25 May 2013

Family Secrets

I cannot deny that there is hurt and suffering around, but I cannot fail to see the very many ways, large and small, that people everywhere reach out in compassion, wisdom and love. 

This past week I attended my uncle's funeral, and as we were in the back of the church waiting for the service to begin, a woman came up to my father and introduced herself, asking if her name rang a bell.  My father didn't hesitate, "Yes, you lived with us in Litchfield for a while.  You wrapped butter at the dairy."  Seems my grandfather, the Baptist minister in town, and my grandmother had welcomed her into their home for about a year when she was 15 and in a tough place.  Here she was, some 60ish years later, at the funeral of my grandfather's son. 

I had never heard about that before.  I tear up just thinking about it. 

There is no monopoly on goodness; there are no privileged agents of compassion.  It is our birthright, as much a part of us as our navels.  We can cover it over.  We can pretend it's not there.  But in the end it can never go away.  It marks us as the beings we are and whispers to us of the deepest reality.

My grandfather set up all kinds of churches in rural Michigan in the advancement of his faith (he started the one my uncle's funeral was held in, no less).  This apple called "me" certainly has fallen quite far afield of that tree in that regard.  But he knew, I hope, as I do now, that of the things that last the greatest is love, the only one that really counts.

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