He used to call me on nights like tonight.
Before caller ID. Before cell phones. Back in the day when an eleven o’clock phone call made you jump out of bed because you knew something bad had happened. It was THE FEAR. A call that late meant someone in the family was dead, or at least well on their way.
He’d ramble. Slurred speech. Random topics. More drunk than high, but probably a little of both.
I just listened in silence because I never knew what to say. I was raised white bread teetotalling Southern Baptist. I had no common ground to stand on, no experience that allowed me to understand. I was twenty-five years old. Never smoked a joint, never drank a beer.
Just silent. No damned help at all. Useless to him. Useless to me. Useless to God.
He was my best friend. Still is, though he’s been dead for quite a while now.
He was a preacher.
You can make all the arguments you want about theology. You can try to talk to me about “once saved, always saved” or “election versus free will.” I’m not interested in anything you or any of the theologians have to say. I know he was touched by God. I saw it. I felt it. I stood beside it. If it wasn’t real, then it’s all a lie. The biggest lie ever told.
I wish he could call me tonight. I’d say “where you at brother? Hang in there with me and I’ll come over. You need me to stop off somewhere on my way?”
Because now I can see the darkness he saw.
I would go and sit beside him. Put my arm around him. I’d tell him “yeah I see it too, but if we both just sit here together maybe we can still see the light. I know it is dim sometimes, but look hard, it’s still there. Just sit a little longer.”
I’d tell him that today is darkness. Tomorrow, darker still. But if we can just sit here and hold on ‘til that Easter Sunday, there’s still hope.
That’s the Gospel, as far as I can tell.
Rest easy preacher. In all this darkness, I can still see that little light you carried. It won’t go out. I won’t let it.
18 thoughts on “The Preacher”
This touched me deeply…………I was thinking about the presence of God as I walked to put my bird feeders out this morning. The blessings that are hidden behind just being human, and struggling in a human’s world. The light is there, even in all the tragedy and even without the big Easter ham.
It is, Wendy. A long time ago another Preacher said “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Blessings to you.
One of your best. I still miss him, too; for I sometimes got those 11:00 o’clock calls. I heard the sweet prayers he could pray even before the shadows of manhood appeared on his chin. I loved his infectious laugh. He saw. He knew. He is.
Yes he did.
Very good! Felt like I was reading Cormac.
Thanks son, but that’s higher ground than I can stand on.
Well written Ray, best wishes
Thank you Bob. I’ve been thinking about you. Are you still down south of the border?
So beautiful. Shead a few years. It is amazing how years will change in thoughts and mellow our hearts
It is. I still have a lot of rough edges, but some of them have been smoothed by the years. Love you.
Such a sad write before a beautiful Church tradition of feeling joyfull. You must have been a very faithful friend to this man and understood his needs. Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter Sunday tomorrow Ray, despite these trying days. And I like the new photo look!
Thank you, Leisa. Good to hear from. Happy Easter and you’ll stay safe.
Very powerful piece, Ray, full of painful grace such as this Easter eve
Thank you, Kim.
Thank you for this tribute, Ray. Your mom told me about it. We all still mourn.
Me too. Thank you.
I knew that preacher!
You did indeed.