There are times in the life of a community that are for celebration and times that are for sorrow. And, there are times like this one, that are for both.
And it was that smile that I remember from the first time I met Dee. In those first few moments of conversation, when I sat eating a sandwich in a place I had never been, about to embark on a journey I could not imagine, I learned in a few short minutes of small talk that this woman sitting next to me was a pioneer, an educator, a worker for social justice, a lover of nature, and a lover of all God’s creation. And in that moment, she taught me about hospitality in a way that no one else could.
And over the months and years that followed, she helped pick me up from a place of despair and pain that she probably didn’t even know I was in…and she did it all by being kind and appreciative of my music and my struggles to find a life of faith. She cried and hugged me at my baptism; likewise at my licensing. And I never had a chance to tell her about the next stage of my journey, but I know that she would like it and she would smile and kiss my cheek at each new step in its unfolding.
I hope that she had some small knowledge of the gifts she gave to me and to others. She was so loved by our community and by the large and talented family that lent her to us on Sunday mornings. And I am so very sorry that I will not be able to be there to celebrate her life with them next weekend.
But I know that if there is anything that Dee would want from me, it would be a song. And so, to close, I offer you all the words of a song by Ruth Ellen Schram…not a great work of art, but it is the song my heart provided to me this morning as I think about all Dee meant to me and what she taught me. If she taught me anything, she taught me to make every moment of my life an alleluia:
Make my life an alleluia, a song of praise to You each day.
To proclaim Your grace and glory, fill my heart with Your praise, I pray.
When I stand at the mountaintop, or the valley of despair,
This will be my cry, my song, my prayer;
|Lord make my life an alleluia.
Make my life an alleluia, a gift of love to You, my king.
I will join with all creation in the song that the heavens sing!
The earth will turn, and the planets spin, as the seasons ebb and flow;
still Your grace surrounds me as I go,
Lord, make my life an alleluia.
Make my life an alleluia, this off’ring of myself I give to You.
I will share Your grace and mercy for as long as I shall live.
When I come to my journey’s end,
may those left behind be reminded,
this has been my cry, my song, my prayer;
Lord make my life an alleluia.
I promise Dee, I won’t forget.