Today’s Word from Karl Olsen…
“…anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Vocation is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s great hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner
“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” From Ecclesiastes 3
I recently had the honor of helping out at my mother-in-law’s memorial service. Deb’s mom, Sandra Lou (Qualey) Lund had lived in the same house in Menahga, Minnesota for 63 years. Our trip back was intended as a visit, a check-in, a time to lend a hand and help out. But Sandra’s rapid decline and death six days before our planned departure changed the nature of our trip. And several servants met us along the path.
Sandra was a planner, a sculptor of details when the need be. So, people had roles. Deb’s and my role was to plan the service and music for the memorial. Arriving in town on a Wednesday night and having a service on Friday morning meant planning needed to be done from afar.
As it turned out, the pastor of the church she was raised in was going out of town for a vacation and would not be there, but Pastor Jim (no, not that Pastor Jim) had several long calls with me and long emails as well, and conversations with his parish secretary to make sure when we arrived we would have everything in place, ready to go. He even stopped his motorcycle on the road in Colorado to call and make sure all was well, and provide a detail or two he’d forgotten. Servant 1.
When we arrived in Minneapolis, Deb’s friend Paula was to pick us up in the evening and house us for the night before Deb’s sister and brother-in-law arrived to take us north. In our haste, we forgot to negotiate Central Daylight Time, and Paula came out after midnight to pick us up! This is the woman who several times has picked Deb up at the airport, driven her the 3.5 hours north, dropped her off in Menahga, and then returned home. Just because. Servant 2.
As Laura Canby will attest, my video skills are, well, minimal. So, I had the audio all set up for the service and reception, but the slides the family was counting on had to get magically from my flash drive to the screen in a program I didn’t know. It was looking unlikely. Someone steered me to one of the tech people, who couldn’t help, but who steered me to Kevin, another tech person. (He happened to be on the job in Nevis, MN, Pastor Dennis and Jeri’s hometown!) A contractor who ran a pipe-fitting company, he left his job, drove 20 minutes and spent half an hour setting up the slide show for me. He barely knew Sandra, but it didn’t matter. Servant 3.
Marlene was ever-present. She opened the church office. She set up tables. She organized and served food. She answered everybody’s questions and welcomed all volunteer helpers. She showed me where to find things when I wandered in the church-office wilderness and helped clean up, till the last guest and family member was gone. (I think maybe her middle name was Robin…) Servant 4.
And servants 5, 6, and 7 are known as Sandra’s kids (Debbie, Cindy and Tommy in the old days) who stayed at her house, took her to the hospital, rubbed her back and washed her feet. Who sat up nights and called and talked, held her hand, managed her meds and money, and made personalized gifts of love. Who told stories of Sandra’s life of service to others, whether at the bank or the lumber yard, at the VFW club serving food and cleaning up, or making endless pans of bars for friends and shut-ins and making countless visits to the nursing home in town, even when she was not feeling the best herself.
Sandra had the heart of a servant, a strong desire for fairness and equality, and a strong faith in a loving servant God. None of these servants will probably win a Nobel Prize, or get the Presidential Medal of Honor. But their souls were generated by love, they met some small part of the world’s great hunger, and were happy to do good for others.
Sandra, you were a good and faithful servant. Well-lived, well done. Rest in peace. Sending love.
See you at the servants’ house on Sunday.
Love and blessings.