He had a soft New England cadence to his speech, measured, of course by his quiet nature. He spoke with thoughtfulness and of necessity and was not given to frivolous or meaningless conversation. Instead, he found the words, the fibers of topics that connected with people. Most of his encounters left the other with a sense of engagement and warmth, acceptance and openness. And so it was that over time, he carved two words, two thoughts into others’ hearts and minds, even without their knowing. What he valued became valuable to the other in the space where they interacted. He valued truth and he lived out trust. What he taught me was that those final two letters make all the difference: one does not exist without the other, and each is intrisincially meaningful. Each has a building block place in life.
Truth, he realized, is shared as it is understood at the moment. Wisdom helped him coax deeper contexts and perspectives from his clients and partners. With an eloquent pause and sometimes awkward quiet, he could recieve and remember every word spoken. Then raising his bright eyes with deep sincerity, he would speak: a phrase, a word, sometimes an entire paragraph, and reality would somehow widen to accommodate reality alongside a perception of truth. Breaking his gaze, he generously allowed the deeper truths to sink in with silence. And so often, I left thinking about ideas that challenged the tiny world I lived in and what I somehow defined as “truth” just moments before.
He is gone now, but his emphasis on truth has remained an abiding presence in my life, enabled me to step into the space where he lived without judgement of others, with a kind and gentle gaze, and a sincere encouragement for those who crossed his path. Perhaps it was merely naive of me, but it was not until he was gone that I realized how closely he defined truth and lived trust. Because in every encounter he lived, he engendered such an embrace of reality as truth and so unquestionably established trust in relationships. He was the one to count on, to believe, to help sort out the confused mess of what it means to be human on a daily basis. And never once to judge, but to find a mirror within himself that insured every peson who crossed his path knew safety and comfort in the conversation. He strove to live out trust in his pursuit of truth with courage and honor and dignity.
Those words, those two letters at the end defining such a difference, those words have home this weekend as Advent begins. It is not really about the magic of Christmas or the frenetic preparation for that. It is about the truth that there is more to this world than we realize: there is something greater than self, bigger than now, more significant than we allow ourselves to believe. He knew that every day of his remarkable and yet hidden life. He saw who he was and what he was about, and he made things better for others because he understood that. And then there is the second part: having the courage to trust in another. He encouraged that with a humble resilience and an invincible hope. He allowed brokenness to be his escort. Just as the birth of Jesus enabled God to enter the human experience, his trust in others and theirs in him allowed the spark of genuine goodness. He is gone now, but his legacy remains as an invitation to vist truths and to know trust. At least, in this Advent of new beginnings, there is the soft glow of that genuine goodness that flowed through him to the rest of the world.