PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE
My dear friend Suzanne went to heaven this week. She was the daughter of Reverend Bernard Brown and his wife, Elizabeth. I met Suzanne when her family moved one summer into the District Superintendent’s parsonage on the street where I lived. We became friends that same summer, and we remained good friends until God called her Home.
One memory I have of her remains with me always. We were in high school biology class together. When our teacher handed out our graded papers, my heart sank because I had not made the grade I wanted. I did not think I could keep back the tears, so as soon as the bell rang, I ran out of class and hid in one of the stalls in the girls’ bathroom.
Soon, I heard Suzanne’s voice calling my name. Softly and sweetly, Suzanne came to me. She took out her powder compact and covered the red splotches on my face. She stayed with me until I felt I could go to the next class. What Suzanne taught me was that no matter if you know what to say or not, go anyway. People who are hurting are not so interested in what you have to say. But, they are interested in you showing up. Suzanne showed up.
And isn’t that what Jesus does when we are sad or hurting? He comes softly to us, takes out his giant compact of grace, and covers the red splotches on our face. It isn’t so much what Jesus says. It’s that He shows up.
I loved all of Suzanne’s family, and spent countless hours through the following years in their various parsonages. Before Reverend Brown died, he asked me if I would come for Suzanne when he passed. I did. I showed up for this friend who had shown up for me so many years ago.
When Elizabeth died, I was not there, but when she was recognized at the memorial service at Annual Conference, I stood up in honor of this woman I loved. What a privilege to have just that tiny moment in time to show up for her.
And now, because of obligations, I am not able to attend Suzanne’s funeral in Tennessee. But, a tribute I wrote will be read. It’s the best way I can show up for my friend. She would be the first to understand.
That day in high school, I learned from Suzanne that we must always show up for others in pain.
That’s a memory I will have forever.
It’s a memory worth having.
The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email Rev. Funk at firstname.lastname@example.org.