Friday, August 1, 2014

A Eulogy for Patrick Cobble

A Eulogy for Patrick Morrow Cobble (1980-2014)
St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA
July 31, 2014

There is no adequate way to sum up a life in a few minutes, and there is no adequate way to name our sorrows this day.

Today we come to grieve.  Today we come to remember a young man.  It was said of Patrick by his twin Andrew, that he was an old soul, kind, tender-hearted, too sensitive for this world.

We come together in this church as a way to remember Patrick.  We bring our faith with us when we ask the tough questions.  God is big enough to handle our questions, whether they are whispered or screamed in agony.  God, no matter our approach, accepts us as we are.  God was familiar with the pain of life.

In Isaiah 53, it is prophesied of Jesus:
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We come today to lay our burdens down.  We come today to grieve.

We grieve today for what has happened.  We grieve for our loss.  We grieve for the questions we cannot ask.  We grieve for the answers we will never have.  We grieve today for Patrick.

Theatrical by nature, Patrick was attracted to the stage.  He was in a Disney movie at 7, and caught the bug early.  Even most recently cast as lead in a play with the Drifting Theater Company heading to New York City, and many other roles through the years.

He was not just theatrical on stage, but off as well.  Nancy shared a memory of New Year’s Eve when he was about 7, where he came out with sport coat, white shirt and bow tie with a towel over his arm to serve the sparkling cider.

Or the time he jumped out of a barn loft with just an umbrella, because he had seen it in a Batman movie.  He was quite the character, and held onto the child-like literalism deep into his years.

Always imaginative, as a child he assumed that the Dairy Queen must be married to the Burger King.  Could it be any other way?  And this did not stop; his poetry is left behind in pages of journals and scraps of paper.  His sensitive soul met his imagination and birthed words, words of his soul.  One of his English teachers said that he was the most gifted writer she had ever taught.

Patrick was more than just an actor, tender-hearted, and a writer, I was deeply moved by an email from a friend of Patrick’s and of Nancy’s, neither of whom knew they formed a triangle until the memorial in Tennessee last week.  From an email that was sent, a story was told by a young woman who showed the depth of Patrick’s care and compassion for her when in a very dark time.  In it she said of Patrick: “he was the best friend to me at a time when I really needed one.”  Would that would be said of all of us.  He was a deep and true friend.

While his path took him to several philosophical and religious ideas, he was baptized in the church.  His spiritual self pondered the souls of trees.  He questioned how we could be so active in the destruction of this world, the only one we have.  These questions worried him.  He could not understand why they did not worry more of us.

Last night, Nancy found a quote he left on his Facebook page, from Emilie Autumn in a novel: “You," he said, "are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain.”  (The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls)  We have to ask if this question from the novel was Patrick speaking to himself of himself.

Patrick’s questions and longings are over.  And we have choices to make.  Will his questions haunt us?  Will our questions haunt us?  The Whys?  The What-ifs?

It is my prayer for Patrick to be at peace.  It is my prayer for all of us to be at peace.  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”  We pray today for Patrick, and entrust him to God’s loving hands.  We entrust him to the dwelling-place in the House of God reserved for him.

But what of us?  We came today to lay our burdens down.  We came today to grieve.  We looked ahead to Jesus, who would know our pain.  In closing, I want to look ahead to the end, the very end, from Revelation 21:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

Lord, we thank you for the life of Patrick Morrow Cobble.  We pray for Nancy, Andrew, and all of his family.  Like the beautiful Antheriums at the altar today, we remember the beautiful vitality of this man, and may that beauty remain in our hearts and minds as we entrust him to your loving care.  In the name of Jesus, the lover of all our souls, Amen.

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Blessings, Rock