By Rev. Everette Chapman
Many of you have known our friend, Jeff Benson, over the years. He and his wife, Sue, used to own and operate Margaritagrille across the street from the Lake Lure Beach. After they sold it, they opened another restaurant in Hendersonville, but most recently, they have owned and managed the Point of View Restaurant, with its breathtakingly-beautiful panorama of Lake Lure and Yacht Island.
Unfortunately, on Tuesday, July 7, Jeff suffered a vascular accident from which he did not recover, subsequently passing late that afternoon from this life to the life everlasting. All his friends have joined his family in mourning his passing. He was a joyful human being who made it his business to share that joy.
During the memorial service that was held for him on Saturday, July 11, a service I was honored to lead, a most-fascinating, almost-haunting thing happened. As I was sitting during the service, I suddenly realized that a butterfly had come and landed on my hand. For the longest moments it tarried there. I made eye contact with one of the daughters and signaled with my eyes toward the butterfly. She nudged her mother and pointed to the butterfly. Sue immediately smiled and threw a kiss to the butterfly. It sat on my hand a little longer, and then as I walked to the makeshift altar to continue the service, it flew away.
The unspoken message that passed between Sue and Rachel and me was that somehow, in a way that could not be explained, Jeff had signaled to those he loved the best, that all was well with him, that he had, in fact, flown away to a better place, and that they should be at peace.
That is what we saw through the eyes of faith. Through other eyes, it may have just been a sheer coincidence, that even though there were no other butterflies in the area and although there were several other hands on which it could have lighted and multitudinous other surfaces that would have served as a landing field, it alit on my hand and lingered long enough for the family to see it.
It is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? My perspective was one of believing that “earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush is ablaze with God, but only those who see take off their shoes.” William Herbert Carruth’s poem, “Each In His Own Tongue,” says it well.
A fire-mist and a planet – a crystal and a cell,
A jelly-fish and a saurian, and caves where cavemen dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty and a face turned from the clod –
Some call it Evolution, and others call it God.
A haze on the far horizon, the infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfield, and the wild geese sailing high;
And all over upland and lowland, the charm of the goldenrod –
Some of us call it Autumn, and others call it God.
Like tides on a crescent sea-beach, when the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings come, welling and surging in;
Come from the mystic ocean, whose rim no foot has trod –
Some people call it yearning, and others call it God.
A picket frozen on duty, a mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock, and Jesus on the rood,
And millions who, humble and nameless, the straight, hard pathway plod –
Some call it consecration, and others call it God.