Imagine a city park. Those of us in rural communities don’t consider parks as much because we have lots of wide open spaces in which to wander. But an urban area where there are blocks of apartments, businesses and busy streets, without any green spaces between, (“Green space (land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation) is without real life. One article I read talked about active and passive green spaces. Our parks serve both purposes and we need to protect them both. I want to explore that a bit.
Early photos of Glendive show land that is completely open between the river and the badlands. The community was once reminded that every tree in Glendive has been planted. And in this country that also means watered with great care and in many cases protected from the winter elements. The first settlers of the Great Plains struggled to grow trees. My first trips east of the Missouri River were overwhelming. I had never seen so many trees in one place. But you see, I was a prairie dweller, used to viewing an open horizon. While my grandmother from Wisconsin would return to the South Dakota prairie with soil from Wisconsin, hoping it would help her lilac bushes to grow, struggling as they did in the drought, wind, and the heat.
We need green spaces and we need trees and flowers and areas where we can just “be”, away from the noise and confusion of business and traffic. Glendive’s city parks are wonderful. We are blessed with public green spaces in every part of town. And these parks are maintained by the Public Works department. They water, mow, fertilize, rake leaves, maintain equipment and picnic tables. Those green spaces we take for granted, that we cherish for their shade and beauty and tranquility, are a gift given to the community.
Just think of Lloyd Square Park. How often in the summer do folks find shelter from the heat under the towering trees. Years ago there were band concerts in the park and Shakespeare in the Parks used the area for many years of plays — there is the swimming pool and bath house, tennis courts, playground, covered and open picnic areas, a basketball hoop and a lovely maintained garden and lots of room for the squirrels to play. The parks over the bridge include soccer fields, horse shoe pits, another tennis court, volleyball grounds, playground and skate park and picnic tables. Whipkey Park on the East side has a splash park, playground, baseball field and soccer fields and skating rink and a wonderful hill that is the best place in town for children to go sledding.
A green space is more valuable than we imagine. We humans have a compulsive need to fill up spaces. If there is an open lot we put up a shed. We fill our parks with things to do. But we also need a place to be able to sit quietly and read a book, or throw out a blanket and have a picnic, or wander among the trees and observe nature. Green spaces are not empty spaces in and of themselves, but filled with natural life which is essential to our mental well being.
As I listen to people talk about our local green spaces I keep hearing about more things to build in our parks. Of filling up the spaces, when the wonder and beauty of Makoshika, or example, is its wilderness. Development has its place, but it can also destroy the gift that is given us to just wander at will.
We need active and passive green spaces and then we must plan our parks and activities with care. Green spaces are areas that keep giving for generations. We need to do our work of preservation in this time and space. (Avis Anderson is a long-time resident of Glendive currently serving on the City Council.)
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, - and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of. . .and while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God. (Poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee)
By chance, did you catch the lift off of the space ship “Resilience” this past week-end, as it headed into space taking four astronauts to the space station? It put me in mind of when I first heard the word “Sputnik” and Yuri Gagarin; then John Glenn and Apollo and those words, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Those were heady days in America when we were united by some of the greatest achievements history had ever seen. I had to watch the lift-off on some side tv channel. We here on earth are still mired in our red and blue tribal culture, clinging to vestiges of what “was” rather than recognizing that history is linear. History moves in a straight line and it is always forward.
To watch that shiny ship head into space and think of us still caught in the squabbles that hold us bound to the past is really pathetic. You can’t hold on to the past. A lot of us try to, but it is a deadly past-time that will eventually lead to our own destruction.
I watched the lift off because my nephew, an environmental engineer, let us know. He was excited and knowledgeable about the whole process and what would happen once the ship docked at the space station. He is a Gen X’er and is part of that newer generation of young people who can see beyond our petty squabbles to what lies ahead. You might say he sees beyond the stars. Scientists described the next moon landing which will be near the polar caps of the moon. There is ice there, i.e. water. The moon will become a fueling station for journeys to Mars. I will never see that happen, but he and his family may. But I was there at the beginning when President John Kennedy issued the first challenges that this was something that could be done. And who knew we would see this new day.
