I lost a good friend recently. He was one of the most brilliant human beings I’ve ever had the honor of working with or calling a friend. I knew of his database/computer prowess – the reports he created to keep our teams at work up to date and allow annual reviews to happen (and have context). I didn’t find out until after Robert’s death that he was also a rather brilliant physicist. All of these amazing skills aside, the part of Robert that made the greatest impression on me was the genuine caring man who happened to be brilliant. The wonderful, helpful, patient person who would write you an email expressing sheer delight that you had contacted him just to say hi. The husband and father who adored his family and lived for the truth. The very private man who joined Linked In because when I joined Linked In, I inadvertently didn’t uncheck the box saying that Linked in could invite my entire address book to join Linked In…. ooops. I remained blisfully unaware of this faux pas until I received the following email from Robert, subject line: LOCKED IN
It has finally happened – my first foray into the world of social networking.
By invitation. Up until a few minutes ago, I had steadfastly refused to become one of the millions of people whose online identities blur the waking hours, but I still know something of virtual etiquette: to refuse such an invitation is tantamount to ignoring the sender – in this case, a lady I respect and admire far too much to risk the virtual slight. And I say the first foray, since I realize that it is now only a matter of time before the network does what it is designed to do: track down my myriad email addresses and point them back to the real me.
so you think you hear voices?
I tell you.. it’s true.
but what you should know
is that they can hear you
please rule out any negative undertones – I am always very pleased to hear from you, and life is far, far too short to defer to my level of paranoia
it was good to hear from you – I have thought of you several times of late – trust that you are well and at peace
This email from Bob was the first indication I had that I had invited half of the civilized world (and also parts of Lynchburg) to join Linked In… and it was called out so graciously.
Bob and his wife Ronell assist people who are in tough circumstances – homeless individuals who need someone to stand up for them. When Robert was asked about religions which seem to compete amongst themselves regarding how many souls they could save in a weekend and how he approached his work with the homeless, he said he’d continue to help and help the person in need. If the person asked why Robert was helping, then Robert would share his belief in Christ. This to me is the important part of the story. Robert would do the Christlike work of caring for those who needed care, never expecting anything in return – giving to fill a need. If the recipient asked why – then, and only then, would religion be mentioned.
Living in Lynchburg (the so called gold buckle on the Bible Belt), I have come to view Christians in a less favorable light than I may have in the past. I see a great deal of hypocrisy where praise is sung on Sundays and neighbors ignored on Mondays. Wednesday morning brings a 10 AM service and Wednesday evening brings a discussion of Arabs, Mexicans, or others “not like us”. It reminds me of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Your Christ I like, Your Christians I do not like- they are so unlike your Christ.”
I once read a bumper sticker which said: “Religion is doing what you’re told, no matter what’s right. Morality is doing what’s right, no matter what you’re told”. Christ (or Gandhi, or Buddha for that matter) would be helping the homeless because they need to be helped. The preaching would come after the helping was done. In the past several days, I’ve heard many people describe Robert as a strong Christian… and I pulled back from that description, because to me, a strong christian is always “working the crowd” – it’s about the being Christian instead of the Christian being… Looking back now over the years I knew Robert – I think the time I spent with him, I was sitting with and conversing with the one most true Christian walking this earth. He did not boast or push his religion. He lived his love of his God through love and serving his fellow man. In his humility I found the true meaning of Christianity. May his blessings continue to enrich all of our lives.