Reflections on a Departed Friend

I learned today that a friend of mine—who went to Harvard Divinity School when I was a student there—recently passed away due to Evans Syndrome, which is a disease in which antibodies attack the red blood cells and a person becomes anemic and bleeds internally.  I have not talked with this friend for about a decade.  Frankly, I had a difficult time interacting with him, partially on account of my own insecurities and jealousies.  But, as I thought back this evening, I concluded that I was really blessed to have known him.

This friend of mine was an African-American Christian conservative Republican, and it was from him that I learned that there was a race problem in the United States.  I suppose that I knew that before I met him, on some level.  I was aware that there were inner cities, and I heard Jonathan Kozol speak at my undergraduate school, DePauw University, about the inadequate school systems in the United States.  And yet, for some reason, when I got to Harvard, I asked my friend if there really was a race problem in the United States.  He was incredulous at my question, and he told me about the discrimination he faced, and how African-Americans still had to overcome obstacles.  I suppose that I had heard about this issue before, but the existence of the problem became internalized within me after I had listened to my friend.  When I asked him what I could do, he told me that I needed to go to my community and tell them about the problem.  I am not a very good missionary, and so I did not do that.  But I am at least aware of the problem on account of my friend, and I have blogged about it.  I doubt that is enough, but being aware of a problem is a significant step towards doing something about it.

My friend talked big and he dreamed big.  I admire his faith in God and his intellect.  I really don’t know how, or even if, God is at work in this situation.  The person who wrote me to inform me of my friend’s passing said that the friend was in the very same hospital where he was interning, but he did not know about it, even though the friend was asking for him.  He is sad that he did not get a chance to comfort our friend during the last sixth months of his life.  I find it saddening that a coincidence could not lead to something redemptive, or at least purposeful, and I am also saddened that there is such a disease as Evans Syndrome.  I do believe, however, that there is a world beyond this one, and that this life is not all that there is.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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