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For whom the Bell Tolls

by the Rev. Robert Olsen

Something happened a few weeks ago – people of every race, religion, economic background – reacted with prayers and memories to the news of Kobe Bryant’s death in a
helicopter crash. Now as a marginal King’s fan, Kobe wasn’t one of my favorite  basketball players, when he came to town it meant the Lakers and usually not a good outcome for the Kings. Even so, It was heartening to see the teams and players around the league honoring him at his passing and learn how much he did for the community.

I titled this month’s article from one of Ernest Hemingway’s books and the John Donne
poem. You didn’t have to be a sports fan to know who Kobe Bryant was, but what of the other individuals on that flight, including the pilot. Most of the news focused on Kobe and his daughter, but there were other parents and children on that flight. Two of those lost in the crash were Sarah Chester and daughter Payton. Sarah was a trustee of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, San Juan Capistrano, where her daughter attended. I’m sure if I did enough Google searches I’d find other links in common with us at St George’s. I don’t do it very often, but occasionally I’ll read the obituaries and am constantly struck by number of things we all share in common.

Events like this reminds me that our days are numbered and we don’t know that number. I’ve been fortunate, my brother called me when, we were stationed in Germany, that my mom’s health was failing and if I wanted to see her I’d better get home soon. I took his advice and was able to be at her bed side when she passed. While there were many years separating her passing and my dad’s, he learned a lesson from that and for the last 4 or 5 years of his life, I’d get a phone call around dinner time a couple of times each week. The calls were just a few minutes, nothing ever important, but when he passed I felt comforted that nothing had been left unsaid. I felt that same comfort when our son Robert passed away at home a few years ago, he and I had talked the night before, I knew he was excited about an art show he was preparing for and that he was ready to help me plant tomatoes in our garden.

Not knowing the days we have, we should strive to live each day to be the person that God has intended for us to be. Reaching out and loving each other as he loves us.

While we still have each other, this is the time to talk and visit, not waiting for someday. I pray that we pray for all for whom the bell tolls, including ourselves.

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