Saturday, December 7, 2013

Praise to the man Art Bailey

Last night a good man passed away. After a year long bout with several complications, arising from the residual effects of open heart surgery last January, Art Bailey graduated into the next life. Art Bailey was a true friend. I got to know Art, as we served together in the Heritage Park Branch, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for three years and as neighbors.

The branch consisted of approximately 75 elderly individuals, residing in the Charleston Assisted Living Center in our neighborhood. Art and his wife Kay, along with Kurt and Noriko Whitlock, Robert and Dorothy Bryson, Bruce and Susan Curtis, Robert and Donna Brown and my wife Christine and I, had the rare privilege of serving the spiritual and temporal needs of those wonderful elderly, but that is a topic for another time. I want to talk about Art and things that really matter in life.

From time to time, I would take the time to discuss with Art many of the whys of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as things of life in general. As I would ponder and think about some of the deep things of life, I would often share some of my thoughts and perceptions with Art, knowing his vast experience and knowledge of Gospel topics. Our discussions were always enlightening and helped to solidify in my own heart and mind, some of the perceptions I had.

When I think of Art, I can't help but think of things I have come to learn and comprehend in life. It has taken me a long time to understand some important things about life and about the Gospel plan. Some of the things I have come to learn and come to value are also some of the traits I found in Art.

The Savior, Jesus Christ, gave all of us an invitation. First, to come follow Him and second, "What manner of men ought you to be? even as I am." As He went about doing good, the Lord often told others to "go and do thou likewise.

These admonitions were from a loving Savior, who knew that if we were to follow His example, our lives and the lives of others would be enriched. The life of the Savior demonstrated His single minded effort to do the will of His Father in Heaven and to lift and to edify those about Him.

In a very similar way, Art did just that. All of my interactions with Art were uplifting and enriching and I always came away a better person because of them. The same thing could be said of the others we served with in the assisted living center, as well as many of those elderly we served. I say served, but the truth of the matter is, they did more for me than I ever did for them, for which experience I will ever be grateful.

I have witnessed in the life of Art Bailey, as well as in the lives of others, some basic truths. First of all, it doesn't matter how gifted one is, or how intelligent one is, or how attractive one is, or how many resources one has. Everyone can lift and edify others. As stated by President Uchtdorf, we should lift where we stand. In other words, no matter what our situation in life is, we can lift and help others. Lifting and serving others is so much more important than the many other things we could pursue in life.

This is reminiscent of what the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon warned us about. He told us not to pursue four traps in life, the seeking of power for the sake of power, the seeking of riches for the sake of gain, the seeking of popularity and the lusts of the flesh.

Such trappings are the typical tendencies of the natural man and as the Lord admonished us, the natural man is an enemy to God. We take none of the things accumulated by such pursuits in life with us to the other side, but we do take what we have become and the value of our service to others, things that neither moth nor rust can corrupt.

Art is one of those individuals who took the admonition of the Lord to heart, he went about doing good. The same could be said of others with whom I have served and come to know.

I will miss our conversations and I will miss our association, but I am happy for Art, as he most assuredly has been welcomed home by so many he helped in life. I am sure Art is one who will hear the words from the Savior we all hope to hear someday, "Well done thou good and faithful servant.