Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Day in the Life...

3:30 am - Is 3:30 still late at night?  Or early in the morning?  I swat at the little alarm by my bed and stumble into the cold shower.  In fifteen minutes, I'm on the road with our 15 year old daughter, on the way to the San Francisco airport.  She's got the iPod going; I'm watching the lights float by, and the road crew on 17 working the night shift.  Claire's on an adventure today, flying alone across country to Providence, Rhode Island.  A week of astronomy for teens at Brown University.  I stand behind a glass wall watching her navigate security by herself.  Foreshadowing the future.  Letting kids go.

7:00 am - Back in bed.  What do I have?  90 minutes, no 95.  The dog's been sleeping on my side in my absence.  It's warm, warm, soft, soft.  OK, 100 minutes.

10 am - Hosting a memorial service at church.  Giving thanks for a long, rich, complicated life.  Jim lived 89 years, worked on the Manhattan Project, engineered for oil companies, raised three amazingly thoughtful children, loved his wife.  During the service, stories come easily, from so many corners, chapters of his life.  It's sad to say goodbye, but right to weep, honest.

12 pm - Face to face with the monitor on my desk, working out a homily for a wedding at 2.  Claire's plane is somewhere over New York state.  The Klotz family's greeting friends and family upstairs.  From funeral to wedding, death to life again.  The text for this afternoon is simple and it's not.  "I call you friends," Jesus says.  "I commission you."

2 pm - Never done this before.  I'm standing at the head of a long aisle.  Holy Cross Catholic Church downtown. Two delightful priests follow.  I've been asked to process the Gospel.  Process the Gospel.  OK, I can do that.  What does it mean: process the Gospel?  Hold it high, says the nun in charge.  Walk slowly.  Process it.  Invited to co-celebrate the wedding of two dear friends, I'm overwhelmed by the beauty of it all, and by the fairly rare privilege of leading worship with Catholic priests.  On 'their' turf.  Music is lovely.  The bride and groom are radiant.  (I process the Gospel without tripping and dropping it.)

4 pm - A lovely, rustic cemetery and a simple burial of Jim's ashes.  The family lingers, more stories, a long-distance phone call bringing in grandkids from France; slowly, thoughtfully, they lay flowers on the covering.  Remembering.  Remembering.  Holding life and years and family in tenderness.  Dust to dust.  Earth to earth.  In the image of God.

Stepping around the grave site, I find a family of stones: JONES.  I gently toe the leaves off the graves.  There's a Mary Ellen Jones.  And, then, a David Jones.  My name, given at birth.  David Jones: born 1859, died 1938.  It's odd, seeing these words, years, hidden, then no longer in an old cemetery.  It's been a long day, a good, good day.  Easy to be mystical now.  But I feel a kinship with this Jones, with his resting, with others who rest there with him.  With Jim Klotz and Ruth.  With the Klotz family - in Santa Cruz, and in France, and around the world.  And I feel a kinship with Vlada and Dan and little Emily and with Father Joe and Father Mike and Catholic friends at Holy Cross.  I'm standing at a grave, somebody named Jones, and I feel kinship and gratitude.  Kinship and gratitude.

5 pm - Back to the church now for the wedding reception.  Russian folk dance.  Lady Gaga for others.  Russian blessings.  Families coming together.  Holding the past gently, letting some of it go, receiving the future as gift.  As grace.  As blessing. 

9 pm - You who draw the circles of my life, the circles of all life and every life: I return to you this day, this day of remembering and mourning, this day of wedding and loving, this day of new liturgies and old people, this day of light and dark.  I thank you, praise you, for the privileges in my life: a safe place to sleep and eat, a family that's well for now, work that fills my days with meaning and purpose.  You call me friend.  I hear you.  And I am grateful.  Amen.