In passing

So many losses, just so many. So much grief. We ourselves lost two beloved friends this past week, and we talked this morning about those losses and others who went before them over the past six months or so. That feeling of wanting them to be there, and knowing they aren’t and never will be again. Of course they’ll always be present in a way, as we carry them in memory, but we want to hear their laughter again, feel their embrace, be uplifted by their wise words and gentle spirits. And that won’t happen again in this world.

And so we cling more tightly to our memories, to each other, and to friends who are still with us. In each case the ones we’ve lost have taught me things about what it means to live a good and meaningful life: how to love, how to care, how to teach, how to be present in ways that break into the loneliness that’s there to some degree for all of us. Perhaps that’s the root of the phrase, “May her memory be for a blessing.” We re-create our late friends for ourselves by becoming a little more like them as we go on. 

One of the most frustrating things for me in these past difficult times is the feeling that my life has been put on hold, but of course life doesn’t stop for those of us who aren’t dead. The life we’re living now is our own real and true life, and as a dear friend now gone liked to say, quoting Paula D’Arcy, “God comes to you disguised as your life.”

And so we go on, rising on our good days to the challenge of living, really living. I’m in the process of preparing to facilitate a Zoom discussion that will include talking about Howard Thurman’s “Jesus and the Disinherited” – a book that impresses me more and more the longer I sit with it – and I came across this Thurman quote:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”