As we prepare for Simon’s Celebration of Life this weekend in California, I wanted to share one of the Eulogies from the Texas services. This Eulogy was shared by Simon’s long time friend, Patrick. They went through Boy Scouts together and then went on to complete their ordeals through Order of the Arrow, which is what Patrick refers to below.
This story is about Jesus, and my brother…Simon Caver.
Fifteen years ago today, this evening…on this same weekend…Simon, myself, and a handful of other men spent the night under the stars, together…but alone. We were called out to cross a river, empty handed, and our task was simple…we were to keep our fires burning. Fires lit by the men who had gone before us.
My fire was lit on a small hill, in a clearing. It was small, but effective in its purpose. I was several hundred yards from Simon, but I could see him. I could see him clearly, and what I saw was Simon…working diligently…building his fire. All night long in fact, Simon worked on his fire. No matter what, even though the conditions were not favorable and even though it was incredibly hot, even though we had spent the weekend together…working together and running off of very little sleep…Simon continued to build his fire. All night I could see him, and the flames grew larger than any of the fires scattered around us. That night, we all spent the night in silence.
Several weeks later, Simon and I took a canoe across that same river, back to the places where our fires burned. Together, Simon and I gathered the ashes of our fires. We put the ashes together, we combined them as a symbol of our brotherhood and to remind us of the evening we spent together.
On our way back across the river, leaving the place where we were called to keep our fires burning I asked Simon, “Brother, what were you thinking about all night?” Simon looked over at me and said, “Patrick, I was thinking about God.”
Not long after that, I received the first gift that Simon had actually purchased for me. He gave me a Bible. It was, in fact, the very first Bible anyone had ever given me. Truly, I didn’t even know what to do with it.
It had a green binding, and my nickname monogrammed in gold on the cover. This gift was intentional. Written on the inside of the Bible was a note from him, “to my brother Patrick.” After many years and many moves, the Bible is gone…lost. This was the first “Godly act of brotherly affection” I can recall anyone ever doing that directly impacted my life. After all Simon and I had done together, I knew then that Simon was actually concerned for my soul, that he was on his journey to do what Jesus had called him to do, and this was a part of that journey.
Several years passed, we all grew up and got married, left our tents, the rivers…the fires behind us. I remember a time when we had plans to have dinner together. He was coming into town and we were going to meet up and I sat at the restaurant and waited and waited for him to show up. Finally, about an hour and half later he arrived and was completely filthy, oil all over his hands and clothes. I asked him why he was late and he just said that there was a couple whose car had broken down on the side of the road and that he “had” to pull over to help them change a tire and make sure they were alright before he left. He gave the young man (whose tire he helped change) his flashlight so that they would have it the next time something like this happened. He said the guy had never changed a tire before, so…”now he knows.”
This past year, I have been spent an excessive amount of time in the car on my daily commute. I have had the pleasure to have lengthy conversations with Simon about his faith, and mine. The conversations were not uncommon. With Simon, it was always a discussion. Hebrews 10:24 states, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” These conversations with Simon did just that. He was the one who was always willing to tell me the truth as he saw it, and together, we discussed our roles in this life. We attempted to answer the hard questions together. What is our purpose? What are we called to do? Why is it that you cannot hear the voice of God?
Simon guided me on my journey in faith. These conversations were some of the most influential and intimate moments in my walk with Christ, and they happened at exactly the right time. Simon knew what he was doing with me, and he has been on this journey with me for over 20 years. For 20 years, Simon has helped guide me. He has set an example. He has taught me to supplement my faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with steadfastness, steadfastness with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection…and brotherly affection with love.
Who has not seen these attributes in this great man? Who has not gained more insight into the knowledge of what we are called to do because of Simon, and his influence in our lives, as a true disciple of Jesus?
I look back on my experiences with Simon and know that there was a purpose for our meeting 20 years ago. Simon guided me, and I suspect he also guided many of you here today to “take hold of the eternal life to which we were called.”
There are very few days now that I don’t wake up and at some point in the day spend some time in the Word of God. The Bible that Simon gave me is long gone, but the impact of that gift will stay with me forever, and will also influence my children, my grandchildren, and the legacy of my family for generations. Many of the memories that I have with Simon have faded, but I wonder if the couple who was given Simon’s flashlight still remember him? I wonder who else is out there who knew Simon only for moments, whose lives may have been forever changed by him? Whose souls may find eternal joy in Jesus, because of him? I wonder if the children of that young man who Simon taught to change a tire and who Simon gave a flashlight to that evening have been changed in some way?
I bring these stories up and reflect again on the night we spent together under the stars, as I sat there alone, with only me, and Simon…Simon was with God. I have these ashes still, but the fire is long gone. To this day I keep them on the mantle in my home and they remind me of our brother Simon.
Simon, you have taught me to be thankful for the light. To know that we are souls, we are not bodies. That the ashes we leave behind from the fires that we burn have a lasting impact on others.
Simon, you remind me in the darkness, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”