Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

We were just a few weeks into the pandemic when Pete Teel died on the 11th day of April 2020. Funeral gatherings were not allowed in the State of Washington. We were just learning the proper protocols, and the extent of the threat of Covid19 was not yet known. So, Pete took up residence in my office. I would see him every day for the next year, resting quietly by my desk. Others arrived and departed during the pandemic, their ashes sitting silent until their family could safely gather at graveside to say goodbye. But Pete never left me. I would smile at every remembrance of this kind and thoughtful man. His green urn with his chiseled name served as a reminder of the brief nature of my own journey.

Pete was born in Boston, Massachusetts on a Saturday in the summer of 1939. His mother, Francis, held her first born son close to her breast on that 29th day of July and said a prayer of thanksgiving. And she must have wondered too, what the future would hold for the little one she now held. Pete lived a full life: he was a family man who was successful in business, he served his country in the National Guard, he was a leader in his church, he rejoiced at the birth of three sons, and stood at graveside and grieved at the death of his wife.

Pete lived life to the fullest: skiing, golfing, swimming, boating, a music and animal lover, a kind, witty, and generous man. He met Elsa and they were married. Finding love later in life is a precious gift. Pete and Elsa travelled the world before moving together to Whidbey Island and joining Trinity Lutheran Church. Our TLC family was richer for the presence of this gentle, man of faith.

Pete and I have journeyed through the pandemic together. He had a front row seat to every missive, every sermon, every joyful and anxious moment in my office. Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Pete. I will carry him out of my office, and we will drive together to meet his family at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville. There will be bagpipes, harps, and tearful remembrances. We will give thanks to God for sharing Pete with us; we will grieve his death on the one-year anniversary of his death, and we will hold on to hope knowing that death will not have the last word. We will see Pete again on the other side.

The past year has been difficult for grieving families; for those who died without the comfort of their loved ones, and for communities that have been unable to practice rituals of healing. At graveside tomorrow we will pause for special music. The family has chosen the classic, “What A Wonderful World.”

It is a wonderful world, every day a gift, every child of God put in our path for a reason, every one of us in need of a friend. I am thankful for my friend Pete.

Thanks Pete, for keeping me company. I will see you soon.

One day closer!
Pastor Jim

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