By SAM TERRY
Jobe Publishing Inc.
Some believe that grief changes a community. I tend to disagree, preferring to think that grief reveals the true heart of a community. Exposing our hearts for all to see is exactly what is happening in Barren County this week following the death of Mike Swift on Monday afternoon.
By Monday night, the nauseating parade of political posts nearly disappeared from social media, replaced by messages, comments, and testimonials about Mike’s life witness to his fellow man. Unimportant chatter in grocery store aisles, restaurants, and meetings ceased and the focus turned to Mike and what he meant to this community and the people who call it home.
All of that is just like Mike. He was the fellow who appeared in our midst at some of life’s worst moments. Without fail he found the right words to say, delivered the hug that was so badly needed, gave comfort to the unwell, and served his community with compassion. Quite unexpectedly, he did it again on Monday when this community needed a reality check. Mike’s passing gave us a collective push to step away from our selfishness and reveal our compassion and generosity held together by faith and love.
Albert Schweitzer, the legendary theologian, musician, philosopher and physician once said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.” Schweitzer could have written those words about our adopted son, friend, and neighbor Mike Swift. Like Schweitzer, Mike understood that life might be a bit harder when one lives to serve others, but it also becomes richer and happier.
Mike exemplified the concept of a servant-leader. He understood when he was on an ambulance run or a coroner’s call that we don’t live in a world all our own and that others are here, too. In those tough circumstances, Mike innately knew what he was called to contribute to the situation and he did it with love and compassion, never seeking fanfare or recognition. To Mike, it wasn’t just his job, it was his calling in life, his own personal ministry to others.
Mike understood that he was not placed here – or anywhere else, for that matter – just to make a living. He understood that he could help others live more abundantly, have a greater vision, personify an attitude of kindness, and witness a spirit of hope. He enriched us, our community, and our world through his presence and he will be sorely missed.
May we not forget his gifts to us.