November 2, 2013 by Beth Hess
The kind of church where its steeple is the tallest thing for miles around and the overflow parking is a recently harvested onion field, easily distinguished by the scent still wafting from its soil.
The kind of gathering that causes the pastor to delay the start of the service while deacons carry in folding chairs from the fellowship hall to accommodate the number of people wishing to envelop a beloved family feeling the loss of their husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.
The kind of event where a college-aged boy becomes a man before your eyes as he steps literally into his grandfather’s suit and figuratively into his shoes as he leads the family into the sanctuary, guiding his grandmother’s every step. And later stands before the congregation to both laugh and cry his way through a beautiful tribute.
The kind of moments where strangers become friends as they scoot closer to make room for more, then share a hymnal and the harmonies of “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”
Where gray-haired men blow their noses into their handkerchiefs, but teenaged boys use their rarely worn neckties to wipe their eyes. Because all generations in this room have been changed by the life of this man.
This man I never met, but whose funeral tells me everything I need to know about him. Because his ripple effect clearly reaches far and wide. Not because he was perfect — but because he was perfectly content to be who God had uniquely created him to be.
Because being with those who knew him best and love him most stirs in me again the refrain God has been singing into my soul these days.
People matter. Their stories matter. Their sorrows matter. Their smiles matter.
And I pray I might spend the rest of my days listening to the stories. Appreciating the stories. Honoring the stories. Telling the stories.
Including my own.