Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Goodbye colleague and brother-in-law.
Today we received news that my wife's brother died. Life for him had been fairly restricted and increasingly difficult over the last year. He was a couple of months off being eighty one. He had been a Church of Christ minister with two stints as a hospital chaplain. He was a very clever man with his hands. Among other things, he was an artist who loved to paint, could build all sorts of things including furniture, enjoyed photography and was an expert wood turner. In his ministries he used these artistic skills in a variety of ways. He also loved to go deer hunting and had great stories to tell about hunting trips. I don't think he ever succeeded but one of his ambitions was to get a deer with a bow and arrow. He enjoyed the sport of archery in the later part of his life. All his hobbies he did with an intensity, reading widely and making sure he had the right equipment. I went on a few hunting trips with him and it astounded me how he could pull all this specialised equipment out of his pack. I am not sure how he fitted all these and more into the ministry lifestyle, he was surely more organised than I am.
In recent times he seemed a bit bitter about his church ministry experiences and the frustrations of the job. I will have to guard against that. As I come toward the end of my career I find myself getting angry and bitter because of disappointments. I have to let this go and move on. The people who caused the frustrations are oblivious, and my anger only disturbs me and ruins my enjoyment of life. It is wasted energy. Anger can be used as a power for greater efforts, but it is dangerous to just wallow in it. He spent much of the last year in a rest home. I wonder as he sat there and looked back on his life how he felt about it? Did he recognise the numbers of people he had helped? Did he feel that working for the church was worthwhile? And how will I feel when I get to that stage of life?
His emphases and style were different than mine. The times and issues he grew up with were different even though our careers overlapped. He served faithfully as best he saw fit in his time with the gifts and talents he had. Well done good and faithful servant.