Monday, November 7, 2011


We survive the family and friends who don’t, our parents often the first to go.  I was told as my Mom just passed away, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Now in friend Sharon and her Dad, Hamilton who died last week, I see once again clearly how that is true.  Praise God for the mysterious plan of vibrant life recycled.  They are the African American family I know best, Sharon a pillar of our Blue Water Pax Christi group, her Dad always supportive of our efforts.

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jn 21:18   Jesus said to young man Peter.
When I met Hamilton more that 10 years ago, he was physically weakening, on his way to wheel chair stage of life.  But he’d come to peace vigils when he could, with big full smile and cogent words of encouragement against war and for justice.  It’s not surprising to learn now at the time of his death, that he’d been a Navy medic during WWII, long term community activist, professor at Wayne State University, co-founder of the Cass Corridor Community Food Co-op, and more.  I find myself an apple close to his tree as well.
 Latin, "Blessed is the Man"
His daughter Sharon is my age, continues her Dad’s style of activism on many fronts, and is a great prod to our Pax Christi group, assuring we’ll never become complacent.  She works diligently for world peace, and, in her persistent personal way, because she’s right-on certain of who she is, works hardest for racial justice—justice for everyone in need.  This starts at home.  Due to family difficulties she stepped in and raised up her sister’s two daughters, from when they were little kids into young adulthood.

  St. Josephine Bakhita
She stands tall while still striving to be servant to all, in family and church community—takes seriously to the point of compulsion Martin Luther Kings’ prime directive:  “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people,” and Jesus’ new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Sharon's seen at nearly every parish potluck, and peace picket line.  Not always first to appear, but often last to leave.  Few hold a candle to her brightness.

Her father was a star in her universe.  Hard to care for sometimes, he often lived with her, and towards the end, she visited him almost every day in the local nursing home.  At his funeral she chose words of W.E.B. Dubois, to make resplendent for us his shining light.

              He sat one morning gazing toward the sea.  He smiled and said, “The gate is rusty on the hinges.”  That night at star-rise a wind came moaning out of the west to blow the gate ajar, and then the soul I loved fled like a flame across the Seas, and in its seat sat Death.

I wonder where he is today?  I wonder if in that dim world beyond, as he came gliding in, there rose on some wan throne a King—a dark and pierced Jew—who knows the writhings of the earthly damned, saying, as he laid those heart-wrung talents down, “Well done!”  while round about the morning stars sat singing.

                --- Excerpt from “The Souls of Black Folk”  p. 161

And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Mt 3:17

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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