“Beautifully Banal”*


[“Felled,” Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, KY]

Every year just before Halloween all the students in my (Unitarian) Sunday School class would each be handed a half-pint-sized orange carton and earnestly urged to collect money for UNICEF. And I always did (I took the offered candy, too), spurred on by my Sunday School teachers and my parents but most tellingly, by a UNICEF promotional movie. Sixty-five or so years later, I remember the dark-skinned, hollow-eyed, big-bellied children on the screen as a sonorous voice explained, “In the time you count to ten, someone in the world will have died of”—What? I no longer remember. Malaria, perhaps. I’m not sure. I am sure that sometimes on the bus on the way to my piano lesson or just before falling asleep, at times when quiet and alone, I silently counted to ten and, as I have come to say, held the unknown, unseen, out-there-somewhere person who had just died “in the Light”: a frisson, a self-induced horror; a moment.

People die. We all die. I’ve understood this since I was five. (As I write this, someone in India dies from horrific heat.) And yet on Friday sitting beside the nursing home bed of a dear friend who’s ready to die, I wanted to jump up and scream: “Hey, you! Yeah, you! You In the next room having such a great time playing Bingo. Do you understand? ATTENTION MUST BE PAID! Yes, [my friend’s] lived a long and rich and fulfilling life. Yes, she’s ready. But how ’bout some reverence, huh?

“Or how ’bout you two? Yeah, you! Standing on the other side of this cloth divider? Think you could whisper as you change that woman’s bandage? Would that be possible?”

I didn’t, of course. For my friend was deeply, profoundly asleep; the two nurses companionably working inches away and the delighted shrieks and outbursts from the next room and, yes, my fretting presence, were of as much concern to her as the discarded Kleenex under her bed.

So I sat and contemplated, I practiced as best I could both Letting Go Of It All and the Intensely and Reverently Holding On/Cherishing It All, this beautifully banal thing called Life, yes, even that shadowed Kleenex—but especially, of course, the life, the soul, The Light of the amazing woman, “my spiritual mother,” whose breath slowly and rhythmically raised and lowered her blue-print hospital johnny.

“Trust the process,” she instructed me.


* James Wood’s perfect words, not mine.



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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, my so,so very dearly special and precious white sisterfriend who you are For Always so, so very much, Patricia!!!!! I love this beautiful, touching, and moving blog post article of yours, sister!!!!!! My friend, I loved reading about your so, so very dearest and darling magnificently spiritual friend who is your spiritual mother! She sounds like an absolutely fantastic person! I pray for this dear woman as she is passing on and making her way in her graduation to our Heaven, and I pray for you, sister, and for all of her other loved ones, friends, and family to have comfort and solace as she passes on.

    Sister, I love how our Good God lets everything work out as the final say, with all of the loose ends and the loose threads, all of our unanswered questions answered by our Good God once we get to our Heaven, all of our confusion and discomfort quieted by our so, so very Dear, Precious, Loving, and Kind Sweet Spirit!!!!! I know that everything will very much indeed work out for each and every one of us finally some day and that our Great and For Always Forever Good, Sweet, Loving, Kind, and For Always Powerful Good God Spirit will For Always come through for each and every one of us and to be there for all of us! We can with complete faith and confidence “trust the process.” These words are just so true, right on, on point, very relevant and applicable. It can very much indeed difficult to trust the process, Patricia, but we can persevere and very much indeed have faith and keep the faith in Faith and to trust the process, my precious white sister! My white sisterfriend, I thank-you so, so very much straight from my very heart from the bottom of my heart from the deepest depths of my very heart for this grand blessing and a gift of this very insightful and inspirational blog post article, Patricia!!!!!!!

    Patricia, please have a totally terrific and a thrilling Tuesday, a wondrously wonderful week ahead, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed, my special white friend and sister and white anti-racist ally and advocate in your empowering allyship and activism in solidarity who you are For Always so,so very much, sister!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my wondrously wonderful white sisterfriend, Patricia, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my white friend and anti-racist ally, and Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always,

    Your Christian lesbian black sisterfriend For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

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