Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bodies in Motion and at Rest

I have been reading a book of thoughtful, graceful and insightful essays by Thoimas Lynch who is also a poet. It is called BODIES IN MOTION AND AT REST and the subtitle is "On Metaphor and Mortality". Mr. Lynch lives in a small town in Michigan and earns his living, not as an academic, but in the family business. He is a funeral director. It gives him a perspective on life and death that is straightforward but respectful and very human and humane. I strongly recommeend this book.

I have not finished the book but I felt like writing about it just now after opening two emails. One tells me of the memorial services for a woman who I went to school with for 12 years [actually 16 but the last four in college I did not see her]. She disappeared from the lives of all her class and was living in Florida when she died last week. Most of us knew almost nothing about what happened to her; she cut off all communications with people she knew in her younger years. I remember her as a lively first and second grader who was one of my first school friends. As time went on we each had other best friends and, in fact, I did not know her very well; but took her presence for granted. She was a part of school life. Later many years passed when I didn't think of her once. I'm sure she didn't think of me in all those years either. And yet, it is sad to hear of her death. Every passing of someone from our youngest memories is a memento mori.

The second email was from a co-worker who passed on an email for another past co-worker telling us that yet a third ex-co-worker had died. This woman was my age. We shared several interests but were office friends. We did not socialize or visit one another and did not keep in touch when she took a job elsewhere. Still, being another contemporary, this too is a memento mori. It can happen ... yes, indeed. I've nearly always had this awareness because I attended funerals as a child, I was not shielded from the universality of death. But there is sadness that somehow my world has been eroded away a little bit.
However, reading Thomas Lynch is a very settling experience. As you see in the picture, he LOOKs like a small town undertaker ... but he doesn't write like your local undertaker -- he's far more thoughtful and skilled. I don't know why I began reading this book. I found it as a bargain and liked the blurbs on the back. I do find that often there is an aptness or synchronicity in the things that come into my life. This is superstition, really, but it provides a peaceful feeling of being somehow centered. Yes, I know it's superstition, we'll leave it at that.

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