This blade forged in peace
Never taste of blood
Or drawn in anger,
Or the quiver of fear as the enemy rushes,
Instead to remind, of those blades that have,
so this one might not.
A great man has passed away. But while he is no longer with us, he will not be forgotten. You share his name, so it is fitting that you have been chosen to bear his sword. You never had the opportunity to know him as I have, so let me tell you about Ben Morrell.
Ben and I became friends when I was ten years old. I can’t recall those early days other than that it seemed effortless. Ryan Palmer was friends with Ben. I was friends with Ryan. It must therefore follow that Ben and I would become friends. We shared a passion for all things computer-related, a love of science fiction/fantasy novels, and an appreciation for absurd humor.
Ben had a profound influence on my life. He introduced me to many of the things I’ve enjoyed over the years including, but not limited to: Whiteheart, Phil Keaggy, PDQ Bach, Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, BBSes, email, MMORPGs, the desire to own swords, how to cook steak, blogging, Android phones, cute yet very angry bunnies, and terrible puns. He was also one of a handful of people who inspired me to start acting, which eventually led to improv.
Ben was a very thoughtful person. Looking back I can see in him a wisdom that many junior high and high school students lack. Though college separated us by three thousand miles, through his blog he imparted his insight into matters both trivial and deep, especially in the last few years as he wrestled with heavy spiritual issues and the truth of his own mortality.
But he wasn’t afraid to indulge in a little silliness now and then. I remember taking a trip with Ben down to Seaside, Oregon when we hit a bad patch of congestion. While slowly inching forward on I-5, Ben rolled down the car windows, turned up his stereo, and inserted Disc 1 of the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. As the overture poured out of the car speakers, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of two teenaged boys blasting Andrew Lloyd Webber on the interstate. Another time, on a summer mission trip to Wyoming, Ben wanted to see the sunrise, so four of us got up at five AM and climbed up a small hill near where we were staying. In the pre-dawn cold, Ben suggested we do the hokey pokey to stay warm. We did.
He did have a devious side, though. Ben could be cunning when it suited him. He spent years trying to surreptitiously set up a mutual friend with dates. And once he used false promises of an alliance to manipulate me into attacking Dan McCurley in Warcraft 2, while simultaneously convincing Dan of the same. Needless to say, Ben wiped the floor with the pitiful remnants of our armies.
I most admired Ben for his sense of vision. Whatever he did — getting friends together to make movies, brainstorming video game ideas, or creating solid IT infrastructures — Ben was realistic in his expectations but never afraid to dream big. More than once his passion and ability to look past the obstacles and focus on the potential inspired me to move beyond the mundane rut I had allowed myself to settle in.
Six years ago Ben was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of cancer. During those years he displayed a courage and steadfast faith that I could only envy. He endured the agony of cancer treatments not because he was afraid of dying, though he no doubt experienced fear, anxiety, and doubt, but because he felt a calling that he refused to give up. Though he often questioned the wisdom of God’s plan, he never wavered in his faith.
On May 9, 2013 at 2:30 AM Ben peacefully passed from this life to the next while surrounded by loved ones. The sword bequeathed to you represents Ben’s battle with cancer. Though he died, he did not lose his life to cancer. Long before, he freely gave his life to God to claim the victory that Jesus won at the cross.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?”
– 1 Corinthians 15:54-55