vendredi, mai 03, 2013

Fountain of Sorrow

When I moved out to this semi-rural area about nine years ago, I was spurred in part by the wish to experience small town life.

Having grown up in a large city, and gone to grad school in an Ivy League New Jersey town, I had a rather romantic view of life out here just beyond the Western suburbs.

In our own way, we are a community.  I meet my neighbors waiting for the bus, walking around the track at the elementary school, clambering up and down the hill that I walk almost every day, and now and then for dinner.

Many of us moved out here to avoid too much intimacy with neighbors. But when a gentleman who lives on the private road behind me said "we're here if you need us" -- I believed him, even though it was the first time I'd seen him in around three years.

We are bound, for better and in taxes, by the Downingtown School District, our churches, and our neighborhoods.

All in all, it's been a difficult month.

In April, some dear friends lost a child in a bizarre accident in New York City.  She was more than a contender -- she was a future star. But more than that, she was,  from what people say, a deeply lovable and happy young woman.

This was stunning. And imagine how her parents, both of whom have deep roots in this area, feel as they try to understand and grieve her death with their families and friends.

This past week the former pastor at St. Joe's in Downingtown, who became Bishop McFadden in the diocese of Harrisburg, died suddenly while at a conference in Philadelphia.

This weekend, members of that congregation ( where the young woman's service occurred) will grieve his passing.

Tonight, my cell phone voicemail had a message from the principal at Downingtown West.  Today the school lost one of its English teachers to cancer.

Dr. Mulvey, the principal, called her "one of the most dedicated teachers I know."

My daughter, who can talk the ears off a brass monkey, might never have done a stitch of work in this teacher's academic detention (yes, she took those clowns as well as teaching English) class.  But she really, really loved this woman.

I asked her tonight, as I walked down the street, if she wanted to attend the service.

Yes, she told me -- we were both sniffling.

Another funeral.  Another gathering of the Downingtown school district clan, red-eyed and overwhelmed.

Too much! Too much! I said to myself as I walked down the hill past my friends street on my way to the Farm trails.

Too damn much.

But that's what part of being in a community is all about -- trusting that, as we are brought together by grief, so we are also able to join in times of celebration.

All I could do was pray for my neighbors, joining my sadness to theirs, hoping that in some tiny way our prayers would strengthen those who mourn to bear the gravity of this moment -- and of every moment yet to come.

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