He called to let me know his fourteen year old sparrow hawk had died.
I had met Gary, or as I fondly referred to him, “Little Gary”, over thirty years ago at a falconry exhibition. He apparently had some developmental limitations, but he was fascinated by the hawks. When he asked if he could go hunting with me, I said yes.
Gary joined me in the field many times, and we became friends. I learned that he was employed through Sparc, and had a gift for fixing mechanical and electronic devices. He worked on the church’s VHSs several times, and started coming to church.
Before long he was bringing a friend along on our hunting adventures, and to church. Grant had been severely beaten by his father as a child, and was handicapped because of it. Eventually I had the pleasure of baptizing both Gary and Grant into Christ.
Gary became an usher at CCC, and the official filter changer. He would let me know when the furnace filters needed to be changed, and would spend the better part of a day changing them for me.
His interest in falconry kept building, and he began asking if I would sponsor him as an apprentice falconer. I was afraid he couldn’t handle a Redtail, but said he might be able to fly a Kestrel, if he could pass the federal test and state inspection. After several attempts he passed the exam, and was authorized to catch a Kestrel. When he called, he told me Jack, his last bird, had died in perfect feather at fourteen.
I hadn’t seen Gary for a long time. He stopped coming to church regularly because worship made him very emotional, and he was uncomfortable crying in church. Then he fell asleep one Sunday, and started snoring loudly. He was so embarrassed that he said he could never return.
I assured him it was no big deal. That I had told others I’d rather have them fall asleep in church than stay in bed at home, and that before I started standing behind the pulpit I had often fallen asleep sitting in a pew. I even told him about Eutychus falling asleep, and falling out of the window while the Apostle Paul was preaching. It didn’t matter. He said he could never return.
Falling asleep can be problematic, and even embarrassing. I know. In fact, I’m going for a second sleep study tonight to see if I need to join the squadron who wear flight masks during the night.
God Bless, Rick