Crawled out of bed at 2:15am, got washed, shaved, dressed, kissed my sleepy wife good-bye and headed out on the trip to the airport. Parked, went through security with no bags except my briefcase and made my way to the gate. Flew to Nashville, TN and, even with having lived in FL for 10 years, felt like I was suddenly, really in the South. Rented a car and drove to the address I was given with GPS.
When I got there I stopped short because I was suddenly at the right number on a semi-busy road and backed into the driveway. There were three young adults on the front stoop. I hopped out and asked, “Are there Cloningers here?” They all smiled and nodded and so I hopped back in and backed up the driveway and behind the house, got out and came in.
There was grown-up Lilly who said, as she came across the room and hugged me, “I’m Lilly. Gosh, I haven’t seen you in soooo long.” I said, “I know, yeah, but I’ve seen pictures of you right along.”
And so I was in Nashville, TN at a brief stop on my way to Franklin, TN to be with my friends Curt and Tish Cloninger as they celebrated the life of their son, Kappel. I caught up with them at the house, met Lilly’s friends and their friends, the ones helping with the service, and then we drove on to the church in Franklin.
The place flooded with young adults. There were older people. I was there. But, it was filled with young people who had come to touch something other than death. One person made the comment, ”Look at how many people loved Kappel” and they were corrected with, “No… look at how many people Kappel loved.” Both true. These people had come to touch love again.
All the best stories are about what we do for love and Kappel’s life grew into the Best of Stories… what Love did for us. The shared experience of this day was love. It was sisters and brothers, friends and family, mom and dad, God and his people. It was a joyful, deep celebration of how high, strong and eternal is Love. Death is not stronger than Love because Love’s strength is light and the darkness of death has no defense. The celebration was amazing and beautiful. It shared, re-created the experience, of how Kappel’s darkness was flooded with the light of Love and how it pervaded every relationship and moment he had. It was so much about what a mess he was and his life was and how it was from out of the mess that the light now shone into the lives of those who also recognized the mess they were… or who found permission with him to admit it.
Said my good-byes and gave and got the hugs. Hopped back into the car and rode the GPS back to the airport. Came through security, still with just a briefcase and found my gate. Flew to PA, found the Jeep, drove back home, kissed my sleepy wife and climbed into bed and fell asleep at about 1:30am. All for love.