Just Be Faithful
I still I have moments of doubt and uncertainty, wherein by necessity I stop to ask the critical questions: Who am I? What am I? Why am I here? Not this moment: on April 16, 2021 I knew exactly why I was at church singing for the funeral of my friend Aedron Hardison.
I was there because upon receiving a text message from Director Gordon Jackson asking me to sing and said yes without hesitation. I did not receive that text message because I was a great singer; I have no such delusions. At that point I had eighteen years of experience singing in the first tenor section with the Robert Allen Layman’s Chorus, and one of the best parts of that experience had been singing back-up to my friend Reverend Hardison, who would come out of the choir to sing lead every now and again. This was my last chance to sing back-up for Rev Hardison. More importantly this was my last chance to demonstrate that I learned what Rev Hardison taught me, “just be faithful.”
Before you can teach you must learn and before you can learn you must attain the mindset to learn. Rev Hardison over the years had told me how he learned the importance of being faithful. Before he had the mindset to learn he was on his own program, at least so he thought. Then he realized that alcohol was controlling the agenda and undermining his ability to be present for what mattered most to him, his family. After removing the cloud of alcohol, he saw the value of what he had. Perhaps it was like running giddy toward a cliff and stopping just short of going over the edge, but close enough to see that you almost lost your life. All I know is that the man I knew for the previous eighteen years was transformed to someone who did not want to even risk going toward that edge again. He was doing everything he could to be present as much as possible with the people he loved and those he served in ministry.
I got to witness this running into him attending various of his grandchildren’s events, football or basketball games that his grandson Damani played, concerts in which his grandson Desmond performed and at his granddaughter Danielle’s dance recitals and many church performances for all of them. Even more, I got to experience this sharing a ministry with him, once a year going with him to a convalescent home to sing for a Christmas program. I am not the best at singing acapella in a small ensemble but that was never the reason I showed. After my second time participating Rev. Hardison said to me, “Now you know we are going to do this every year on the first Saturday in December, so you don’t have to be called, just show up; just be faithful.
One year it was just he and I because the announcement was not made in the rehearsal the week before. I learned that being faithful meant not backing down because you do not get the level of support you hoped for. He and I went into the music room and spent thirty minutes coming up with a program. I grabbed my trumpet and we decided on two things I would play on trumpet. He picked the Christmas song he best played on piano, and we added me singing accompaniment to that in the mix. Then we added an acapella Gospel song. I learned being faithful means operating on faith not self-confidence. I had no time to worry about if I could hit that E-flat above staff in Ave Maria playing the trumpet; I just had to show up and do it.
That’s what I learned from Rev Hardison, that being faithful meant just showing up being willing to serve. For example, I put out the word that my friend Gerald was losing his place to live due to hardship. Not many people are eager to answer the call to help someone move at short notice, mid-week, but Reverend Hardison showed up. His presence reassured me. There was some heavy lifting to be done and my resources were Gerald, a man with a double heart valve transplant due to complications post crushed leg injury, and Reverend Hardison in his late seventies. However, I remembered the story of Gideon that you don’t find strength in numbers but in the heart and mindset of those who go into battle with you. I knew Rev Hardison still had the heart to challenge his grandson to push-up contests. His help would be enough. Turns out I had to tell Rev Hardison that I should go first taking the couch down the stairs. Friendships are made in moments like that.
Yes, I did just dare to call Reverend Hardison my friend. At his funeral I was a bit envious of Reverend Sergeant because, he could claim without reservation that Reverend Hardison was his best friend. I know how much Reverend Hardison valued friendship. Sometimes when we were with the fellas talking after a rehearsal, just shooting the breeze as it were, one man might get to talking about another person and Reverend Hardison would cut them off by announcing that person’s name with emphasis like, “[INSERT NAME HERE] -that’s MY friend.” The emphasis on the possessive, was a friendly warning shot that let you know not to trespass in the territory of disrespecting one of his friends.” Perhaps Rev Hardison was not the quite the boxer he was when he was a young fit athlete, but still, I would not want to risk crossing the line of disrespecting one of his friends.
I have come to have some appreciation of friendship having managed to retain a few good friends over the years. One defining feature of friendship is the ability to forgive the faults of another. Reverend Hardison had forgiven me the time I was driving Brother Green’s van during the Reno Tour, and I did not pull over when he said he needed to relieve himself. He probably realized that I was still young and did not understand that when a man pushing seventy says he needs to go, that “please pull over”, does not mean keep driving to the next exit. He also forgave me when the one time I spoke too long at a funeral, was one where he was the presiding minister. He let me go a bit long before he walked over and gave me a body language prompt. Perhaps he understood that I was showing up and speaking for my friend John Wayne Moore, letting everyone know that the period of his life when he was on the streets was not to be disregarded, because even in those desperate days God had not abandoned John to his affliction; the Holy Spirit stilled communed with him.
Perhaps Reverend Hardison was able to forgive because he understood the importance of just being faithful to a friend until the end. Aedron Hardison left a rich legacy of athletic ability, musical ability, and spiritual devotion to his children and grandchildren. I do not presume to be a fraction of his equal. However, I keep showing up inspired by his example of, just being faithful.
- Obituary for Aedron Earl Hardison
- Second Baptist Church of Santa Ana home of the Robert Allen Laymans Chorus.