2017-10-18 / Editorials

Don Lively


Last week we talked about faces.

Specifically, faces that I get to view and ponder from my perch in the choir loft at my church.

I, being naturally pensive, often equate faces with stories from my past and the view from the choir loft allows me ample opportunities to peek back into the history of my friends and family.

There's another collection of faces that I see from up there, but those I see only in my mind.

The faces of the ones gone before.

So many faces, some having passed through the eastern sky to meet the Lord many years ago, some more recently.

Faces that have left but that will never be forgotten.

Many years ago Mr. Pat was a face that was known, at least to me, as the Fruit Truck Man. I'm sure he had vegetables on his truck too but I remember the fresh apples and peaches and bananas and oranges. He had open racks built on both sides of the bed of his pick-up and it always mystified me how he was able to somehow stack the fruit in such a way that it wouldn't fall off. Mr. Pat always sat toward the back of the church so that he was never far from his bounty.

I can still see the face of a quiet boy in our youth group who always sat with his parents near the middle on the right side. He was a few years older than me and he joined the army right out of high school. I can still see the heartbroken faces of his loved ones as they accepted the folded flag that had draped his coffin, he having been killed in Viet Nam.

More recently I remember the face of another military man. This one was a heroic member of the Greatest Generation. He survived World War II by, among other exploits, hiding from German soldiers by submerging himself under water in a nearly frozen ditch for many hours, surrounded by the bodies of some of his own squad members. He came to know the Lord late in his life. He died in his nineties after a long and happy life. His is a face I'll never forget.

There's another face that I don't get to see in person anymore but I still do, sort of. Confusing, I know, but there's a reason for the wordplay. His face was one of a pair. Twins. I've known them for as long as I've been on Earth and they've always seemed like kin to me, much like older cousins, mentoring and guiding. Last year one of the faces went to Heaven. I cherish those faces, one now with Jesus, one still with us.

One of the first faces other than my family that I remember was our closest neighbor. He and his family lived on the same rural route that we did, right across the road from our clapboard house. His wife was, and still is, like a second mother to me. She and Mama were great friends. I still see his face sitting on a pew a few rows back from the front and I can also see his face just as clearly sitting on the tailgate of some long gone pickup truck, talking politics or farming with Daddy and their other cronies.

So many faces, so many memories.

Several faces of sweaty, red-faced preachers, some itinerant, some local, all seemingly cut from the same spiritually vociferous mold, shaking the rafters with their thunderous, fire-andbrimstone sermons.

Many faces of aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents, and of course, Mama and Daddy, faces that not only populate thoughts of the singing and praying and preaching and worshiping that went on between the four walls of the little church, but that also pervade every other aspect of my memory stores. Those faces, the kin people, mostly country folks born and bred in the Blessed South, are so numerous that if they all came back there'd be no room for anybody else.

But, I suspect that none of those beloved faces would come back.

They have "Slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God".

What a reunion of faces that must be!

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