top of page

It’s gloomy out today in West Michigan. Wet strong winds and dark clouds cover the sky and the smell of the cool autumn air surrounds me as I walk. It’s a usual fall Michigan day, the precursor to the dreaded bitter winter, especially after the beautiful white snow ceases to fall from the same clouds and melts half-heartedly, leaving patches of dirt and grass in its absence.

I can remember always despising that time of winter, when there’s nothing new happening in late January and February, with barely anything to look forward to but springtime in the weeks and weeks ahead. It kind of feels like the year we’ve had — stale, waiting for change, waiting to be excited for something new ahead. Always looking forward, never feeling the weight of the gift of now.

When I lost my good friend Corban in the summer, it took me on an unexpected journey. Memories of our time together were on constant replay in my mind, and they so often continue to interrupt my daily thought. I had come to realize that, of course, it wasn’t what we achieved that I remembered and have looked back on with such adoration, it was doing life together in every moment, especially the heartbreaking and stale seasons. See, that's the fabric of this life.

I have no regrets, yet if I could tell myself something many seasons ago: I wish I had been less distracted by the discomfort or weariness I felt in the moment and had become über-aware of the blessings I had in front of me — the presence of my friend and the quality time of simply being with him.

So today, I don’t mind the rain, the snow, or the wind, nor the discomfort or dull season. I stand in it and welcome it, knowing that I may not understand its importance until I am no longer in it.

Was it at the start of our friendship, when you wore that NF shirt freshman year during lunch, and we first found something we both could relate to? Was it when you were the only one who stayed behind to help me pack up after my show at Riv's Westside? Was it when we had one of our first (of many) heart-to-heart conversations? Was it when I realized how deep of a thinker you were, how authentic of a believer you were, and how real of a brother you were? Was it the countless memories at four years worth of band camps in the hot summer sun with sweat dripping down our faces? Was it when you made fun of me for ordering chicken tenders separately so I could put them on top of my salad at Champions? Was it when I realized how much you love that Platte River shirt? What about the 3am runs to Fleetwood? Or the slumber party on a humid night in Diamondale behind Kaleigh's house? I was afraid our laughter would wake the Rios family into the wee hours of the morning. All the sectionals, all the cadences, the 15+ halftime shows we played together? Was it all the laughter we had with Kauffold? Or was it in Martin's philosophy class every day when we would whisper to each other, trying not to let our laughter be audible? I swear Martin knew we were trouble together. Was it when we watched the sunset on the dunes in Ludington with Savannah and Kaleigh and Christian? Was it the countless times you would pronounce everything wrong by switching the first letters just so we could laugh? If I was around you, I was laughing until it hurt my stomach. Was it the countless Ross videos we watched together on YouTube for hours? Was it when we talked about what girls we were interested in and when we tried to give advice to each other? Man, we thought we were so wise. And no conversation of ours, over text or in-person, never ended without a "love you." Was it our bike rides? Was it was when we laid in the bed of my dad's truck on June 11, waiting for the storm to roll in? Maybe it was all the times we talked about what it meant to be a faithful follower of Jesus in this confusing world we found ourselves in time and time again.

What moment was my favorite? Which was the defining one of our brotherhood?

I would need a million pages to journal our memories together and my thoughts on you — a quiet, hilarious, and beautiful soul.

Your mom Michelle posted that your name in the Word means something "dedicated and set apart for God's use."

Oh, how you were.

I know your heart. I know Jesus calls you His own.

Friends are for life, and brothers are forever.

This time at home has surprisingly been a blessing. I acknowledge that's not the case for many people, but it doesn't mean it can't be for many people. Only when we are forced to change or slow down can we step back and see reality for a moment. When the normal routines are interrupted and we actually have the time to re-evaluate how we lived before this disrupted us. It's like when we need a tragedy to remember those closest to us are most important, or when we need something taken from us to realize how much we are dependent on it. Yes, I've still been busy with school and work, but being at home has helped me to see things different and to truly reflect on how I want to continue to live when this passes.

Last week, I read an "Introduction to American Culture" from Yale University for class. The article was written for international students coming to the U.S. for the first time. Three of the top American values noted were Individualism, Time & Efficiency, and Achievement.

I've never read an introduction to our own society. There were so many things I didn't even notice we do as Americans. And I think: "Wait, there are societies that don't value those things?" Of course, but I never have the time to stop and think about it. Ironic, isn't it? And I see it in myself: individualistic, wanting to be productive without pause, worried about my "achievements."

Despite what we see on here or on the television, I've really seen people, communities, families be able to slow down. To come together and love one another. To go on walks and enjoy the quiet for a moment. Neighbors care for one another and chat for a bit, because we actually have the time to. I've seen a lot of beauty lately.

I know this isn't the reality for everyone (and thank you to everyone working tirelessly to keep us safe), but I hope to remember these things when life goes back to what we knew as "normal," when our society goes back to pursuing our next achievement, when it all speeds up again and it's hard to find the time to take a deep breath. American values aren't bad, but a fresh perspective reinforces or invites question to the ways we live our lives.

We are one people, broken and beautiful. Global citizens. Let us not forget what matters.



bottom of page