Today, for some reason I don't understand, I've been pondering my parents.
All day they have been traveling with me and I've been trying, as best I can, to pay attention and notice them..
My mother was born on July 11, 1910 and my father on April Fool's Day 1909 (wouldn't you know it!) If they were still alive, my mother would have just turned 103 and my father would be 104. But, of course, they aren't still alive. My mother died when I was 25, the week of my birthday, and my father died years later at 83. Mom was 63 when she died so she was 38 when I was born and my father was 39. They waited quite a while and were surprised, at those ages, to have a baby. People these days wait almost that long to start a family--but in my day, my friends had grandparents almost the age of my parents.
In the culture of the 50's and 60's, I was raised by 'old people'. By contrast, I was 28 and Bern was 25 when our son was born and 31 and 28 when our daughter was born.
What I don't understand is why they are so much with me today. It's no special day--July 20--and no special year that I can think of, and the fact that it is Saturday doesn't cause any memories in me.
It might be that I was at a gathering this morning of 8 folks at what is called The Transfiguration Community. The Transfiguration Community weeks on every third Saturday at Emmanuel Church in Killingworth, one of the three congregations I serve these day, and gladly. The community is recognized by the diocese as an 'intentional community' which means it's not a church but it is Eucharistic and Spiritual and Intentional. Everyone there goes to some Episcopal parish and in active wherever that is, but they are looking for more and Transfiguration gives them more.
They sing a hymn and then have what they call 'intercessions', which in Episcopal-speak would mean "prayers" but what 'intercessions' are instead is just sharing about your life, where you are, what's up for you...stuff you wouldn't tell someone in a bar or on an airplane...important stuff.
I was talking about my two families--the Bradley's and the Jones'. My father's family and my mother's and how different they were. The Bradley family was, for all intents and purposes, 'secular'. None of my uncles or aunts or cousins went to church except for funerals and marriages. My father went to church since my mother came from a family that were Pilgrim Holiness and Nazarene and Church of Christ (not 'Congregational'--much stricter and more fundamentalist) but, to my mind, he never 'bought it' though he did have a story about being 'saved' on top of Peel Chestnut Mountain at dawn when he pulled his dry cleaning truck over to the side of the road and met Jesus.
I never bought it. I thought it was just maternal family pressure. But who knows? Mountaintops, after all figure greatly in the lore of Jews and Christians and Muslims.
My favorite cousin, Mejol, became an Episcopalian in college and profoundly influenced me, so when the chance to try Anglicanism out in college got flopped in front of my by God (Somehow) I leaped at it, never imagining back then at 20 that I'd spend my life as a priest in the church. When I was going off to Harvard Divinity School after college (with no intention of being ordained) my Uncle Harvey, a Nazarene minister, gave me some advice. "Being an Episcopalian is far enough," he told me, "don't let those folks at Harvard turn you into a Unitarian...."
There was always a tension in my little family, though we became Methodists when my mother gave up on the judgementalism of her church toward my father. "Methodism", my father said, "won't hurt anyone very much...." Not a bad recommendation.
The Bradley side of my family drank and smokes and flaunted the narrow ways of the Jones side of my family. That might have been the best way to grow up, seeing both sides and never having to choose between them because they were all--secular liberal and fundamentalist conservative--"family". God love 'em, you can't leave 'em.
So, I ended up in the Middle Way--the Anglican way--secular and liberal enough for the Bradley family and spiritual (in an odd way) enough for the Jones family. But there you go. Push and Pull. Ying and Yang. Right and Left. Not a bad way to end up the way I did....
I'm really glad Virgil and Cleo have seemed so present and alive to me today. It's...it feels good and reminds me of where I came from and how much I loved them (in my own way) and how much they loved me (in their own way)....
Hey, Mom and Dad, been nice being with you so vividly today....Let's do it again soon....okay? (I ask because I suspect you two have something to do with the whole thing....at least that's what I believe....)
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