Saturday, July 12, 2014

Giants

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15

I'm not a poet. But I definitely agree w/ John Piper who said (paraphrase) "there are some emotions so deep in the soul that they can only be captured with poetry." As best I can recall, this is one of two poems I've ever written. (the other one was a few years back when another friend died). I've posted this before here, but today is the 6th anniversary of my buddy Jason's Homecoming at the ripe old age of 33. I started this in July 2008 in a room at M.D. Anderson's ICU when I heard that the time of Jason's departure was at hand; finished it the next day when I heard he had gone on the glory.  (I was undergoing a cycle of high-dose immunotherapy for my metastatic melanoma then.)

Stephanie had her Dad read this at Jason's funeral. I'll likely never receive a higher honor this side of glory. (We did make it back for his funeral, btw).  A quick testimony about Steph: On the morning of Jason's funeral, this 33-year-old sudden widow & sudden single Mother of three texted me to ask how Lisa & I were doing.  I'm still in awe.

Six years after his homegoing, I agree all the more with these sentiments captured when I heard of Jason's passing. Don't read this for quality of the literary value of the poem, for you'll surely be disappointed. Rather, read for the depth of the emotions I'm trying to capture. This comes close, but doesn't fully capture what I felt this in July 2008. And today....

As was the case last year, I do not focus on how he died. I choose to focus instead on how he lived.
In one of my favorite movie scenes (from "The Last Samurai"), the emperor says to the Samurai's friend, "Tell me how he died."  The friend replies, "I will tell you how he lived."  Exactly.

Please pray for Jason's beloved Stephanie and for his treasured children Anna Lea, Jon Brent, and Ally.  (All are doing well, but could probably use a prayer today.  Stephanie married a great guy, John, a couple of years ago, and he is doing a simply remarkable job of being a Dad to Anna Lea, Jon Brent, and Ally.)  Also, please pray today for Jason's parents, Jon Mark & Peggy; I can't begin to contemplate the journey they've been on since Jason's AML diagnosis, treatment, and passing.  In addition, pray for Jason's brother Brad, who has taken that same journey.  My brother & I have caught glimpses of where Brad has been during our cancer journeys...

And finally, would you treasure this day and treasure those in your life who make the days lighter and more pleasant? 

And would you live a life that is pleasing to God, in light of eternity?

Jason...bro...I cherish your friendship and your life. Thanks for leaving such a large wake in your 33 short years, and for making all of us in it long all the more for that glorious, eternal "what's up?" from you in the land where there will be no more goodbyes forever.

I love you, buddy.  Rock on.
Mike

Giants
Mike Madaris, 7/12/08, on the coronation of my buddy Jason Weathers

Giants still walk the land occasionally.
I know this, because I knew one.
Physically strong and imposing
But that’s not the topic here,
For, he was not fearsome
Unless you lined up opposite him
On a football field
Or tried to throw him into a pool against his will.
Those aside, He got along with everybody.
Literally, everybody, as far as I knew.
Calm of demeanor, yet loved to laugh.
Quiet in personality, yet loved hard rock.
Intelligent, but not desiring to flaunt that.
Private, yet the son of a very public man
And later, married into another very public family.
In the midst of all, he was a giant.

The courtship. She was the only one.
They met when her Dad took a job at the giant’s church.
And his Dad’s. And his Granddad’s.
The realizing came quickly to most.
These two were a match.
They realized it too.
The courtship lasted until they finished college.
And he remained a giant.
Always loving, yet always honoring.
Serving. Cherishing. As it was intended to be.
Both of them Role models. Giants.
Who else marries a giant, but another giant after all?

10 years of marriage. A move to FL.
3 children deeply treasured.
One looks like her mother, yet like Dad in temperament.
One looks like his Dad, yet tempered like his mother.
And one too young to answer these questions
Though she surely looks like her Dad.
Each nurtured. Treasured. Celebrated.
Giants are like that about their offspring.

A servant’s heart.
Toward his lady. Toward his children.
Toward his friends. Toward his Lord.
Church service involved the out of the way
The behind the scenes
The un-glamorous
The invisible.
Sometimes giants stay in the background.
Perhaps that is why so few of us believe in them any more.

The servant heart spilled over into career choice.
Especially poignant to me this week
As I have been greatly served and blessed by multiple nurses
As a patient, the best in that field are wired as servants.
Others-centered. Paycheck almost incidental.
Towering over the rest of us.
Giants.

The dreadful disease with the nasty prognosis
The treatment nearly as nasty
Uncertainty. Doubt. Fear.
In this case, for others more than self
Beloved wife and treasured children.
Parents. Parents-in-law. Brother. Brother-in-law.
Not wanting to burden others with the battle he fought so well.
The larger men among us worry about us like that.

7 months of desperate fighting.
Interspersed with time spent with family and with lesser mortals.
Like me. At Starbucks. Still dreaming of an earthly future that would never be.
Then the end; rather, the beginning.
What, after all, is a last, horrendous week against 30+ years of a towering-above life?
Faith became sight.
Death & disease forever vanquished.
Ultimate Healing. No more illness, no more treatment, no more pain.
“Well Done, good and faithful servant.” The stuff of dreams.
Thankfully, not of legends.
Hopes and dreams realized.
Sin not only defeated, but now utterly removed.
As has been sung, "I can only imagine." He need not imagine any more.
This makes me smile through tears.
Victory won. Decisively. Forever.
It is well…it is well with his soul.
In that land, there are only giants. Now one more.
And this land seems all the more empty.

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