Last night, I said goodbye to a mentor and this farewell stung. Bill entered my life at a formable time in my vocation and I still hear his baritone voice in my head.
He was an enthusiastic teacher and I eagerly adopted his lessons in my career. Many of Bill's instructions helped me refine my craft, like the fine art of running a meeting of the board like a boss (Robert's Rules of Order), how to perform the sacred rites of marriage, funerals, and baptism and the importance of punctuality and aesthetics. Other lessons shaped my life as I watched him love people and serve his community.
It has been some time since our last conversation, but last night as I stepped forward to offer my condolences to Betty, Bill's wife, she looked up from the chair where she was seated and a broad grin appeared. She reached up and gently cupped my face and in a quiet voice said: "Beloved friend, he loved you so much!" Some relationships span time and distance, this was that kind.
My mentor wasn't perfect, he wore the scars of battles won and battles lost (never trust anyone without scars), but Bill's life made a difference in mine, and that is the ultimate lesson all of us should learn.