Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reclaiming "Spot"

Last night a group of about 100 (I'm guessing, and I'm not good with crowd estimates) helped to dedicate a patch of grass, four oak trees and a beautiful stone bench in memory of Steve.

We gathered in our church's Covenant Center (a fellowship hall/gym/all-purpose room) to visit and wait for everyone to arrive. Traffic was much worse than a usual weeknight in the Dallas area because of the never-ending rain from Tropical Storm Hermine. (Cooper prefers to call it Tropical Storm Hermione. Steve would approve.)

Pastor Andy welcomed everyone, and Pastor Wendy read aloud the verse that I chose for Steve's bench:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
-- Micah 6:8

Pastor Debbie directed the combined choirs of Holy Covenant (our church) and Schreiber Memorial (Jim and Betty's church) through Steve's favorite anthem, "Creation Will Be at Peace." ("In the holy mountain of the Lord, all war and strife will cease ...")

The choir was accompanied by a string ensemble -- all teens who played an arrangement composed by our talented friend Grant, a high school junior. His arrangement was a surprise for our family and a very special gift.

Then our group filed out the north door and walked across a short parking lot to the space. We stood together in a gentle rain.

Cooper, Katie, Jim, Betty, Jim and I gathered around the bench. Everyone else circled us.

Andy spoke about the significance of oak trees in this space -- strong, tall, offering umbrella-like comfort. Just like our Steve.

He spoke about Steve's integrity and strong character and his legacy. He encouraged us to visit this space for prayer and meditation.

And he spoke of reclaiming the name "Spot."

The Damm Spot, of course, was our playful name for the tumor in Steve's brain stem, the despicable cells that took root and wrapped around healthy tissue and eventually claimed Steve's life on earth long before any of us were ready.

Now there's a new Spot -- the Steve Damm Spot at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Carrollton, Texas. A patch of green with three live oaks and a chinkapin oak and sturdy bench. An open, sacred space at which everyone is welcome to gather.

Andy invited everyone to move in closer, to hold hands or place hands on one another as he prayed for the space and for us.

We returned inside for Zita cookies, tea and lemonade and lots of conversation. The love and energy in that room was warm and life-affirming. And I was reminded yet again of the incredible community -- a Micah 6:8 community -- that cared for Steve and continues to care for us.

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