“It’s All Music, Eh?”

I wasn’t a close friend of TR Richie‘s. But we ran in the some of the same circles. And we shared some powerful times with our Coho/Calvin’s friends, especially through Michael and Kendra.

I’ve been following TR’s final journey with some interest, as cancer has been taking its toll.

Some friends may have seen the incredibly life-affirming posts he’s made on Facebook, even in the midst of what seemed like the end.

An end which came today.

The office here is always a bustling place. Folks to meet with. Things to do. Never enough time.

So when a package arrived in the mail over the weekend from my friend April, I let it sit around for several days. Figured I’d get to it soon enough.

I finally opened it today. It’s a book of TR’s drawings and poems, called Works on Paper: Poems and Illustrations.”

So, I opened it up a while ago, read the inscription, turned back to the computer to thank April, just in time to read the news of his passing.

How eerie. How perfect.
How much of this is so often beyond comprehension.
Such a strange, beautiful, eerie moment.

Here’s the inscription page TR wrote, just two weeks ago:

IMG_9278

Yes, my friend. Indeed it is.

So, I’ve just spent the last hour, leafing through the book, allowing his poetry and illustrations to speak. Here’s one that leaped off the page, and seems to appropriate for this moment.

“Rites”
so it turns out
the simplest things
are the holiest

ask any dying friend

morning coffee
evening walks
laughter
work of the hands
shared meals
every day we engage
in sacrament without
fanfare or ceremony
and in the end it is not
extraordinary achievement
we find ourselves craving
but humble rites
which keep us
close to the ground
close to the moment
close to each other

let us honor the dying
by our earnest and
abiding allegiance
to ordinary grace

— TR Richie.

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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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