Stay Open to the Graces

Jerry Sullivan greeting Daisy

The Grim family lost a dear friend this week. The kind of friend you are lucky to ever have, even once in a lifetime.

This man, known as Brother Jerry, walked a path of Christlikeness few people ever find. He was that figure in my childhood that led me to understand Christ’s mercy, His friendship, and His sacrificial love: From the way he treated animals to the way he treated the mentally-ill alcohol-addicted wanderer to the way he was a father to Indian children starving for love and attention on the reservation where we lived.

He lived a humble life as a carpenter, fasting on Fridays, keeping dominion over the earth through his garden and attempts at growing grapes to make wine. His occasional stutter only enhanced his ability to tell a good joke–usually involving a Catholic Priest and an Irishman.

As a child this man appeared to me as nothing short of a complete wonder. Who else brings an industrial sized doughnut machine to a dilapidated tavern on a poverty-stricken Indian Reservation and turns the place into a family activity center? Or hides cute little puppies in boxes on Easter Sunday for children to find and bring home to their unsuspecting and unenthusiastic parents?

He always had time for me to visit after school, for a card game or weeding in the garden or letting me tag along in bringing communion to shuts-ins. In my childishness I remember being a little jealous when he met this beautiful woman named Ilene and got married, thinking he wouldn’t have time for me anymore. Little did I understand how one’s capacity for love only grows when you are in Christ. Along with Jerry’s life, I am thankful that he met this gentle woman, Ilene. She added a richness and depth and grace that brought him so much joy and completion and it is a testimony to me how they served the Lord together.

Jerry finished his life well. He kept the faith; he fought the good fight. He pursued righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. He took hold of that eternal life that God calls us to. I rejoice that he is with our Savior now yet my heart aches for his absence here with us, and especially for his wife.

Jerry brought the Kingdom to Earth. He rested in the grace of God and as he frequently reminded me, he stayed open to the graces. Many people strive to live great lives, attempting great things for God. Every other person is hailed as some kind of hero these days. But few men walk in true godliness, masculinity, humility, and quiet servanthood as did Brother Jerry. Living next door to this great man of God shaped much of who I am today. I am so thankful for his life.


One thought on “Stay Open to the Graces

  1. Mimi says:

    Molly- Thank you for sharing about your dear friend Jerry. I also received a message from Cassie, including your dad’s comments. He was indeed an important man in your life and your dad’s and Cassies. God surrounds us with important people that he means to use in our lives, if but for a season, even a moment sometimes. I’m so glad Jerry was there for so many moments in your life.

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