Given all the disasters of 2020 I would really pray the New Year will see us rising to our feet and taking up the journey of humanity once again. The promise of a vaccine for the pandemic is here and it is as great an achievement as “Resiliance”. Our democratic process again proved there can be a free election with a peaceful passing of power (albeit reluctantly). History moves us on. As the four astronauts are speeding through space to their new home for seven months, can we move on one step at a time to something greater than ourselves — freedom from war and bloodshed, and poverty, freed for the promise of equality for all people in this time and this place. Promises of a roof over our heads, food for our families, and Peace on Earth goodwill to all.
After a contentious election it is finally over. Biden won but Trump won't concede that he lost. There are all kinds of things that could go wrong between now and January 20th so I don't know. Keep praying, I guess.
Montana went wholly Republican -- couldn't believe it. I think people went down the line and just checked all the Republicans and didn't even think about who they were voting for. It really was disheartening -- so sad -- as some excellent candidates were defeated.
The tribal warfare is so frustrating in this country. There is no concept of compromise. I think Biden's election was a hope that something will change, but I don't know if the opposition will allow that to happen. The need to demonize the other party just stops anything good from happening. When we say "God bless America" we have to mean it from both sides of the aisle and the bottom of our hearts.
Let's see, two trips to Miles City to take recycling and hit Wal-mart and one trip to Dickinson to see an orthopedic guy for a brace which I never got and that's it since the day before Thanksgiving 2019 when I had my surgery. I have not been out of town! I am amazed at how I have accepted the situation with going slowly mad!! In fact, I do admit that everyone I know has done pretty well considering the quarantine situation. The big thing I hear that people did was clean house -- all those boxes were finally sorted and gone through.
But this is about my escape on Saturday. I thought I was getting company, but that didn't happen so I called my nephew in Rapid City, Cole, and asked him to meet me in Buffalo, South Dakota. It was time for a lefse drop! I had ordered lefse for the family and now I had to get it to them.
I left town heading east about 7:30 a.m. The minute I left town I hit fog. I drove in fog nearly the whole way 161 miles. It wasn't pea-soup thick, but it was enough that I couldn't pass on two-lane highways. Just as I am amazed at the folks who don't wear masks these co-vid days, I am surprised at the folks who didn't turn on their headlights when driving in the fog. It really was dangerous.
I drove the first leg of the trip behind a pick-up pulling a trailer. We just got to Baker (75 miles) and a coal train was going through -- at the four way stop the pick up went west and I headed east -- right behind a man hauling several rolls of hay (wide load) on a flatbed. The speed limit in North and South Dakota is 65 on 2 lane highways so that was the only thing that made me have patience. Being a Montana driver I am used to faster speeds. Dad called it my "lead foot".
Cole and I met in Buffalo at the gas station on the south end of town. (Great spot to meet -- can't miss it!) We bought a sandwich at their convenience store and sat in the car and ate. I got a good pre-covid hug, turning my face away from him, but it felt so good. Other than a couple of zoom gatherings I hadn't seen him for a year! He is such a nice man.
I drove back, stopping in Bowman to fill up with gas and get some junk food and then headed north to Amidon and Belfield before I hit the interstate. By that time the fog was gone and the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. I got back good season before the deer started coming out. It was a beautiful ride. The windshield time is always a time to be treasured.
Today there was rain and snow, (see photos above) then some clearing, but more of the same predicted.
What freedom! Of course I used plastic gloves to put gas and put on my mask going into the station. It was good to know I could drive that far and made my hip healing almost complete. Distance traveled 340 miles round trip.
As Covid sweeps over the prairies like a wildfire and the political debate and division daily grow more acrimonious and unending, the Book of Lamentations in the Old Testament gives us much to think about. Twice now, Lamentations 3.22-27 has appeared in my thoughts and thus into some musings:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Setting is all important to this piece. According to commentaries, the book is a series of five poems that were long believed to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah, depicting the suffering of the children of Israel in Babylon.
