Heart-to-Heart Friendship

On the basis of just one letter we became email and prayer pals...

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Prayer blogger Rick Hamlin

Almost six years ago I had open-heart surgery for an aortic aneurysm. I wrote about it and received a lot of letters and emails and ended up adding people to my prayer list.

One of the people who wrote me was a professor of deaf studies and deaf education at California State University in Fresno, Paul Ogden. He told me he’s got an aortic aneurysm too, but he hasn’t had surgery yet and, God willing, won’t need to. He lives a busy, active, productive life. Still, he reached out to me because of this common flaw we both have. He hadn’t told many others about the aneurysm so I was very touched that he would share with me, a perfect stranger.

I wrote back and of course, I promised to pray for him. On the basis of that one letter we became email and prayer pals. He’s funny, whip smart, faith-filled, compassionate. He’s also an outstanding teacher, a great writer and an extraordinary advocate for the deaf.

This summer I met Paul face to face in Fresno and I felt a little like I was meeting his namesake, that first Paul who changed people through the power of his letters. We talked about a million things, one of them the book he’s written called Secrets from My Silent Eden, an extraordinary account of growing up deaf. He writes beautifully about the challenges we all face in communicating, hearing and deaf, and I was especially moved by his accounts of learning how to be a great communicator in his marriage.

This week Secrets from My Silent Eden is released, so here’s a shout-out to Paul—wish I could do it in American Sign Language—of congrats and best wishes. For the first time many will be finding out about his aortic aneurysm, but I’m so grateful he shared that story with me first. It was the beginning of a long-distance friendship. A real heart-to-heart conversation.

Tags: Friends,Prayer
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