Tuesday, June 5, 2012
A Memory I Can Never Afford To Lose
I miss Wayne Rogers. He departed this realm almost two years ago. I miss the twinkle in his eye, his lightning-fast humor, his earthiness. I miss watching him give peppermint candy to our kids on Sunday morning. (We now have a tradition in our community of faith: we always keep a bowl of peppermint candy in the foyer and encourage folk to take one. I pick up a piece almost every time I enter that part of the building). I miss the fact that Wayne could never stand in front of a group and speak without getting choked up. The world would be a much better place if we all wept at every moment of joy and sadness. And, I miss that he once told me that he, like me, had a real problem with the doctrine of the Trinity.
But the thing I miss the most was the occasion that occurred every week when he would approach me, put his hand on my shoulder, and almost whisper to me his concern for anything in my life at that moment. He had become friends with my Dad and always inquired about his well-being and then, in time, his failing health. He knew about struggles in our family, especially with some of our children, and he always asked about them, by name. He would want to know how Patti and I were REALLY doing in our vocational work. He wanted the best for us.
When he asked about my Dad, he was never glib, and never, ever, thrust anything into the conversation about God's will. When discussing our children, or other family matters, there was never one word of judgment or condescension. I never walked away from that encounter with a bitter taste in my mouth because of any implication on Wayne's part that "if only" I had done something different or that he felt sorry for me. That kind of suggestion or thought on his part would be so far out of character for him as to be unimaginable.
I don't know how Wayne came to be as he was. I don't know if it just came natural to him or not. I don't know if something happened to him that placed in his heart the desire to always try to walk in somebody else's shoes and to understand. I do know that if ever there had been something that he could have done to make life better for someone, that, by damn, he would have done it. I do know that his precious wife, Clara, now approaches me with the same kind of interest and tenderness and every week it helps bring some healing to my heart.
Quite regularly when I pray, I tell God that I really do want to follow in the way of Jesus. But, in the meantime, I ask God to make me a little more like Wayne Rogers. I would give anything if, once again, I could have Wayne approach me, place his hand on my shoulder, and whisper........