Today I remember a man who would be 72 years old. Though I was only given just short of 12 years with him, the legacy and heritage of my father is keenly felt. Not only do I venture to continue in the life and work he began, his impact also reaches all of his children and through them, 20 grandchildren. The heart of Howard Edson Oliver was wholly saturated by God’s love as evidenced by the great love and grace he extended to his family, friends and co-workers. How blessed I am to come from him, how beautiful to be strengthened by the memory of him.
The scripture for today in this fourth week of lent is taken, in part, from Isaiah 49:8-11, 13-16a. The words, “I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people—to establish the land, apportion the desolate heritages . . .” are especially poignant today as I consider the budding growth that is implied in Lent and during which we reflect on the new life that comes through death. As my father welcomed the invitation to be a covenant to the people . . . to give drink to the thirsty and sing songs of hope and joy to the distressed, I am compelled and strengthened to do the same. It means I must allow that which is not authentically me—what I have consented to accept that I think others (and I) should be, and is not—to die. To recall the character of my father reminds me who I am—it is in my DNA! And for seed to give birth to life, first it must die . . .. L’Chaim!