A letter to George Bass

Dear George,

I was up on the Wingo Pavilion today with a group of Kaleidoscope kids, and one of them needed to go to the restroom, so I walked her up to the lodge. While I was standing around waiting for her, I looked up and saw your photo and a plaque up on the wall.

I had already been thinking about you this week. My first week at Adults In Ministry was 25 years ago; the exact anniversary is coming up in early August. I remember you running the kitchen at Camp Overton that year, and for a few years after that. It was your one week of the year to be a volunteer instead of executive director — but you were still executive director, and we ate well because you cooked whatever you felt like cooking.

Anyway, the photo hanging on the wall in the Cumberland Pines lodge looks like it was cropped from a larger photo. You and some unseen person are facing each other and have your hands on each other’s shoulders. It was a gesture you knew well and used often. I loved it when you put your hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said some little word of encouragement. It meant the world to me.

We’ve been without you for almost two years now — that anniversary is coming up in August as well. I remember that because I was at the big horse show in Shelbyville, sitting in the press box, when I first got the e-mail from the ministry announcing your passing. I gasped.

I know how much your family misses you. I could see it in Rene’s and Gail’s and Trish’s eyes as I passed through line at Blakemore. But you are missed by so many more of us. You touched an awful lot of lives, George, and the ministry you started continues to touch more. Our AIM camp this week has been mildly inconvenienced by the fact that there’s a huge — huge — YSM camp going on this week at Cumberland Pines. How many of those teenagers will look back in 20 years and think of this week as some sort of turning point in their spiritual lives?

This week’s AIM camp has only one home repair team. They are remodeling a bathroom for a man who, as they describe him, is a good, industrious person whose work life was cut short.

I have been so happy to have three people from my church in camp with me this week. They’ve been having a great experience. None of them were around when I was looking at your photo or I would have pointed you out. I wish they could have met you.

I think of you, and the family you are a part of, and the ministry you created, and I suddenly feel very, very humble about my own modest contribution to the world.

Anyway, I’m having a good week at camp. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you, and that I miss you.

Love,

John