Sometimes hope seems like a song whose lyrics you've forgotten. You know it exists and it is good, but your memory cannot do it justice. Then a friend comes along and helps you remember a line. Together you start to remember it more and more, and pretty soon you are singing and giggling.-- Janalee Shadburn
Ben hit the nail on the head in yesterday's Trib Article when he spoke of how crucial the final words of Kyle's final sermon have become to us. I can't help but wonder how this post October 30 life of mine, and of UBC, would have been different without those words. Would we have felt ok laughing? Would the moments I've spent alone being paralyzed with tears and fears have brought me a sense of guilt and shame, had I not been given permission to grieve by the person whose death I am grieving?
I spent that Sunday night with the kids, away from Waco. The next morning, after no sleep, I drove back into town to help with funeral preparations and to buy a suit. (The joke floating around that day was how, based on what we normally wear at UBC, the Waco suit industry was bound to see it's biggest boom in years.) On my way into town I got a call from Jamie telling me Kyle's Bible and the text of his sermon were still on his desk and that I might want to pick it up. So I went to the church, picked it up, then tried to eat for the first time since Saturday night. I didn't get to, but that's a whole other funny story just waiting to be told. (Or, have I already told it? I can't remember.)
I came home and sat down and started to read the sermon. I had no clue what was in store for me. A lot of times I knew bits and pieces of Kyle's sermons because we'd talk about them. But because I had preached on the previous Wednesday night, most of our conversations were about that. All I knew was he was doing God in the Movies on Garden State. I began reading and recognized the text because he had used it in the God's Will book and much of the conversation about the movie clips were familiar because we had watched the movie together about this time last year and talked about it for several days.
But then, "Live, and live well..."
And it was over. Any composure I had remaining was washed away in a sea of little boy tears, right there in my living room. Here was my best friend writing about the life we should all be living by describing the life he lived on a daily basis, and now he was no longer alive. Those words he wrote destroyed me. They destroyed all of us.
But with the same quickness and fury with which those words destroyed us, they began to put us back together again. What caused so much pain by reminding us what was lost gave so much pleasure at reminding us what we've always been given by our Creator-- Life. Here and Now Life.
We say his words a lot. Our blogs are peppered with the words "Live, and live well," and "Love God, Embrace Beauty, and Live Life to the fullest."
I actually have two big fears about those words. One, that those on the outside of ourcommunityy would see the frequency with which we use them and come to the conclusion that we have turned them into a pseudo-canon, approaching the importance of Scripture in our lives. Or, worse, that our love for and remembrance of Kyle would start to look an awful lot like worship.
If this is your concern, do not fear. Kyle is our Saint. He is not our God. He may have been unorthodox in many ways, but he preached true orthodoxy, and as I have said before, we are Jesus People.
My second, and bigger fear, is that we would talk about Living and Living Well so much that it becomes trite. Cliche'. If Kyle hated anything it was cliches. (And theWashingtono Redskins.) Sometimes overuse can empty words of their meaning and I'm afraid Kyle's words are no different. In fact, I think this principle as at the heart of the commandment not to use God's name in vain. I don't think God cares about us saying "God Damn It!" when we burn ourselves as much as he hates us saying his name over and over so much to where it means absolutely nothing.
But we guard his words not by refraining from their use, but by using them over and over and then actually LIVING THEM! You've read a lot of "Live and Live Well," and "Grieve, and Grieve Well" talk, and you may be getting tired of it. But all over our world people who knew and loved Kyle are OBEYING! So if you are getting tired of hearing these words, drive down I-35 and see for yourself.
We are driving around Waco, TX with our windows down and hand out.
We are wiping the snot off of three years olds, and not getting disgusted.
We are grieving, alone and together, and you'd better damn well believe we are grieving well.
We are sitting together over meals and laughing so hard the food is going up our noses.
We are tasting every ounce of friendship.
We are tasting every ounce of life.
We are recognizing it is all a gift, and we are recognizing the Giver is God.
We are living.
Tomorrow I plan on running 13.1 miles. I started running about a year ago and I started running more after Kyle died. I don't run because I think it's fun, although at times it is. Sometimes I have a big smile on my face but most of the time I'm huffing and puffing like the fat kid I still believe I am. I feel many different things when I run, but mostly I feel Kyle running with me. I remember the time at Texas Stadium when we had to run in order to make it to the game by kickoff and how Kyle, who could smoke me in a race, stayed a step behind me. Moving forward, together.
He's several steps ahead of me now but every step I take tomorrow will be for him, and with him. I won't run fast or finish strong. But I'll do everything I can to run well.