Thursday, November 10, 2005

One Step Away

I am in Montana at present. The details surrounding my uncle Gordon's death are varied, but the short of it is that he got lost on Sunday evening due at least in part to a bad map. What was supposed to be a 15-30 minute hike turned into an 18 hour trek through the snowy wilderness of the Montana Rockies. He died sometime Monday evening of hypothermia after having found his way to a logging road 4 miles from where he started out.

Time and distance had prevented us from being overly close, yet he was my favorite uncle and we saw each other regularly over the holidays. I had spent a number of weeks with his family when I was 12 or so. Childhood memories tend to be etched deeply in the mind and my impressions of Gordon during my stay with his family led to a high opinion of him that was never overturned. And I think the fact that he was the only other sportsman in the family added to the sense of affinity I felt toward him. Besides being blood, he was always familiar and comfortable to be around, no pretenses and very down to earth. He kind of felt like home, if you know what I mean.

His passing reminds me of just how close we live to the edge everyday. We are one step away, our feet brushing the edges of the abyss. Yet we live in such willful ignorance, believing naively in the thin veil of normalcy that shrouds the reality of our approaching death. And it is approaching. It is healthy and good to have the veil pulled away from time to time, to stare into the blackness and see your name on the headstone.

May the life I live in the present be one that I'll not regret on that day.

3 comments:

The Cubicle Reverend said...

May God bless you by the fond memories you have of your uncle, and celebrate his life and the fact that you could know him.

David said...

Thank you for sharing this relationship with us, Gerald. I wonder if it is your affinity with your late-uncle's down-to-earth-ness and genuiness that provokes you to work for church based theological formation. It seems that those who care little for others as persons, or even for themselves in that lowly category, may be more comfortable with an austere, privileged community of theological "have's." But it is the nature of theology to move toward the "have-nots"; indeed it is about them. Now being in church work I am amazed at the truth to what Pastor John Piper has said. God seems to bless His foot soldiers with unusual insight into scripture. Theological formation will return to the church. It will. Again, thank you for sharing. Better to be in the house of morning that in the house of gladness and mirth.

Gerald said...

Thanks David--appreciate the thoughts as well as our common pursuit. We'll be in touch.