Brown crumpled leaves jeered from the middle of our blooming Star Jasmine. Sweet fragrance filled the air, yet a trail of dead branches and brown leaves snaked their way through the plant, taunting me as I sat in my favorite patio chair. “Why are dead branches in our Star Jasmine?” My husband shrugged. We both knew that garden problems were my domain.
No longer able to ignore the snarl of death, I pulled out my garden clippers and chopped and tugged until only green life remained. Finally! Then I noticed the gaping hole.
“What’s wrong with me?” The answer came. My friend David, a graduate of Stanford University and former homeless guest, was murdered just the week before.
David traveled the country and spent his days interviewing people about the definition of compassion. He wrote a book, spoke at various organizations and universities, and encouraged others to share compassion.
Losing a life so full of love and kindness left an ominous scar in our community. Then another life stolen; this time, a college student on the verge of graduating. A third person survived an attack by the same knife wielding perpetrator. Death snarled its way through our thriving community.
It didn’t matter how much I chopped and wrestled with the dead branches, I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t change the fact that David’s life was so violently taken. I couldn’t change the loss of a life so vibrant and sweet.
David told his sister in 2016 if anything ever happened to him, he wanted her to forgive the person who harmed him. He lived and died with the fullness of his message.
Several hundred people attended his vigil. We wept, hugged, and vowed to carry on David’s mission of love and kindness.
As I stood in front of the gaping hole in our Star Jasmine, I wondered how I could continue David’s compassion in our community. Holy Spirit whispered. “Volunteer at the homeless shelter again.”
God created space from the gaping hole in my heart for David’s mission of compassion to live on.
In loving memory — David Breaux
Star Jasmine photo by Chinmay Sethi on Unsplash
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