June was that rare person who could be busy with five different things and never be too busy or in too much of a hurry to talk with you. On several occasions, when I was one of many guests in her home, June managed to feed a crowd and keep up a conversation that was always gracious and never seemed rushed. I’m not sure how she did that, but I’m so grateful I got to experience it. I always left her house and her presence with a lighter heart and a grateful spirit.
My life is richer for June’s presence in it, and I am grateful to God for the time I got to spend with her.
I’ve loved Jimmy Buffett’s music since Come Monday came out. I learned his songs on LP, cassette, CD, DVD (sound tracks), and now through a streaming service. I love his originals and the remakes: James Taylor’s Mexico, John Denver’s Nothin’ But A Breeze, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. I’ve read The Jolly Mon to my sons and his novels for myself.
I danced my sons off to bed with Barometer Soup and Banana Wind. I did know by heart all the songs on Songs You Know By Heart. When I heard Fruitcakes on the radio while driving from New Jersey to New Hampshire, I pulled in to the next strip mall that had a record store to buy it [The only other time I did that: Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth].
Were there Buffett songs I didn’t care for? A few. Did I waste away in Margaritaville? No. Did I see in his word and music a troubadour? Absolutely. There was so much fun to his music, with not a little philosophy and a smidge of theology thrown in. Written on album sleeves and written on my heart so many songs.
Blessings and Peace, Jimmy Buffett. And profound thanks for your life’s work.
He was the new Suffragen (assisting) bishop when we moved into the Diocese of Massachusetts. He and his wife hosted all the new clergy and their spouses for dinner a few months later at their home in Needham. That was in 2002.
In the past twenty-one years, I’ve worked with Bud many times. He began a summer program for families at the Barbara C. Harris camp that offered family and faith friendly gatherings in the Monadnock region. Guitar in hand, he visited churches almost every Sunday. He had a passion for children’s ministry and a willingness to sing silly and sacred songs.
When he retired, he and his wife, Ruth Ann, settled in Plymouth and chose Christ Church in Plymouth for their church home. His passion for environmental awareness and appreciation continued in his work with the Creation Care movement; he encouraged churches to have energy audits and to adopt earth friendly practices. He and his wife sponsored local families at Christmas, shopping for gifts and the much needed food cards.
Bud Cederholm died peacefully in his sleep a few days ago. He touched so many lives, including mine. I am thankful for the many times I saw his love for God’s children grace the world.
Larry was on staff at the Evangelical Free church, but he was the youth pastor for the whole town of Canon City. He kept late hours and brought home a lot of teens who needed a safe place to land; the court system assigned troubled youth to Larry, giving them a chance to stay out of the criminal justice system. He had a good number of parents and non-parents who supported his work as chaperones, snack suppliers, and even a backyard pool for parties. He laughed easily and often. He said I love you, brother without reservation.
His love for Jesus and the people of Canon City changed the world. So many men and women grew in faith because Larry saw in them a child of God and a gift to the world – including my husband, Dave. His twenty-three years of ordained ministry began in Larry’s youth group.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three. And the greatest of these is love.
I went to a graveside service Saturday, committing to the ground a father and son I’d known for nineteen years. What these two men left behind was a testament to who they were. The love everyone had for them, and the love for each other, was a quiet, palpable presence among us. Toddlers playing, new people who will become integral members of this family soon enough, and the friends who became family long ago are all part of the love these two men left with the living. They abide in God’s eternal love, and they left behind an abiding love that gives all of us a glimpse of what is to come when the partial gives way to the complete.
Gracious God, I am so grateful for Ben the father, and Ben his son. Thank you for their lives, and for the abiding love they leave behind. Amen.
He had one of the sharpest minds on campus, and one of the sharpest wardrobes (thanks to his wife, Hester). His work in Science and Theology went beyond the bounds of theological study, adding an openly spiritual element to a global, interdisciplinary dialogue. What made him a good mentor and outstanding teacher: he found life fascinating, in its many aspects. He made writing my dissertation much more interesting for his presence on my committee. More than any of these things, Wentzel was a friend.
I spent many hours in the van Huyssteen home, as a guest and as the campus bartender for special events at the seminary. The social grace and gracious spirit to be welcoming, respectful, and comfortable in both circumstances were signs of confidence and hospitality that eluded many others.
Wentzel was part of my life, not just part of my academic life. He and Hester toasted my engagement, celebrated the births of my sons, and made life wonderful with their presence at the dinner table. I am so grateful for his life, and for the blessing he brought into mine.
Tom sent a work of art every year – a Christmas card. Always beautiful, with a wonderful sense of proportion – the kind of art that the heart and soul appreciate as much as the eye.
Angels on High
These images graced our living room for the holidays, and now keep my place in the Bible and Book of Common Prayer. I see them every day, and every day I am grateful for the beauty they bring.
That would have been enough, the gift of beauty. But Tom also brought other gifts: a wonderful, quiet sense of humor; music to fill the worship space; and art in many forms to gladden the hearts of all who sat in the sanctuary of Christ Church.
This past year, Tom’s generosity brought joy in a holiday overshadowed by Covid-19. He let me send his Three Kings to the parish and beyond as an Advent Sunday school activity – the magi on a journey to unknown places, bringing gifts of beauty and hope.
Tom didn’t have to be generous, but he was. Tom didn’t have to gladden the hearts of others with his talents, but he did. The world is better for Tom’s presence, and I am better for spending time in his presence.
Three Kings by Tom Nordquist
Blessings and Peace, and Grateful Thanks for you, Tom.