People open the Bible for different reasons. It’s said that a friend of W.C. Fields, who ordinarily didn’t read the Bible, once found the comedian thumbing through The Good Book. “What in the world are you doing?” inquired the friend. “I’m looking for loopholes,” replied Fields.
To this day I can still vividly remember the first time I laid eyes on the then-young woman who would one day become my wife. I was sitting in the back of a Sunday school room when this dark-haired beauty was led in and introduced to our group.
While I can’t claim having had a premonition of how our two lives would eventually become one, I will carry with me that memory of seeing her for the first time either until the day I die, or senility robs me of my fondest memories.
While I can clearly remember my first glimpse of Nancy, my memories of most other first encounters with people are nonexistent, regardless of how influential they may have been in my life.
After learning early last week of Hannibal, Mo., city council member Kyle Wilson’s death, I have to admit I can’t say, “This is when Kyle and I crossed paths for the first time.” We didn’t grow up in the same neighborhood. We were never classmates. We never played sports together. We didn’t draw a paycheck from the same employer. We didn’t worship at the same church. We lacked any of the common threads that typically bring people together.
My suspicion is that I met Kyle through his youngsters. During my years as sports editor of the Courier-Post, I came to know a number of people in this community after first writing about their children. I also met many folks while helping coach summer ball teams on which my children played.
Regardless of how we met, after we did I would frequently encounter Kyle on his various mail routes. For a time he even delivered mail to my home (he hated my front door’s mail slot.)
Our paths began crossing even more often when I started covering the Hannibal City Council for the Courier-Post. Kyle learned he could trust that what he told me in confidence today wouldn’t wind up in a headline tomorrow. I quickly came to appreciate his willingness to speak on the record when other members of the council wouldn’t. He also was capable of explaining the unseen forces at work behind the scenes that were influencing decisions at the council level.
Almost every conversation that Kyle and I had either started or ended with him inquiring about the well-being of my children. His sincere concern for not just my offspring, but seemingly all of Hannibal’s kids was always apparent.
While cordial to one another, we weren’t close friends. Consequently, I was far down on the list of people to learn that Kyle was not just dealing with health issues, but was literally locked in a valiant battle for his life.
One of what turned out to be our last conversations occurred on a glorious day this fall in Riverview Park. I had gone there to take some photos and video of trees being trimmed at one of the park’s overlooks. Seated in the Wilson’s Tree Service truck was Kyle. I couldn’t help but notice during our brief visit that laying open in his lap was a Bible. I’d been told that in recent months he had been spending more and more time in God’s word.
People open the Bible for different reasons. It’s said that a friend of W.C. Fields, who ordinarily didn’t read the Bible, once found the comedian thumbing through The Good Book.
“What in the world are you doing?” inquired the friend.
“I’m looking for loopholes,” replied Fields.
I didn’t sense that Kyle was searching for loopholes, but was instead embracing the hope that is talked about in Romans 15:4.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Danny Henley writes for the Hannibal Courier-Post in Hannibal, Mo.