my tribute

a eulogy during the Requiem Eucharist for Timothy MacBeth Veney at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, on Friday, July 29, 2016

PMA B'day, Rose's Luxury, DC, 1-23-15

I don’t know precisely when Loretta and Tim, Pontheolla and I bonded as two pairs, a quartet of kindred souls; most truly, a quintet. For there ever abided amongst us an element, a spirit of love, evident even and especially when we, on occasion, as humans always do, disagreed with one another, disliked something said or done or not said or done.

But when did it happen? When did we know that we were “frienilies”, friends who had become and ever would remain family?

Surely, not at once. Though it was close.

And surely not all that long ago. Spring 2006 when we met. Yet that seems a lifetime past, given all the life the four of us lived…

Gathering nearly every holiday. Christmas. New Year. Birthdays. Loretta and Pontheolla in January. Tim in May. Me in June. Easter Day. Memorial Day. Labor Day. Pick a day…any day. To dine. To drink. To play Scrabble. To build with LEGOS. Most of all, to feast; our souls satiated again and again, but never able to partake enough of our rarest, divinest fellowship, which continued, carried over onto momentous road/round trips to (among many places)…

Heading to mainland, MV, August 2010

Martha’s Vineyard to which we rode the ferry, taking in the luscious coastline scenery, refreshed by the sea’s chill breeze, where we ventured all over the island once, and then again and again, feasting on our friendship, feting our fellowship from one end of the island to the other. I don’t know about Tim and Loretta and Pontheolla, but I believe that trip was when I knew with certainty that we were bound for this life and the next. For we shared a house. And there was, is nothing for me quite like waking up day after day to see and day in and day out to be with Tim and Loretta that let me know we were, we are family…

Then Maui, where we sailed zip-lining out of our sanity-leavin’-ever-lovin’-minds toward the horizon…

012

where we searched wholly (as in completely, seemingly) crazily for sweatshirts in Hawai’i to venture to the heights of Haleakalā to observe the sunrise, then to bicycle on a mad run from The House of Sun 10,000+ feet later to the mountain’s blessed bottom…

where we drove the circuitous, serpentine Road to Hana, then returned via Maui’s east and south road less traveled where NASA held training missions for astronauts because the landscape looked like the moon, and where Tim, always at the wheel, drove through a gully, the road pitched at a 40° angle over 60 miles an hour with a G-force of God knows what, expressing his unabashed delight, releasing the wheel and yelling “Whee!” and terrifying me!

Tim & me

Now, Tim was, is my brother. And I was, am his. Forever. Brothers of different fathers and mothers, bound together by love. Not love as feeling, as emotion that really is more about liking each other; though we did. But rather love as the unbounded hospitality of unconditional benevolence; active kindness that wills to be and do the best for the other; irrespective of the way that other sometimes can be and can behave. For Tim embodied a quintessential and ever-joyful equanimity. I, on quite the other hand, lived and live on the extremes; sometimes, at my best, sometimes, at my worst with very little in between (the sweet and bitter fruit of my Gemini-esque nature). Yet no matter. Tim e’er embraced, ne’er abandoned me; though from time to time, when at my worst, he’d say, “I’ll wait ‘til you come back.” Then he’d pause and to make sure I understood his point, he’d add, “Let me know!”

Tim

And I can’t recall when I first called Tim “Mr. Timothy.” I have a habit of renaming people. It’s a biblical-thing. Whene’er in the Bible God (and by no means do I presume to assume that divine station!) renames someone it is the unmistakable mark of a new relationship. Same for me. One day, quite spontaneously, I called Tim, “Mr. Timothy,” clearly claiming him, covenanting with him in a relationship that was, is invulnerable to the passage of time, invincible to the absence of distance, unassailable by the changes and chances of this life, unconquerable by death…

Timothy, I love you eternally, requiescat in pace.

