about a week ago, my friend richard asked me if we could hold a memorial service at north point for one of his co-workers…and if i would be willing to speak at it. richard works for progressive life of north texas, a home and community based service program for the developmentally disabled. his sister, wanda, lives in one of the homes.
when he asked me to oversee the memorial service, he told me that the funeral was being done in the man’s hometown (not local) and this would be a simple memorial that about 30 of the consumers would be able to attend. consumers? i didn’t really know who he was referring to, but i assumed it had something to do with vendors or buyers that progressive life dealt with.
he said the director of the program would speak, as would a few of the consumers. i made a few notes and prepared to share some scripture.
shortly before 11 on wednesday morning, i realized who the consumers were. consumer is the politically correct way of referring to developmentally disabled people who live in the state of texas! i was being asked to lead a memorial service for 30 challenged people…mentally and physically disabled…a few with down syndrome…ms…hearing impaired…probably aged 25 to 65!
most had the collective mental and social skills of young grade school children…and they were deeply wounded by the loss of their friend. gaylon was a 55 year old man that worked for progressive life and lived in one of the homes. he was beloved.
as i stood in front of them, i was touched by their love and innocence. a few of them tried to speak, but broke down in tears. they held each other. they listened intently as their friend wanda read a tribute to gaylon that she had written…while she “signed” so her deaf friend could hear what she was saying.
i read scripture to them and spoke of the love of god and how he had given them the gift of memories so they could remember gaylon. i told them that nobody could ever separate them from the love of god. i read the 23rd psalm and told them that god would hold them tight as they walked through the valley of death.
when i prayed to close, they all bowed their heads and agreed with the truth of my prayer.
we dismissed to the other side of the room where we had set up tables and they all took seats and the staff who had come with them served them all a lunch of sandwiches, chips and a cookie. they ate with joyful hearts and experienced fellowship that few of us ever really enjoy.
as they got in the 15-passengers van that had transported them to our building, i was moved. i was a better person for having shared that moment with them.
the love of god is powerful.