"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Monday, January 10, 2005

Chapters of Life

This morning the members of my church laid a gentleman to rest. He was probably one of the best-loved people there. They printed his obituary in the bulletin yesterday. I learned a number of significant things about his life.

He died at age 88. He came to our area in 1978; he was retiring, at the age of 63, to the Branson area of southwest Missouri. He was a charter member of the church here. He and his wife were married 67 years. He owned a service station once--sold gas for 12 1/2 cents a gallon. He created in others, particularly the men of the church, the kind of profound appreciation that defies efforts of the human tongue to express.

There are some who would think that retiring to the Ozarks at 63 the end of life itself. But this man had a quarter century ahead of him. Those who knew him here always knew him as an old man, yet his wisdom was valued all the more. There are few venues anymore, it seems, in which the aged are appreciated for their experience and advice instead of for vain attempts to pretend they're still young. His Biblical knowledge was tempered by long years of habit and experience, making his example ever more uplifting and encouraging.

He'd been sick for the past two and a half years, and his death was announced, "he's gone home!" Despite a typo in the program, we do not weep as those who have no hope. He himself had expressed a desire to go home repeatedly--not as an expression of power or control in this world but rather just a yearning for the next. His faith was strong and specific on that point.

This was a good man whose ways and life confounded much of what we consider modern. For my part, I shall remember him, especially when confronted with the challenge that seems oh-so-new but is not. I shall remember him when I mistake the loss of easy pleasure in my life for the end of my life. And I shall remember him when pain and hardship attendeth my way and I view my lot with the arrogance of one who thinks he knows the whole story. Rest in eternal peace, Brother Wess.

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