Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pelham's Promise

"…but your yes is to be yes…" -James 5:12 My favorite TV mini-series is also one of the most famous ever: Lonesome Dove. I bet I've watched it a zillion times. Jeanie said the other day, "It seems like you just watch that movie over and over." I think it connects me with my Texas roots or something. It's certainly doesn't espouse the best in morality, but it's just so…TEXAS. You may not have known that it's based on the true-life stories of Texan's Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight. They were Texas Rangers and cattlemen and Goodnight kept meticulous records, correspondence and diaries. If ever there was a true man and spirit of the West, it was Charles Goodnight. His exploits have been made the basis of most Western movies in the last 100 years. Not only Lonesome Dove, but John Wayne movies and many others. In real life, while on a cattle drive, Loving was shot by Indians and would die of gangrene from his wounds on Sept. 25, 1867, and was temporarily buried at Fort Sumner. Before his death, Loving had asked Goodnight to bury him in Texas, so in February of 1868 Goodnight returned with Loving’s son, Joe, and carried the body back to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas. In Lonesome Dove, Call does the same for Augustus, transporting his body all the way back to Texas. That's what we do with those we love. When they make a wish, we honor that wish because we honor the person. You might remember that my dear brother, Pelham, passed away back in the spring. We had a memorial service for him back then but he made a special request before he died. He asked us to throw his ashes off of a mountain in Colorado. Pel loved climbing the 14ers (14,000 ft. high). So, the third weekend in September, Pel's three sons and my two brothers and I will fly to Denver, drive to Leadville and spend Saturday climbing to the summit of Mt. Massive, the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado. It won't be easy. The hike will begin about 3:00am so we can get to the summit before noon as there are afternoon thunderstorms nearly every day. The summit is above the tree line, so there is no protection from lightning strikes. But our plan is to make the journey and fulfill Pel's wish. But even better than fulfilling someone's wishes after their death is fulfilling wishes during their life. Someone said, "Don't respect someone for making a promise. Respect them for keeping it." Keeping promises requires commitment and integrity. The commitment to keep the promise given and the integrity to do whatever is required to make it happen. Husband's and wives, when is the last time you read the vows you made on your wedding day. They surely involved loving and honoring during better and worse. Parents, be reminded of those promises you made to your kids to always love them. And kids, remember the promise you made to respect your mom and dad. We need to be people of our word. We need to be people who keep promises. It's not easy because commitments are always difficult. Just like Goodnight honored Loving, we will honor Pelham by climbing the 14er and throwing his ashes to the wind. May we honor those we love in life as well as in their death. May we be willing to honor them… No matter where the journey takes us. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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