Here is the meditation that Eric gave at my dad’s funeral. (Photo below is the front of the funeral program). I think how proud dad would have been of his son-in-law.
Reflections on a life well lived
Life… why is it that its definition escapes us so? “The meaning of Life,” why is it so elusive? I believe it is because it can only be given meaning by the individual who lives it. And the punctuation to that definition can only come ant the end of a person’s life.
If that is the case, than “Life” as defined by Bill Plumb is “Hope.”
You see Bill was a gardener and a gardener in my opinion, is the embodiment of hope. I’m not talking about bio-engineered produce grown in laboratories that come out all the same perfect size all year round. That’s not gardening. A gardener will work hard to provide all that he or she can but will ultimately have to hope in some unseen force to do the rest.
Now Bill was renowned for his fruit trees, his formal garden, his flower gardens, his vegetable gardens, and of course his beloved boxwoods. It was truly a labor of love as he would spend countless hours in his gardens trying to provide the right environment for them to grow.
Of course Bill was a generous man and he would unselfishly allow his family and close friends to share in the joys of digging and transplanting, of mulching, of weeding and picking up all those walnuts, thousands of them.
But Bill knew that even if he did everything in his power to create the perfect conditions and to nurture his plants, there were no guarantees. I mean there’s the weather. Too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain. And then there are those pesky varmints who nibble on tender new shoots, who dig holes and burrow all under the creation, and who steal the fruit of his labor before they can be enjoyed. Many of those deservedly met their demise in a small body of water just outside the Plumb house.
So he would dig and plant and hope, he would water and fertilize and hope, he would weed and clear and hope that one day he would be rewarded with something delicious, something beautiful.
Bill Plumb was also a nurturer of people. He had a passion for engaging us and discovering who we are. He spent countless hours cultivating deeper relationships and friendships encouraging us to develop into our God-given potential. “ Just give them Jesus,” he would often say for he knew the key ingredient in fact the only thing that is necessary for a successful life, and just to be clear here, he didn’t measure by the world’s standard of success.
Yet with people as with his gardens there are no guarantees. The hardships of life, you know, the ones that prevent us from taking root, that scorch us and cause us to wither, those that choke us out and keep us from growing further. And then there is the enemy who robs and steals and destroys. I don’t think “Hate,” is too strong a word for the feelings Bill had toward him.
So Bill would give of himself and invest in us and hope. He would watch out for us and warn us of danger and hope. He would dream big dreams for us and pray and hope. Never giving up on the good he saw in each of us.
There is some theological debate out there that asks the question, “Does God hope?” Does an all-powerful all-knowing God need to hope? I can’t that answer with all certainty but I think he does. Let me tell you why. In Romans 8:20-21 it is written, ”For the creation was subject to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
This passage describes the ongoing theme in Romans where the Law is juxtaposed to grace. It’s saying that God gave us the law to show us the futility of trying to erase the guilt and shame of our sinful existence by our own efforts. He did this in hopes that our frustration would cause us to recognize our need for a savior. That we would accept his plan of salvation, JESUS, and thereby experience the freedom and fullness that comes from being his children again.
In John 1:15 our Lord says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.”
Does God have the power to crank out bio-engineered laboratory grown perfect versions of our selves? Yes, but that’s not gardening. Why else give each of us this life except that we might fulfill hope.
The hand of our Father was so evident on Bill’s life. We can only imagine the Father’s joy of bringing one home who fulfilled all the hopes and expectations that were placed on him. As we celebrate Bill’s life down here I know there’s a celebration in heaven as they finally get to sit and talk about things, gardener to gardener.
As we were sitting around a few days later and talking about what to put on our dad’s grave marker, it became clear from this message:
William I. Plumb: The gardener is finally with his Gardener.