Have A Good Life
Recently I attended the wedding of a couple that I had not previously met. My companion had been asked by her friend the bride-to-be to take photographs of the two-day event which included attending a meet and greet for the bride and groom's families the day before the ceremony. I suppose that my vocation has prepared me for events like these as this certainly wasn't going to be the first time that I've found myself at intimate familial gatherings such as weddings and funerals where I'm meeting people for the first and most likely the last time. We had a delightful time and I will not soon forget the names and faces of many: Linda and Andrew who were the bride and groom. Matthew the groom's brother from Arizona and his lovely wife Rabina. Barbara the groom's sister and Chris her husband and their sons Tyler and Patrick from Philadelphia and Colorado.
We met David on day two. He came to the reception alone and a little late - dinner had already been served. We were seated at a table with one empty seat and after asking if he could join us David, a stranger, surprisingly called my companion by her first name and then looked at me and said, "And I hear you're an Episcopal priest?" As it turned out David was the spiritual director of the groom who is a lay hospital chaplain. David was most certainly a wise man - the kind of guy whose calm and friendly demeanor combined with the deep lines on his face tell you that he had lived to see much in this life - and that like that wonderful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye - kindness was now his calling. We engaged in a delightful conversation about many things: our faith, our journeys, children, our work. As we departed David, whom by then we had known for the sum total of about one hour, looked at us and said, "Have a good life." The words struck a deep chord in us because we knew he meant them.
Later that day with her own wisdom my companion pondered David's farewell and the fact that often the words "Have a good life" are uttered in a manner that is anything but kind. How true. I've used them that way myself and want to rewind the clock, wipe those utterances from my record, re-issue them in a manner that is anything but unkind, and mean it. Thank you friend. Thank you David.