I knew the day would come. I had checked on it again and again. I did not want to miss the opportunity to say what I wanted to say. But I learned tonight, that I almost did that.
I met Kevin Dance several years ago when I attended a seminar at the Presbyterian United Nations Office (its name at the time). Kevin serves as the representative at the UN for Passionists International. A group from National Capital Presbytery came for a seminar on addressing racism around the world. Kevin spoke to the group because of his work with indigenous peoples. I liked him instantly.
When I arrived in New York in October 2010 to serve with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations (its current name), Kevin, along with many others, greeted me warmly. We worked together on a several issues including indigenous persons and a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
A gentle, caring man, Kevin mixed a brilliant sense of humor with a profound passion for justice. He played a key role in bringing indigenous voices into the conversation at the UN. When that happened, he continued to work to ensure that the powerful heard our indigenous sisters and brothers.
Earlier this year, the faith-based NGO community learned that the time had come for Kevin to return to his home. We made a special effort to learn about his work with indigenous peoples. We did not want to lose his memories and insights We set a time to hear from him when he gladly provided “not a lecture but more of a meander. An insightful, helpful, challenging meander.
Through the first part of the year, I made a point of asking every time I saw him, when he would leave. I did not want to miss the opportunity to tell him what his friendship and witness means to me.
Of course things got busy in my life and in Kevin’s life. For the last month or so I have neither seen him nor checked his schedule.
Tonight, as I prepare to travel in the morning to a meeting that will keep me away for the rest of the week, I learned that Kevin leaves town on Monday. That last cuppa will not happen. But, with fumbling fingers, I did send him an email thanking him for his friendship and collegiality.
I am grateful I could do that much. Two other thoughts provide comfort as I bid Kevin farewell.
My friend Emily McGinley recently wrote a blog post “Love is Sticky” in which she reflects on the Korean concept of term jeong. Emily notes that:
Jeong is rooted in relationality and it has this disturbing quality of dissolving those barriers between oneself and another. … Jeong is “sticky” because it reminds us that: “we are, whether we want to admit it or not, always connected to one another.”
In theological terms, we are “people of one body, bound together by ultimate love.” Remembering that, I know that even as we go our separate ways, Kevin and I remind bound together.
Secondly, Kevin lives in Australia. I figure since I did not get a chance to say the good-bye I wanted to say in New York, I have to go to Australia to do so. Pretty good deal.
Kevin – thank you for your faith, your witness, and your friendship. Go with God, my dear friend.
See you along the Trail.