I’m thinking of Senator Wayne Morse this morning. Certainly for all of you, Out of the blue. Let me explain.
April was “remember 79-years-month. In sections, called “River Runs Through Me.” Recalling many fishing experiences, not a surprise. Hence, with no apology to
Robert Redford, the book title.
But, this morning, when I see how popularity preempts integrity I think of Senator Morse.
Background, please stay with me, for the other theme this morning is how things happen as surprise, but deeper as God’s presence.
In my first ministry, St. Pauls Church in Chicago, a primary responsibility was to supervise an after school program for kids 7-12. Was actually making sure kids stayed safe on their scooters.
My most memorable failure came with a shriek. A 7 –year-old-girl had rammed into the brick wall. I knew her and her sister, but not her parents. Knew the name was Rosner.
Took the Rosner sisters to their home. June Rosner, the mother, opened the door. Her daughter was screaming like her world had ended. “Honey, please don’t scream; the Senator is taking a nap.”
I explained the accident. Julie Rosner understood, accidents happen.
I then asked, “Senator?”
“Yes, I chair the Cook County Democratic Party. Senator Morse from Oregon is our friend and is speaking tonight. He’s upstairs taking a nap.”
“Wow, I’m from Portland, Oregon, never met the Senator.”
A great tag, “Oh, let us take care of that. We’re having dinner at 6 p.m.; please join us.”
Then. Drum roll here. A year later I was called to be Associate Pastor at the First Congregational Church in Eugene, Oregon.
One Sunday, who showed up? Senator Wayne Morse. Learned he was a member.
That began a valued friendship. Whenever he was in town I was privileged to have some “Senator Morse time.”
I admired him earlier when he and Senator Gruening from Alaska were the only two Senators who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, about continuing war in Vietnam. Why all this?
Because for me, personal, my impression of Senator Morse was higher than definition: he never let popularity preempt integrity.
Yes, he lost his next race to continue as Senator. And, yes. He died of leukemia. Still. He was an example to me of the best value in living. Today that’s missing.
Certainly, the relationship with Senator Morse wouldn’t have happened if the Rosner daughter hadn’t hit a brick wall. Literally.
So it has been in my life. The surprise has become the essence. Some time let me tell you when two United Airlines pilots didn’t show up for a flight from Denver to Austin…which led to my meeting a lovely “other passenger,” a lady named Diane. Next August Diane and celebrate our 19th anniversary.