My friend died a few days ago. News reports trickled in with various accounts and all of which centered around Matt Auten, a modern hero. He was a man of quiet faith, deep conviction, and selfless dedication. He was a talented artist, and could have made a lot of money outside of his chosen profession: to provide care for the facilities at a Group Home serving autistic and Intellectually Disabled people in Asheville.
Last week Matt took his wife and two small boys to the Ocean for a family vacation. The incoming tide left his boys (6,9) stranded on a sandbar. The riptide caught him while rescuing them.. and although he was able to get his boys and wife to the safety of shore, he was too fatigued to keep paddling himself. He drowned in the middle of the afternoon, in the visible presence of his family.
Two things stay with me: living with a passion to serve others, and dying with a passion to save others. These two ingredients exemplify the life and teaching of my Rabbi, Jesus. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. My Rabbi was the epitome of a Servant King; washing the feet of the least is not exactly the powerful image that Kings are remembered for.
And in the end, it would be the ultimate sacrifice. Greater love has no man this, than to lay down his life for his friends...
I want to live serving others. And when I die, I can only hope it is glorious in the glimmer of exhaustive love.