Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Here is some truth that has helped me during this crazy time.
1 Corinthians 1 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I was at home trying to come to terms with reading in this newspaper that my friend Charlie Hensley had died unexpectedly when his daughter, Shannon, called. When I got to the house an hour or so later, they'd just gotten the autopsy report that revealed he'd died from a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his heart. Though their clocks had stopped and sadness hung touchable in the air around them, they were finding some consolation in the fact that he'd died quickly - that he didn't suffer.
Knowing that Charlie and I shared a love of reading, his wife, Sheila, wanted me to see his collection of books - especially his poetry - so she and her children, Shannon, Nathan, and Caleb, along with their spouses, guided me from room to hallway to room; up the stairs and back down again to peruse row upon row of books. Stories about husband and father and his passion for words wrapped around us as we stood or sat in front of bookcases or pulled free an old hardback to touch and smell. I discovered I have many of the same books - or books by the same authors - but not nearly so many of them. It's without question the finest personal library I've ever come across.
I've never been one to have the kind of friends that email, phone or contact me to do things together on anything like a regular schedule, preferring instead to approach friendship as a string of serendipitous surprises wrapped around each day's coming and going.
Another way of describing this kind of friendship is "low maintenance". It will come as no surprise to anyone who knew Charlie that he was this kind of friend to me, as he was the personification of a low maintenance guy. That is, he was not emotionally needy, insecure, prone to over dramatization, stuck up, or in need of the latest expensive gadget to demonstrate his worth. Nor did he require continual reassurance that he was okay.
Put simply, he was secure, unselfish and easygoing. One of the most inquisitive men I've ever met. A joy to be around.
This was in no small part because of his easy smile and unrelenting sense of humor. Puns and jokes flowed from the man nonstop. If it was a groaner, all the better. (Sheila told me people asked her countless times over the years, "Does he behave this way at home?" to which she always replied with a smile, "Yes he does.") Being a scholar and wordsmith, he loved to play word games, many of which left those around him with dumbfounded looks on their faces as if to say, "What the heck is he talking about?" Some got the joke a day or two later, some never did. For example, he once said to me, "J.T., do you realize that if country music starwere to marry Tony Lama, the maker of high quality cowboy boots, she'd be a Dolly Lama."
Although he worked as a minister in the area for most of his life - beginning with his arrival in 1971 as a longhaired member of the Jesus movement and going on to be a founding member of the Open Door Fellowship Center, operate, with wife Sheila, Hosanna House Bookstore, and serve on the board of Birthright as well as offer pastoral care at Mt. Carmel Medical Center - Charlie and I didn't spend much time talking about religion.
Don't misunderstand, we talked plenty about God, Buddha, mysticism, grace, love, awe, transcendence and Jesus but he never once gave me the impression that his way of praising God or living a spiritual life was the right way to go. He put forth attraction rather than promotion. As Rev. Don Talent put it in his remarks at his funeral, "Charlie was willing to stand back and let God be God."
We also talked a lot about poetry and poets., Maxine Kumin, , Jo McDougall, , , and many more. In fact, we ran across one another more at local poetry readings than in church seeing as how I'm Catholic and he was Christian.
Another poet we both appreciated was the Muslim mystic Rumi. I happened across this poem by him the day after Charlie's Funeral. Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. The child weaned from mother's milk now drinks wine and honey mixed. God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box, from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flower bed. As roses up from ground.
Sunflowers were Charlie's favorite flower. His daughter, Shannon, told me he kind of thought of them as having personalities. I can understand this, since, at sunrise, their faces turn towards the east and, over the course of the day, they move and track the sun across the sky. A good metaphor for Charlie. Only it wasn't his face that tracked the sun, it was his radiance and warmth that caused the faces of people (especially children if he was entertaining and teaching them with Gates the puppet) to light up, turn and track him.
Despite all the splendid memories I have of Charlie I still can't believe he's gone. Expect to see him sauntering out the student center at PSU with theunder his arm like I did most mornings as I arrived for work. Even more so since he's exactly my age.
Brings to mind an assertion by, another writer we discussed from time to time, that we'd best remember we're all hanging on by a hairŠand what's more we're twisting in the wind.
Of course I know Charlie wouldn't want me to take it so serious. If I mentioned Merton's "hanging on by a hair" quote to him he'd likely smile mischievously and tell me, as he did someone else recently when they pointed out the bald area where once he sported shoulder length hair, "You know God is said to know and count every hair on our heads, I'm just makin' it a little easier on Him."
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Charles Hensley, 58, of Pittsburg, KS died unexpectedly June 5, 2007 at his home.
Charles was born January 22, 1949 in Tulsa, Oklahoma the son of William P. and Alice Tamage Hensley. He came to Pittsburg in 1971. Charles attended area schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was a graduate of Tulsa Central in 1967. He attended Trinity Bible College and was a graduate from Pittsburg State University with a Bachelor Degree in English Literature in 1999.
December 23, 1972, he married Sheila Johnston at the Methodist Church in McCune, KS. Charles worked as a minister most of his life and was one of the founding members of the Open Door Fellowship Center. Early in their married life, Charles and Sheila owned and operated Hosanna House Bookstore in Pittsburg, KS. Most recently he has served as a substitute teacher for the USD 250 school district.
Charles was a board member of Birthright, Inc. for 25 years, founding member of the 60 Plus fellowship group, and offered pastoral care at Mt. Carmel Hospital and throughout SE Kansas. He was known as a poet, puppeteer, a scholar, a student of theology, and was loved by children.
Living family members include his wife, Sheila of the home; mother Alice Hensley of Claremore, OK; daughter Dr. Shannon E. Hensley and husband Dennis Crouch of Columbia, MO; twin sons Caleb Thomas Hensley and wife Tara of Vancouver, BC and Nathan Stewart Hensley and wife Diana of Statesboro, GA; brother Robert Hensley and wife Elaine of Claremore, OK; and one granddaughter, Robin Hensley Crouch of Columbia, MO.
He was preceded in death by his father, William P. Hensley and his brother Thomas Hensley.
Funeral Services will be 10am Saturday, June 9, 2007 at the Countryside Christian Church with Reverends Kent Morgan, Jim Sukraw, and Don Talent officiating. Burial will follow at the McCune City Cemetery in McCune, KS. Family will receive friends from 7-8pm Friday, June 8, 2007 at the Bath-Naylor Funeral Home in Pittsburg, KS; friends may call after 1pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions towards Birthright, Inc. of Pittsburg, KS; friends may drop off or mail memorials to Bath-Naylor Funeral Home 522 S. Broadway in Pittsburg, KS. E-mail condolences may be left at www.bathnaylor.com.