spare some time, friend?"

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