I found out this morning that a gentleman whom I have had the privilege of knowing in the physical realm is now guiding me and many others from somewhere else.

Donald Laughlin, a birthright Quaker, devoted his life to social justice, world peace, and environmental concerns. I first met Don when I worked for a Quaker school in Iowa. Later, I found my place nearly every Sunday at Meeting for Worship at West Branch Conservative Friends Meeting. I usually sat in front of and to the left of Don.

For those who don’t know, I’ll give a little clarity. Conservative Friends can be very liberal in many areas. We are associated with traditional Quaker ways — hence the term Conservative — and that includes, at least in our private lives, plain speech and dress.

We also worship in silence, but I always felt Don’s presence, and for a quiet and modest man, he was very accomplished and generous. He had degrees in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering. He taught science and math, and with his expertise and creativity, invented medical instruments that were used to assist cardiologists. He was a champion of sustainable, renewable energy, and was an environmental and peace activist.

I didn’t have many intense conversations with Don, but knowing he was behind me, literally during silent worship and in many other ways, I soaked in his wisdom, discipline, calmness, and great heart. Don, How Great Thou Art!