My dad was a Quaker (Friends) minister. He pastored small churches (30-50 congregants) in Western Indiana and Eastern Illinois during his 50-year ministry. His churches were not big but his ministry was respected in the area. In his later years, he was the preacher that non-church goers turned to when they lost a family member. On the Sunday that he passed on, he spent part of the afternoon looking through a shoebox filled with memorial folders from the funerals he had preached.
That evening, in the Number 11 Mission where he had given his life to Christ, he sat surrounded by his wife and brothers and sisters. As they prepared to start the service, my mother and one of Dad’s brothers noticed Dad was intently watching a corner of the ceiling of the sanctuary. They looked but saw nothing. A few minutes later, the pianist looked back at the congregation and gasped. Dad had apparently died. Twenty years have passed since that spring evening.
I grew up hearing his sermons, but the one that I remember best was spoken as we walked through the woods when I was about nine years old. The first wildflowers were poking up through brown leaves. He stooped and picked a flower and held it between his thumb and forefinger. “Look, Mart,” he said as he traced the lines in the petals with his little finger, “look at those tiny little lines in this flower. Look at all the little perfect parts to this flower. How could anyone believe there is no God?”
In Memory of Gleason J. Hawn
Martha Hawn VanCise©2013 www.signpostsonhightrails.com
*Photo by Dorothy Endicott