Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jim's Goodbye

Today's post was written by a guest blogger -- my husband Steve. He didn't write it for the blog, but he is letting me publish it here. It is a goodbye to a wonderful friend, Jim, whose funeral was today.

It sounds funny said in this direction – but God – Fear not. The sounds you hear in the kitchen are Jim getting acclimated to where you keep everything. He will soon learn where the wooden spoons are supposed to be, where the biscuit pans are kept and have a handle on the sharp knives. He will, no doubt, have a better system soon. Has he told you yet that when you wash an iron skillet you MUST put oil on it or IT WILL RUST? If not >> it’s coming. It won’t be long, and he will orchestrate the happy work in that room. Do you hear the laughter and giggles? Those are the kids. Jim carries gum and loves to make the children smile. Hear that softly spoken prayer? The one coming from bended knee? “Thank you Father for the life you gave me, for the friends that loved me and that I loved back.” That’s Jim too. While here on this earth, your earth, he loved you and strove everyday, every moment to serve. Jim was at his happiest and best when he was serving someone else.

I carry a key to this church. I come in here at various times to do various things. I came here on the Thursday that Jim died to help move furniture for an event happening Saturday. As I located my key and opened the 10th Street door the thought zoomed through my mind, “I would like to have Jim’s key.” I could swap mine and carry a constant reminder of my friend. I worked my way on into the church and soon found myself in the kitchen. A lot of my ‘Jim time’ was spent cooking, cleaning and sharing meals. I was not prepared for the flood that overtook me, and all of the sudden I found it hard to breathe. It was then I knew - I am not big enough to carry Jim’s key. It would be too heavy for this novice Christian. Every time Jim opened the door he opened himself. He came here with a trueness of purpose and pureness of heart. I doubt he never thought it, and he certainly never spoke it, “Why doesn’t someone else make the coffee, wash the aprons, mix the punch, clean the dishes.” Jim loved to serve.

When we lose someone there is often a place where the memory of them is the strongest. With Jim, he did so much that it will be difficult to take a step in town or drive very far before you think of him. In the church, walking on 10th Street, Gino’s 2 for Tuesday, the bus depot, the mall, Ashland Emmaus events, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is very close to our house. Several times after shopping, while heading around the back towards Norway Avenue, I would see Jim in the bus shelter. I would pull near and ask if he wanted a ride home. “Where are you headed?” he would ask. “Downtown.” I would answer matter of factly. Well, I wasn’t headed downtown but as my friend Jeff said on Sunday, “you couldn’t say no to Jim.” We wouldn’t go very far and he would look over and say, “You lie – you’re not going downtown.” So I got found out – it was still a great chance to help out the great helper. I look at these as a multitude of opportunities to remember and be thankful for Jim.

In a poem written the day Jim left us, my wife Kim wrote these words. (this is only part of the whole)

But here, in this broken world
We are left without him.
There is a hole in our hearts
And time has stopped.

We thank God for Jim.
For his gift of service to others.
For his song, for his way.
For his dance through this life
We thank God for Jim.
And we have no idea what we will do
Without him.
As we move through our lives we study and learn about the grace given to us by God through his Son. We read and we try to imagine. We put faces to the stories and the parables. Jim Ray was a real life, ‘in our time,’ walking around image of grace. Picture Jim and remember, picture Jim and smile, picture Jim and help someone, picture Jim and show grace.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
On this earth Jim’s earthly body could no longer sustain him. He is now healed and whole and living with his Father.

Good night my friend, good night.



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