Leslie Bustard is one of those people who is just easy to love.
That much became evident when the idea for this video project was suggested as a way to encourage Leslie during her ongoing battle with cancer. People rallied together to create the video you are about to see, and even in writing this introduction, it was hard to decide what to leave out from the tributes written for our dear friend. But here are a few thoughts from those involved:
Karen Smith writes: “If you know Leslie then you have undoubtedly been blessed by the warm smile and peaceful aura that seem to follow her everywhere she goes. Infused by the Spirit, she brings an instant calm that makes you want to take a deep breath, pour a cup of tea, and listen to her words of encouragement and wisdom. Through the years we have messaged, hugged at Hutchmoot, and shared prayers and mutual concerns over abnormal test results. When mine came back benign, hers did not. Cancer is a thief.”
Elizabeth Harwell says: “In Leslie’s poem, ‘Thursday,’ she describes the day she was told about more tumors in her body. In response to the news, she says with beautiful honesty: ‘I thought of other people praying.’ I loved that line from the moment I read it. I understood what it meant to collapse upon the thought of other people doing the work of prayer for you. It’s courageous to trust others to bear what you cannot. It’s vulnerable to climb onto a mat and be lowered down through a roof. Do your friends have the resilience to not let up? Do they have enough faith to walk through dark valleys?”
Leslie’s poetry, like just about everything about her, is vibrant even in the shadow of darkness. By acknowledging what is true for all, and in considering her death and what it must mean, she is giving us the gift of truly appreciating life. So when the idea was suggested of giving back to Leslie by reading her poems aloud, it seemed fitting. She has given so much to us, how wonderful to embody the words she has written. This project, then, is a labor of love for someone who has inspired us all in many ways. I hope that as you see and hear Leslie’s poetry come to life, you get a sense of her heart, a sense of wonder at the goodness around us, beautiful in its frailty. I hope you feel invited into this community that loves each other and lifts one another up, even if just for long enough to enjoy a poem of Leslie’s. For this hour, and hopefully many afterward, may you know the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Featured artwork by Bruce Herman.