Date: 16 October 1997
To: RichMailList
Subject: [RichMailList 178]: Memorial - Window Rock, AZ

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Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 15:38:42 (MDT)
From: Julie Maples
Subject: Window Rock memorial

My first impression on entering the Education Center in Window Rock
was there were as many children there as adults -- running or talking
or handing out programs.  My second thought was that the room was
permeated with a spirit of joy, or at least of peace, that I hadn't
expected to find.  It may have been that the people who knew and loved
Rich had spent or expressed much of their grief by this point; it may
have been the ability of a people already more attuned to peace.
Whatever the case, I saw more smiles than tears, and an atmosphere
more of fellowship than of grieving.  I felt somewhat like an
uninvited guest, so I mostly stayed in the background and watched
rather than try to talk to people.  But by the end of the evening,
their focus on the good they remembered had done much to temper my own
sadness with joy. 

The time began with a video montage, which I would assume was shown at
the other memorials, and then a bilingual prayer thanking God for His
gift of life to us all.  From this point, things took on much the form
of an evening Rich would have spent with any group of people:  his
music filled the room, interspersed with his profound insights (via
tape and video) on the meaning of life, entertaining stories, and
hymns sung by the audience.  A chorus of children sang "Awesome God"
and "Sometimes By Step", in accompaniment to the original recordings,
and a women's choir sang two older hymns in Navajo.  Several members
of the Bonito and Window Rock communities got up to speak words of
fond memory and of exhortation to continue the ideals Rich believed
in.  I took notes as best I could, and will include some of the
statements I heard -- probably not in order or verbatim, but hopefully
preserved in the spirit in which they were spoken.  

A teacher from one of the Christian schools in the area asked us to
think on the idea that sound has a spectrum just as light does, with
levels at both ends which are beyond our comprehension.  Right now, he
said, Rich is performing in Heaven, with a far greater capacity for
sound and instrumentation than he ever had on this earth, and he's
probably composing a new song for God every day, if not every
second...and we hear so little down here, he said, such a small range
of sound, but if we listen maybe we can hear just a little of that
beautiful music ("a music higher than the songs that I can sing", 
I thought...)  

A student said, "He sang what he felt about God so we could understand
what God was saying to us in our own hearts." 

Another local resident told of how Rich showed his love for the kids
in little ways, like helping them to collect foreign coins from the
different countries he travelled to, and sending them souvenirs from
all his trips.  

Several people described, bringing smiles all around, Rich's
often-frustrated attempts to build a hogan, and the advice and help
they offered him in participating in this tradition.

A friend recounted how Rich would tell people that the window rock
reminded him of the hole that exists in all our hearts, and how we
have to fill it with God to make it beautiful...she concluded, "In his
absence, let us do the same with the hole in our hearts."

As a native New Mexican, I rejoiced at the chance to finally hear a
recording of "If You're Ever In New Mexico", which was sung by Mitch
and accompanied by slides of Rich, band mates and children involved in
local activities.  What a beautiful song. 

Next, Gay Quisenberry and Alyssa Loukota took the stage together, both
giving eloquent testimonies of Rich's love for God and God's love for
all of us.  Gay Quisenberry said that while everybody thought he came
out here to teach, he really came to learn -- "about suffering from a
people who had suffered much; about forgiveness from a people who had
many people to forgive".  She also said that he came "to be a kid",
because he knew that kids are the ones we have to be like to get 
into the kingdom of Heaven.  In reference to John 12:24, read earlier 
by Eric Hauck, Alyssa Loukota said, "I believe Rich came here so he
could be that seed that died."

Finally, they displayed a gorgeous work of Southwestern art, in the
form of a video to "I See You".  Following this, we all sang
"Sometimes by Step", "Holy Holy Holy", and ended, on a fitting note, 
with the Doxology.

What I personally felt like, by the time the whole evening was over,
was a (priveleged) guest sitting in the corner at Rich Mullins' family
reunion.  Not only were there members of his own family present, but I
saw all around me a community that was a family, and that for a time
had made Rich one of their own.  The stories and reminiscences I heard
were the kind only family and neighbors tell:  beating him at cards,
singing with him in church, answering the door late at night to find
him asking if he and Mitch could play for them the song they had just
finished writing.  During the meal that followed the service, a
microphone was set up so that anyone else who wanted to share their
personal memories of Rich could do so.  Those who came forward added
stories like that of the man who asked Rich to help set up chairs for
a local concert he had given (which of course Rich willingly did), and
not realizing who he was until he saw him up on the stage.  Or of the
time they all put their heads together to try and throw him a birthday
party, but Rich gave the best gift of the evening when he and Mitch
played "If You're Ever In New Mexico", which they had just completed.  

At the same time, my impression from this evening was much the
same as the one I've found in the words of the people everywhere who
loved Rich Mullins:  a truly one-of-a-kind man walked this earth for a
while and then had to leave it, but he left behind an irrepressible
call to love God and one another, a call that could still be heard
echoing off the red rocks of the Navajo land, just as its echoes
continue to be heard all around the world.  I saw the hands of love
extended and meeting -- connecting the world without, that had loved
Rich and what he stood for, with this community that had seen from
within how he put what he stood for into such real and genuine and
everyday terms.  I saw and heard, in the repeated declarations of love
shared and exchanged among all these people, the dream becoming
reality -- what I think was Rich's dream, what I know is God's, and
what I hope continues to be all of ours:  Glory to God, and on earth,
peace among men.  

If you're interested, here was a bit of information I hadn't seen
anywhere yet (this came from the back of the program):

	Christ For Native Youth has established a Scholarship Fund in
	honor of Rich Mullins which will benefit qualified students in
	Native America, pursuing full time Christian service.
	Contact:  _Christ For Native Youth_
		  P.O. Box 3660
		  Window Rock, AZ  86515
		  (505) 371-5354

It was a truly inspiring evening.

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