Friday, February 26, 2010

love and service trumps misguided anger

The last several weeks have been a bit overwhelming. I've been back and forth between Austin and DC four times -- twice scheduled (our family goal is for me to be home in Austin every other weekend), but twice unscheduled. The first time home was when I rerouted on a return from Florida because snow had shut down the DC airports. The second time home was to attend the funeral of Vernon Hunter, an usher at my family's church, Greater Mt. Zion.

This last visit was, of course, a bit difficult. I didn't really know Vernon, except our having spoken a few times, having been greeted by him at church, and having attended some of the same off-site retreats or events. What is widely shared and known within the church is that he was the epitome of the public servant. In fact, I am a bit saddened that the media is not paying more attention to him and his story. His story is the antidote to that of the misguided angry, murderer who crashed his plane into the IRS building where Vernon was working.

Vernon served more than 20 years in the military and almost 30 at the IRS. A friend of mine, who is a member of the ICUSP team and also a fellow member of GMZ, knew Vernon well and shared with me that Vernon's goal was to make 50 years of public service. He almost made it, but was cut short. At this point, the greatest that can happen is that folks end up learning about Vernon and see his example of love and service. His neighbors shared how he would make excuses to get to know and then be supportive of all of them, that he used to run out to bring gatorade to the garbage men during the summer and that he was simply a good person. I absolutely love that we got to learn this about him. It is most reminiscent of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who said that anyone can be great, because anyone can serve. Vernon was by this measure a truly great man.

The miracle is that Vernon was the one and only victim of Joe Stack's horrific act. Everyone got out but one. As a result, we get to focus on that one, learn about him, and God willing, be inspired to the type of service that defined his life.

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