Saturday, October 03, 2015

Leroy Garrett (1918-2015)

Leroy Garrett

When people speak of Leroy, we quickly turn to when we first encounter the man.  Sometimes it was in anger at or even ignorance of Leroy, other times it was after years of waiting to meet him or a surprise word from an unknown old man.  Leroy delighted in the personal encounter with others.  I can see the joy an aged and slowed 95 year old Leroy experienced in walking through the ACU Bean using a walker as he introduced himself to unsuspecting 18, 19, and 20 year old students.  They had no history with this man nor could they appreciated that when they were born Leroy was still jogging his neighborhood into his 80s.  Leroy lovingly invited these mere babes to come listen to a strange 95-year-old-man give a Valedictory Address on ACU’s campus (a few students did come hear the stranger).

I will not elaborate on my main goal of meeting Leroy, when I interviewed with this amazing church—the Singing Oaks Church of Christ.  You don’t want to hear how it was my mission to find this old man whose works I had discovered only a few years earlier in graduate school.  You do not want to hear about the shock I experienced in realizing what this man was writing and saying 60 years ago ahead of his time. . . because this is likely your story, too.  At some point, we met a man who met the Lord God every day and attempted to clear a path between his human efforts and the divine plan of God.

That is what needs to be said.  This man deeply loved and knew God and he dearly loved God’s children—all of them.  His tall, rail-straight body is a metaphor of him as young man, so straight laced that some said he would have fallen over backwards.  His desire for truth took him beyond sectarian, exclusive, fundamentalism to the point where his penetrating smile communicated both dear love and that ever so slight smirk that he was up to something.  When one pursues God’s truth with abandon in the halls of Harvard, Princeton, ACU, SMU and the academy . . . one always is challenged to strip away false notions of God.  Then, the true God can be loved and worshiped in awe-filled stupor.  Leroy continued this pursuit of truth in the only place that really matters . . . the local church set within the middle of the world.  In Leroy's case, he worshiped and served at Singing Oaks.  Churches are messy because we are in them – people.  Leroy’s life of a “Lover’s Quarrel” is a sparkling example for Christians today – to love the church as family for a lifetime (every member of this tradition should read his book A Lover’s Quarrel: My Pilgrimage to Freedom in Churches of Christ).

Indeed this thoughtful man, with lean body, and twinkling eyes was sharply focused on light.  He was and continues to make more and more room for the light of God to illuminate our mind or a dusty religious truism or a clanking empty pail of Christian tradition masquerading as living water.  Leroy provided light, the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  May the light of his love be only a dim candle representing the brilliant, ever blazing sun of God’s glory in our lives.  His final words to many of us were, "God loves you.  I love you."  We thank God for Leroy and Ouida.  May they enter their next assignment of eternal work with joy and peace.  For us I give the Christian prayer, “Maranatha.”

Brady

You can read more about my dear friend, mentor, and truth-speaker, Dr. Leroy Garrett who passed away last week via his brief obituary or last week's press release.  Donna, Elizabeth and I were able to attend his memorial service at the Singing Oaks Church of Christ Saturday, October 3, 2015. 

5 comments:

JHWms said...

I believe Leroy Garrett was born on December 13, 1918, which made him 96 when he died. You can double check this. Consequently, I think the 1917 date on the funeral brochure and on your blog entry is incorrect.

Steve Dye said...

I think I heard his voice, and I know I saw his smile as I read these words. Well said Brady!

Steve Dye said...

I think I heard his voice, and I know I saw his smile as I read these words. Well said Brady!

Brady Bryce said...

Thanks, yes, I believe 1918 is correct. It appears that the leaflet from the funeral service was incorrect. Leroy would have been 97 years old this December.

JEchols said...

Well said Brady, he was an amazing man. He leaves so many of us with wonderful memories of his kind and gentle spirit. He will be greatly missed.
His birthdate was December 11, 1918.