Yesterday afternoon I spent a solid two hours plus fifteen minutes making my way from Brandon to Crystal River. Traffic was already "rush-hour" quality so there really was no smooth and easy route through or around The Big Guava. I dealt with the congestion by cranking up the volume and listening to one of the best "road trip" albums ever, DRIVE by the late Robert Palmer.
I made the trip to spend the evening with some of the good folk at Crystal River Presbyterian Church.They have one study group plus several individuals reading along with the REACHING TOWARD EASTER initiative. It's no exaggeration to say that I enjoy these public appearances as much as any aspect of my work.
HUMBLING: Especially poignant, however, was a communication I received when I checked my email out in the parking lot before going inside for the supper that preceded my talk. It was a note from a minister friend, and it touched my soul deeply (there is no information in this quote that would compromise the privacy of those involved).
Today I grieve the loss of the closest friend I’ve had to bid farewell to in my life to this point.Yesterday, as I held his hand in the hospice center, I shared with he and his wife and son the words from p. 33 in your book (Reaching Toward Easter): “... because of the passion and resurrection, the reality of eternity is held in every moment: life, death, and, sometimes most poignantly, the transition between the two.”[My friend] truly lived the eternal life while he was here and held fast to its reality while he made the transition. I placed my hand on his head as I left and pronounced a benediction... “the Lord bless you and keep you, make his face shine upon you, lift up his countenance to you, be gracious to you and give you peace.” At that point he looked up into my eyes with a look of knowing. I said “until we meet again” and he nodded. In a few hours he entered the reality of eternity unclouded by the world’s shadows.Your words were an encouragement, Derek.Grace and Peace to you!
AWESOME PRIVILEGE: At Crystal River Presbyterian Church the crowd was attentive, encouraging and enthusiastic about my message. I shared their soup and we literally broke bread together. During the evening I had the opportunity to chat with most of the people, and some of the conversations ran deep.
But elsewhere - several miles away and sequestered in a quiet hospice center somewhere in the Greater Tampa Bay area - I had the privilege of entering into a holy moment, and of sharing in the intimacy of one man's passage from this world and on into the grace of eternity.
This is why I write... This is why I sit in traffic... This is why I begin each day in the presence of God and ask Jesus to fill me anew and to inhabit my prayer and my thinking and my writing and my speaking.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound..."