Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Out Of Darkness, A Brand New Dawn

(From Chris's Millworks Lighting website)
I like this bit of rabbinic wisdom I ran across some time ago:

"Every one of us will die twice, once when we breathe our last and are buried, and once when people no longer speak our name."

If that is true, the life of a long time friend, age 47, whose funeral I attended at the Park View Mennonite Church yesterday, will continue for a long, long time--not only in the eternal realm, but among the hundreds who will always remember and speak his name.

Chris was a founding partner and owner of numerous enterprises, and was a widely respected businessman. He was also an avid outdoorsman, an accomplished craftsman and a talented musician.

Chris's greatest legacy, however, was in the love he invested in his family as a devoted father of Makaila, Sylvia and Isaac, and the loving husband of his high school sweetheart Lynette. He was also memorialized yesterday for the way he used his considerable entrepreneurial skills in the service of such causes as Our Community Farm, Habitat for Humanity, the Fuller Center, and Eastern Mennonite School, to name but a few.

Tragically, Chris fought a losing battle with amyloidosis in recent years, a rare and debilitating illness that sapped him of his energy and led to a level of despair that resulted in his ending his own life.

Pastor Phil Kniss addressed all of that head on in his powerful message that did not minimize the tragedy in the least. Addressing the crowd of hundreds who filled the auditorium and the adjacent fellowship hall, he began with, 
"Let’s be honest.
This room is packed to overflowing.
And there is not a one of us who wants to be here.
This is the last place we want to be,
and the last thing we want to be doing.
I believe we all would have given our right arms, literally, if it would have prevented the tragedy
that brings us here together today."

But Kniss went on to boldly affirm the good news (from the eighth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans) that "neither life nor death... nor anything else in all creation--including tragedies like amyloidosis and suicide--can separate us from God's love".

Nothing. Ever.

What a gut wrenching day for all of us, but especially for Chris's family. Our heartfelt prayers go out to each of them and to all of his many friends who will miss him terribly.

As a postscript, my wife found the following poem in the 1984 Eastern Mennonite High School yearbook, the Ember, written by Chris and his friend Mike Bender when they were  seniors:

A Brand New Dawn

It's time to move on
Time to look toward a new day
It's a brand new dawn
Lord help me find my way

Looking over my shoulder
Looking over my yesterday
I know its not over
Even though I'm gone away

Because you gave us a melody
A reason to live
How it turned to harmony
When we learned to give

Leavin' so much behind
But there's so much yet to find
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