Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Red Shirt, Forgiveness, Sweet Potato Pies, & Loving One Another

I went to the memorial service today for Brian, the shop steward from my Union who I mentioned in a previous blog post. It was one of the most spiritually moving services I've attended in awhile. It wasn't just because of the sadness of losing Brian and his mom, Sandra, but it was also because of the genuineness of the prayers, the music, the testimonies and that all pointed to the spiritual truth I have been learning - that what we do in the ordinariness of each day matters greatly.

It matters when we give a warm hug to someone having a bad day. It matters when we keep reaching out to someone in need even though we may not feel like it. It matters when we let someone know we love them. It matters when we forgive, when we risk being hurt and confide truth to another. It matters when we take the extra time to write a letter or an email or even a text. And, perhaps most of all, it matters when we love others as we love ourselves.

We grow spiritually when we do these things and we impact the world in a profound way. Over the past few months I have thought periodically about what people would say at a service celebrating my life (perhaps a bit morbid, but I have actually found these thoughts to deepen my own faith and practice). I wonder if the things we think about ourselves are actually the things that others would say at such a service. Two moments in particular stood out to me at Brian & Sandra's service and I think they are ones that each of them would probably have thought to be inconsequential.

One of Sandra's nephews shared a story about how Aunt Sandra would always bake the best sweet potato pies (even better than his own mom's he confessed). He recounted with passion an occasion just this past January when she called him up saying she had a huge bag of yams. She guided him through baking 7 or 8 sweet potato pies and he was clearly moved by it. This simple story captivated all of us in the congregation and I think gave us a beautiful glimpse into both Aunt Sandra's career as a teacher and the way she cared for her family.

Brian's co-worker shared about his role as a Shop Steward by giving a specific example of how he engaged his co-workers in mobilization activities. She spoke of how he would always be wearing his red on Thursdays (this is a "thing" in CWA) and how on one particular day he literally gave a shirt off his back so a co-worker would have something red to wear. I doubt it is something that Brian would have found significant, but to me it captured the essence of Brian the Shop Steward (and perhaps even Brian, the person). He was dedicated to the struggle for justice. He was generous and he was a problem-solver. Not a bad legacy to leave behind.

The memorial service today (and the spring service later on at the cemetery where Joe is buried) reminded me of how important the little things we do can really be in the lives of others. We may never know the impact of a phone call, an invitation to dinner, or a note dropped in the mail, but I can tell you from my own experience that each of those things can make a very big difference.

1 comment:

  1. You nailed it, Kiddo. Those little things really can make a huge difference. I find that in my own days - the coworker who takes just a moment to notice the work I have done or the flowers that Sonny Boy might bring when he comes for a weekend visit. So many more things.... and those are the inspirations for moments for ME to bring the smile or the warmth to someone else.
    Thanks for posting.