About three weeks ago I got a ping to go to a high rise senior living facility off of Speer Blvd. The 80-something woman hopped in the back seat and asked me if I knew the street of her destination. I said, “I sure do, I took you there from here, before Christmas. You go every Tuesday to have dinner with your old neighbors who you lived next door to, in Park Hill”. “You have a great memory”. “Well, about some things. Ask me where I left my car keys. I spend my days herding my stuff”. She laughed, “Well, I warn you young man, it doesn’t get any easier. I remember, you are that Lyft driving pastor”. “Ding, ding, ding you win tonight’s prize”. “I do, what pray tell, is it”? “A 20 minute ride with my favorite Lyft driver…”. “I’ll take it. So how is the church business”? “Truthfully, it’s pretty amazing. I am working on a workshop called “The End of Church as We Knew It”.
I then asked her what she did professionally. “I was a pediatric nurse practitioner”. “Did you know Dr. Jim Strain”? “I sure did. He is the best I have ever known”. “Well, I have known him the better part of my life. He is in home hospice; I was just with him a couple of days ago”. We continued our conversation about Dr. Jim. She got out at her neighbor’s home. “I sure hope I get you again”. “Well, if I am by this place at 6:30p on a Monday, I will turn on my app and hope for the best”.
Dr. Jim died on February 4th. I don’t know that I have ever known a man who lived as fully and richly as he did. Every person he met was important. He is the reason I ended up as pastor of South Broadway Christian Church from 1997-2015. He was driving through Alamosa in 1995 and took me to lunch. He gently planted the seed that brought me to that magical, historical, gem of a congregation. There is so much I could share about Dr. Jim. But I will agree with my Lyft passenger, ‘the best I have ever known’. He was never my doctor, but he was truly as fine a human, student, father, husband, grandfather, Day 1 Bronco fan, life long learner, with whom I have ever had the pleasure of sharing life. Four years ago I went by to visit him as I was trying to figure out this whole retirement thing. “So Mark, what are you doing to stay busy”? I told him about Lyft. “Oh, so you’re a taxi driver”. “Well, not exactly”. “Mark, call it for what it is… you’re a taxi driver”. A couple years later I remember another conversation we had. “Mark, we are two of the luckiest guys I know”. “Yes we are, Dr. Jim…” and sharing my life with him confirms it.
Onward and Upward,