In Loving Memory of Tim Vaughan
February 24, 1960 - January 2, 2012
A year ago today I sent Tim a note to say Happy Birthday, and referenced Proverbs 4:18, 'But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.' I had no idea -- and it would have broken my heart at least as thoroughly as it has since been broken, if I had -- that I would be unable to reach him again with such a greeting. Yet God knew what the year held for Tim; and the knowledge of God contextualising all our ignorance is a deep comfort.
Tim's path certainly contained its share of painful twists and turns. He had to start over 'from scratch' numerous times, and in various ways. But he had a certain gift, which Rudyard Kipling cites in his poem 'If', for 'fill[ing] the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run'. And perhaps because of some of those unforgiving minutes, he had another and at times, unexpected gift, which his friends felt and relied on. He was able in a remarkable measure to let go of other people's mistakes, and be patient with them.
In his response to my birthday wishes, Tim said he had just been thinking about me and was going to write and ask how Ruben and I were doing. These were not merely polite words or phrases from Tim: this kind thoughtfulness was entirely characteristic, and is one of the most beautiful aspects of the dawn on his path, which perhaps the very twists and turns served to make more luminous. Tim was always thinking about, and encouraging, other people. He had a 'sixth sense' for a brother or sister's discouragement, and a memory for their burdens, and a strength that never shrugged away from bearing them. He rarely let a prayer or a praise go by without rejoicing with those who rejoiced and weeping with those who wept; and as was abundantly manifested here after his death, his concern didn't end with that. He kept up with people, asked after them, encouraged them, let them know he was thinking of them and praying for them, long after those requests disappeared from the surface of the board. He was open handed in his generosity with his words, his sympathy, and even his opinions of a brother or sister in pain. And as a friend, with the same beautiful open handedness, he gave whatever he could. When I moved into this home, he sent me a plant for a housewarming present. When Ruben mentioned a book he'd been wanting in a thread, Tim sent it to him.
The plant I received was one of those rare, exotic ones that flourished around Tim. I think all the effort he put into caring for and encouraging other people was mirrored in the natural world in this hobby. Perhaps his ability there is even more wonderful and mysterious to those who lack it -- one of my conversations with Tim was about the care of an aloe plant: quite hardy and easy to care for, apparently. And apparently in the short time I'd had my aloe, I'd already managed to destroy it. It is probably not surprising, then, that I couldn't continue to grow something fragile which grew for Tim. I can't help regretting my clumsiness and the loss of such a valuable gift, yet it has become more valuable to me as another evidence that Tim himself is one of those wonderful works of God, in which he had such a sensitive and nurturing delight. He gave that delight too, with an open hand, to all of us.
I think the most precious gift Tim gave me was in his death. For in reflecting on his path, and the degrees of brightness I can trace, the verse that comes most to mind is 'Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.' Tim's life contained much that is harsh and hurtful in the human experience. But in those twists and turns God planted, nourished, and cherished, this Divine and amazing cutting -- the love that is of Him. Love is what stands out most against the backdrop of all Tim's other gifts and experience -- not in some sublimely abstract sense, nor in a sense that is even obviously intuitive. Rather, and very simply, from all the circumstances of his life -- Tim took the opportunities he had, daily, to express love. I pray I will not be too clumsy to cherish this gift, and to simply do the same.
I have spoken of Tim as I knew him, as a very dear friend. He was also a father and grandfather, a craftsman with the ability to successfully complete an exceptional range of projects large and small, and a dogged defender of the creed of faith he professed. He stood up to the inroads of the Federal Vision not only on the internet, but in his own area; and in doing so he counted the cost and paid it out of pocket. He wound up losing friendships he valued over that stand; but he clung to his faith in a justification which is already perfect in Christ. Such faith is also a divine gift, divinely nourished; and so this heartache is not without joy that in the hour of his death, Tim's faith clung to him. Because his path was chosen for him, and made plain by that Righteous Man who can smooth a way so that we crooked and lame are not turned aside, my friend Tim has walked into the light of full day.