A friend and member of my church died this morning.  For the whole time I have known him, he has had cancer.

I want to tell you about his faith.  He inspired me.  He was dying, and he has two beautiful young kids.  And a wife, and he had so much going for him.

Stan had so many reasons to be so very angry.  He probably was, sometimes.  But most of the times, he and his wife both, they were able to praise God for his goodness and affirm his love. 

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, they have this song, “The Impression that I get”  The lyrics in the song are talking about this guy who has never been challenged by life, but he’s watched other people withstand lives tough stuff, and he wonders if he could.  That’s one of the things I feel about Stan.  He’s the guy who’s the real deal. 

I’m not asking to go through his trials.  My heart breaks for him and his wife and his children.  I just kind of want to share that he was this really great guy.

And I want to share that I should have known him better.  I don’t want to pass it off like we were best friends and hung out all the time.  He’s one of those people who I new I could learn a lot from.  And I don’t even have a standard execuse.   With most people, we have some good reasons to delude ourselves into thinking we’ve got all the time in the world.

Isn’t sad how I keep wanting to write about Stan but I keep coming back to myself?

If you’re a person who struggles with faith in the risen Christ, if you’d met Stan, he would have given you pause.  You would have watched Stan and you would have felt a little bit of your doubt eroding.  And if you believe in the truth of the risen Christ, you would have seen Jesus through Stan, Stacy, and the kids.

Go in peace, Stan.  I will see you again.

 

Stan you will be missed.  I am so looking foreward to a reunion in the next life.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

4 thoughts on “”

  1. Yeah, it’s hard to have to go “before your time,” but the Lord never leaves His servants clueless. He probably told Stan all about it. It’s just that when God REALLY talks to you, you can almost NEVER tell anyone else what He said.

    Here’s a prayer from the Orthodox Memorial Service:

    O God of spirits and of all flesh, You have trampled down death and have abolished the power of the devil, giving life to Your world. Give rest to the soul of Your departed servant in a place of light, in a place of repose, in a place of refreshment, where there is no pain, sorrow, and suffering. As a good and loving God, forgive every sin he has committed in thought, word or deed, for there is no one who lives and does not sin. You alone are without sin. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your word is truth. For You are the resurrection, the life, and the repose of Your departed servant, Christ our God, and to You we give glory, with Your eternal Father and Your all-holy, good and life‑giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

    May Stan’s memory be eternal.

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  2. I was feeling the same thing today, Jeff…only for Stacy. I should’ve been there more….I can’t even imagine what Wednesday was like for her. At the break of a new day filled with fear and helplessness as you watch the one you love slipping away from you. And though you know he will be free from pain soon and in the presence of his King, your pain will not fade so quickly, nor will the pain you will feel each time you have to comfort your little boys who simply want their ‘Papa’ and couldn’t possibly comprehend the concept of eternal life. I also regret that I didn’t get to know Stan that well. I could tell that Stacy and the boys were the joy of his life and I can’t even imagine how painful it must’ve been for him as a father– knowing that he had to leave Stacy alone to raise them. I know, as believers, we are supposed to rejoice in the Lord always…ALWAYS right???…but not today. Today at 2:30 in the morning, I am finding it hard to be graceful and can’t find the words to pray. I am struggling to rejoice when a beautiful, Christ-centered family is torn apart at the beginning of their life together. I am blown away by Stacy’s grace even though I know that in the quiet of her heart, she was struggling every moment. I am humbled each time I feel tired because my two little ones are fussing or I am too tired to change one more diaper or do one more load of laundry or cook one more meal. I am certain that she has surpassed ‘tired’ long ago and I have no idea to what extent a mother can BE tired—and still go on. I often feel paralyzed in situations like this…..wanting to do something—anything–to be helpful and yet wanting to be sensitive to the boundries between being making someone feel comforted vs. invaded…And so, I will make meals and offer to watch children, and hug the family—offering all the appropriate words of sympathy—like an awkward Hallmark card. I will stand at the memorial among all those that have been praying for Stan and the family for the past year and a half and say goodbye and I will most likely turn into ‘Martha’ doing whatever needs be done that day. But hopefully I will come away from all of this learning from both of them what it truly means to rejoice in the Lord…Always.

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  3. Thanks for putting some words on feelings that I’m having trouble explaining, Sue. I suspect that you and I are not alone in feeling this way.

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