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There are two groups of people whom I would enjoy meeting in heaven for coffee or tea as we share stories and memories.
The first group consists of family members and my pastor/mentor, who was formative in my faith development and early ministry.
My maternal grandfather, Dr. Alex M. Agnew, died before I was born. I heard stories about Papa from my maternal grandmother (Nana), my great aunt Helen, mom, and mom’s sister Paula while I was growing up.
He was a surgeon and OBGYN specialist. He had a private practice and was also chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia Medical School in Vancouver, Canada. I loved listening to his life stories and hearing about his sense of humor. He passed this along to mom and me.
More than hearing his stories, though, I enjoyed getting to know him through them, so carrying on conversations with him would mean so much to me. Papa’s transformation from photographs and stories to knowing him in “the flesh,” so to speak, would fill a void that I have always felt in my life.
My mom, Shirley, died in November of 2017 after suffering a significant subdural hematoma.
Mom and I had a challenging relationship at times. She and my former wife didn’t get along, and as a result, my son didn’t get to know mom and dad as well as he could have.
I remarried Denise, my wife and partner in life, love, and ministry. She helped rebuild the relationship between my mom and I as the two of them (the most-important women in my life)got to know and love each other.
I had to make her healthcare decisions at the end of her life (DNR and hospice) because dad couldn’t do it. I know that she appreciated the struggle and respected my choices (after she had a night to process them). Still, I feel the strong need to process with her and really get to know her as a woman who had an adventurous spirit.
Rev. Robert Morgan was my pastor growing up.
Our families moved to Austin, Minnesota, in the same year and became very close. A mentor and dear friend, Bob, played a significant role in my professional and faith development.
Countless times through the years, I wished that I could pick up the phone or knock on his office door to talk. Bob’s friendship and counsel would have meant a great deal to me during difficult times in ministry; this is especially true during the pandemic. A time when I prayerfully discerned my decision to step away from active ministry to pursue healing.
It would be wonderful to get together with him as a colleague and friend. Shared stories and insights along with laughter would be such a gift to both of us.
I never met this second group of people. Still, their writings and audio recordings have played and continue to play a significant role in my personal, spiritual, and vocational development.
I first “met” Howard Thurman during seminary in the mid-80s. As we listened to audio recordings of his talks in class and read/discussed his writings, he spoke deeply to my spirit.
He was a grandson of formerly enslaved people, and his grandmother’s stories were formative. Thurman was a colleague and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. and a professor and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The more I have studied his works and understand his role as a mystic and prophet, the more I would like to sit with him. Learning from him across the table would be a tremendous gift.
When I took a Columbia’s Certificate in Christian Spiritual Formation class on Thomas Merton, he spoke deeply to my heart.
He has played a large role in processing my 26 years as a military chaplain and my deep desire to be a peacemaker.
His writings and his audio recordings speak to my soul. I envision us sitting and enjoying a beer together, talking, being still, and laughing.
To experience his quick wit and infectious belly laugh, which I have read about, would really offer depth to my relationship with him through my studies.
Who’d you like to meet up with in Heaven?
Michael Moore is currently an at-large member of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and lives in Carrollton, Georgia with his wife Denise. Ordained as a PC(USA) minister in 1987, he served for 21 years as a USAF Chaplain before retiring and returning to the pastorate. After prayerful discernment, he is taking a temporary Sabbath break from active ministry for a time of healing and renewal.