When Public Families Share their Pain – Reflections on September 11

When Public Families Share their Pain – Reflections on September 11

I recently attended the funeral of Peggy Benson. The Benson name is a Nashville icon. They founded a publishing company, created a music empire, and were notable leaders in Nashville First Church of the Nazarene.

At Trevecca Nazarene University, you will find Benson Residence Hall and Benson Auditorium. In the line of presidential pictures, you can view John T. Benson. They have been entrepreneurs, business leaders, benefactors, authors, song leaders, musicians, artists, speakers, and preachers. Peggy’s last job was in the Trevecca School of Education where she spread characteristic Benson love even as she wrestled with the onset of Alzheimer’s. Daughter Leigh and son Michael gave fitting tributes to their mother, recognizing her bravery in refusing to pack it in following tragedy. She experienced the death of a sister, the tragic loss of a son, and the battle with cancer that took her beloved husband.

Peggy’s life was interesting, to say the least. And she opened it to a needy world. Her family news was normally public because of the roles her family occupied. Things happen to us that make us want to crawl into a shell and die. There are days we want the world to go away and leave us alone. I’m sure Peggy had those days, but she refused to surrender to them. She let us in. And we are better for it.

September 11, 2001, now remembered as 9-11, is a day when the private lives of many became public in a gruesome act of violence. I find myself hoping those families have fared as well as the Bensons. I pray so.

And the beauty that dawned on me as I sat at the funeral is this – a congregation was the glue that kept the drama alive.

We gathered in a church that has been the glue for stories across 100 years. The characters of her story were all there. Some have scattered to other cities and congregations, but the old home place held us together in love for a parting farewell to a grand lady.

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