April 26, 2012

Dave the Dishwasher

This past weekend I went to San Francisco. It was our Senior Trip and the main item to be experienced, at least for me and a few others, was Muir Woods National Monument—though this post has little to actually do with Muir Woods. Yet while enjoying the stillness and peaceful beauty of the wood, I found my mind wandering to a memory of this past summer.

I spent the summer north in Nevada City, CA working at a Salvation Army camp for kids. Midway through the summer, rumor spreads one afternoon that something had happened to Monica's husband. Monica's the nicest office lady anyone could ever meet. She's truly great (she purchased my favorite snacks, wrote a note and gifted me with one of her favorite books all for my birthday).

Turns out, Dave, her husband, was in a tragic motorcycle accident and was killed. It's a reality that is impossible to grasp. Someone, someone you love and see every day, gone. Just like that. We were stunned.

That weekend was his memorial service. It was held at the camp and all the summer staff—whether we knew him or not (and I did not)—were invited. Up until then I hadn't seen a picture of him. I was surprised. He was a burly man. And hairy. His face actually reminded me of Edward Sharpe. Monica seemed gentle and, well, innocent enough that after seeing picture after picture of Dave's black biker clothes, unkept hair and beard and overall wild style, I was genuinely yet satisfyingly perplexed. There were recent pictures and ones decades old. I was intrigued, starring at his face, at the way he looked, and Monica too.

I learned that he was something of a man of God, whatever that might mean. His appearance screamed, "Get the hell outta my way!" But from the several and seemingly never-ending testimonies given by that diverse collection of individuals, his faith said something else entirely.

There was one story though that burrowed itself in my mind. It must have because it was this I was turning over in my head as I walked Muir Woods. So basically, Dave had his master's degree (from APU of all places) in history. And after moving to Nevada City years later, he decided, being burdened for the people there (washed-out hippies and the like), to get a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. It was a good spot in town where locals and passer-bys would hang out and chat. He wanted to love and serve others. And he did so humbly.

He scrubbed dishes...

A master's degree and washing the leftover food off plates. Dave was a loser by most standards. He had a higher education than over 99% of the world's population and he does what?... But there is something intriguing about this life. It was his choice after all to wash that dish, and that one, and this one.

When he passed away, he and a close friend were riding their motorcycles down a narrow road. Unfortunately, I forget the details, but they were either getting back from or heading out on a missionary adventure of sorts. Dave loved people and wanted them to find God through Jesus. While riding, a deer darted in the road... I think we know what happens next.

His friend who rode with him said when the paramedics came he started explaining about their journey and one of them repented and was born again. I remember his eyes swelling up as he talked into the microphone. I couldn't imagine. So much good in the middle, unabashedly in the center, of grief, confusion and death. Life in death. So strange. I don't understand things like this.

There is obviously so much about him I am ignorant of. So much of his story lies beyond my understanding. And yet, what I know of him inspires me. Apart of me wants to imitate the man in those stories, whoever he is.

I don't really know what I want to do with my life, my post-graduation life that is. But inspiring others who you've never met (I'm writing about a guy I've neither met nor spoken with), when people talk about your life and heart and faith isn't such a bad idea.

I hope I'll think about Monica and Dave again soon.

Monica, I wish you blessing, peace and rest in the remembrance of your husband Dave.