Sing for the joy that's found in setting up the pins and knocking them down

Friday, December 27, 2013

For the love of death poetry...

In Bart's funeral homily he made mention of Eric's love for poems about death.  Any of our children will tell you that he had several of them memorized and recited them often to us.  This was probably his very favorite, or at least it was the one that we heard most often.  As I've read it after his passing, I understand why it was his favorite and now is mine.  It was how he lived and how he faced the hard things that came his way.  I think we have a new appreciation for these words as we face our future.

How Did You Die?
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?
You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there – that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;
It’s how did you fight and why?
And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t that fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only how did you die?
-Edmund Vance Cooke

Scout Eulogy - Written and Read by Sam Fredrickson

Our Scoutmaster Died Last Week… But He Was Prepared

Eric Rynders, our scoutmaster, died on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. Eric defined the scout motto, “Be Prepared” or, as he liked to say it, “Semper Paratus.” Eric taught us all that being prepared was not about the gear, the gadgets or the stuff.  Instead, being prepared is a state of mind. It’s being able to take whatever is around, including your own intellect and the camaraderie of others, to solve the problem at hand.

Eric had a congenital heart defect that he learned about when he was 15. Because of this he had a pacemaker and an internal defibrillator. This changed the way he lived. He had to limit his physical activity, his stress level and how he ate. Eric didn’t treat these as setbacks. In fact, I would argue it augmented his contribution to the troop. When it came time to comfort homesick scouts at camp, Eric was our guy. 

When it came to teaching critical thinking, Eric was our guy. When adult patience was at a minimum, Eric kept us all focused on the reason we were adult leaders – to create fine young men who would inherit our country. Armed with his Dutch oven, charcoal, lengths of rope or his insatiable curiosity of how things worked, he taught many boys, myself included, lessons that will last a lifetime.

Although many of us benefited from Eric being prepared for life, we need to pay even closer attention to how he was prepared for death. Because of his heart condition he lived each day knowing that he might not live to a ripe old age, but also lived each day in preparation for a long life. Eric knew his time on this earth may be limited and this attitude caused him to live fully and love his family dearly, knowing they may grow up without him. Henry, Beatrice and Simon deeply understand that they are among the most cherished kids that ever walked on this earth. Eric had prepared his children.

Likewise, Eric and his wife Dawn knew that life could be fleeting. They had a storybook romance. They knew how to enjoy each other’s company, laugh heartily (the man did have a loud laugh!) and resolve their differences before the sun went down. Theirs was a marriage of grace, love, humor and forgiveness. Eric was prepared with his wife.

Also know that Eric was a devout follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Eric knew that his own physical heart would fail him some day, but that his life was redeemed in Christ. He's awaiting hisnew body right now, but meanwhile, his pain is gone and he's in Paradise. Eric was prepared for eternity.

What more of a role model could young men ask for than a man who was prepared for life, prepared for death and prepared for eternity. May we all be as prepared as Mr. Rynders.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Wife's Tribute

This was read during Eric's funeral service by my dear friend, Tess Bademan

I met Eric Rynders during my first year at Dordt College in NW Iowa.  We met in passing and eventually found that we had friends in common and our paths intersected more often.  He loved living in Florida, he loved Coco-Cola, he loved driving fast cars, he loved wearing shoes with no socks and a hundred other things that made him interesting to me.  I also quickly learned that his heart loved the God who made him and that every day he felt the burden of telling others about his faith.  I also found out that his physical heart was broken.  There were medications and cardiologists, scary things for college kids, but Eric took it all in stride as a part of his daily routine.  We were kids, it was easy to focus on the freshness of new love and life was a long road ahead of us filled with endless possibilities. 

I always said to him “I think after college we’ll go our separate ways and somewhere down the road when we haven’t found anyone else, we’ll find eachother and get married.”  Our ways never separated and we soon found ourselves part of a love that would need to travel through life together.  We talked about his heart.  I told him that I loved him enough to be with him for a day, a year or a lifetime if God allowed.  It didn’t matter to me.  Any time was worth something and now I know that no time is ever enough.  We married six months out of college and would have been married 22 years on the 20th of this month.  I have known a deep love and cherishing that all wives would hope to have.

We married, we made plans, we lived freely and innocently with the hope of years and years to live out our plans, our dreams, our convictions.  Having children was always a part of that plan and God blessed us with our three.  Henry, our first born--our first run at figuring out what it was to be parents.  Your father was so very proud of you.  He told me so often, “Henry gets it.  He’s a big picture kid.  People are drawn to him and he’ll do well whatever he does.”  He knew that his health forced you to grow up quickly and that saddened him, but he was so comforted by the man God was forming you into.  It was perfect that you were there helping him in those final moments because you bravely put into action all those things he hoped he was teaching you.   Beatrice, his sweet girl.  He always said that one of his regrets in life was that he wished he had known me since the day I was born.  When you came along looking and acting like a little copy of me he got his wish.  He loved you deeply.  He loved your persistence to learn and conquer new things.  He loved his little girl and struggled to watch you turn into a young woman, but knew you were growing into something amazing.  Simon, our youngest, our comic relief.  You taught all of us to take life a little less seriously when we needed it most.  You have inherited your father’s sense of humor--as well as his ability to change the words of any song into something a little more entertaining.  You reminded him so much of his own little brother—which terrified him a little, but brought him so much happiness.  You were his joy.  Eric loved being a father and to look at the three of you—it was his most successful earthly contribution. 

Eric filled a room when he entered it and he filled our lives to the brim.  He was the bravest man I have ever known.  He faced every trial with a calmness and sense of humor that amazed those who knew him.  His faith was the solid rock that he walked on each and every day.  He taught us to appreciate every day that we are given.  Because of his leadership and example to our family, we must now take those lessons and bravely face the days and years to come.   He was an amazing man and we were blessed to call him best friend, husband and dad.