Sunday, September 23, 2007
God's Day in the Neighborhood (Part 2)
Continued from previous post...
Thanks for checking back for an update on the memorial service and Ben. It warmed my heart that some of the neighbors reached out to Ben in small ways. Nothing earth-shattering...but a good day...and a good start—for Ben—for us—for the neighbors...and God.
For this post to make sense, you should read the previous post first.
* * *
I looked aross the street and Ben's dented car was gone. Did he forget about the service? We had to leave in an hour.
"If he forgets, and doesn't show...we'll have to leave without him." said my husband.
About 15 minutes later the front doorbell rang. I swung open the door and there was Ben standing in a pair of tan slacks and a rumpled but clean white shirt.
"Oh I'm so glad you're still here!" he said. "I ran out to get a hair cut."
"You look nice," I said.
"Thanks for telling me I look nice."
Just then large rain drops plopped around us. I ran inside to grab some umbrellas.
Ben said, "Oh I have one I can bring!" He hurried back across the street.
As we rode to the service, Ben pulled his umbrella out of a dusty plastic wrapper.
"I've never used this before—it's still new."
(In Southern California, we haven't had rain for about 150 days!)
We arrived at the little chapel and threaded into one of the pews. A neighbor passed a program up to me...but not to Ben. It was nicely done with pictures of Jean and a beautiful prayer. I wished Ben had one. A few seconds later, this same neighbor returned with a program for Ben.
A Lutheran pastor conducted a meaningful service. The soloist sang "How Great Thou Art" and several other hymns. He sang from the heart as if he truly believed the words. The soloist looked familiar to me. Ben mentioned the same thing. (more about that later)
As we stepped out of the chapel to the graveside service, the rain stopped and the sun spilled through the clouds. (and I took the picture below) As my husband and I talked to some of the neighbors, Ben stood quietly to the side of us. One of the neighbors reached out and shook Ben's hand.
When the Pastor lead us in the Lord's prayer, I could hear Ben's voice saying the words quietly as if he had known them for years.
The soloist closed the service with several uplifting songs. As we climbed back into the truck, Ben mentioned that when he was young, he had gone to the Lutheran church.
"The songs made it nice, today." he added.
We began to discuss the familiarity of the soloist and figured out, to our surprise, that he was a clerk in the garden department of our local Home Depot store (!) Ben remembered meeting the clerk one day at the store. "He struck up a conversation with me," said Ben with an amazed tone in his voice.
The day ended inside Jean's home with a small feast and many assorted relatives we did not know. So the neighbors found themselves congregating at one table. Soon my husband and I had to leave...but Ben stayed. He was talking with the neighbors.
As we were going out the door...the Home Depot soloist who loved to sing about the Lord, entered the house. I hoped he would end up at the neighbors table and strike up another conversation with Ben. I wondered if God would use him in Ben's life.
If you have time...pause for a moment and say a prayer for Ben...that he will walk toward the light of Jesus Christ.
Well...I don't think this story is over yet. Ben left his umbrella in our truck.