Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Darrell is dead. He died back home in Flint, MI

I didn’t know Darrell well.  Don’t know what the issues were in his life.  Don’t know his history.  Don’t know how he got to Breakthrough or even why he left.  All I know is that I liked him.

Darrell was a short, slight man. He was one of those guys whose age was hard to determine. He talked in a whisper and I’m not sure why that was.  Our lives intersected on regular occasions but our jobs were not intertwined in meaningful ways.  Our interactions occurred most often because my need depended on his knowledge and wherewithal.  I’d need a door open.  He had the key. I’d be giving a tour. He had a piece of information.  He was always there. Always willing.  And I was grateful and always made a point to thank him.

It’s a bit disconcerting when someone dies and you know them but realize that you know nothing about them. Sometimes that is what it is.  It’s a combination of the pace of life, roles and responsibilities, and a willingness to stop long enough to engage another human being.  There are people you get to know and others you don’t. But when someone dies I sometimes want to wonder aloud about why my pace of life keeps me from at least being inquisitive about someone else’s story.  Why do I allow some relationships to remain friendly but utilitarian and others to blossom into real friendship? 

My sense is that Darrell had a story and I missed out on it.  Of course, I realize that there’s only so many stories one can listen to and there’s only so much time in a day, and…I know all that.  But what if my priorities are misplaced and the only true agenda I need is the one God places before me each and every day?  Maybe Darrell was a missed opportunity.   

Working in an urban ministry and for that matter a suburban church are remarkably the same.  Lives cross, opportunities exist and possibilities are set before us.  Everyone has a story. Some appear to be very interesting. Some look quite sad.  Some are bursting at the seams with meaning and others point to a squandered life.  But we never know for sure do we until we enter into that story with that person? And as we enter in we discover the real truth about that life and perhaps even our own.  

So, I mourn Darrell. I’m thankful our lives intersected.  His kindnesses to me had meaning.  Hopefully, my kindnesses towards him were also satisfying.  I wish I had learned more of his story but maybe all I was supposed to know is what I currently have. It’s fascinating that Darrell’s death causes me to stop, reflect and write.  Perhaps that was one of God’s purposes for his life, huh?  Maybe God is using Darrell to help produce a better Mike. 'Tis a good thing if that's true.

To Darrell. Nothing can stop you now.  

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