I believe in the inherent goodness of all people. I also believe many people, on a good day, fall short of their basic goodness. Well—I’ll speak for myself: I know I fall short of my basic goodness often.
Well, last night, we lost one of the good ones. That’s not to say that some people are good and others are bad—but to say that Lee Covington was a person who continually and regularly lived into the fullness of his goodness.
Lee was one of the good ones.
I think of Lee’s goodness as expressed in many ways but most immediately these traits come to mind: his impeccability and his generosity.
Lee was impeccable: his home and his desk were always in order. And in terms of style, he was impeccable with his authentic self-expression—from perfectly tied and coordinated bow ties to his white and navy polka-dot shirt/pink shorts/navy floral swimsuit ensemble for this past July 4. When I commented on his coordination as they were drying off getting ready to leave, he wryly said, “Now honey, you know I put some thought into this,” punctuating the snark with his trademark giggle. Then he gently scolded Mac, who was packing their bag, reminding him to put his underwear out of sight. Impeccable.
And Lee was impeccable with his word. Anyone who knows him knows he never spoke anything that was not the truth. And if it was a particularly difficult truth, it was always preceded with and followed by kindness. You always knew where you stood with Lee and I benefitted from not only his honesty and advice but also his example of speaking the truth in love.
I suspect that anyone who encountered Lee also was a beneficiary of his generosity. Lee Covington was a generous man—generous in wit, generous with his pour, generous with his shoulder. As these thoughts came to me earlier this morning, I swear I could hear his infectious laugh coming from one of the adjacent rooms and I thought for a split-second: what is he up to or what hilarious thing did he just say?! You could not be around him and not laugh about something. His eyes twinkled with glee, joy—and yeah, just a touch of mischief.
Goodness expressed through generous hospitality was a particular hallmark of Lee’s. Those who were guests in his home or who received him as a guest know that not only would your glass be full but so would your heart. Lee had that rare gift of being present. He was not distracted by his phone or half-listening to you, thinking of what he could say next. When he was with you—he was engaged. Now don’t misunderstand: Lee always knew what was going on in the room and who might be making a comment at his expense. That was his brand of hospitality: no glass empty, no belly hungry, no one ignored.
And Lee expressed his generosity through loyalty. Later in his life, Lee left a more lucrative career to go into ministry—not ministry in the traditional sense but in a very specific, valuable way. He generously gave of his gifts and talents to the mission of Cathedral of Hope and I watched how he supported not only his colleagues but also the people involved in the ministries and us congregants as well.
When I was making some big life-decisions a while back, not only did he speak the truth, he continued to affirm my decision and encourage me; he was indeed a loyal friend.
And I watched his generosity of love for his partner Mac. With no fuss (ok, a little!) or attention-grabbing antics, he modeled what many of us couples aspire to: genuine love and support, trust, and authentic companionship.
Impeccable and generous: that is how I will always think of our faithful friend Lee Covington. When it is my turn to transition out of this life—and his sudden passing is a reminder that it could come at any moment for any one of us—I pray that I, like Lee, am remembered as one of the good ones.
May I—may we all—live out our inherent goodness in ways that are authentic and full, and in so doing, honor Lee—one of the good ones. Rest in peace, dear friend.
“Pride” is in the Bible. Who knew?!