Wednesday, October 25, 2006

There's a little thing I do on Sunday mornings when I arrive at church. I scan the room, letting my eyes rest on each familiar face. Some of them have been friends for nearly 20 years. Some I just met last week. Some I have never met, but I see them every week, sitting in the same general area. None of them realize it, but their presence alone is a blessing to me. I am comforted by the familiarity and the shared past. My spirit is lifted knowing they come, week after week, to worship the same God I come to worship. We sing together. We pray together. We eat together.

We're family.

Most of us tend to sit in the same general area week after week, and my family is no exception. We don't know everyone around us well, but we expect them to be there and miss them when they're not. There is one young couple that began sitting near us a little over a year ago. She is quiet and reserved, he, a bundle of energy. You might find him moving about greeting people while she sits quietly in her seat waiting for him to join her. He occassionally gives a loud "Amen" while she folds her hands in her lap.

Quite often, I found myself sitting beside them, sharing communion and warm greetings, but I never have known them on a deeper level. I have always found their differing personalities interesting and amusing, wondering how they ever met and married. I've noticed his kindness towards her and others, his exhuberance and his willingness to help others. When he sees that someone needs prayer, or even just a hand, he would actually jump over the back of his pew to get there faster and avoid disturbing others. Normally this is something I would consider inappropriate, but in him, it was endearing.

Tomorrow I will be attending a memorial service for him. He fell from a cliff Sunday while rappelling and taking photographs. I didn't know him. But I miss him.

Sean Christopher Mitchell, 34, born in Fresno, CA on January 14, 1972, met with a tragic accident on Sunday, October 22, 2006 and flew home to glory. Survived by wife Kelly Mitchell of Oklahoma City and parents Pam and Lorenzo Gonzales of Turlock, CA and Jerry Mitchell of Fresno, CA. Loved by many for his passionate energy for life, God, serving others, and flying. Sean owned Onsite Audio/Video and a nutritional supplement business. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Commemorative Air Force at American Airpower Heritage Foundation, PO Box 62000, Midland, TX 79711-2000.

Published in The Oklahoman on 10/25/2006.


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