Marin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, saw these poems as more than just a harkening back to Babylon. Luther’s theology is called the Theology of the Cross. He believed we meet God in the suffering of this world. Later, Albert Schweitzer would come to a similar understanding that we can only know who Jesus really is when we meet him in the work he has called us to do for our time. To divorce Jesus from his teachings about our call to serve the poor, the sick, those in prison, the hungry, those victims of injustice, that is, the suffering, is to not know Jesus at all. There is another line that says Jesus’ call is to come and die with him and in scripture he says, “Take up your Cross and follow me.”
Lamentations is a book of hope in the middle of suffering. To lament is to claim personal suffering and the suffering of others, but to also know what we are to do with that suffering. We are to lay it at the feet of Jesus and then translate our laments into action. We never give up hope. We go on working and fighting and caring. The struggles of this life also mark a clear vision of our call to serve the world.
Today is All Saints’ Sunday 2020. Saints don’t work for sainthood. It isn’t like a promotion in the Kingdom of God. Saints work because they love God and their lives are lives of gratitude for all they have been given. Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Workers’ Movement wrote, “You cannot look for the true meaning of communion as worship to be participated in by all and dedicating yourself to God in prayers and worship, and yet remain a cold-blooded individualist in one’s life outside the church.” I am reminded of a member of the Movement who was recently injured in Buffalo, New York, during a Black Lives Matter march. He was pushed to the ground as he called for justice and peace. There is much to lament in our world today. The voices of compassion are muffled in the face of oppression and power. But they are never silent. As real today as they were in the time of Jeremiah, the Laments teach us how to sit quietly in the mercies of the Lord being filled with His loving care for the good of the world.
Nihilism is the belief that there is no meaning or purpose in existence.
I am guessing it is the result of the last few days of gloomy weather — probably a foretaste of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — but the above definition is an atmosphere I am seeing begin to appear in our society. The word is nihilism. In the extreme, it is a nasty philosophy that says nothing matters.
There is also the biblical “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” (Ecclesiastes, Isaiah). Whichever definition of life calls to you, neither does humanity much good.
When I checked today there were 40.2 million cases of Covid in the world. 27.6 million of those cases had recovered, but 1.12 million deaths have been recorded. I wrote that out to look at the zeroes — 1,012,000. The human race deals better with things we can touch, smell, see, hear and taste so looking at a series of numbers doesn’t do much for me. I can’t wrap my head around the human suffering unless it touches me, personally.
Many years ago I was traveling in India on a summer Fulbright program for teachers. When we were in Calcutta, we attended a concert which ended just about the time people were getting off work for the day. I was sitting in the bus when the driver turned the headlights on. Suddenly the population of India at 1,353,000,000 people became real to me. As far as I could see there were people moving. I imagined if I stepped off the bus I could have walked down the street on the heads of those passing by. Real people on their way home from jobs. Going to families to have dinner. To play with their children. To check on their elderly parents. And on and on I imagined their lives. Absolutely no different from mine. I have never forgotten that experience. Whenever I begin to be too self important, too self centered I think of the billions of people who are just like me. The human family — every color and language and culture God made possible.
The Covid virus has exposed our vulnerability and we don’t like it. The pandemic prevents us from doing the things we want to do. It is easy to become like a pouty, self-serving child when we don’t get our way. We begin to imagine that nothing matters but this moment and so whatever we do is okay. We imagine that we might as well party today because death might come to us tomorrow and we never think about those others whose lives cross paths with our own.
Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story entitled “The Masque of the Red Death”. A group of wealthy people flee to a country estate to escape the plague wiping out the city in which they live. They feel fortunate to have gotten away from the threat of death. What they don’t know is that death will crash the party and they will all die. The theme of the story is the inevitability of death.
We can live with that idea of inevitability. But what can happen is that we lose our humanity and any compassion is quickly destroyed. As long as we live we need to care for each other. Life is not about me nor is it about you, but it is about “us” and how we can improve what time we have and make it good for everyone.
