It is good to get away once in a while and just enjoy seeing some of God’s wonderful creation. As a part of my 80th birthday gift, I was blessed recently to take a cruise to Alaska. And while I love South Florida and the subtropical weather we enjoy down here, I couldn’t get over the rustic beauty of Alaska. Being able to see the handiworks of God in this territory that is so different from where we live, was yet another reason to be thankful for my eyesight.
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Just as I was about to leave on my vacation, two American icons died: U.S. Sen. John McCain and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Their funerals were held while I was away and both received homegoing services fitting for two American treasures.
Since the funerals, I have heard a lot of complaining about the length of the services — especially the Queen’s.
I thought back more than two decades ago when a dear friend died and her funeral was a rousing, hand-clapping, gospel-singing homegoing service. People spoke of her loyalty to her friends, her love and dedication to her family, church, and how she enjoyed mentoring young people. When we left the church, we’d been there four hours.
To me, it didn’t seem like that long. I guess it was because I enjoyed all my friend’s favorite gospel songs and hymns. I laughed (and cried, too) at some of the remarks from friends and church members, as I remembered the good times the two of us had as young teens.
The time in church seemed to fly, as I thought of our last hours together, when my friend asked me to put rollers in her hair because she wanted to attend church on the coming Sunday. I did. And once again, we were two teenagers laughing and giggling about something that happened long ago in our lifetime.
My friend never made it out to church that Sunday. She was rushed to the hospital the next day and died three days later. She was 54.
So, as I tapped my feet to the wonderful gospel music that seemed to engulf my very being that day, my friend’s service didn’t seem long at all. There were too many wonderful memories flooding my mind.
I would like to think that’s the way it was at the Senator’s and the Queen’s funerals. I believe that each person attending the services, and those who watched on television, was lost in their own thoughts and memories of our two American icons. So, the time just seemed to slip away.
As I watched portions of McCain’s service, I thought of the time he was running against Barack Obama, and how gracious he was when someone said something derogatory about his opponent. McCain stepped up and defended Obama. He was not only a hero, he was a gentleman, too.
I remembered how proud I was of the Queen when she sang at President Obama’s inauguration, wearing a gray felt hat with a great big bow across the front. By the next Sunday, hundreds of black women were wearing replicas of that hat to church.
So, as I listened to the complaints about the lengths of the services, I thought about a remark someone made about the length of my friend’s funeral: “If you don’t want a long funeral when you die, then live a life of selfishness and do nothing.”
Sunday is Grandparents Day and if you are a grandparent, Trinity Cathedral at 464 NE 16th St. in downtown Miami wants to bestow a special blessing on you during the 10 a.m. worship service. The invitation is also open to grandchildren to bring their grandparents to the Cathedral for the blessing.
Also, a warm welcome goes out to the Rev. Doug Ray, who will be Trinity Cathedral’s new priest In residence.
Ray is a senior principal with Jerold Panas, Linzy and Partners, philanthropic consultants based in Chicago, specializing in fundraising and strategic planning for nonprofits and religious organizations. His varied career has taken him to more than 80 countries, and he still travels the world in his current position.
As priest In residence at the cathedral, Ray will assist in the ministry of the church. He and wife Melissa live in Miami Beach.
Congratulations to the Revelation Community Education Center, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at a fundraising banquet at Bethel Apostolic Temple, 1855 NW 119th St.
Joyce Reid is the founding director of the center, which has provided various educational services to the community since 1993.
The invitation to the banquet is open to the community and there will be no tickets. However, if you go you must RSVP by calling Reid at 786-281-8098.
Walk for children
Christian Homes for Children will have its annual Extra Mile Walk-a-Thon at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Amelia Earhart Park, Shelter #1, 401 E. 65th St. in Hialeah.
Everyone is welcome.
The monthly Community Fireside series presented by the Bah’a’is of Miami will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, and lead by Andrew Moo, an instructor at Miami Dade College. “Eradicating Prejudice” is the topic, and the event will be in the Miami Bah’a’i Center, 9300 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 209.
“In 1938, Bah’a’is were told that racial prejudice was ‘the most vital and challenging issue’ facing American society,” said Moo. “We will explore this particular statement at the Fireside.”
Also, the center will host a community devotional at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 30. The events are open to all and there is no admission charge or solicitation of funds. For more information call 305-915-7247.
Meet-and-greet with author
North Miami Public Library at 835 NE 132nd St. will host a book signing and a meet-and-greet featuring Lulu Delacre, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Delacre has authored and illustrated more than 39 books, including “Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America,” which was selected as a Fanfare Book by Horn Book Magazine.
Delacre’s books have received starred reviews and 28 awards and honors. Her latest work, “Turning Pages,” is about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Free books will be available to the first 50 families to arrive. Autographed books will be available for purchase to all guests. Light refreshments will follow the program.