I am not the first William Hagenbuch
I still talk to my dad. It’s been 18 years. I know that I am not alone, though it’s not something many of us share on or around death dates. But it’s there. He’s there. Listening. Watching. Supporting. Attentive. Close. Proud.
Yesterday was the anniversary date. It was also the day I had my MOST STRESSFUL paper due in a course that may likely stretch me more than any other on this level, Strategic Planning and Theology.
Even those who barely know me know this: Strategic Planning ain’t my thing.
But God is.
My father was an incredible man. Strong, visionary, a compulsively hardworking man who, in every measure, lived up to this name Butch.
We didn’t have the same level of strength when we walked beside each other here. It showed. When he died near his work truck on a pile of dried November leaves beside his chainsaw on the first day of the Christmas tree harvest season, my dad was like a good uncle to me, a very good uncle, not so much a dad.
This, of course, has changed. Mostly by my talking to him in the woods, his woods…and his listening, his wonderful, warm way of listening.
I have grown into my dad. See, he loved his job. He always loved his job so much. I love my job now, too. I honestly did not always say that. He cared for trees, thousands and thousands of them. I care for people.
When I graduated with my MDiv (Master of Divinity degree), religion here was dead to me, or, maybe, if you are an optimist, you could it say it was dying. Not a lot of life. Certainly not a lot of love.
It was more formal, cold, and removed somehow. It was never vital. It was never everything.
Preach for nine years and you change. Boy, do you change. Or I should say this boy changed. Now scripture is vibrant, telling and complete. It speaks. Now the Word of God reaches far, touches gently, or realigns what is out (or off) so perfectly. It heals. Specifically, it heals us. Now I see that the Holy text sings as clearly and as accurately to us today as it did to those the day it was written. Its truth does set us free.
I return to yesterday. I focused so much on that paper due. Recorded interviews transcribed. Footnotes at every turn. SWOT analysis, recidivism rates, SMARTER objectives, outputs, outcomes and products. Mega, Macro and Micro results. Why? Why did I do this with such zeal, such care? I’m Butch’s son.
These flowers, still on the altar table this morning, celebrate Wm. S. Hagenbuch’s life, his family, his trees, and his never die work ethic.