Sunday, May 1, 2011

In memory...

Our family has lost a vital member. The impact of his death has already affected many of us greatly. Even more than that, the impact of his life touched lives immensely along the path that he traveled.

While I can't speak for others, I would like to share the direct impression that Reverend Ben Davis made on my life. Before I joined the family over 20 years ago, Ben had already made me feel at home and immediately made me realize that there was something special about him. It would take me hours of typing to cover each and every thing that he taught me, so I would like to share the most profound.

Ben was a Methodist minister. I grew up in an intensely Southern Baptist family. Very little difference really, but I didn't know that when I was younger. I grew up thinking that Methodists were foreign, which is funny now that I'm older, and what Ben taught me is that denominations mean very little.

Ben taught me that we are to love others as Christ loves us. Jesus befriended the lowly and invested in their lives. He spent time with people of all walks of life. Ben did the same. Whether it was intellectual conversation or a lighthearted joke, Ben invested in the person he was facing. He taught me that we are to love others even if they are different from us, and he taught me this by example. I never heard a judgmental word come from his mouth, and it was because he was humble enough to know that life is a level playing field for all of us. He also taught me that it was okay to be different and to have different opinions. In fact, he was always up for a good debate. I loved presenting my ideas to him only to have him offer his right back, because I knew he still loved and respected me and truly wanted to know where I stood individually on things. He was a conversationalist, and an enjoyable one at that.

Ben also taught me that it is my choice to have a good day or a bad day. He said a day in itself can't be good or bad, or neither can a situation. Instead, Ben said, it is our reaction to it that makes it good or bad. That was the psychologist in him I'm sure, but what wonderful words of wisdom. It became such a vital part of my life to consciously choose to have a good day each day, even despite the day itself. Sometimes I fail horribly at it, but it will always be embedded in my mind that I have that choice.

Ben was an example of living each moment of life. He hiked and canoed, and enjoyed the wonder of God's nature. He would take off with a group of people with just the backpack on his back and hike for days. I would venture to say that he could squeeze more life out of a day than anyone else I know. He shared, he cared, he listened, he counseled, and in the last days, he gave of himself to take care of the daily needs of his loving wife.

Hearing that Ben was gone drew the breath out of me. I immediately had a feeling of emptiness envelop me. Then I thought of his kiss on my cheek and his great big bear hug, and I had the picture of facing him with my groom on our wedding day. The amazing thing is that every time an image of him enters my mind, it's his gentle eyes and kind smile that stand out most. I'm not sure what it's going to be like not having Ben around, but his strong presence will never leave us. The wisdom he infused in my life will never be removed. There isn't another one like Ben Davis, and I only wish we had one more chance to tell him.