Autumn rains for the most part are soft rains. Hearing the rain on the roof of my carport is the most calming sound I know. If you don’t have a piece of metal somewhere that the rain can hit you should put one in. The rain makes me pensive and that’s a good thing. My breathing rate slows down and I look with dreamy eyes at the lowering clouds. I know rain is not always welcome when you are working with sugar beets or have hay to haul, but for the most part the rain is a fresh perspective as it washes off the dust and sharpens the fall colors.
We need dreamy, pensive moments. To just sit and look out the window and think is a gift of time which we ignore at peril to our mental wellbeing. In these days of trouble and strife the call for peace in our hearts, our families, between neighbors is the only way to look at the world with new eyes and with a more loving disposition.
Driving in a soft rain that falls straight down in a steady beat is almost a gift. My muscles and my brain just slow down to sync with nature. Ray Bradbury, a science fiction writer, penned a short story entitled “There will come soft rains.” A nuclear holocaust has destroyed all human life. In the story ”the rain signifies nature's way or function of cleansing itself. And, following this nuclear explosion and the decimation of the human population, there is the sense that nature is cleansing itself of the nuclear fallout and of the presence of humanity itself.”
The soft rains of fall may be a way of wiping out the anger and bitterness that have addressed this entire year, in fact several years. We have to move on to something better. When immigrants came to these shores in huge numbers it was because they were moving on. They were looking for a new start. The Westward movement beyond the Applachians and the Mississippi River was looking ahead. The Homestead Act that settled our area was for people to find a new start. We don’t have the land to explore anymore, but we do have an inner space that needs lots of attention.
People have survived drought, economic depression and war. Life has never been easy. One author has written that life is complicated and hard and until you accept that you cannot get on with the business of living. It is the determination to work together, and to care for each other that makes the difference. That willingness to look at the larger picture is the route to survival. The cause of justice for all people; an America that can see the vision of freedom and a good life for all its citizens needs to call good men and women forward to vote, to speak out, to serve each other. With this compassion, democracy will survive. Without it, all the good things for which we have worked to make life better for the children will disappear like a dream.
Sermon November 1, 2020 UCC Matthew 5.1-12
(first draft of a sermon)
Today is All Saints Sunday. It is a Festival of the Church that recognizes those who have gone on before us — their journey is done and they now rest from their labors. The day was celebrated by the organized church as early as 300 a.d., but it wasn’t until it came to England about 800 that Halloween was connected to it. Historians have linked Halloween to Samhain, the Celtic festival of the summer's end celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. According to Celtic mythology, the veil between the Otherworld and our world thins during Samhain, making it easier for spirits and the souls of the dead to return. So you can see how all this started to come together. When Madison Avenue caught hold of its significance — well, today more money is spent on Halloween decorations than Christmas.
All Saints’ festival comes at the end of the Church Year. In about three weeks we will be at Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church year and then Advent begins the new church year. We are at a summing up time. We in this rural area know the importance of harvest for our families in agriculture. Harvest is bringing in what you have created and then seeing that it will sustain you through the winter months. There is the weighing of profit and loss. “All Saints” parallels this harvest idea. It is a time of recognition of all the saints, those who have attained heaven, but whose sainthood is known only to God. A wrapping up, a time of closure: The great hymn “For all the saints” begins —1 For all the saints who from their labors rest, who thee by faith before the world confessed, thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. I think of holy communion as the “communion of saints”. When we share the bread and cup, we join in that holy meal God has prepared for us and all the saints. When we take the bread and the wine, as we will in a few moments, we are with the saints and part of that great eternal body blessed by God and that is no small thing. The hymn continues: 4 O blest communion, fellowship divine, we feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
In the 1600s, author Paul Bunyan wrote a book called Pilgrim’s Progress. It is said to be the most popular book next to the Bible. It is the story of an ordinary man who reads the Bible and is convicted of his sin and begins the journey to the Celestial City. The trials and tribulations that Pilgrim meets on his journey have much to do with that idea of attaining sainthood. Until we go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death or the Slough of Despair or must contend with those who would draw us away from our journey we don’t see ourselves as saints. We think we have to be good enough to be saints. Well, saints are not perfect. All Christians are saints.
