Numbering Our Days

Oct 15, 2017

by Eric Sponheim, former board member

“Teach us to number our days,” the Psalmist wrote, “that we may gain a wise heart.”  Good counsel, to be sure. Yet when a friend or family member’s life is cut short, the brevity of those days can be brutally hard to accept.

The closely-knit Prison Congregations community knows this all too well. For the third time in only a little over a year, we have lost a dear friend to a death that came too soon.

 On July 27, 2016, founding PCA director and cowboy-poet Ed Nesselhuf died at age 72.  His passing led to an outpouring of grief that touched hundreds of people. Yet for all his creative vision, ultimately Ed was, as one friend wrote, “a fumbling old cowboy, counting on grace.”

Less than a year later, our quietly efficient accountant, Joel Cook, died at 51. Joel had served PCA skillfully behind the scenes for years, making sure the books were audited and financial statements properly prepared. His death on Good Friday left our community in mourning even amid Easter joy.

Half a year later, we have experienced another terrible loss. Julie Thomas, our kind, capable and dear administrative assistant, died of complications from liver cancer on October 12 at the age of 55.

I had the privilege of working closely with Julie when we started weekly blog posts for PCA two years ago. She was a quick study when I trained her in on how to use the publishing platform, excelled at recruiting contributors and wrote occasional posts herself.

Yesterday, two days after hearing of her death, I went to the PCA blog to read Julie’s last post for PCA. Published on June 12, it’s a post filled with Pentecost spirit, encouraging us all to build our communities and not to become isolated from each other.

Yes, our days are numbered. Yet they are enriched when we share them with each other, in rich relationships, recognized by the wise in heart.

Category: Spirit

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