A year ago this week a large group of people that I call family was devastated by the news that our old youth minister, mentor, and friend John Austin Smith had passed away.
Fast forward a year to a mexican restaurant in San Diego, and a table for twenty.
Tonight we gathered to celebrate the life of someone who meant so much to us. There was laughter as old friends reconnected and told stories of our younger years. There were pauses in conversation as his name would come up, followed by brief moments of reflection. We floated from conversation to conversation. We talked about things that matter, and things that used to matter.
I watched as those of us farther along in years connected with those who had received the baton. I watched the youngest generation soak in the stories of their predecessors.
There are plenty of things that divide us; We live in different parts of town, we go to different churches, we don’t go church at all. There were a few people that didn’t really know that many people at the table. There are others that know each other a little too well. Some of us are close, and some of us are glad we aren’t.
As we were preparing to eat, we received word that his mother found out about our dinner together, and appreciated the sentiment. Before we prayed we took a moment to reflect, and I chose to say some things that have been on my heart this week.
A year ago all of us were shaken by the news of our friends’ passing. In that time we have all dealt with that loss in different ways. Some of us have taken that harder than others. We have each gone our separate ways and lead very different lives. My prayer is that we are all better people from this loss. That this past year has caused us to grow. That we are more open about our love for our friends and family. I pray that in good times and bad we recognize how God is shaping us through His divine story. I pray that we are all more aware of the power of a God-blessed life. That searching for Him is an integral part of figuring out who we are. That we may find peace in our journey. And most importantly, that we choose to honor our friend by honoring what he stood for, and what made him a great man.
May God continue to bless us on our journey.
To my friends that I call family; I love you and thank you for your kindness.
To my mentor; I love you and miss you. Thank you for bringing us back together.
To our God; through all of this we give you the honor you deserve. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.
one love, one heart.