December 28, 2020

By Arthur H. Gunther III


     If the world were a tree, and we brought forth water and pruning and, most of all appreciation no matter the shape, the variety, the location, the age, there would be enough shade for everyone, enough fruit, enough beauty.

     And if the paragraph just written were a metaphor, it would be a description of the life service of a more than decent human who just passed. Chris Murray was a nurturer, and his trees were the homeless, the afflicted, the poor and hungry, the abandoned in a world with individuals too involved with this and that to notice.

     In my time, I knew Chris as the social worker active in the Rockland Interfaith Breakfast Program out of Spring Valley, N.Y., and with the Helping Hands organization assisting the homeless. A “Longgg-Gilander,” as he often and proudly referred to himself, Chris was both a liberal’s dream and a Conservative’s wish.     

     He felt the pain and saw into the dark tunnels of the drug-afflicted, of those officially forgotten veterans whose long nights forever echo with gunfire and bloody screams, the depressed, the mentally ill, those unable to cope.

       Chris Murray also deeply understood that you cannot just offer tears but also the tougher love of giving to some who cannot or will not be thankful. In this mix of compassion and call for responsibility, he was both liberal and conservative.

     That is a lesson for the rest of us, particularly in what may become a new political world in the United States.

     Chris Murray died. But his look-you-in-the-eye compassion is re-born in his memory.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.