As I prepare for All Soul’s Sunday, I remember the incredible men and women that left a lasting legacy on my heart. I must admit that the Service of Remembrance is one of the most sacred of the church year. There is a feeling of comfort and holiness as we invite our brothers and sisters in the faith to join voices in giving thanks for the many saints that went before us. We thank them for their teachings, for their presence in our lives. We are better because they lived.
One of the many men who had a profound impact on my life was my grandfather. Edwin Lance Jensen lived a life that many would consider remarkable. He survived the Great Depression, the early loss of his mother, homelessness, a world war, and the loss of a child. I knew him for 18 years. Unfortunately, he died at the young age of 60.
My grandfather was the most significant male role model that I had growing up. I learned patience, perseverance, and endurance. This tough talking, rough around the edges kind of man took the time to teach me the many life lessons that I needed to know. I look back and still consider him one, if not the most intelligent man that I ever met.
One of my fondest memories of him was an event that happened during my senior year of high school. I prepared to leave for school when all of the sudden I heard a thunderous crash right outside my house. A lady hit my parked car. My grandfather ran outside, all 6’4″ and 300 pounds of him to check on the person who was involved in the wreck. Making sure she was safe, he invited her in to have some coffee while we handled the day to day stuff involving my car. I like to think that a mechanic fixed the car, and the lady found peace, all because of my grandfather’s kindness.
Many years after Edwin’s death, I was in an old bookstore sorting through different titles that caught my eye. One of them was about the presence of angels. I looked inside of the book and the question, “How do we know that we are in the company of angels?” peeked my curiosity. I had to continue, the words called to me.
As I read the answer to the question, I found myself weeping, giving thanks for this saucy dirty old man that encouraged me to be the person that I am today. It said, “An angel is a person who leaves our world better because they were in it.” Through my tears, I started to laugh thinking about this broken not too old of a man, appearing as one of the many angels who journey through my life.
Through this week, let us stop and give thanks for our angels (sometimes disguised in the strangest packages that we could ever know). We are bolder and better because of their legacy. When you think of the special people in your life, remember to stop and give thanks and praise for the people that speak the words that you need to hear at the moment that you need to hear them. Today we say, “Praise be to God for our angels.”