Sitting atop a hill the church glistened in the sunlight. There had not been any announcement, visiting hours or other communication indicating there was to be a funeral this day. However, in the back side of the cemetery was a solitary tent with chairs as if a funeral was expected.
Long before the appointed hour cars began to arrive and arrive they did, in record numbers.
It was only a few days before when my friend had been taken to the hospital for acute heart congestion. In short time it became evident the death angel had arrived. With family gathered at the bedside quietly singing the great old gospel Amazing Grace, and as his wife kissed him, my friend slipped off into eternity. All who were present; doctors, technicians, nurses who were witnessing the scene were filled with tears and emotion.
Several weeks earlier my friend and I had breakfast together. It was here he shared his thoughts about the impending events. “Gary, I am tired.” and “I am not afraid of dying…. “I know where I am going and I look forward to it.” On this occasion, as before, he and I engaged in some deep theological and philosophical discussions. It would be the last of such discussions. I shall never forget our talk centering on what it takes to have a successful life. His comments were: “It is relatively simple with only three things God requires of us.” First, stand for what is just……always do what is right…… it is never wrong to do what is right.” Secondly, love mercy…have a forgiving spirit. Thirdly, walk humbly with God….. have fellowship with Him and one another. (Micah 6:8 paraphrased). These were the three principles that governed my friend’s everyday life.
Herbert, my friend, and I had spent our formative years in school and as teenagers worked in many differ venues together. We spent time hunting wild game and did our fair amount of ‘cruisin.’ Although time and distance separated us in our adult life, we were always able to “pick up” where we left off.
In keeping with my friend’s wishes, it was a funeral without any sermons, eulogies or speeches, just simple reflections on a life well lived. A church yard filled to overflowing with very adjective you can think of describing this giant of a man….My Friend. It is no doubt we will see each other again and pick up where we left off…….