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December 31st, 2013

Faithful Departed: Paul Walker

 
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It is customary at the end of each year to look back and remember important figures who have died. For Busted Halo's Faithful Departed, instead of a laundry list of well-known deceased people with their accomplishments, we ask our writers to reflect on the spiritual impact that people who have passed away had on them. While most of our subjects had no explicit religious connections, we focus on their ability to touch souls. In these reflections you can see through the eyes of each writer how they experienced the sacred in people.

PaulWalkerCrush-worthy actors are everywhere to be seen in Southern California, where I live and work in the entertainment industry. Let’s be real: The guys out here with “boy next door” good looks tend to be much more attractive than most people’s next-door neighbors! That was certainly true of the late Paul Walker, best known for starring in the Fast & Furious films.

Don’t forget he also played a succession of studs in fan faves like The Young and the Restless, Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and Joy Ride. Walker’s classic movie-idol perfection came complete with surfer blond hair, cerulean blue eyes, and a gregarious smile that conveyed both sexiness and likability. Before he died, the 40-year-old star easily might’ve been mistaken for being a decade younger.

But couldn’t I write the same swoony, superficial appreciation of any Hollywood hunk? What truly impressed so many people about Walker is that he radiated goodness.

Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22) More than mere personal attractiveness, Walker’s face emanated a genuine light of Christ from within — it’s something special that cannot be hidden or faked.

This reminds me of the reaction to St. Stephen in Acts of the Apostles 6:15, which says people “looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”

Now before you think I’ve gotten carried away, I don’t mean to canonize Paul Walker as a saint or a martyr like St. Stephen. But it’s not going too far to say that, while there are many pretty faces in show business, Paul Walker was beautiful because he loved much.

“I go surfing and snow boarding and I’m always around nature. I look at everything and think, ‘Who couldn’t believe there’s a God? Is all this a mistake?’ It just blows me away.” — Paul Walker

Walker was, first and foremost, a devoted single dad raising his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow Rain. Although she’d lived with her mother in Hawaii for the first 12 years of her life, Meadow and her famous father were able to enjoy a close-knit relationship before his death. “My heart was desperate for so many years with the situation with my daughter,” Walker told Entertainment Weekly. “My daughter lives with me full-time now and she’s the best partner I’ve ever had. It’s so nuts. I’ve never had anything like this in my life.”

He also went out of his way to brighten the lives of less fortunate people in the world. Of course, the story of Walker’s anonymous donation of a lavish wedding ring to a U.S. soldier and his fiancée is well known by now. And when Walker died tragically in a car crash November 30, 2013, he had just come from hosting a holiday toy drive for his charity, Reach Out WorldWide, which brings aid to victims of natural disasters.

“Paul wasn’t someone who would just write a check and lend his name to an organization,” an ROWW spokesman stated on Walker’s official Facebook page. “He led one of the first teams into the hardest hit areas of Haiti and traveled to Chile to bring water, medical aid and hope after the earthquake and tsunami. He ran a chainsaw clearing debris and helping people get back into their homes during the hottest days after the tornadoes in Alabama. Some people play a hero, Paul was a hero. Paul was an honorable, hardworking, dedicated, respectful man with a humble spirit who shared his blessings with those who needed it most.”

Raised Mormon, Walker attended a Christian high school in his hometown of Glendale, California. The actor — who called himself an “outdoorsman, ocean addict [and] adrenaline junkie” on his Twitter account — found awe-inspiring evidence of the divine all around him.

“I go surfing and snow boarding and I’m always around nature,” he’s quoted as saying on his IMDB page. “I look at everything and think, ‘Who couldn’t believe there’s a God? Is all this a mistake?’ It just blows me away.”

His simple statement of faith sure echoes my own best reason to believe in a higher power. May Paul Walker rest in peace. He lived a life that appreciated the beauty of creation all around us, and added to that beauty just by being himself. We should all feel inspired to do the same!

 
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The Author : Daniel Robert Watts
Daniel Robert Watts is a writer and web content producer in Los Angeles. He loves writing about where his faith and our pop culture meet.
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