Other Seas

t’s the morning after Kathleen Baskin-Ball’s memorial service, and I just wanted to dash of a quick word of gratitude…

First, to Kathleen…for her incredible life, for the way she chose to die, and for the powerful worship service that she herself designed prior to her passing.

To her family, and especially Bill and Skyler…and their faithful love of her in this time.

For those who were there, we will not soon forget Skyler confidently shouting “I know that already!!!” to the the statement that his Mom loves him more than all the M&Ms in the world. I hope and pray he never forgets that.

Would that we all –when we hear the word of God that we are deeply loved by God– be able to shout with similar confidence…

“We know that already!!!”

We so often forget. Which is, of course, a big part of why we keep going back to church to be reminded.

I give thanks for the extraordinary clergy women who were great soul friends of Kathleen’s, and whom I also count as some of my close clergy friends…

Mary Beth

Some of these I’ve known since we were in seminary almost twenty years ago. Others I’ve been on mission trips with, and shared book study groups. One, I’ve known since we were kids.

You get busy in life, and you don’t see your colleagues and friends every day. But, “WOW.” What a reminder of what incredible spiritual leaders they are.

Thanks to all the rest of those who took part in the service as well, and for those of you who thanked me for the Children’s Time afterwards. Let me say two things about that moment…

First, when Kathleen asked me to do it, I said “yes” without even thinking. If she’d asked me to be a floor-scrubber yesterday, I would have said yes.

But in the car, on the way home that day she asked, and upon further reflection, I did wonder, “Whaah? A Children’s Time during a Memorial Service?!!! How’s THAT gonna work? And especially THIS service?”

So, here’s the truth: I just tried to think of how Kathleen might talk to kids in that moment, and that’s what I said. If it was helpful, thank her…because her modeling for us how we should love and honor kids is a part of what wrote it.

Then, on about Wednesday, I had another thought of terror: What if no kids come? I mean, lots of times, there are no kids at a Memorial Service. What if it’s just Skyler and a couple of his cousins?

It would have been OK, truth-be-told. But I did worry.

And then, yesterday, after the open invitation to come, DOZENS of kids (maybe forty?) came forward for the Children’s Time. It was an amazing moment to see them all.

And after the service, several of us said together, “Well, we weren’t too sure that would work. But Kathleen? She knew…She knew…”

For those of you who weren’t there, my message during the Children’s Time was basically the same as the message of my blog the other day. In fact, if you were there, and you re-read the blog, you’ll note how the message is very similar. Yesterday, I just tried to put that message in the form that kids might also be able to hear.

Thanks also to all those who thanked me in person for the blog. Blogs are funny in that even if you get written comments of gratitude, it’s not like getting a hug from someone. So, it was nice to get the hugs. As I said before, I wrote it for the totally selfish reason of working through my own grief. I’m pleased it’s being passed around and is helping others, though. That’s an humbling thing.

This morning, my thoughts will be with the staff and people of Suncreek. For while many of us will go back to other churches where we’ll be able to lean on our clergy, it’s that very center-point of church life that is painfully missing there. So, my thoughts and prayers are with them.

UPDATE: The DMN has published a short video to their website. It’s only 2 minutes, so it only scratches the surface of this powerful service. See it here.

The only time I almost lost myself in tears during the service yesterday was during a hymn that I know by heart: “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.”

Like much of the music yesterday, it comes from the Latino/a tradition. It’s in our UM Hymnal, and I’ve sung it a lot. The lilting Spanish music is perfect for the lyrics. But there was one part that, even though I’ve heard it a thousand times, I heard differently yesterday.

It’s near the very end of the song, as the melody rises just a bit. There was something about the last line that made a lump well up in my throat, and I almost lost it.

It’s a song about calling…ostensibly about the calling of the disciples. But in that moment, what I heard was Kathleen singing these lines to God:

“O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name;
Now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me; by your side I will seek other seas.”

Kathleen –having been called by God so long ago, and having served God so faithfully in all she did in life– has indeed left her boat on the shoreline, behind her.

And in the mercy of God’s everlasting love, she seeks other seas.


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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