A Final Gift

crop hillisdeI did a six-hour round trip a couple of days ago to attend a funeral.  I was very glad I did.  The funeral was for a gracious gentleman, who along with his wife, had been good friends with my wife and I for a number of years.  My wife had known the couple for many years more than I and as an ordained clergy, she preached the sermon at the funeral.

When we lived in the same city we socialized on a rather regular basis.  We moved to a city a couple hundred miles away about 7 years ago.  About three years ago the friend became afflicted with alzheimers.  When he was in the early stages he commented to his wife one time  “I know we had two really good friends who moved to Memphis, but I cannot remember their names.”   I was greatly saddened when I heard this story because I felt I had never reciprocated as a true good friend should have.  My departed friend was always such a quiet and calm presence that he could seem to fade into the background when drama was being played out on life’s stage.

At the funeral, we were all given a final gift from my parted friend.  The hymns were wonderful, the service full of meaning.  I was so happy to see and embrace his widow and my friend.  My wife preached a wonderful sermon.  But the gift was in the reading of something my departed friend had written some 15 years before:

“What I have learned from my life journey thus far, about God – from my study, reflection and experience – that seems most important to me – that as long as I live I will never be able to answer all the questions about who God is, who created God, why does a good God let bad things happen, is there life after the death of our human bodies, and so forth. So the best thing to me, is not to spend too much time trying to figure out something that’s impossible to do, but to spend your time in community with nature, and other human beings. Continue to read and study and expand your beliefs, but also be kind to others, help them, love them, and do not be self-centered. If after I die, and I encounter God and he, or she, tells me he gave me life and asks how did I use it, I would like to be able to say, wisely, lovingly, compassionately, and of service to others. For truly, in giving you receive great rewards. Whatever we gain in this life, we do not come into the world with it. We are only stewards of our part of the universe while we are here! So, lets do a good job while it’s our watch.”

What an incredible message of life and meaning!


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