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September 23 12:30 PM
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Using word pictures in a time of grief



shadow
shadow
June 18, 2008
It's that delicious half hour before the alarm goes off when, if I wake up on my own, I have to make a choice whether to go back to sleep or get up. This morning I'm choosing to use it to type this column to the backdrop of a symphony the likes of which couldn't be housed in the most prestigious orchestra halls in the world. It's almost like every bird within a country mile is trying to coax the sun to get up and shine on our backyard.

While we're dealing in word pictures, let me tell you about one which happened in the little family prayer service prior to my brother's funeral. (And thank you, by the way, to all of you who have expressed condolences.)

Jim and Mary Ann's pastor is Kevin Korver. I had not met him, knew of him only as "Kyle Korver's dad." (If you watched the Pistons/76ers series you may have seen a pre-game clip of Kyle and his mom playing basketball in Pella—kind of a swan song as he left Philadelphia for the Utah Jazz.) I think there are a couple of other boys also who play basketball.

Anyway, it was against that backdrop that I was hearing Pastor Korver say, "I never know what to do at a time like this. What do I do? What do I say, especially when the person to whom we're bidding farewell has been a sage from whom I have learned a great deal?"

In the front row of this very informal gathering were Jim's wife; Jim's son Brent and his wife Sharla with their two small sons; his daughter Julie and her husband Lance with their four young sons; and his daughter Andrea, home from college—as well as Mary Ann's daughter Julie and her husband Mike and their son and daughter; her son Mark and his wife Christi and their two young daughters; and her daughter Cristin and husband Todd with their two sons and two daughters.

Sharla had lost her mother just a couple of months before, so their little family had been doing a juggling act—of logistics, of emotions—as they balanced Brent's job on the east coast with trips to Pella for his dad and to northeastern Iowa (I think) for Sharla's family.

By now Brent and Sharla were getting a very good feel for what was important and what was peripheral. When the two-year old wriggled off of Sharla's lap and just naturally began to wander over toward the pastor with whom he'd been developing this little relationship, Sharla let him go for a bit, and then she nonchalantly circled behind him and swooped him up into a hug.

A mark of a good pastor, the way I see it, is to be able to take an interruption and turn it into a teaching opportunity. And while, by his own admission, he doesn't know what to do at funerals, he does know a lot about little boys.

Just like that, Pastor Korver said, "I'm going to turn this into a little word picture. That's exactly what today is all about. It's like God motioned and said, 'O.K., Jimmy, time to come home now.' And then he reached down, picked him up, and carried him."

So...in view of that, if you've said to me, "Sorry to hear about your brother," and I replied, "Me too, but not very..." that is what I meant.

By the way, this is Friday. By now, Mike's been up, we've had breakfast, and he's off to work. HE said the birds were singing so profusely because they knew it was going to rain and there would be lots of worms for the taking. As I watch the weather maps, I think he might be on to something.

Castle Creek
Van Dyke Gas
09 - 23 - 17
12:30
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