Thursday, December 15, 2011

walking with ghosts

I haven't blogged for a long time, I know. My fingers have failed me. A Thanksgiving accident resulted in 13 stitches in my right index finger and now, almost a month later, I'm still wearing a sleeve on it and it's full of fluid. Alas, for me.

Walking the old Farmington Canal with my dog has me walking with ghosts.

They are Arlene, Gary, Tim, Jack, Shirley and Jennifer. We walk by 6 benches each day and each is a memorial to one of the ones above. So, as we walk, we walk with them.

Each bench has a plaque to the person it is a memorial for and the inscriptions go from the sublime to the banal to bad theology.

Arlene was a Lion Club member and her bench was given by the Lions and acknowledges her commitment to the club. Fine enough.

Gary was a Chief of Police and probably lots of people contributed to his memorial bench. It quotes the great song by saying, "he helped a lot of people but the good they die young". He wasn't Abraham, Martin or John, but he was, for all I've heard, a good man who dropped dead of a heart attack in his early 50's.

Tim was only 20 or so and his bench reminds those who pass that he was 'an angel to us all'. And, for all I know, he was.

Jack's bench is next and I can't even remember what it says about him: something about a good son, father, husband friend. I just imagine that was true.

Shirley's is my favorite. It must have been given by her friends--she was an older woman and undoubtedly walked the canal with friends because it says, at the end, "she still walks with us...." Lovely, I think.

Jennifer's is the last on our walk. She was just short of 11 when she dies. This is the 'bad theology' bench though I think of her and hold her in my heart most of all. Such a tragic age to die. No longer a child and not even an adolescent. Jennifer walks with me, holding my hand once in a while, skipping ahead, running full speed for a bit, staring at the ducks and wishing she had something to feed them.

Her plaque says, I remember every word, "God broke our heart to show us He only takes the best."

Christ on a bike, follow that theology to it's conclusion and try to face the morning....!

The good die young is bad enough, since it isn't true. But living with a God that takes 'the best' and breaks our heart....I can't abide it.

Which is why I want to walk with Jennifer most of let her know that I think her death was tragic, unspeakable, awful, unfair and that God didn't take her to break her parents' hearts, she just died, tragically, unfairly and God loved her, not because God 'took her' but because she lived. And that God's heart broke that she died before she could grow up and learn and grow and fuck up and grow from that and be who she might have been....had children, been a grandmother, voted, had a drink, changed the world, mourned and gloried....Stuff like that.

The Puli seems to see these people as we pass. He stops at every bench and sniffs them, but never pees on them. Just checking in on Arlene, Gary, Tim, Jack, Shirley and Jennifer as we walk with them.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.