I didn’t know David Wright very well. From the way his close friends prayed for him and cared for him over the long months leading up to his death last night from a brain tumor, I can surmise that he was a good man, good friend, good father. And that he will be deeply missed, as deeply as he was loved in this life.
But I will always treasure a gift that he gave me one Sunday morning during our time at the table.
He had shared a testimony that morning about the support of his brothers and sisters in Christ a few minutes before, and it had been deeply moving. A quiet and somewhat private man, David had undergone something of a personality change at that time; had become more gregarious and outgoing. Perhaps it was the tumor. Perhaps it was the insight that there were more days behind than there could be ahead for him.
So our church sat, as we always sit, while the symbols of Christ’s body and blood were served: uncomfortably upright, heads bowed or gaze straight ahead, eyes averted from each other. And for the thousandth time, I wished for that moment of communion – not only with God, who is always present and welcome in my meditations – but with someone else.
With someone else who understood with me that communion is a gift to share with brothers and sisters, as well as their God.
I yearned for that moment a little like the one at the close of the movie The Right Stuff, when the Mercury astronauts were being honored for challenging outer space at a cheesy dinner, and across the smoky room they shared among themselves a look; an expression of knowing and comprehending it all for having been the only seven to actually go and be there. I wasn’t hungering for the exclusivity or any arrogance attached to it; just the recognition of a kindred soul who understands.
Just about that time – while the cup was being distributed – David’s head turned toward mine and our eyes met. And he half-smiled. And half-nodded.
I returned his acknowledgment, and thanked God for him.
The moment passed. Now David has, too.
But his gift to me remains precious, and always will.