I just buried a man's man, elder's elder, patriot, and friend.
There are pastorally presiding times tempting me to sing, "Ding! Dong! The witch is dead..."
Yesterday's memorial service wasn't one of 'em.
Bill was a family patriarch and proverbial pillar of our church.
He was a man's man.
He didn't pull punches or suffer fools gladly.
His yes was yes and no was no (sounds familiar).
He asked one day, "Are you fed up with us yet?"
I answered, "Absolutely; but I'm called to stay."
He said, "Good."
Then we talked about the Cubs and America's slide to socialism.
He was an elder's elder.
Unlike too many church pastors/leaders/members today, Bill never confused his personal feelings/opinions with the will of God as revealed in Jesus and reported in Holy Scripture.
When we disagreed - occasionally but infrequently for we shared some spiritual/emotional/intellectual DNA - he would either correct me or I would correct him or we would disagree agreeably.
That's rare in today's church where people pick up their marbles and run off if they lose a vote, someone says something that offends 'em, something happens that offends 'em, they hear of a better show across town, drums make a guest appearance in the traditional service, a robed choir shows up for the contemporary one, or they decide someone on the church staff is responsible for their spiritual/emotional/intellectual/physical constipation.
Bill wasn't afraid to name the elephants in the room; and he didn't want/expect us to walk on eggshells around him because he sure as ___ wasn't gonna walk on eggshells around us.
He was real; and while the full definition of that word can be found in Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit, here's an excerpt: people who are real don't "break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept."
In other words, an elder's elder doesn't require ecclesiastical babysitting or a pastoral crying towel when they're pouting about someone/something.
He understood Jesus' metaphorical meaning of salt; stinging on an open wound while saving from gangrene.
Not long before he went home to Jesus, I thanked him for not being one of those my-way-or-the-highway types who require us to hold our breath before, during, and after every vote.
I thanked him for helping me in the early years of my ministry in our family of faith to see through the historical/relational/demographic negatives of my inheritance to the possibilities.
He always told the truth as he saw it; even if we weren't ready for it.
When we first talked about expansion and renovations, he said, "Some folks are going to leave rather than admit they don't want to pay up. They'll come up with some excuses to defame others and you; but everyone will know the truth about 'em."
He wasn't one of those guys/gals who burn brightly and briefly in churches; which in church time is under 20 years of enthusiasm.
He could see through posers.
He was a patriot; risking his life in WWII to preserve a freedom in such peril as he graduated.
He did not understand why so many seem so determined to undermine the faith and free enterprise that built America.
Volunteering wasn't something somebody else did.
He liked that JFK quote, "Ask not what..."
He was a friend; especially of Jesus.
And on 9/1/09, we talked about the most important thing of all: his relationship with Jesus.
I asked, "Bill, are you confident of what happens the first second after the last breath?"
He said, "Yes, but I would have liked a little more time."
Then we talked about his shift of focus to football as the baseball season in Chicago ended, typically/annually, on 9/1.
He was my Skin Horse (You won't get that unless you've read the Williams book!).
Moretheless, I wrote on the message board of his hospital room, "It is well with Bill's soul. Confirmed 9/1/09."
Moving from the real, the previous two KDs sparked some comments worth thinking about.
Somebody who likes to think which is why I like her wrote about PBHO's classroom cameo, "I can't believe some of the comments. I thought we had passed a time when we see communists around every corner. Are there no optimists in the world who think perhaps it truly is an attempt to get kids to focus on making the most of their educational opportunities?"
I responded, "My guess, dear friend, is PBHO was only elected because JM was/is so awful. The credentials of this President may be the worst in history; however, he has two good folks in his administration...They are our hope; and maybe like Kennedy challenged Carter...As I have said repeatedly, PBHO is not a demon nor divine; though thoroughly unqualified for the post. I pray for his success every day according to the best American values. I pray for our country drifting so rapidly from what made it so great. Our predecessors, like Bill [yes, the one mentioned above], did not risk everything for what's happening now."
I closed, "I haven't seen as many folks duped by anyone since Brittany Spears became a celebrity."
