Dr. Clyde M. DeLoach,
Retired Methodist pastor
One of the most difficult parts of growing older is having to deal with sudden bouts of nostalgia. I was driving through Danville, my hometown, today on my way back from Richmond. I was overcome with thoughts of the tobacco markets and their pungent smells, of dragging Riverside drive from Heartline Drive and the Coke plant up to Riverside shopping center and back again—and again. I remembered the old Fairgrounds where Elvis once played and all my friends of long ago.
These things are gone now and a part of me with them. So, too, is my brother, Travis, who died of COVID last year right before the vaccines became available. What comes into our path and what goes on, still in our hearts and memories, is what makes us who we are.
I still miss my brother terribly. He was younger than me and a much better pastor. He was a good preacher and he cared about and loved people. He could even get along with the hierarchy of the church which often set my teeth on edge. I think I have survivor’s guilt; I know that, of us two, I should have been the one to go.
I can’t help being angry at COVID and at the unfairness of it all. But then I remember that he was only one of over 600,000 Americans and their families must ache, too. I have to ask myself, then, what I can do to honor him.
I could preach a mighty sermon, I guess. I could rant and rave at the sin all around us. Maybe I should shout and throw my hands up at the heavens or give thanks for the fact that God has spared me and the rest of my family. None of that is particularly appealing, though.
I think I would rather celebrate his memory by doing something useful. I ask you to look at I Corinthians 8:9-13: “9 Be careful, however, that your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you who are well informed eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged to eat food sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 By sinning against your brothers in this way and wounding their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to stumble.”
I want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID. More people are dying each day and the Delta variant is especially hard on children. I know all the arguments against getting vaccinated and, no, I will not force anyone to do so. We are free people. But can we not spare a thought for those who might be saved if we get our COVID shots; one of them might even be us. If you have strong feelings against being vaccinated or medical reasons for avoiding it, perhaps you can get tested and wear a mask. We are in this together.
I want everyone to have the chance to look back on sweet memories. No matter what you decide, may your memories be sweet and may God bless you.