Below is the text of a letter Brother Bill Mendenhall
wrote to the men of our GA Delta Chapter shortly before he passed away.
Brother Mendenhall was Chapter Counselor of GA Delta for over a decade.
Brother Mendenhall, about to succumb to a terminal illness, wrote this
letter to the men of the chapter he so diligently mentored. It deals with
the importance of our Cardinal Principles and the importance of our Ritual.
All ye who read take heed. There are powerful words here and they speak to
the infinite nature of Brotherhood and Sigma Phi Epsilon. At the Grand
Chapter Conclave shortly before his death, Brother Mendenhall received Sigma
Phi Epsilon's highest alumni recognition award, The
Order of the Golden Heart.
re-reading this letter , and having known Brother Mendenhall personally, I
was reminded of some comments written by the Right Reverend Barbara Brown
Taylor in her book, Bread of Angels:
"God is always sending us
people to disturb us - to wake us up - because about the worst thing that
can happen to us, religiously speaking, is for us to hold perfectly still
without changing a thing until we become fossils... God is all around us,
speaking to us through the most unlikely people. Sometimes it is a
mysterious stranger, but more often, I suspect it is people so familiar to
us that we simply overlook them - our own children and parents, our own
friends and neighbors - all of those hometown prophets who challenge us
and love us and tell us who we are."
I don't know about you, but the Ritual has and
continues to speak to me! Make your own decision.
My dearest “Sig Ep” brothers:
There really is no way I can express to you how much
Georgia Delta (University of Georgia) has meant to me these past 11 years. I
appreciate all you have done and are continuing to do for me. I regret the
necessity to resign as chapter Counselor; but we cannot plan everything in
our lives to happen when or how we might wish. I want you all to know that
each of you is a very special person, loved and respected by me very much.
Never be afraid to love, to express it, to “be kindly affectionate one to
the other.” Brotherhood is one thing, but “Sig Ep” Brotherly Love runs even
deeper. Have standards and try your damnedest to live up to them, realizing
none of us ever really do.
We must all face reality; however, my time on this
earth is rapidly running short. I am trying to hang on for a month or two,
but who can say I have already beat my 1 ˝-year prognosis by 6 months. But I
am so toxified and saturated that the medication has just about run its
course. I have fought the fight and have had a meaningful and rewarding life
in 45 years. I am at peace; likewise, I want each of you to be at peace. I
am grateful for the opportunity to have completed my earthly task with some
dignity and one hell of a lot of fun. Never forget the power of the Ritual;
it has sustained me (and will sustain you) through many difficult times.
Always remember you are a SIGMA PHI EPSILON for life.
I read to you last Monday evening from The Ritual
(which for obvious reasons, I cannot put in here in writing). So I want to
leave you with four quotes from Kubler-Ross (1978) focusing on living and
life rather than dying and death. I hope over the years you can reflect back
on both The Ritual and these quotes and be able to behavioralize them in
“It is fear and guilt that are
the only enemies of humankind, and if we have the courage to face our own
fears and guilts and unfinished business, we will emerge more
self-respecting and self-loving and more courageous to face whatever
windstorms come in our direction.”
“Human beings have one great
asset over all other living things, and that is that they have free
choice. We are not powerless specks of dust drifting around in the wind,
blown by random destiny.”
“The choice is always ours.”
“Those who have been able to
externalize their fears and frustrations, their guilts, and their
unfinished business remain stuck in them. Those who have had the courage
to scream and rage, if necessary, to question God, to share their pain and
agony are the ones who have touched our very being!”
“I wondered where my soul might be; I searched for
God but he eluded me: I sought my brother, and found all three.”