Soul Fiber: Remembering Our Loved Ones

combined photoDo you remember going to the cemetery with you parents as they placed flowers on their loved-ones burial site or placing floral expressions on your loved ones grave? I remember going with my mom to visit her parents’ grave and now I’m visiting my parent’s grave site.

There is another family that I count among my loved ones and that is my military family. This year, as in years gone by and for years to come, I celebrate, honor, and remember our fallen service members through the four verses of text I penned during my service in the Desert Shield/Desert Storm/Gulf War conflict 8/8/1990 – 3/26/1991. Please share and sing it to the traditional tune of “The Church’s One Foundation” in memory of fallen service members and in honor of those who serve in active service, as reservist, and retired veterans. The invitation of this privilege came from one of my seminary professors, Dr. Delores Carpenter and can be found in the African American Heritage Hymnal of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), page 337.

THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION, IS CHRIST, GOD’S OWN TRUE CHILD,

IN WHOM THE WHOLE CREATION IS FREED AND RECONCILED

TO BRING THE CHURCH TOGETHER, CHRIST LIVED AND FREELY DIED;

RAISED UP BY GOD, FOREVER, CHRIST LIVES TO BE OUR GUIDE.

 THE WORLD AND ALL THE NATIONS, CREATED TO BE ONE

CAN LIVE IN SWEET COMMUNION WITH GOD AND GOD’S OWN SON

WHEN WE WHO SAY WE LOVE HIM, BEGIN TO LIVE AND BE

A PEOPLE WITH GREAT FREEDOM TO GAIN THROUGH HARMONY.

 WHERE ARE THE GIFTS WE’RE SEEKING, IF NOT IN OUR OWN HEARTS

TO SHARE, TO OFFER OTHERS SO THEY MAY KNOW THEIR PARTS

IN WORKING AS THE CHOSEN, WHOSE HERITAGE AND HOPES

IS IN THE GREAT CREATOR, OUR CHRIST, OUR LORD WHO KNOWS.

 LET’S OFFER ALL OUR TALENTS AND WANTS FOR SETTING FREE

THE HOMELESS AND THE HUNGRY, THE HURTING YOU AND ME

REMEMBERING TOMORROW, THE SON WILL RISE AND SHINE

TO GIVE US LIGHT AND HELPERS TO SERVE WHILE THERE IS TIME.

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.

Soul Fiber: Love is a Shield

combined photo

Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel.” King Solomon, Proverbs 11:17

The death of my soul-son the night before Easter Sunday, gave me a new understanding about the hope of eternal salvation (redemption, rescue, recovery).

Oliver called me Saturday morning and asked me to come to Milwaukee and help him write his Memorial Services. He stated that he wanted to have the service in August. Usually, I ask for more information for clarification purposes. This time, however, I responded “I’m on my way.” As I pulled into the hospice parking lot and opened my door, I heard myself saying “I hope that’s not Oliver.” What I heard in return was, “We are so sorry. He died just a few minutes ago.” This is the thing. About an hour before he died, he sent everyone in his room away requesting they get him some clothes under the guise “I am tired of these hospital gowns.” By the time they had returned, Oliver had died.

What saved us from perpetual headache is the realization that Oliver wanted to prepare us (as we talk about the last year of his life there were numerous indicators that he was preparing for another world beyond the reach of mortal kin) and himself for his death without us interfering in the process or holding him back.

While many of us respond on Resurrection Sunday “He is Risen, Indeed” that cliché takes on this new meaning: It is our hope that we are connected with our beloved ancestors and to generations yet to come, all of whom are safely in God’s care. Easter becomes a day-by-day, year-round reality; an anchor in life’s fierce storm (s), a Rock on which to stand, and an optimism that raises you above despair.

Many of you may remember that Oliver named the new church start in the greater Lansing area “Space for Grace Fellowship Center,” encouraged the naming of my articles SOUL FIBER, and posted a Sunday Spiritual Shout-Out on our FB page that we will continue in his memory. His memorial services are scheduled for August 16, 2014 at noon at Riverside Church in New York.

He has an article in my new book NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP titled Another Day of Grace. Most importantly, my soul-son taught me how to see as God sees the world and the people in the world. In his obituary it is written, “He was a virtuoso convener of people, a disseminator of life-affirming, life-saving, and life-improving information and resources,” all of which adds up to be a shield of Love.

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.