“Make two lists.
1. Things that make you happy.
2. Things you do everyday.
Tonight we celebrated our friend Allen Smith. As I said before, Allen’s lung cancer took him frighteningly fast. If you gotta go in such a horrendous way, better to go “mercifully quick” as Terry Keys put it. Rev. Mark Davis offered stirring words at the service. One thing that stuck out to me was this: “Allen was a great man full of love, that didn’t always receive love in return in this world.” Still, as I write, tears well up in my eyes at the thought that someone, anyone, could not love that blessed man. There is no one in this world who should ever feel shunned or unloved for any reason. Whether they’re a different color, a different gender, a different sexual orientation, a different height, weight, or eye color; we are all made in God’s image, and it is our duty as Christians – as decent human beings – to love without reservation. Period. Jesus was the embodiment of this ideal. I’m in no way perfect, but I try with all my heart to love and accept every person I meet just as they are. We don’t have to agree on anything, but agreement doesn’t constitute love. “Kindness, mercy, hope, and love,” Rev. Davis continued, are four gifts we seek and should give in return. (I’m paraphrasing, of course. He was much more articulate.)
Still, in the depths of sorrow, there was a convergence of souls who loved Allen as deeply as anyone has ever been loved. His devoted choir-mates sang in their best voices for him. His church family honored him in song, in prayer, and in the joy of just being together.
Allen liked people being together and being happy. His best friend Terry Keys (above) made sure Allen’s service was exactly the way he wanted it. That’s a huge responsibility, but there’s no one else more suited to the job than Terry. He’s a strong man, and a strong friend, able to carry his brother when he needed to. For many years Sara Holroid (above) sang with Allen and Terry in the choir. Like everyone else, she loved Allen deeply. Sara doesn’t sing in the choir anymore (I don’t know why, she’s only 92 for goodness sake), so it was a real treat to see her again: that quintessential smile a reminder to be joyful in all moments because you never know which will be your last. I hate so much that Allen has walked on, but I’m thankful for him, and for Terry, and Sara, and all my church family. I am a better person because of them, and grateful for the kindness, mercy, hope, and love they’ve shared with me.
Godspeed, Allen, and thank you for being my friend.