Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In Memory

Paul watching Sesame Street with Wesley

Today I lost a great friend and mentor. Paul Bowles asked me to serve as youth minister at Bartlesville FUMC when I was in my last term at Hendrix. He had been the Tulsa DS, and I came to his office when I got back from Oxford, engaged to Lara. I told him that I'd be looking for a youth ministry job in the area, so to notify me if he heard of one coming available. I suppose I made a good impression on his secretary, and that turned out in my favor, because she was also his wife, Mary Jane! Paul did hear of a youth ministry job coming available, and it turned out to be at the church that he was being appointed to after coming off the cabinet. Paul and I were on the same wave-length. Once I took the position, Paul gave me his confidence. What a gift to a young, college grad. Over the next two years, he helped to guide me into the track for ministry. We always thought of Paul and Mary Jane as surrogate parents here in Oklahoma, and I know that they thought of us as "adopted kids." When we were weighing the decisions about moving back to Oklahoma from Arkansas, Paul was a wise colleague.

On the drive home from OKC today, I was thinking about the traits that Paul expressed. Paul was measured. He didn't seem to say something without really weighing it in his mind and really saying it. I don't think Paul had to backtrack very much. Paul and Mary Jane were the perfect yin and yang. Paul was more quiet and reserved, Mary Jane is more bubbly and vivacious. Paul did have an infectious little chuckle though.

What I keep thinking of today, what keeps bringing tears to my eyes, was the time that Paul shared with me the wedding liturgy that he wrote for his daughter and her groom. In the midst of him pointing out the different little points and subtle reasons he chose this or that way of saying something, I could tell he was proud of the liturgy, and it really was beautiful and poignant. I suppose what gets me is to know that he shared his pride with me--I suppose when a friend dies, we take some kind of comfort or solace in knowing we were important to that friend. Sharing pride makes us vulnerable, I believe--and that is one instance that lets me know that I was important to him as he was important to me.

For all of you reading this, do me a favor--send a prayer of comfort and healing to Mary Jane and their kids. What a sad loss. What a beautiful life.

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