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A Peace Vigil at the River

Honoring the life of Samuel C. Hagens

July 14, 2013

By Rev. Dr. Denise L. Graves BC, DD, MASM, PhD


All the transitions of our existence occur in water often combined with other substances of which I will call fluids. We are conceived in fluid, developed in fluid, ushered into the world in fluid, sustained by fluids and prepared for our soul’s departure utilizing some sort of fluid. From the days of the ancients, it was the tradition of indigenous people like ourselves to acknowledge the role of fluids in the cycle of life. All the fluids we utilize come from rains, ponds, lakes, rivers, oceans and waterfalls. They are essential in how we live our lives.  Fluid keeps our internal organs functioning. Consequently, the life of Samuel C. Hagen’s invites us too, to the river that is consequently fluid. 

This is the last place he stood in the physical.  This is the place his eyes focused. He focused on the river fluid that streams life, time and eternity together. We are here to witness.  To witness the magnificence of the Creator to merge the past, present and future to build a stronger family and community.  We are here to bring our fears and pain – to release them so that they no longer haunt us.

We bring our fears that our heart will break open wide and reveal confusion, anger and rage. We bring the fears that open us up to our deep losses and how they impact how we live our lives today.  We are here to see our pain.  This pain has a face.  It looks like disconnection, anguish, bewilderment, worn down and lingering fatigue. We bring the pain that wrenches our minds, emotions, and memories about uncertainty. The uncertainty of what went on in the mind and life of Samuel before he got to this point, what he was thinking at the moment he left the bridge and what happened between when he left home and when his body was pulled from the river.  We are not here to solve anything.  We are not here to blame.  We are not here demonstrate how mighty and great we may be. We are here to surrender.

We are also here to trust that a loving God will comfort our hearts.  This trust is our faith moment.  In this moment we remember how the Creator God kept us from and through perils. We member the gift of breathe this morning, the love of family and friends and the promises made to us.  To trust God now, surrender our logic to the Holy Spirit that guides, comforts, instructs and interprets.  The Holy Spirit is the gift given to every believer.  It stays with us and we have access to it at all times.  In this moment we ask the Holy Spirit to still our hearts, comfort us, and give us the right words to say to one another.  We are here to love.

Lastly, we are here to extend the peace. Peace is more than calm, it is provision and affirmation of “enoughness.”  That is the true meaning of “Shalom,” well-being, enough food, shelter, clothing, spiritual awareness, daily good portion, meaning, hope, love and more.  Right now, there are the young among us who want to live good lives and the pain of the loss of Samuel raises doubts. They want to know if they are loved totally and unconditionally. They want to know if they are supported, accepted and will be educated. The seasoned adults want to know if our youth will accept our love and need for accountability so that we can sleep soundly at night.  The seasoned adults want to know if our young will give us a listening ear. We now want to say we love you and ask do you love us? 

As we pray for peace of mind, comfort, healing and courage, we affirm the truth about God today.  God loves us totally and unconditionally.  The Holy Spirit is always available to us and the powerful examples of deliverance, healing and justice of Jesus Christ calls us to action.  The action expected of us is to love, extend a hand to help, tell the truth about our needs and gifts, show mercy and grace to ourselves and each other. We must accept that God supplies our every need at all times.   We do not know how God will reveal a needed truth to us. We bring peace and hope to the water today.  As we release pain, hurt, confusion and fear into the water, we acknowledge the many lives that have been claimed by these rushing river waters. We do not know the names but we know someone loved them like we love Samuel.  We now thank the river for holding the body of Samuel for us and surrendering it to our family so that we can experience the closure of this chapter of lifes’ journey.  We acknowledge that the soul lives on.  We keep the life of Samuel alive every time we call his name.  We learn more about the amazing love of God now and later.  For this glimpse of Gods’ love called Samuel, we say thank you and amen.

In loving honor of Samuel Christopher Hagens we do this.  Rest in peace!

Written and delivered for the family of Samuel Christopher Hagens 1994-2013

A loving Aunt, Rev. Dr. Denise L. Graves



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