Today I officiated at the funeral and graveside service for the most amazing family. Linley Michael was a 72 year-old man who meet his wife Marie in Pakistan.  Like so many wonderful immigrants, they came to the U.S. for a chance at opportunity. Together, they raised six amazing sons.  He died in the loving arms of his wife of 45 years. 

His sons told me of how mom was the “iron first,” letting dad be “the calming waters.”  

The stories they shared were so moving.  They told me of a dad who made them feel so very loved and special.    Who was an amazing prankster.  And a peacemaker, and a never-give-up fighter.  A man generous, and kind.  Who lived life to the fullest even saying to his family, “to hell with poverty.”

He not only provided for his family – sending two sons to private school at their request with a monthly tuition payment bigger than his house payment – but he also raised three children of a relative who lost her husband.

He had great accomplishments.  He was a naval cadet, a pilot earning his solo in record time, and a banker.  But as wonderful as these are, they pale in the sunlight of his self-giving, larger-than-life heart.  

From where I sit, his enormous legacy is six boys who are healthy, loving men -- who were not afraid to hug and console each other and their mom -- as they grieved so deeply.   Men who are loving their wives, respecting woman, and bringing up healthy kids.  

I am the luckiest man on the planet.  I am invited as a trusted friend into the lives of amazing people like these.  I get to give voice to the message of an amazing God who loves us intensely.  Who walks with us – experiencing the great highs and brokenhearted sorrows that life gives.  But always with the promise of the Resurrection.
I came across this and found it so beautiful, that I had to share it.

'We awaken in Christ's body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ, He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.

I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly
whole, seamless in His Godhood).

I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? -- Then
open your heart to Him

and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ's body

where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,

and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed

and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
he awakens as the Beloved
in every last part of our body."

~St. Symeon the New Theologian (b. 949 - + 1032)
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