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stuff

This past Sunday, my dearest friend, Tim Veney died. Since then, my nearly hourly musings have been flooded with fondest remembrances of him and, far more than usual, ruminations about my mortality and death. (Around the time I turned 50, I gave up my childhood-long notion that I was immortal, and then began to contemplate daily, not morbidly, but rather honestly, my aging and its inevitable end.)

Today, I’m thinking about stuff. Things. Earthly treasure.

Though I don’t think I have an overabundance of stuff, I do confess I have less than I sometimes want and far more than I ever need.

And looking at the 2015 revenues of the five largest self-storage operators in the United States, totaling $4.184 billion, clearly a lot of us have more stuff than our homes can hold!

And I remember when my father died and later when we moved my mother from the home they had lived in since March 1952, one of our primary tasks was emptying the house of their veritable mountains of stuff, much of it time-worn and outdated or broken and inoperable.

And the words of Jesus come to mind:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[1]

and…

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?”[2]

I suppose that Jesus counsels we not worry about our lives because he knows we do. As mortals who dwell in time and space, we necessarily are concerned about material matters of the flesh, like our health, and our creature comforts, our stuff. I also suspect that Jesus bids we not worry as a way of advising that we not cling to our things and surely that we not find our self-worth and much less our salvation in them. Even more, his imperative word, “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,”[3] is his prescription for his diagnosis of our dis-ease of worry. The cure for care about many things is to care for one thing – God’s kingdom and right relationship with God.

Tim

Tim, like all of us, had stuff, things, earthly treasure. Yet he also possessed (or was possessed by!) a joyousness of heart and a blithe buoyancy of spirit. Traveling through this life lightly, his stuff never defined him. Therefore, for me, Tim was a model of kingdom-living and I want to be like him.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Matthew 6.19-21

[2] Matthew 6.25-31

[3] Matthew 6.33

my brother Timothy

Hawai'ian sunset

This afternoon, Timothy Macbeth Veney died.

TMV2

Tim and Loretta, his soulmate and spouse, are nearer than friends with Pontheolla and me. They are “frienilies”, a word we coined because of them, friends who are family.

PMA B'day, Rose's Luxury, DC, 1-23-15

In the immediacy of the deep, no, deepest onset of fathomless grief, I share two words I wrote in Tim’s honor. The first, on the occasion of his 62nd birthday. The second, yesterday, which Loretta graciously allowed me to read to him via the telephone on what we now know was the eve of his death.

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For my brother Tim on his birthday, May 19, 2012

Tim & me

Brothers by birth come into being;

children, male, their parents sharing.

 

Apparent, too, brothers are made another way

whenever, in the light of life’s day,

experiences are shared,

hearts, souls, and minds are bared

with no measure of the grace of trust spared.

Then men become brothers;

each for the other

a never-ending

friend

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Tim, my brother, July 16, 2016

Tim & me 2

Tim, my brother

by another

father

and another

mother;

no one like you can say, “My brother!”

the sound of your heart-hugging,

soul-squeezing,

spirit-stirring

greeting,

embracing

me…

 

For me,

you, alway larger than life, make the world bright,

with your laughter supreme,

with your optimism serene.

Who else, but you, Tim, can behold dark clouds and see light?

Who else, but you, Tim, can hold so tenderly, yet tight

life’s ever-appearing delight;

enough to make even grumpy folk like me

see

the joy that you see?

 

Your love, higher than a mountain ranges,

farther than the horizon reaches,

teaches

us to savor the gift of each day

in a way

that makes us all finer people.

 

Your love, higher than a mountain ranges,

farther than the horizon reaches,

embraces

your soulmate Loretta,

no other than you can love her better,

and your daughter

Kim,

Tim,

you e’er hold in your heart with your love true,

and Kendal your granddaughter

who’s wrapped

her “Pappy”

‘round her finger.

 

And, Tim, do you remember when

I, spontaneously,

first called you “Mr. Timothy?”

Then

I knew, if I hadn’t known before,

how you were and are important to me more

than

a friend

or even as Loretta’s husband,

but as my brother

by another

father

and another

mother.

 

I love you, forever

my brother,

always

and in all ways.