Friday, April 27, 2007

A Truly Reverent Guy

Some people make me proud to be a human being!
by Charlie Leck

I was introduced to the work and writings of Albert Schweitzer as a young man. Before I could really understand it, I read THE QUEST FOR THE HISTORICAL JESUS. As a teenager, I also read REVERENCE FOR LIFE. They were both remarkable books. They were among many reasons that compelled me down a path that ended up posting a REVEREND before my name. That was one of a number of mistakes I made in my life – wrong career choice and wrong path to take.

For those few years that I carried that prefix to my name, it was very odd to hear people address me that way. It was actually embarrassing.

Only a couple of years ago, my old denomination, trying to track me down, called the house, telling me that they were looking for an individual of my name.

“That’s my name,” I said proudly.

Reverend Mister Leck?” The woman pressed and asked.

“Well,” I replied, “rather irreverent really.”

The word is derived from the Latin, reverendus (to revere or to be deserving of reverence; to be regarded with awe, deference and devotion).

I never really got there. I don’t expect many folks do. So, I generally recoil from the ecclesiastical title. I liked Schweitzer’s idea about reverence. It is life that we ought to regard so highly – to hold in awe and devotion! Schweitzer told us that everything in creation commands our utter and unfettered respect and deference. Each beautiful and brilliant spider and each complex and confounding human being should be treated with respectful reverence.

Such ideals are beyond almost all of us. Only occasionally does a Ghandi or a Schweitzer – a Jesus or a Mohammed – come along.

So, I have rarely met a clergyman who I thought was really reverent of life and creation. Most, I have felt, are all confused about what or who God might really be and about who they, themselves, are in relation to their very confusing and abstract concept of God. They get their noses and brains all out of joint and out of whack trying to describe and rationalize the divine.

Larry, however, is different. His mind doesn’t worry about such complexities. He seems to innately understand. God is God! All else is creation. Creation’s role is to be respectful of the Creator and of all the other individual parts of creation. Love as deeply as your soul will allow and let your love be seen in your acts of goodness and kindness. Then you will be in sync with God and His creation.

Now, that kind of man I am willing to address as ‘Reverend.’ He deserves the respect and he has earned it. Through the very living of his own life, he is a witness to God and to what God expects of us. To know Larry is to know that one can not not believe in God. God, to Larry, is not a question; but God is a statement and a reality – a presence within him.

Larry began his ministry in a United Church of Christ in Fairmont, Minnesota. He moved on to a couple of tenures in parishes in Iowa and spent seven or eight years in Yankton, South Dakota. He is not a great preacher, but he speaks piercingly of all that is true and required of those of us who claim to be faithful. That’s a simple concept, really, and he doesn’t want to complicate it.

This gentle man has always looked like a middle linebacker. Even now, as he approaches his 70th year, he looks like one. He has broad shoulders on a short, muscular body. Gravity seems to be his friend. He’s thick-necked and large-jawed. His eyes are concentrative and piercing; yet gentle and kind. He appears to float softly through life, unaffected by turmoil and firmly convinced that right makes might and faithful discipleship will be rewarded.

The older this man gets, the more it seems veneration is due him to honor his life of commitment and service to his Lord. I have no trouble calling him ‘Reverend.’ Not at all. Nor do I have any trouble calling him ‘pal.’ Not at all!

No comments:

Post a Comment