Lots of soft hearted, wet eyed folks gathered at King Street Church this past Saturday to say good bye to one of our favorite persons. It dawned on me at church the next day that Eric never preached a sermon or won a theological argument with anyone, but he won over many hearts for Jesus with his unbridled joy. Who plays “Joy to the World” at a funeral? Eric.
I was asked to speak about Eric. I made the following comments during a celebration of his life.
Eric was a pure gift of love…
from a loving Father to a loving family. He blessed our community.
He was like a shared golden retriever who canoodled his head under your hand.
Before you knew it you were petting him and feeling better.
Eric had that giving spirit and knew where he was loved.
He tenderly blessed us all.
That blessed gift returned to the Giver last Saturday
Leaving us bereft: stuck between breathing deep sighs of sadness
Or not breathing at all.
All good things come at a great cost.
The great pain and deep sadness we all feel today
Are measures of that big hearted guy, we knew as the Sexy Cowboy.
You know, in Texas they have an expression for fake cowboys–
They say, “He’s all hat and no cattle.”
Well Eric was all HEART and no cattle.
I think he was afraid of cows.
Humor me for a moment and close your eyes:
Picture Eric sitting next to you with his crooked grin
With that bird swoop thing he did with his head,
his bright eyes peering at you through his Harry Potter glasses.
Take a long look and smile back at him
And hold to God’s promise that we will meet again
In glorified bodies
Minus the pain,
minus the ills of this world.
Give thanks for what Eric’s life was… a loving gift.
Take your last hug and exhale.
Eric has a poker game to play with Evie
And everyone knows that she cheats at cards.
Well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, pardner.
And this is the hard part: it’s time to say farewell.
God bless you and So long, Sexy Cowboy.
Like the God who made you, You are unforgettable.
I did not realize how important Eric was until he was no more. In the eyes of the world he was in the margins, out on the periphery. However, I believe in God’s eyes he danced at the epicenter of what we call love.
An odd image kept coming to me when I thought of Eric’s death. I saw a black bird pecking his way out of a loaf of bread. It had been baked into the dough, I suppose. I knew the black bird was Eric and the bread was God’s word, the Bread of life. I knew this was a resurrection and not an entombment. Surely, Eric brought God’s word to life for those who knew him. In Isaiah 55 verse 12 Isaiah gives this supernatural vision:
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I will remember the Sexy Cowboy riding off into the sunset. There’s a party in them thar hills. Eric will save you a table near the dance floor.