Let’s think about it. The months since New Year’s have really been long and tough. When you know that over 200,000 people have died from Covid in the United States alone and then you begin to add the count from around the world it is frightening; we have suffered through forest fires of terrible fury, hurricanes; protests on systemic racism; political anger; unemployment; poverty. And in many ways we are numb. As God’s people we really do feel we are called upon to care for others and speak out of behalf of justice and the poor. If I am going to call myself a Christian, if we are saints of the Cross, then where and how do we stand not only in these tempest-tossed times, but throughout all our lives?
Jesus offers us a solution. It is rather like answering a want ad. Listen to Jesus, the One we follow as our Lord and Savior, speak to his followers in Matthew, known as the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is like a want ad. Let’s listen to the job description, because it is here we can lay out our marching orders for the days ahead: 5 — When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
So here Jesus lays out God’s plan for us to follow. And its not a cakewalk! Answering the advertisement to be a saint is tough — we are called to be merciful, to look with the eyes of Christ, to care for the persecuted, to give ourselves to others with no concern for ourselves. And then Jesus reminds us that we are salt and light for the world. People cannot survive without salt and without light.
A saint is anyone who accepts the job description as it is written and faithfully follows Jesus. Most of us don’t see ourselves as “saints”. How do you describe a saint? I think of quiet people. They don’t walk with the crowds, but rather work with just a few to make things right. They don’t expect to make a statement or be remembered. They see something that needs doing and they do it. They don’t have to be asked. Saints don’t work for sainthood — to have a day named for them. It isn’t like a promotion in the Kingdom of God. Saints work because they love God and their lives are lives of gratitude for all they have been given.
The end of November is also the secular holiday Thanksgiving. That was never a festival set by the church. For Christians, everyday is thanksgiving day when we approach it as a saint. The saints of God are those who live lives of gratitude to God for all we have been given — life itself is central to that gratitude. The hymn “For all the Saints” closes with a vision of that blest place which is prepared for all the saints to praise God. Our desire for this place is built into our very DNA and we do not rest peacefully until we rest there. 7 But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of glory passes on his way. 8 From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast, through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is our final destination granted to us by a good and gracious God. May our lives be saintly examples of God’s love and care for us as we walk the path of sainthood, caring for the people of God.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, author and historian, has done some great research on a number of presidents. Her book Team of Rivals about the cabinet Abraham Lincoln drew around him to assist in dealing with the Civil War should be on the book shelf of every American. She draws on that time in Lincoln’s life for her book (2018) Leadership in Turbulent Times. In these pages she includes her research for her books on Franklin D. Roosevelt (No Ordinary Time), Lyndon Baines Johnson (And the American Dream) and Teddy Roosevelt (The Bully Pulpit). For each president she points to a crisis of enormous proportions in their time, a time in which they seemed to be the individual best suited, with the leadership qualities that made the difference for this country.
For Lincoln it was the decision to enact the Emancipation Proclamation; for TR it was the coal strike of 1902 and his battle to break up the big capitalist trusts; FDR’s first 100 days in office were crucial to turning the country from the despair of the Great Depression to a vision of what was possible in a country where everyone mattered; and for LBJ it was to enact the Civil Rights and Voting Acts, Federal Assistance for secondary education, and Medicare.
All were men who had a progressive vision and felt called to serve the people of this country. In fighting the wealthy, the well-born and powerful, they were answering to the needs of the people. Lincoln believed the executive was the “steward of the people” and after reading his 10 volume biography, Teddy Roosevelt echoed those very words. During TR’s term, he showed caution and patience throughout the strike, but when the situation had reached a state of acute danger to the people he was pledged to protect, when people needed help, TR could not tolerate “any implication that the government of the United States was helpless.” For the people he was willing to break precedents and risk his leadership.
