Last Friday we celebrated the life of my brother-in-law, Rick Sutherland, a 1965 Cy-Fair graduate. Family and friends gathered at the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery. The place where Rick’s body was buried. The fact that his casket could not be seen after the burial did not cover up the bravery, the service, or the Purple Heart he earned in Vietnam.
As we drove to the area to see Rick’s flag-draped coffin, I was humbled and moved to see the thousands of headstones of men and women like him who served our Country. Some lives ended too soon as casualties of war. Others living long lives and finding their final resting places here – to be remembered and honored as heroes of America.
The silence suddenly shattered by the firing of the three-gun salute. The bugler playing the final taps. The solemn folding of the sacred American flag. The presentation of the flag to Rick’s beautiful and broken-hearted daughter, Amanda. Amanda’s cheeks wet with tears of grief running down from her eyes. Rain pouring from the clouds above as if the angels were shedding their own tears for Rick.
Following the burial service, we attended the Memorial service at the Foundry United Methodist Church. Pastor Scott Basso led the service for Rick. Scott’s opening words inspired this prayer. ‘We are all accidental tourists. We each live our lives on Earth. Yet, this is not our home. Our home is where Rick is now. Rick’s home is with God.”
Aren’t we all accidental tourists? We have no voice in deciding the time, the date, or place of our birth. We do not select our parents or our brothers and sisters. We have no say in the body God selects to ensoul with our spirit. Our nationality or the color of our skin is not our choice either. Regardless, we are all the same. We are all children of God. Whether we are rich or poor. Have long lives or die too soon. Whether we are disabled or able-bodied. Book worms or athletes. Confined to a wheelchair with polio. A Purple Heart recipient. Live lives of privilege or poverty or sacrifice. We are all truly accidental tourists. We are born. We all will die. We struggle as best we can to navigate the labyrinth of life. Then, the angels guide us Home to be with the Father of all of us.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Let us pray together.
God, in prayer, we thank You for the gift of life in the presence of Your love on Earth.
God, in prayer, we thank You for our earthen bodies, bodies you have ensouled with Your spirit and love to shine and share with our brothers and sisters.
God, just like Rick, we all may be accidental tourists on Earth. But we know it is no accident that You have plans for us. You will be our final resting place when our hearts stop beating.
God, we thank You for preparing a place for us in heaven. For in heaven we will no longer be accidental tourists. Rather, we will be Your children. Children wrapped in Your spirit of love, of light, and unconditional acceptance forever and ever. Amen.
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.