presents of mind

Whenever I drive into town via Main Street, there he is sitting always on the same public bench. His wizened body swaddled in baggy trousers and a shirt as large as a tent, and long-sleeved, no matter the heat. By turns, he is calm, perfectly still, his arms folded across his chest, then agitated, flinching, fidgeting, running his hands through his silver mane. Oft I’ve wondered. Who are you? Why are you there? What are you doing?

He always catches my attention and, now, my imagination…

During last night’s waning moments (or was it in the small hours of this morning?), I dreamed about him, which really means, I think, that my unconscious had welcomed him, embraced him as a symbol of something both reflective and restless living (looming? lurking?) within me.

Having spent this day deep in reverie, I believe I know what that something is…

As of late, in the course of my nearly daily contemplation of aging and mortality, across my mind’s screen, I’ve beheld kaleidoscopic images of the faces of people I’ve known or, having lost touch (for a variety of reasons, uncontrollable circumstance and acts of commission and omission, some mutual, some not) people I used to know. Depending on the memory, when our last meeting and parting was pleasant, I am calmed by a spirit of serenity and when not, my soul is o’ershadowed by twin specters of discontent and lament that painfully afresh reveal, expose my flaws, my failings to have been the person I long wish I already was.

Either way, even, perhaps especially the latter, I accept these images as presents, gifts of my mind, which, when opened, compel me to remember, to reflect, and to repent. In this last, perhaps I, one day, before I die, will draw closer, will be closer to the image of God I’d like to see in me.

yesterday i forgot to remember death

On March 20, 2015, I posted the following…

WRA 1976

Wayne Roberts Abernathy died on this date in 1995. The years have not, cannot dim my memory of the enormity of his talent as a pianist and an organist and, even more, the merry music of life he created for countless folk through his generosity of spirit in his kindly care, his authentic love, his unassailable optimism, and his titanic sense of humor.

Yesterday, March 20, 2016, my dear friend and a dear friend of many, Louie Clay, a great soul, a grand incarnation of love-and-justice activism, and a gracious embodiment of personal and institutional memory, re-posted my post, to which I wrote in response…

My dearest brother Louie, you are generously kind to recall my fond remembrance of my beloved brother Wayne. As I’ve oft said, in his death, one of my great regrets is that many I have met along my life’s journey have not and will never meet Wayne who, on my best day, far surpassed any fair measure of my humankindness.

Funny, not humorously, but rather ironically, yesterday I forgot to remember the anniversary of my brother’s death. I was and am grateful for Louie’s caring commemoration.

Still, I was saddened, verily grieved by my lack of recollection. I wondered. Was my memory of Wayne beginning to lessen? Had he begun to recede and, worse, had he already receded without my conscious awareness into the shadows of my active reminiscence, thus, metaphorically, but no less truly dying once more?

I shared my woe with my wife, Pontheolla, one of the sagest people I know. She listened with care, then shared how she mourned for her father Leo and her grandmother Mazarine, remembering for years the dates of their deaths. Now, she readily does not reflect annually on those times of her first sorrowing. Rather she remembers, never failing to forget their birthdays; those moments when they first entered time and space, those moments, which, having occurred, granted her the blessing of having known them. I drew immediate solace and strength from her wisdom.