A guest post by our younger daughter Alyssa.
Today I wore a black dress and red shoes.
A little after 2 p.m. Tuesday afternnon I stopped by Pierce Funeral Home to say goodbye to someone I looked up to. He was many things: a retired Lt. Col, a husband, father, and grandfather, a Sunday School teacher, a friend. Carrol Bryant was a fixture at my parents’ church as I was growing up, and one of the kindest, most real Christians I ever met. And by “real Christian,” I don’t mean someone that went to church every Sunday and always carried their Bible. (Because as we know, going to church makes you a Christian as much as sitting in your garage makes you a car.) He was kind. He was genuine. He measured his life in love.
Mr. Bryant and my dad taught a Sunday School class together, which was an odd combination if there ever was one: the veteran marine, and the hippie who was once pepper sprayed for protesting the war. But they got along famously. I don’t know that I ever saw Mr. Bryant be unkind to anyone. In fact, his zest for life was apparent regardless of what he was doing: chaperoning a bunch of sixth graders on a camp retreat (God bless him), repairing a damaged house, cleaning cafeteria trays after Wednesday church supper. If it needed to be done, he did it, and he did it with a huge smile. In fact, if anyone wore red shoes–particularly my mother–Mr. Bryant would dance with them down the hallways of the church.
Often many church staff members’ kids became distanced and disenchanted with the church and its politics, and feel as though they were “projects” for various ministers, deacons, elders, and others. Not so with Mr. Bryant–it never even occurred to him see anyone as a project: he saw a person. He loved people into the church, and that, believe it or not, is a rare quality, Carrol made me want to be a better person.
So today I wore my black dress for my friend who was double my age, but who had quadruple the heart. And I wore my red shoes, because when you measure your life in love, sometimes you just have to take ’em for a spin down the hallway.
Alyssa Verner – July 1, 2014