Franklin Roosevelt took much the same direction when he stepped away from laissez-faire philosophy. For FDR it was the people who mattered. To relieve, ease, safeguard, guarantee, ensure — to bring comfort to the suffering he felt his highest and best calling.
Lyndon Johnson, a son of the South, was a defender of the rights of all people. He saw the country through the lens of what actually was and he would not look the other way in the face of white supremacy. In one of his final speeches he said, “The plight of being black in a white society remains the chief unaddressed problem of our nation. Until blacks stand on level and equal ground we cannot rest. Our goal is to assure that all Americans play by the same rules and all Americans play against the same odds.”
As I read about these men, I was reminded that great men and women are still standing tall in our fragmented society. They are unafraid to risk fortune and position to do what is right. We are truly looking for such people in our upcoming elections. These presidents were progressives, meaning they understood the need to reach down and raise up those in need. Many of the issues they faced are still problems which have not been fully met and solved in our own time.
During the time of Teddy Roosevelt there was a progressive movement which swept the country working for labor unions, the rights of workers, breaking up of big businesses and the power of banks and a real commitment to the national parks and environmental resources we all hold dear. Climate change, saving the Arctic, the forests of the West and working toward clean energy are all part of our responsibilities in this time and in this place. Then we turn our eyes to the rest of the world where hunger and disease are the realities for billions of people. All people matter. We must and we will overcome.
Seeing the word “grace” in several recent newspaper accounts about the school district, was a welcome change from the cruel words that have washed over us and difficult situations in which we have found ourselves over the past year. “Grace”? How do you live with the word “grace”? It is different from the word “service” which was the key word for last year’s school year as selected by the district. “Service” is an active word. We can do something with service. But what do you do with the word “grace”? To me, “grace” is an attitude that colors all of life. In common parlance we might say it is “cutting the other guy some slack.”
It isn’t a word we hear very often unless it is associated with a description of a “gracious and loving God” or the “grace” we receive as forgiven people of God.” A word used by the Christian church. No, “grace” is harder to twist into a secular situation and particularly in these days. And yet it is a word that was never needed more.
How do we meet people who have survived the west coast fires or the east coast hurricanes? How do we approach people in the middle of protests and times of racial injustice? How do we look eye to eye with the folks who come to the Food Bank or apply for assistance in these days of economic recession? How do we honor peoples’ pain and the suffering and the struggles of their lives both in our own country and the world, unless we become a grace-filled people?
That is a huge order in these days of tightly held and frequently parochial belief systems. As our days shorten, may we pray to have lived a grace-filled life. Grace-filled means looking at the lives of others with understanding, with a humility that shows I know I do not know what their lives are like. I cannot make decisions for them, but in humility allow them to show me what they need and more importantly tell me who they are without my own prejudices attached.
Many years ago I remember attending a discussion about poverty in Dawson County. Several of the people at the gathering were women who were poor — single moms — joblessness was a key word in the discussions. How to accept food commodities in order to feed their children and do it with grace even though they were angry at the circumstances that had put them in this place. Those of us attending needed the grace to keep silent; needed the grace to honor their anger and accept the integrity of their lives.
“Grace” does not judge another. “Grace” accepts the situation and those involved and then moves on from that point. For the school district to take the word “grace” as a key word for this year lays a responsibility on the whole community. The word is not only for the students in their dealings with each, but for we adults to look at our lives in this time and place and to attempt to live a grace-filled life as we journey with those around us.
Over twenty years ago, attending to my first funeral service, I found a prayer that described the life of the deceased. I have used it often over the years as I came to know and serve many “grace-filled” people. “We thank thee, O God, for all the goodness and courage which have passed from the life of this your servant into the lives of others, leaving the world better than it was; for a life’s task faithfully and honorably discharged, for gracious and kindly generosity, for sadness met without surrender and weakness endured without defeat. Glory be to you, O Lord Most High.”