I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: "The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them." So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad.
He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.
"Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper.
"Dad, I would like to talk with you."
"I mean ... It's really important."
The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"
"Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that."
Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.
"The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.
It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing: that I had waited so long.
Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.
Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn't come to me when I pleaded with him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, "C'mon, jump through." "C'mon, I'll give you three days, three weeks." Apparently God does things in his own way and at his own hour. But the important thing is that he was there. He found me. You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for him.
"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.'"
And to you, Tommy, somewhere in
the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven:
'I told them, Tommy...as best I could.'
Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell them.
"Ooh ... I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class."
"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."
In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date.
However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.
Before he died, we talked one last time. I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.
"I know, Tom."
"Will you tell them for me? Will you ... tell the whole world for me?"
"I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."
So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this simple statement about love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven: "I told them, Tommy ... as best I could."
From John Powell’s book, Unconditional Love, © Copyright 1978, Argus Communications, Niles, Illinois. PP 110-108. Permission granted for reprinting.
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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.