Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beyond the Peak

The E. C. Lee family was a well-known Church of God pastoral family in east Tulsa back in the 1940s, and well known to the girl I married in 1947. Two Lee sons, Byrum and Curtis, became pastors like their well-respected father, and there were other siblings.

I would meet Byrum, and Genevieve, and the three children when they moved West to pastor the Church of God in Oregon City, OR. We were students in Portland at the time. Before graduating in 1951, we would spend many hours and days mingling in the Lee home in Oregon City, doing the things students do in assisting the work of the church.

The last time we would visit in their home in such comfortable surroundings would be in Caldwell, ID in late May 1951. We were en route to AR., to our first fulltime charge, and the Lee’s had just relocated from Oregon.

In time, the Lee’s would relocate to the East Coast and we would follow their paths but seldom cross paths. I remember Curtis serving in Northern Kentucky, but our paths went different directions. Eventually Genevieve died and we lost track of the family, except that Byrum remarried in time and relocated back to Oklahoma.

Byrum was a music-lover. I can still hear his strong baritone voice and remember that one of his very favorite songs was “The Unclouded Day” by J. K. Alwood. It was a song I enjoyed as a boy back in southwestern Michigan:

O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds, rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.
O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day;
O they tell me of a home where no storm-clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

It sounds pretty “other worldly,” as Irene Caldwell taught us many of those songs were. Yet, sixty years later, it has a very comfortable ring to it. I’ve long since lost track of the Lee family, EXCEPT that I still see the name Byrum C. Lee attached to occasional poetry, and that is what sparked this bit of nostalgia.

In the recent June 2011 issue of the occasional newsletter from Christian Triumph Publishers I found these lines entitled, “That’s What I Seek!” Not all poetry is good enough to catch my attention, but I liked the flow as I read Byrum’s words: it offered a message with which I strongly resonated--reaching the peak:

I’ve climbed the mountain thus far;
My eyes fixed on that distant star.
But I have not yet reached the top,
So this is not where I should stop.

I must pursue my upward climb,
Forgetting what I’ve left behind.
To stop before I’ve reached my goal
Would never satisfy my soul.

The air is rarefied up here,
And tho’ faint, I must persevere
Until I’ve reached the mountain’s peak;
To be with my God--that’s what I seek!

From Warner’s World,
Byrum has been climbing many a year, as have others of us. I‘m not interested in stopping halfway up the peak; the view on the other side promises to make the climb worthwhile. Remember when Terah left for Canaan with his family, but settled in Haran (Genesis 12:31-32? Not satisfied to settle, Abraham picked up from there and moved on (12:1-4). I too want to clear the peak …


melisajobe73 said...

Hi my name is melisa jobe and i am a personal friend of mr. Byrum and mrs. Wylodean Lee. They have made an astounding impact on my life musically ad well as theologically. Your blog caught my attention as i was searching mr. Byrums name online. Mrs. Wylodean let me know a few weeks ago his health was failing and they are like grandparent mentors to me ever since we met in 1996. Please email me if you like.
Thank you kindly,
Melisa Jobe

Wayne said...

Thank you melisajobe73. My wife knew the Lee family in OK prior to our being in OR with them. Great family. Byrum & Genevieve were a good influence in our lives. Would love to have any update on the family ... never met Wylodean. Thanks for your response.

Wayne said...

btw, you left no email, only a "no reply" except for here. :-)