Laughter and Compassion

What a sweet moment I had today. One of the funniest men I know came to church to pick up his brother at the end of the day. Matt Geiler is in town for a visit with his family. I work with his brother Mike at church. They are both so talented! They have musical gifts and comedic talent that just make you wonder at how creative God can be. I have sung with Mike in choir and on the worship team many times and he always makes me feel like a contributing member of something special.

Today I got a great big hug from Matt. When Matt left the church staff a number of years ago I needed to tell him that I had two memories that I would always be thankful for of shared moments with him. We had both been speakers at a Thanksgiving Eve service, telling our stories to the congregation. I went after Matt, which is not the billing you ever want. He is so creative, so innovative, so good at improv. I was speaking from a prepared text. Sigh…

The other memory was being part of our annual meeting, which is really more about fun at our church. That year, Matt was in charge of the script…and there was no script. The theme was “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” It was all improv, and I got to take part with this master of the art who is also a graduate of Second City in Chicago.

These are great memories!

The best part of my time on staff with Matt was that I had the chance to see how he was way more than musical comedy. He expressed himself through the written word and none those words was wasted. He had a heart for the youth he was leading, including taking them to Tijuana, Mexico, for the summer mission trip. He had an amazing way of expressing his deep emotions that connected with me as someone who appreciates people who can. He cried. (I tried to tell him that I was fine if he was the funny one on staff, but by God, I was the crier!) He let people in and he was always willing to listen.

He has been gone from Omaha for a while now, but I keep up with him on Facebook, and still, he can make me laugh. But he can also reach out in the midst of my own pain and he has. So today, when I got that hug, it was very special.

Me and Scott Vorhees at the 2013 post-OPC show party.

Me and Scott Vorhees at the 2013 post-OPC show party.

I single out Matt because he was there today, but I have also been the receiver of this kind of compassion from some other funny men. It is such a great combination! Scott Vorhees is a local radio talk show host and I have performed with him twice in the Omaha Press Club show. I never met him before last year, and he let me explore my funny side with him…and he didn’t charge me for cleaning the make-up off of the back of his white dinner jacket when I pressed my face into his back. He also was a great comfort when, in preparing for the show that year, I got the news that my little sister was murdered. Sympathetic hugs and thoughtful gestures, that is Scott.

And there is Tom Becka, another very funny radio man, whom I know from the same OPC show. He has a big laugh and a big personality, but is open to any subject. He gave me the opportunity to sit opposite him for the time it took to record a 60-minute podcast about my travels and relationships in the Middle East. I gave him a handmade wooden inlaid box from Elias in Damascus and he gave me an olive wood carving of Mary and Jesus from Israel. He knew it would mean something to me, and it does. It’s in my office and I look upon it every day and think of those who are suffering there even now.

In a week with so much happening in the world that is unexplainable, unfathomable, unsettling and just plain horrendous, it is good to know people who can make you laugh, and at the same time, understand your tears.

One thought on “Laughter and Compassion

  1. SAC says:

    Julie I love you more each time I read this blog of yours. I wish I were closer so we could get to know each other more and more and more. Thank you for you and for being my niece! SAC


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