Humble and Kind, for Hunter Max…


It’s been awhile since I’ve written in my blog.  Lots of good reasons, lots of choices, some excuses…  Life continues to be good.  Very good, indeed.

In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed the rich combination of great joys and real sorrows. It’s a reminder about the circle of life. We all have our moment to make the most of this precious life. As I heard this song on my Apple Music mix for the day, I thought of the many experiences I’ve lived through in the past 10 years.

None of my life experiences were pre-ordained, all were the result of a choice I made, and all of them led me to this moment.

And each of them was shared with two furry creatures who have been with me through thick and thin, through addiction and recovery, through the dark days and the new mornings, through geographies, lovers, friends, love, loss, victory and defeat.

And for where I am today, I’m grateful.

As we all begin to age, we begin to feel and show our age.  I, with my constipation and reading glasses… Hunter, with aching bones, pain and nerve issues.

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I love you Hunter Max.

Thank you for reminding me of the simple pleasures of being more fully in each moment. I love your jagged smile, your gimp leg, your growling and your deep moans of love and affection.

You continue to bring great joy into our lives, from that very first day in Puerto Rico when you wandered into our lives. Your days and weeks here with us are numbered.

It’s a reminder of the circle of life…neither good nor bad, just the circle of life…

You remind me to always stay humble and kind….

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlists.applemusic.com/embed/pl.5fc3870431d1435ebb2771f614db7e18?country=us&app=music

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When asked “What are you good at?” the prostitute told the pastor “I’m really good with people…”


Sometimes I’m surprised by the dumb things people say.  Sometimes those things come out of my mouth.

This woman came to see me because she had to do community service for the court system. I asked her what her crime was and she told me “prostitution.”  Because I wanted to figure out what we could have her do around the church, before I could stop myself I found myself asking her “so, what are you good at?”  Her reply: “I’m really good with people.”

We put her to work providing hospitality to people who came to the building.  And she was really good at it!

Mike Mather

I love the way Mike tells stories – particularly when they help drive a point home with listeners. I wish I had 20% of his long-term memory and recall of details. But, I digress…

Mike gets some great questions. And some surprisingly dumb ones. But he generally finds a way to bring the story back around…

I love when he tells this story. Because it’s my story. But more importantly, it demonstrates in action how people I’ve come to call “neighbors” practice seeing people for who they really are – behind the stereotypes, labels and preconceptions we might put on those same people.

“Everybody has gift, yea sure. But what do you do with people who are mentally ill or who are drug addicted?”

Question from a visitor to Broadway

To hear the surprising response, I invite you to listen to Mike’s message. The juicy relevant pieces are in the beginning 4:33 minutes…

I probably would have lost my identity struggle with addiction as well as my identity as a contributing member of society had it not been for the simple acts of compassion I was shown – the friendships, the walks around the neighborhood talking, the new lens through which I’ve started to see myself and the world around me…

For that, I’m humbled and grateful. Thank you Mike, Rachel, Cathy, Karen, Kathy, Mike, Ann, Seana, Fran, Scott, Diane, Amy, MaryAnn, Cindy, Scott, Bill, Sue Ann, Mike, Mark, Chris, Holly, De’Amon, Terri, Greg, John, Sandya and many others…

Remembering our saints…Graham Karwath


At Broadway UMC, we celebrate All Saint’s Day (November 1) by remembering friends and family who died during the prior year. We have a collection of candles and candelabras at the front of the sanctuary that members light in memory of someone.  It’s a beautiful way to keep their stories alive – to keep their memories with us. In doing so, they continue to be a part of our lives.  For me, it also brings to a close that first year of mourning.  While the loss and hole in our hearts never fully heal, I’m finding it’s a lot easier to move on after the “year of firsts.”

Lighting candles on All Saint's Day
Lighting candles on All Saint’s Day
All Saint's Day at Broadway UMC
All Saint’s Day at Broadway UMC

 

Two years ago, we included my mom and grandmother in our All Saint’s Day celebration. This year, we remembered by friend Graham Karwath.

Remember Our Saints: Graham Karwath
Remember Our Saints: Graham Karwath

 

Graham was a loyal friend – to me and many others in his life.  He always “had my back,” and helped me through some tough times by listening, caring and telling my story. In turn, the trust we built over the years allowed him to open up about some of the life struggles he faced.

Graham was full of life. He loved music, loved to dance and loved to goof off. He was a hard worker, which was recognized by his co-workers and boss. He was always willing to take an extra shift or work late to help out the team. He was confident, but vulnerable; strong, but like many of us, hurt; full of joy, but knew his time here was limited. Despite his fatal heart condition, he didn’t dwell on his health but chose instead to live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest.

Another part of our All Saint’s Day service is to list those we remember in the bulletin. The choir then takes those names and weaves them into a hymn of celebration and remembrance. Here is an audio clip of this year’s song.  You’re not forgotten, Graham… (Graham is mentioned at 1:25 in this song of prayer)

https://soundcloud.com/ctoddcreations/all-saints-day-2015-for-graham-karwat

(I previously wrote a short version of this post on SoundCloud, but recently realized I hadn’t finished my thoughts…so here is the updated version via by blog…)