Last night, I was doing some last minute holiday shopping and on my way home I was flipping through the radio stations and happened upon MPR and heard a name I recognized - Ben Larson. I can't say that we were friends, but we were acquaintances and worked together a couple of times at some open mics when we both attended Luther College. Ben Larson was a radiant, good man - and you didn't have to be close to him to see/know this.
During the earthquake in Haiti last January, I was advising a service learning experience trip in Kampala, Uganda. I didn't even know about the earthquake until about a week and a half after the fact, as we were pretty isolated from all media as well as the internet. I first heard about the earthquake from one of my students who had managed to find a random newspaper in Kampala and he shared the information with us one evening. I learned of Ben's death after I arrived back to the U.S. at the end of January. I hadn't looked at facebook in almost month, let alone checked my email, so happening upon a facebook event for a memorial for Ben was really shocking.
It's been almost a year since this event, but it feels like it was just yesterday that it happened. As I was sitting in the car, driving home, I listened to Ben's cousin and his wife talk about their experience during the earthquake, and how they've been dealing with everything since the earthquake. The end of the interview included a song of Ben's called "Earthen Vessel". I parked the car and listened to every word and thought about Ben, how his life was cut short, his wife, his cousin. I got home and looked up the song and listened to it again. Even though I'm not religious and I don't believe in God, this song reached me in a very real way. I sat and cried as I listened to Ben singing,
"...Everything I love is a gift to me
Everything I know is a gift to me
All my family is a gift to me..."
There is truth in these words.