Archive for May 16th, 2008

On a jet plane, almost…

Ok, the last thing I have to do before I go to bed is write this blog entry. Tomorrow will be fun, I will have to get up at 6:00, and basically fly for 15 hours, arriving in Tokyo (via NYC) the next day at 2:30 in the afternoon. Never mind that it will be something like 2:30 AM here in Durham, in Tokyo my day will just be getting started!

But that’s the fun, negotiating a foreign place. I like the challenge. Of course the greater challenge may be nogiating traveling in Japan with my friends Larry and Chris. They don’t travel with a backpack like I do. That’s right, everything I need will be on my back. They stay in nice places, and they have everything all planned out. I stay in grungy places and eat street food. But it will be good to see familiar faces, and when I get sick of those familiar faces I can wander off and do my photography thing. It will all work out.

I guess you can call me a little scrappy.

Kind of like this place:

Ok, bear with me while I take one last look back at Buffalo. Tomorrow I head firmly toward the future. And what better place to go back to the future than Japan.

My dad wanted his funeral service in this scrappy gym, that was part of the inner city ministry he built, instead of in some gleaming suburban church.

I knew on that day, April 5th, I had something to say, so I said this:


Before I honor my father who is laid before us, I want to take this opportunity to honor one of the living.

Most of you believe in angels, and as many of you know, I have my doubts. But there very well may be an angel among us.

She came into my father’s life shortly after the death of my mother,
And as always, I had my doubts.

But somehow, for some elusive reason, she joined herself in marriage to this sincere, but very demanding, dare I say, somewhat difficult, man of god. Not only that, she took him in his greatest season of need, knowing full well it would be a difficult journey. A journey that would end – like this. She literally put her life down to facilitate his. And in ever growing intensity over the years, his needs increased. And she was always there to meet them.

Day and night, in ways few can imagine.

She served him tirelessly, faithfully, and continuously, And always, always, with a smile. And did I mention he could be a little, uh, demanding.

I sincerely believe he would not have made it nearly this far without her by his side, every step of the way.

And for this I simply say, thank you angel Linda

(she received a standing ovation)

But I have no doubt, her rewards in this have equaled if not exceeded her outlay of service to my father, because she yoked herself to a man with the highest degree of integrity I’ve seen this side of heaven.

Yea, my father was always the boss man, always a force to be reckoned with, but he led with humility and honesty, never putting himself at center stage, never bolstering his image with flashy clothes or things, never boasting about his achievements, never preaching as a performance but simply speaking from the heart, never making his leadership about him, but rather about those he could serve.

And though his legs grew weary in his last years, he most certainly walked the walk!

What could be a better testament to his priorities than this scrappy gym we find ourselves in this morning. Take a look around you. Look into the heart of this man. For my father is not in that casket, he is in the very essence of this large but humble room. And it’s no surprise, this is exactly where he wanted to be honored. To my dad, image meant nothing, it was always the underlying truth that mattered. And in this I am standing firm with him. He is not wearing a tie, and neither am I.

Though I never believed in the god he so faithfully served, though we could never find that elusive middle ground in the political landscape, though I could never eat quite as much as he – he accepted me, he respected me, he understood me, and he loved me as much as I did him.

My dad always told me, “The door was always open”. Any time I wanted, there was always a place for me in his home. Of course, now that I think of it, that pretty much went for anyone. – that’s how big his heart was.

And finally let me tell you, he left me nothing. No money, no cars, no real estate, no stocks, bonds or investments. It’s all here in this scrappy building and the people he has served.

And I’m happy as a clam.

Because really, he left me everything. He left me exactly what I need to complete my journey. By his example he left me the greatest inheritance of all – integrity, honesty, sincerity, and maybe a bit too much overconfidence.

And I love you for it.

Ok, now lets go to Japan, where I promise the pictures will be prettier!

Advertisements