Saturday, March 6, 2010


UPDATE: Click here for Harmon's Obit and Photo Look for him in the right-hand column)

Harmon died today.

I didn't know him well. How well can you know someone who doesn't speak to you? Harmon had downs syndrome and lived to be in his fifty's. He lived next door to me with two other adult foster-care men. My neighbor, Jewels, takes care of them. Harmon had been with her for well over twenty years. He was a son to her.

Harmon used to walk around the block holding an American flag. He had that flag every time I've ever seen him, except for yesterday.

Once Jewels brought him to our church. We have a relaxed church with lively worship and we have flags up at the front for any who'd like to use them in worship. That morning a few were waving flags, so Harmon got out into the isle with his American flag and "waved" with the rest of them. His movements weren't smooth and practiced. I have to admit he was a distraction. And yet, it was a distraction with a message.

All are welcome at the foot of the cross. God welcomes all who come to worship Him without shame. Harmon had no shame that morning, he had no idea we watched him. I didn't even know if he understood he was in church and it was all about God-until yesterday.

I had gone next door and Jewels asked me to pray with Harmon. He was so close to death, stiffness had already set in. I put my hand in his and began talk-praying. That's what I call it. I asked him if he remembered coming to our church and waving flags.

He squeezed my hand!

I hadn't expected that, but as I talked more about it he squeezed my hand a number of times and Jewels noticed that he was trying to smile. I'd never had Harmon really interact with me when I tried to talk to him before. But here, now, on his deathbed, talking about church and Jesus, he reacted.

Today I'm thinking of how Jewels loved Harmon consistently, tirelessly without expecting or demanding any reaction much less thanks. I see Christ in her. That's how He loves us, that's how he loves Harmon still, today welcoming him into His open arms.

I look at myself, so often willing to give up on a project or even a person if I don't see some kind of results or appreciation. Lord Jesus, forgive me and let Harmon's testimony change me. Amen.


  1. What a lovely story. Henri Nouwen wrote of the healing power of those such as Harmon and the lessons they can teach us. He recorded the story of one such friend, Adam, in the L'Arche community where he was pastor. The book is I think called Adam, God's beloved. Are you familiar with Jean Vanier's books? (founder of the L'Arche Communities.)Worth finding I think.

  2. How very precious Terri...what a gift from God to allow you to 'talk' with Harmon before he went home to be with Jesus.
    You are a faithful servant and an inspiration.
    I do remember your neighbor Jewels.
    Bless you!

  3. Thank you all.
    I have not heard of Jean Vanier. I'll look for those books.