The Gil Lopez Buddy Network: A Love Story of Living Big and Dying Great
The Gil Lopez Buddy Network: A Love Story of Living Big and Dying Great,by Rebecca Rees
"My son asked me if I had made my peace with God. I told him I didn’t know She and I had had a fight!"--Gil Lopez
This is the story of Gil Lopez, an African-American activist and peacemaker, and his last years of spirited living, healing, and dying within a multi-cultural community of friends. Gil died as he lived: with courage and imagination, with moxie and music—and with his buddies. This is a radical musical of a book, political and spiritual, funny and poignant, with a great cast of characters, a great love story, and Gil’s voice singing throughout in his sweet tenor.
This book is for anyone looking for a way to face death with heart, for any community wanting to support a dying friend, and for all those who grieve and hope to give meaning to their suffering. And this is a book about how to face life with heart,how to live big, as Gil lived.
From the introduction:
If you can envision a radical contemporary Jesus, big-bellied and brown, who loved dancing and football, and was surrounded by women instead of men disciples, then you can begin to picture Gil Lopez. Gil was spiritually larger than life, one of the Big Souls who show the way. He was a natural leader, a man who evolved from a black radical defending his people to a wise peacemaker among all peoples, a man with a royal presence and an inherent nobility of character. And yet he was completely earthy and unpretentious, always ready to laugh at himself and the world, always eager to learn from others and to cheer them on in his broad Boston accent. I have never met a man so utterly without personal vanity or a sense of self-importance and yet so filled with self-confidence about his larger mission.
Gil had a saintly quality of selfless dedication, and yet he was also endearingly human. We couldn’t have stood him otherwise. Gil was a big bear of a man, and he could be as cuddly as a teddy or as powerful as a grizzly. He told great dirty jokes. His room was a mess. He danced on the tables! His hugs were Olympian. Both kingly and comforting, he reminded me of the fuzzy purple African violets he raised so tenderly. He was Our Funny Valentine, the most loving and loveable man I have ever known.
Gil wanted to leave a message to the world. It was a message he lived all his life, and especially in his last years of healing and dying. The message is that with community you can do anything. Being with Gil in community as he lived into dying was a transforming experience for all of us; sorrow and suffering that is consciously shared can become almost a blessing. I think Gil would want me to add that I need to let folks know that if you are with your buddies, you can even have a wonderful time while you’re dying! The experiences of Gil’s last days also gave a clear message to me and others who were close at the bedside that death is merely the doorway to new spiritual adventures.
Gil lived big and he died big, and all our souls got bigger as we made the last journey with our Big Soul Buddy. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Gil was a great man because he made you feel that you were great, and made you want to do great things.
See the Gil Lopez Community Website at gillopez.net for photographs, information about the three documentaries in which Gil was featured, and new stories of the lives and work of Gil’s buddies.
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