We were sent our ashes in the mail, in a tiny plastic pouch that we were instructed to snip open. I didn’t open mine, and I didn’t put them on my forehead.
That’s me. And I have a few years left before I can clear out for good.
I was friends with a church that died. How loving that tiny congregation was, that last crew of a dozen people in all. I went to their final service. They’d sent announcements to their complete mailing list; suddenly, their sanctuary was packed. The deconsecration service was almost unbearable.
But you know, even then, even as an outsider, I felt, and I heard, the weight of habit and burned-in obsessions. “That stained glass window should never have been put there,” said a member of the family that donated it. “Too low on the wall. Hard to see. Too much going on around it.”
When was the window donated? Fifty years earlier, at least. That family had long since slipped away, but they came back at the last, to complain once again.
When do you decide to slip away?
At my job, I’m trying to keep my enthusiasm up. My company offered me the role, after all; I accepted; they pay me. A simple arrangement. I still like it when I have the resources to work to a high standard, but that doesn’t happen very often. I used to be able to bear the frustrations because I anticipated new tools, new techniques, new opportunities for improvement. Now, with a short horizon, there is not much to look forward to, so there is little to temper the frustrations.
I don’t know if I can keep going to my church, as it becomes more and more obsessed with perfection. Will we still be good to each other when we come back together? Will we be able to relinquish the millisecond, microtone control that digital tools give us, and remember how to love untrained voices, mumbling readers, missed notes? We must. We must.
I don’t know what I’ll do with my thimbleful of ashes. I guess I will put them in the compost heap. It is full of life.
February 18, 2021 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths