Sunday, July 20, 2014
MY FRIEND GENE
For those of us of “faith,” every life is sacred. The tragedy of the Ukraine incident goes beyond cruelty and explanation, other than war and man’s inhumanity. I really am grieving with the families and praying for such rapport that it as my Seminary Professor said: skin on skin and flesh on flesh. The sense of rapport works best for me to personalize the total loss with a person. My friend, Chaplain (Colonel) Wilson Gene Park is my choice. I have mentioned Gene before but there is new “significance” now.
Life can be very sad. Of course, one of the really difficult things with death is that death is so final. They are gone. No more emails, phone calls. One person dies, maximum importance to the one left behind.
Gene, my buddy and I beat around the Army together. Vietnam was the common experience. It was in this war torn environment that we formed a forever bond. I was in an Infantry Battalion and Gene served support soldiers. More importantly, he provided a refuge from war for those like me. When things got emotionally and physically what we would see as almost unbearable, there was Gene offering a bed and a beer. We will never forget him.
At the time of his transition from this life to the next, he was caring for his wife, Barbara, who had dementia. They met in the Philippines and Gene wove a wonderful love story around their time. Barb, a missionary’s daughter and an Air Force Sergeant. Could be the title of a movie.
From that time in the Philippines, there was Seminary, his family: three great boys; the military chaplaincy. After the military, Gene moved easily to the pastorate. He loved Hawaii and had logged in lots of years there. He came back to Southern California and then AZ. We met up in Tombstone, Arizona where he became a pastor. (Not exactly sure about all this. How can we sum up a truly fulfilling life. We can’t). I do remember this: Tombstone was one of those towns that Gene said, “never got past the Gunfight at OK Corral.”
Gene’s passing is a tremendous loss of friendship. And, I claim “rapport” with all those lost in the tragedy in Ukraine. And, here is how I am doing it. I am not exactly sure how “heaven” works but the very idea is comforting to me and a great value of “faith.” To feel as the Apostle Paul said, “the comfort that this life is not the end.” And in some mysterious way, my friend Gene is involved in the transition of all these innocents who died . He is uniquely prepared to do it. He is a crisis person, trained and ready.
I envision it like this,
THE LITTLE SHIP
I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted her white sails with a golden light, and as she disappeared from sight, a voice at my side whispered, “she is gone.”
But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore, a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy anticipation. Suddenly, they caught sight of the tinted sail, and at the very moment when my companion had whispered, “she is gone,” a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, “here she comes.” This is my friend Gene, leading.
And, then there is another aspect which I believe that I don’t quite know how it works either, “soul transference.” I would give credit to the idea if I remembered who told me. When a person dies, their soul is passed along to a baby just born. Comforting to me.