catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 7 :: 2012.03.30 — 2012.04.12


Filled to capacity

A triptych of gatherings

Morning, St. John’s Lutheran Church

Sometimes, when someone dies, people wax on about how amazing he or she was, and the wax is just a thin coating covering apathy or guilt or obligation.  Sometimes the wax is the words we expect to hear ourselves say.  But sometimes, we have the opportunity to grieve the loss of someone who truly astounded us, and we say so without reservation or duplicity.

On the morning of March 17, I took a back seat in a room full of people who loved Donna in life and sought to celebrate her in death.  As members of the church carted in extra chairs and benches, the abundance of her love and grace became visible.  She had lived and moved in several places throughout her 62 years and in each of them, she rooted herself in land and hearts, on canvas and on wood.  A display of her icons and artwork included an arbor wearing some of the colorful scarves that covered her head when the chemo took her hair, worn not out of shame, but out of a longing to share beauty with others.  Knowing her death was imminent as Christmas approached, she requested a warm weather memorial, so no one would have to brave a Michigan winter to remember her.  “That’s so Donna,” someone mused from the microphone.  As the daffodils bloomed weeks early outside the doorstep of the last place she called home, I couldn’t help but wonder what someone will say was “so Kirstin” some day.


Afternoon, Trinity Episcopal Church

There are some essential elements to such a dreamscape: a long table, a tablecloth, sunshine, a warm breeze, a bunch of food and a crowd of people.  That afternoon, the dream came true.  First, the numbers of people began to multiply like loaves and fishes, and then, thank God, the food did, too.  College students, a couple of touring musicians and a collection of community-minded locals gathered in the church courtyard and bowls of noodles with peanut sauce and all the fixings emptied just as the spring sun was setting, silhouetting the Presbyterian spire on the other side of Main Street.  I don’t normally like the reference to “spiritual food” in the communion liturgy, but something about that phrase made a new kind of sense as we were nourished beyond what we put in our mouths.

Evening, Home

We kept telling ourselves that we’d host a house show in our apartment once we’d finished the trim, but we all know what happens to a dream deferred, don’t we, Mr. Hughes?  And so, when we found out that a musician friend would be passing through, we owned our home’s status as “in progress,” swept up the dust bunnies, borrowed folding chairs from the church and invited fifty people into our home to enjoy the show.  With the windows open wide, the peepers in the wetlands sang backup, while the bats provided the sideshow entertainment.

A funeral, a meal, a concert — it was an extraordinary day in some ways, but let me not be accused of applying a retrospective veneer of transcendence.  In fact, I hope that memory, sharing, abundance, joy, listening, beauty, risk-taking and hospitality will always be working their winding way up through my roots and into the branches of my everyday life.  And perhaps I don’t need these things to be “so me” after all — better for them to be “so us.”

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