Today, on the Rev Gal Blog Pals site, Deb turned my head to the summer now coming to a close. She asked readers to post a picture of a favorite memory from the summer that is speeding to fall.
One picture? One memory? From a summer that had a Daphne Du Maurier hue to it? Not possible.
This summer ends as it began–in Minnesota. My home state. I find myself drawn there. Coming home becomes more and more important each year. I think it has something to do with connecting the dots of a life–in this case, my own. Again and again, I return to the places I loved as a child:
Minnehaha Falls the water gushing its way to the Mississippi.
Rootbeer Falls, or so I named them, and the rock on which I sit each time I return to the place on the North Shore of Lake Superior that restores my soul. (Thanks to the I-Phone I can go there any time my heart desires or my soul demands–I just play the movie and I’m at peace!)
Downtown Minneapolis–the place St. Paulites go when they need to get that big city feel. I’m looking at this view this very moment as I prepare for the Class of 66’s 66th birthday bash. You might call it a class reunion. Having never been to one, I’m just a bit apprehensive. No time left to grow my nails. A manicure seems pointless now. And that little bulge around my belly. It’s not going to disappear with a few laps in the pool. Too late for that.
My focus shifts to the people on the list of attendees. People I haven’t seen since June 6, 1966. I’m reminded of the many kindnesses they showed. Kindnesses I missed in my adolescent self-obsession. I wonder, now, about their lives. The secret hurts they nursed. The gifts unrecognized by by me and maybe others too yet by now tapped and developed. Two thoughts swirl in my head. Mary Gray-Reeves, the Episcopal bishop of El Camino Real once talked about approaching each person, each encounter with a sense of wonder. A way to shift the focus.
Recently, I ran across something Simone Weil once wrote describing her time spent working in an automobile plant: “What I went through there marked me in so lasting a manner that still today when any human being, whoever he may be and in whatever circumstances, speaks to me without brutality, I cannot help having the impression that there must be some mistake….”
The thought of growing accustomed to a life marked by brutality saddens me so. And yet, as I think about all the mothers who raise their African-American sons with fear and dread that one day they too will encounter an armed white man ready to shoot and kill, I realize that brutality is a part of many people’s lives. Brutality marked by violence and brutality marked by indifference.
I can imagine that many of my classmates, many of the people I’ll see this weekend, have encountered brutality at one point or another in their lives. Perhaps Mary Gray-Reeves’ formula requires an adaption. Perhaps we all would appreciate a touch of tenderness in the encounters of our lives.