November 24, 2019 12:43:42 AM
As we gather around tables, greet families and recount blessings, we are reminded that relationships are the canvas of life. Our lives are marked and colored by the influence of countless people. Occasionally, impactors on our lives are vibrant characters who master the command of presence and attention in flaming glow. Many relationships shade our lives in more subtle hues, leaving soft watercolor marks on our hearts. A certain few relationships we encounter are defined by warm and earthy tones that seep into the marrow of our bones. These relationships feed us with quietly profound lessons, easily undetectable like the daily variations of autumn sweet gum leaves.
Harley Eldon Barham was such a man. In the wake of his sudden death last month, I have had the opportunity to consider his heartwarming life. Traveling past his empty house frequently, I am convinced that a sad nodding of the head is not how he wants to be remembered. Nor, I believe, is it honoring to him. Eldon did not personify the smallness of heart that is grief. His heart was large and engulfing; I believe he wants the same for me.
I have contemplated the simple life that was his. Eldon's affinity for soil, plants, and harvest speaks to pleasure gained in fundamental work for which we are all created. His lesson to me is to find joy and fulfillment in "all your hands find to do" as the Ecclesiastes writer so ably penned. Simplicity is a hard-won goal he attained.
I have also come to appreciate his example of modesty. Eldon was so consistently unassuming and unobtrusive. His accomplishments were tempered with a gentle voice and humble words. He taught me to resist the carnal need for recognition and embrace the higher plane of honor that comes by a life free of self-importance.
This summer I noticed his Bible laid open on his kitchen counter alongside his trusty blood pressure cuff. Eldon was ever mindful of the present and vested in the future. His persimmons are now ripe; he would have been giving them away for weeks. I plan to have the beautiful orange fruits on my Thanksgiving table, a tangible reminder of him and the impact of a gentle man.
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