Homily for Saturday, April 18th, 2015 || A Celebration of the Resurrection and Thanksgiving for the Life of Kenneth Bernard Cook || Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8; Psalm 23; Matthew 5: 1-11 || The Rev. Margot D. Critchfield
Sally, Peter…What a gentle man your father was! Talk about “blessed are the pure in heart”! Ken Cook was a gem…
You know, unlike most of you here this afternoon, I didn’t really get to know Ken until Barbara was quite ill, and then even more so after she had died. Before that, he was always a bit of a mystery to me—the quiet, but unfailingly kind gentleman who came to church with Barbara every once in a while —but not nearly as often as she did! Barbara was one of those faithful regulars who came week after week and always sat in “her” seat. I still half expect her to be there when I come in for the 8:00 service on Sunday mornings.
But Ken wasn’t much of a churchgoer—and I’m certainly not much of a sailor—so he was a bit enigmatic to me back then. I did not yet know that he was really anything but enigmatic—that he was in fact quite the opposite: a very straightforward, and extremely likeable, “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of guy. And “what you got” with Ken was a terribly capable and gifted– yet always humble and gentle– man. Such a gentle man!
“The gentleman,” J. R. Vernon wrote in 1869, “is always truthful and sincere…He has a clear soul and a straightforward tongue…He is not blunt or rude. His truth is courteous; his courtesy, truthful; never a humbug, yet he prefers to say pleasant things.”
That, it seems to me, describes Ken quite well. An honest, kind, and down-to-earth man who was as generous in spirit as he was pure in heart– always friendly…good-natured…and welcoming. A gentle man.
Yet during the time I knew him best, Ken was also a heart-broken man. We all know how much he loved sailing, but the true love of his life was unquestionably Barbara. He was so good to her, so devoted to her, and at such a loss without her. He used to come visit her here in the memorial garden– where he, too, will be interred– and he always brought a little bunch of flowers –usually from his garden—tied up in a bow with a ribbon. He’d just sit out there with her– talking to her, I imagine, and missing her, I know–before quietly making his way back home. Without his life’s partner, Ken was but half his former self.
So as hard as it is to lose one’s father or friend—and God knows it can be horribly hard—we can all take comfort in the knowledge that Ken and Barbara are together again…that Ken is with the woman he adored, and that they are thoroughly enjoying their new life in Christ—fully alive now—healed and made whole.
I want to close with the first reading we heard this afternoon, because it is from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, one of the Wisdom books of the Hebrew Scripture. Listen again to a few words of this ancient wisdom:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
Sally and Peter, now is your time to weep and laugh and mourn—and weep and laugh and mourn you will. But try to remember, even as you do, that it’s your parent’s time, once again, to dance. And dance they will!
May God bless you and hold you and comfort you in your sorrow, and may you know always the power of His never-ending love for you. Amen.