Thursday, May 21, 2009

Note to self after a week of sorting and packing

Remember this useful motto when moving a household: "Of COURSE we don't need to keep this ______."

Down with clutter! Go away quietly now, you unused kitchenwares, wedding gifts, Christmas trees, baseball bats, college notebooks, record albums whose covers were chewed by at least one dog!

Monday, May 18, 2009

It wasn't just coffee

Graduation weekend is over at the University of Iowa. One of the students from the highly competitive Iowa Writers' Workshop who spent Sundays at our parish during the past two years wanted to meet for coffee before she left town.

Before we finished our coffee, she handed me a gift: her MFA thesis, in which she ends her acknowledgement page by thanking me for support during her time in the rigorous program. I've received thank-you notes from students and always felt very grateful for them. Today, though, was a first. It's humbling. And I've been handed a gift of words!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Take my hand

Our longtime friend, Helen, died last week. I've been thinking about the hours I was able to spent with her in the hospital.

Helen was hungry, but unable to receive food. She took my hand and, even through her oxygen mask, made eating motions, alternating trying to chew and swallow my hand with attempting to chew the bedsheet. She told me that there were 5 musicians in the room, singing and playing instruments. Later she said there were 25 more musicians outside her window, all there for her party. After a while she stopped "eating" and moved my hand as if to suggest I were conducting the gathered musicians.

For Helen's friends, those last days were difficult and very sad. But I think that Helen was content: she thought she was eating, hospice allowed her cats into the room, and there were a whole lot of musicians at her party.

May Helen's soul, and the souls of all those whom we have loved and lost, rest in God's peace surrounded by a choir of angels.