This Thursday October 13, would have been Ray's 40th birthday.
His friends and family will honor him in many ways this week, as they have throughout the summer at events such as the Third Annual Ray Fitzgerald Illinois Delegation Softball Tournament, and the Ray Fitzgerald White Lake Classic Golf Tournament.
This Friday night will be the inaugeral Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship at Taylor University. There, Ray's lasting legacy will be an annual lecture dedicated to Ray's Catholic faith, honoring him as an example of faith, to educate and inspire decades of Taylor students. All of Ray's family and mine will be present for this special event. And I will tell our story.
Reflecting on it as I have been writing it into my comments for this Friday is still very hard. Just as I honor Ray's dedication to his wife and daughters I miss his presence.
I am so proud of the way that Ray's life and faith did and will inspire so many. That it lives as a testimony of faith to the world.
As part of the lecture, I reflect that this was Ray's task for the Kingdom. His life, his Christian witness.
And now is my task. The telling of the story. The living of the life that continues. Still as a testament to faith.
A few months ago the reading for our church service was Matthew 11:30, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." The speaker explained that what was meant by "easy" was well-fitting.
I struggle to find the yoke easy and well-fitting. Yes, there are days, the good days, when I can praise God for all that has been accomplished through him from all that has occurred. And I can even say, well fitting, well suited, capable to the task. But there are many days when the burden seems anything but light, the task anything but well fitting.
And that's the truth of it.
There are just those tasks, those jobs in the Kingdom that are hard. The ones that don't have a lot of volunteers.
Ray had one of those jobs, the hardest of hard. And in a different way, I do too.
The struggle is to somehow find the task-master's presence enough to lighten the load. And to remember, and be at peace with, the breadth and importance of the task.
Ray did those things!!
And I pray these things for my life.
May Ray's example be my constant reminder and inspiration.
not alone and not afraid --
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30