Invited to attend a gathering for a long-time acquaintance and friend, I happily drove with Cherise and Penelope to the Poynette Village Hall this past Sunday.  The VELC church service had “refreshed” my spirit with the somewhat ad lib presentation due to the rather sudden absence call from the fill-in pastor.  Our church family still installed new council members and just as importantly blessed our youth mission trip. We maybe “missed” a sermon, but the message of Christ and love certainly came forth in the sharing of peace, in prayer, with Cornerstone music, and with the post-service fellowship.  The thinks filled my heart as miles slipped under wheels and wisps of laced clouds passed overhead.  Daughters jostled the ride with smiles and guffaws as papa’s driving skills were challenged by driver’s ed. fresh knowledge and skill.  We named the Chevy Colorado “Ben” in honor of me, you know, the “has be(e)n” guy that needed to be replaced after lunch at the Sun Prairie Culver’s.

At the party, the girls marvelously interacted with a very senior gathering as the occasion marked an 80th birthday.  Nearly 100 friends and family had arrived.  We survived the caterer’s “we thought the date was Tuesday” late arrival after much consternation from the organizer.  Laughs filled the hall, folks table-hopped and maneuvered around to groups, and the echoes of many, many memories soon created an energy of nostalgia and goodness.  When everyone seated themselves, each was asked to share a moment when the “birthday boy” had impacted his or her life.  This took some time, but what an incredible testament to a man whose life was spent in the area, whose profession served all around mid-state Wisconsin, and whose Christian life and ministry touched souls far and wide.

A cousin noted that she was one of three still living, which brought a hint of sadness and a tear to the guest of honor.  A glimmer of realization touched us all in recognizing our generation was giving way to the next and how tightly the generation before us knit the solidarity we shared.  Many spoke of the hunting and fishing times and his willingness to “drop the pole it’s a whopper” to remove a small blue gill from a youngster’s hook.  Others spoke of friendship and loyalty, of his attitude that people who hired him were not clients, but friends that shared his jolly laugh and excellent craftsmanship.  Like his father before him, Ron didn’t curse and his Christian love and faith came to the forefront of the celebration.  His voice broke in thanksgiving for the kind words, his demeanor that of humility in the praise and in the great sense of God’s blessing and presence surrounding all.

As people snacked, enjoyed the traditional birthday song with the suggestion of blowing out 80 candles, and indulged in the calories of cake, Ron made the rounds.  He came to me, his brother, and we simply hugged, a bear-hugged love that included my whisper.  “Words cannot say what I feel.”

“That’s for sure brother,” he replied.  Tears touched cheeks, we slapped backs, and he moved on.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be greater than a family closely woven with Christ at the center, as the foundation.  May God richly Bless all our families and may we all take a breath and notice, regardless of issue and situation, that a bent knee and an upward look brings strength, hope, and assurance – even as a generation knows God will be calling us Home, “soon and very soon.”    submitted by Dave Smith