Monday, April 13, 2009

someone planted pansies

Someone planted pansies on the spot in the Close of St. John's where Jane's ashes are (I'm changing the names in all this, ok?)

Jane's ashes are just outside the remarkable and irreplaceable Tiffany window of the Presentation in the Temple of the 8 day old Jesus by Mary and Joseph. They are there and not over on the East side of the Close where many, many ashes are interred because the first time Jane and Robert came to church, we went outside after the service to inter the ashes of a 103 year old member who had asked me to bury them beneath one of the Tiffany Angelic Chorus windows. She had been a pianist and one of the angels in that window is playing a keyboard of some kind--esoteric and holy at least. When Jane witnessed that, she took me aside and made me promise to bury her under the Presentation window. I agreed, thinking I'd never have that difficult and painful honor since she was a decade or so younger than me.

Jane and Robert became faithful members of the parish and married there about a year and a month after they started coming. Jane had a troubled early marriage with a wonderful daughter out of the deal and Robert had never married. Their service was glorious. Jane's daughter presented her to be married. I'm not sure I've ever seen two people so happy at their wedding. It was a 'new lease' for Jane and an 'unexpected gift' for Robert. Everyone there was smitten with the love they could not help but show. What could be better?

On their honeymoon, Jane drowned in a freak accident and my promise was brought home to me. Her family wanted a service as soon as possible and we celebrated the Burial Office and the Eucharist with her ashes. Then Robert took them away. He kept them in their apartment where they never really got to live for months. He drove around with them in the passenger seat. He dwelled with them for a long time and finally came to the church with the box in his hand and told me he was ready.

We did it on a Sunday, right after Mass, just the way she wanted.

Robert fell apart for several years. He was in and out of the church--looking confused and hurt and vulnerable. He lost his job, his home, lived rough for a while.

Then yesterday, on Easter, he showed up dressed to the nine's and smiling. We were out in the Close because he caught me smoking a cigarette between services. It was then we noticed that someone had planted pansies on Mary's spot.

We knew it was someone from her family who hadn't even asked if they could do that. But not asking made it sweeter somehow. We shared a few moments of face aching smiles and some damp eyes. He finally seems alright and could let Jane rest. And could enjoy the pansies.

They are beautiful and just in time for Spring.

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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.