Monday, June 18, 2012
One of the Five
Sometimes when sleep won't come, someone arrives to fill the space. Last week such a one came bounding into my reverie full blown, and together we caroused across our memories for hours, in a dream state. His name was Christan Martin. I have been blessed with five incredible men in my life. One of the things they all have in common is to be loved equally well by both men and women. Everyone wants to be at the table with them, in their presence, breathing the same air. Each of them is a gift. these men connect at some mystical level with everyone they meet. We all want to live and die with them, to be in their company nonstop. They eclipse all others. Chris was a new pastor to our church. Firecracker, open, available, gifted. I was about twenty five, happily married and the mother of a four year old girl. Like so many others, mind melding with Chris was a given. When out of his office, he could be seen everywhere with a small boy atop his shoulders. His little boy desired only to be wherever his father was. Jet black hair knobby knees and stunning eyes, he looked closely at us all to try to see what his Dad was drawn to. The answer was so simple, so pure. Chris believed everyone who crossed his path, or whose path he crossed, was a gift from God to be discovered and enjoyed. In short, I think he sought God inside everyone. Wish I could say I learned from his example. I'm learning very late. Chris attended Franklin and Marshall College, and Harvard, and earned his divinity degree from Princeton while he was making his mark as a flyboy based in Hawaii and keeping the locals hopping in the company of Don Ho, of Tiny Bubbles fame. He was pursued by a quiet Yakima girl who bought a one way ticket to Hawaii. She was married to him for forty four years before his life here ended. She was an anchor to his crazy wild energy, so like that which my own husband of fifty three years is for me. Well. Someone has to hold those of our ilk to the earth, lest we go flying too close to the sun. Chris had the ability to let you know that because you are God's creation, you matter. He loved the idea of paying it forward, of the magnitude of the importance of loving, no holding back. He risked all the time, every moment. His was a seeking mind. He was a farm boy from Lancaster County, PA, an athlete and a scholar, but you had to discover that for yourself.You just wanted that thing he had, the self confidence to give himself away. After four years in the private sector, he joined the Air Force and served as chaplain for 40 plus years. Frequently decorated, all over the world and influencing so many, i kept up with him about twice a decade. He was one of those who just picked up the conversation where we left it. I saw him once more when on a hot summer night he appeared with his family , hauling me out of a night time swim. Finally, I located and called him in 2000, to find I was six months too late. Chris had died of a brain tumor. His fab kids took leave from their jobs....no easy trick....and went with their parents on a world tour to see every last nook and corner Chris had wanted before heaven. At last when his ravaged brain wouldn't allow him balance, confining him, he marked out his remaining days like you'd expect. He remained engaged and involved in the last of his life. He knew his future. He'd soon be home with the Lord he loved, the One he shared, for whom he claimed As his Father.Chris believed we are here to love. To do it as best we can, to make the effort to do it freely. To tell each other NOW, when we are vibrant with life. Not when it won't matter anymore. Why do we wait? Tell someone you love now. I have learned many important lessons from my men. None is so important as this.