I have posted several times about my friend and mentor Merdine T. Morris. At her memorial service on April 12, I saw a photo of Merdine T. with her husband, Lucas. Luke. During the memorial service, Merdine T.’s friends and colleagues and pastors witnessed to her deep commitment to justice and peace and the countless ways she lived out those commitments.
Listening, I recalled the photo and remembered how Luke made Merdine T.’s witness possible. He stood with her, prayed for her, provided transportation for her. Luke was the good, good man who stood beside this good, good woman.
It seems only right to post a reflection about Luke. I wrote this for his memorial service.
Lucas Morris revealed hope. In a world so horribly obsessed with race, any crossing of the racial divide is an act of grace. As he lived, Luke endured the shifting and unchanging reality of being black in America where privilege is given to those who are white. He was wounded. But he was never broken. He was not embittered. He played a key role in helping to create the special relationship between St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church and Noble Road Presbyterian Church. And when the time came, he was willing – he and Merdine T. chose – to have white pastors. Amazing grace. What a gift of hope. If we refuse to give up, if we refuse to give in, if we keep on loving, maybe we can heal prejudices and remake systems and come together to live as God intends.
Lucas Morris revealed courage. Frustration filled his recent years. Illness touched him and it never let go. Every time he made even the smallest step toward recovery, something went wrong and he took two or three or ten steps back. Again and again and again my heart broke for him. My heart broke for Merdine T. But none of it neither the pain nor the procedures – neither the losses nor the limitations – none of it broke his spirit. His contagious smile – his ready laugh – his concern for others – it all remained and shone through on even his worse days. Our character is revealed not in times of ease but in moments of distress. Luke was strong and true.
Lucas Morris revealed love. He had deep, abiding love for Merdine T. and for his family. He had deep, abiding love for his friends. He had concern for all of God’s children. When visited, Luke would ask about Merdine T., about his friends, about my family, about others in the church in need. You may say it was a ritual. You may say it was a way of shifting the focus from his own situation. I know it was expressed his depth of feeling and caring.
Lucas Morris and I laughed together. We cried together. We prayed together. We agonized over the fortunes of Cleveland’s baseball team. That one year when Cleveland had no football team, we even followed the Pittsburgh Steelers together. With Merdine T. and Sean and Eric we shared the body and blood of Christ as well as ice cream and brownies. And one special morning when Merdine T. was in the hospital, Luke and I delighted in a high-class breakfast of Egg McMuffins.
I thank God for the gift of Lucas Morris. I thank God for the honor and privilege of being Luke’s friend. I thank God that for Luke all pain is past and he is received into the warmth and wonder of God’s love. I thank God that within that mysterious reality of the Communion of Saints Luke goes with me, goes with us, now and always. Amen.
See you along the Trail.