When asked to give, all was given

In a letter sent to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” While there may be some question as to the certainty of taxes, the absolute inevitability of death can brook no argument.

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Life is a precious gift which owns but the briefest presence among the living. Neither its beginning nor its ending is within our power to determine or control. It is the living of it that lingers beyond its ending, which brings long forgotten memories to the fore. We can but hope that all which will be remembered of us will bring full measure of a life well-lived for above all else we wish to be remembered well.

Maya Anjelou once wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” and there is great truth in what she wrote. We each have our own journey to travel, some walk along but the shortest path, while others find their way home only after many tortuous and difficult miles. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Life is a journey, not a destination” and that is equally true, but I would offer that a journey without a destination lays waste to the life of any traveler. Wandering aimlessly serves no purpose and ultimately gets you nowhere.

It is neither our words nor deeds but the poverty of spirit that inscribes the memories upon which we will be remembered. Neither wealth nor fame will bear witness beyond the grave. What will be remembered long after journey’s end may well be but this brief epitaph: “When asked to give, all was given.”

Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven[1] and we most often take this to include those who are without wealth or other worldly goods. But Jesus was admonishing all of us, regardless of our station in life that it was to those who gave all that they could to help others, it was to those who impoverished their own spirit in order to nourish and provide for those in greater need, who would be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

This past Saturday the journey of one life reached its final destination. After sixty-three years of living life to its fullest, Christopher Gerard Lanham (Chris,) my brother and my best friend has found peace in the loving arms of God. And he is once again united with his beloved parents whom he has missed so much these past thirty years.

What remains for each of us here are but memories of him and yet they are memories that make us feel good, memories that warm our hearts and fill our souls with his constant love and infectious laughter. The pain that we feel at his passing is both terrible and real, our tears are unabashedly many, and the emptiness that now invades our hearts will never go away, for he was and always will be an integral part of our lives and we love him dearly as husband, father, grandfather, brother, family, and friend.

With Chris you often either wanted to kiss him, hug him, slap him, or slug him; and on occasion all at the same time. He was a legend, both to those who knew him, and in his own mind. He was always ready and eager to regale you with a tale or two … or three … or four … and it made no difference whether you had heard them before (and most of us have heard them over and over again) yet Chris never let that stop him from retelling them once more. He was the consummate people person, regularly calling, stopping by, visiting, or simply staying in touch with those he had come to know, and there are so many whose lives he has touched throughout the years.

But of my brother Chris I can safely say that above all else he exemplified more than most what Jesus meant when he called us to be poor in spirit for he gave all that he had to give. Stories abound of his generosity, from those whom he offered his home without reservation or hesitation, of money lent or simply given to those in greater need, of a helping hand to those who simply asked, of his fierce loyalty and steadfast devotion to his family and many friends, but above all, of his love and friendship so enthusiastically given to everyone he met.

Chris was not perfect, far from it, but he was always “poor in spirit” and for all that he so freely gave, never asking or expecting anything in return, his is the kingdom of heaven. Go with God, Chris, go with God.



[1] Mt 5:3.


About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.


  1. So beautifully written as usual. You’re brother would have been so proud.

  2. Susan Kendrick Gerke

    Chuck, I was blessed to be in Chris’ class, sharing many years together in Monroe, also attending many activities including high school plays and prom. You were spot on about his loving/caring heart. His magnetic personality gave him a forever audience of friends from which to share his love, his stories, his time. I was not able to attend his funeral service so reading your well-written piece gave me comfort. As I’ve said before, Chris was bigger than life. I feel him still near and take comfort in praying about him. He’ll be sorely missed.

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