The God Squad: Many responses to whether there are many paths up the same mountain to God
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Note from MG:
Feb. 16 was the seventh anniversary of Fr. Tom Hartman’s death. We often say of the deceased that he/she died before their time. Except for the most aged among us, this saying is almost always true. There is always something more we could accomplish when death takes our breath away. However, that saying was more true about Tommy than any other person I have ever known.
At the age of 69, Tommy died of Parkinson’s disease too soon — way too soon. This was not only because 69 is 10 years short of normal life expectancy, but also because of the varied and deep record of his goodness.
Tommy’s main gift to the world was his loving presence. He was always present to everyone he met. He never looked beyond you or around you. He would look at you and listen to you and respond to you directly and deeply and without limit.
One night he drove from Long Island to Albany to stop a young man from killing himself. The man was a stranger who just called Tommy because he had seen the God Squad on television. That was enough of a reason for Tommy to drive to his side.
One day we were driving across the Triborough bridge during a winter sleet storm. Halfway across the bridge Tommy told me to stop the car in traffic. I reminded him not too gently about the difference between a parking lot and a bridge, but he was insistent. I stopped and he got out of the car and pulled a piece of jagged metal off the roadway in front of my car. He returned soaking wet and smiling. He said, “That could have punctured somebody’s tires.” I told him, “If you ever decide to walk on water, I am leaving you.”
God, I miss him. Tommy died too soon. May his soul rest with the angels.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)
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