Of course, KDers are diverse; as illustrated in these responses to my comment about PBHO being a decent guy and neither a demon nor divine (scroll down to the last KD).
From the South: "I'm not convinced decent guys vote to allow babies who have survived a botched abortion to just lie there and die without medical treatment."
From the North: "I think PBHO is a very real person with some very real ideas and I am not afraid of him. I am afraid of sensationalist fear mongers."
From a school superintendent in Illinois: "PBHO addressed students across the country to let them know that they're the ones who are ultimately responsible for their own learning. He said, 'We can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities; unless you show up to those schools, pay attention to those teachers, listen to your parents, grandparents, and other adults, and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.'" He added/ended, "We should be grateful that our nation's leader is addressing our students about this issue. It's something that has been needed for years, and it seems to me that this is a message we'd want our students to hear...Amazing that some people get all worked up when PBHO wants to talk to our kids."
From the ozone layer of reality: "It sounded like he was reading from a script for Mr. Roger's Neighborhood."
A young Latino leader wrote about JJ's mission to Rockford (scroll down to the KD before the last KD or just go to JJ's website).
She started, "It is very important that people understand other cultures and view a person for who they are not the 'tribe' they come from. I have worked tirelessly to bring a better understanding of the often unheard of 'Professional Latin Person.' We work in the community with underprivileged children to try to light a spark of hope in them that they too may pull out of the stereotypical life that seems to be sucking them in."
Turning attention to the other guy in Chicago who's lusting for more face time now that the guy who left Chicago for D.C. is hoggin' most of it which is why he came to Rockford in the first place, "With that being said, I can now tell you that it scared the heck out of me to hear that famed Jesse Jackson was coming to Rockford. I am not sure I understand his motive. While I do my work quietly, he seems to not be able to do anything without calling a press conference."
She concluded, "I truly believe in lifting your people up and giving them hope. I also think that there is a fine line between doing this and instilling hatred and anger with wants of revenge. I am fearful of what will come of all JJ's movie star antics."
A final word after the final word: "I am not doubting that he feels he is a man of God and has good intentions. I am just nervous of his message being misinterpreted; resulting in an uprising rather than an uplifting."
My daddy always cautioned me after I said I had good intentions that resulted in something goin' down the crapper, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Speaking of my daddy, he wrote, "I was thinking about that old statement, 'Be careful what you wish for.' I wonder if the voters in the last Presidential election are getting what they wished for? Just a thought."
I like people who think; including my daddy.
I responded, "Absolutely! It's the false hope of having the nanny state take care of you. We are declaring our dependence upon the state. Independence is fading in America. Cries for freedom will sound from those who surrendered it for the sake of being cradled by the latest messianic hope. Certainly, JM was/is a loser - evidenced by recent behaviors exposing him as the court jester at best. But, unfortunately, dad, you were/are right. We are a celebrity culture and we elect on orgasmic moments of ignorant adoration. PBHO comes from the most corrupt political culture in America and never held any job of any substance for very long. Geez. Didn't see this disaster coming! Now that the Republican Party is dead - weenies with about as much ___ as Notre Dame fans who think they have a schedule worth a BCS game - our only hope is Democrats who see the socialistic horrors being enabled by this administration and revert back to something more, uh, American."
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
And, finally, from a guy near Ohio's Football Hall of Fame who is much smarter/effective/faithful than yours truly: "I never get mad at you from the right or the left...I enjoy reading your stuff and I am not threatened in my convictions by the expression of yours."
Taking issue with my feelings about PBHO being a "decent" guy who's not a demon nor divine, he challenged, "PBHO is a Marxist revolutionary who is using democracy to destroy America. I learned long ago that you can always trust a communist to be a communist."
He ended with a funny; or, at least, I think - that word again - it's funny: "A biker friend (member of my congregation) showed his favorite T-shirt to me. It says, 'If you can read this, the ___ fell off.' His wife has a T-shirt that announces, 'The ___ is back!'"
Bill, I miss you already.
Blessings and Love!
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