As the evening of September 13, 2022 comes on, the humidity has lifted, which is the gift of September. The air is clear, the Carolina blue sky is letting go of its vivid color. I stand looking on my garden, once again amazed that our Rocky Mount life spins on with only the slightest hesitation while Sam Battle crossed the River Jordan this day.
In death, Sam is forever changed as are we. With experience, I can say that it turns out the love doesn’t change. With a few years under my belt, I can witness that Bob Houghtlin comes on stage at unexpected times and then slips back into the wings as the play goes on. In the dwindling light of the evening, I think of Terrick, Sam’s family and friends, all believing the light will return in the morning.
I leave a memory with you. A baseball field, a young boy and his friend, Terrick. Both boys are carrying their own bat and glove and ball as they head to practice or to play a game. I listened to the story of these friends as we drive towards Stith-Talbert Park. As I stand at the fence looking out on the immaculate field, there is the clink of the bat, the chatter in the infield, the smell of cut grass, and friendships. The whole scene energized Sam, the laughter between Sam and Terrick as they reminisced brings on the famous big grin. This is where I will think of Sam. As he runs the bases a last time, the crowd stands cheering, clapping and appreciating the heart of a ballplayer who played for the Rocky Mount team at all times. Well done, true and faithful servant.
A last story: Sam Battle was a trip; a fierce, loyal friend, involved with the black youth of Rocky Mount and a champion of other issues he found in his world. He seemingly knew everyone and unafraid, spoke his piece at Council meetings and on his video pod casts. I learned a new expression from Sam. I laughed when he called someone a ‘Raggedy Ass.’ I don’t use this intriguing designation when writing the blog, but I have Sam to thank for learning this fine expression when recognizing a ‘Raggedy Ass’ from time to time all by myself.
The Episcopal prayerbook speaks of coming to Jesus not as a stranger, but a friend. I feel confident that this is the case in Sam’s crossing on this day.