Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weddings; Facebook; Crossing Threads (A Eulogy)

My brother got married this weekend. Lots of Pomp, lots of Circumstance, lots of great food. The caterers made this herb dip to put on crackers, cream cheese and all types of dill, parsley, probably rosemary... amazing stuff. As for the wedding itself... it's like finishing a hand-knitted sweater. You know, the ones that your mother put on you to play out in the snow, the one's that remind you of Christmas, fireplaces, good food, relatives. And there's a reason for that. It's in the threads itself. The metaphor is as old as weaving itself, from the ancient Greeks' Fates to modern day quantum physics, we could each count ourselves as an individual thread, created and tied to our parents, our loved ones, and then split off to join other threads in this grand sweater. Think of each point in time that we live and then join them together in the cosmos of space-time. It becomes a line of moments, beginning and ending in this great jumbled up mess of a universe.

The threads run parallel, at all angles, and intersect, all in different directions. For some, we hope that we never see that thread again, and in others, the thought of a thread being torn away is heartbreaking. There's nothing we can do about some of it, with chance, or the hand of God maneuvering the threads of our lives hither. It's the merging of those threads together to make a stronger fabric, that is what a marriage ceremony is all about. A bed sheet with a high thread count is much more sturdy than a cheaper one, where holes can easily appear with a careless use of scissors. It is best to have a high thread count in our lives, no matter what you might ask of me in person.

So the wedding is a celebration of the merging of two threads. May they never depart from one another. Weddings are a thread attractor, pulling, charging the ions of threads to come together and intersect. It's this point that most weddings are sorely missing together. We have such little time in today's life to travel, to communicate with our friends and family, and so when those chances arise, let us take advantage of them. The days before and after a wedding should be filled with the get-togethers of friends that have not seen each other in years, family chats on front porches or kitchens like in times past. Let us not join threads for an instant, only to go off in our own directions, alone. We should linger, remembering, bringing the experiences of our lives together. It's the only way we'll learn. Let's make a wedding a week long experience, a celebration of our lives to that point, a re-dedication to friendships, loved ones. Let's not put off that phone call, that letter, that drive to the next town to see an old friend. Let's make the fabric of our lives strong, so that can never be ripped asunder.

 How do you find a thread in this busy world? So many people going about their lives without knowing what's going on. I've heard that sites like Facebook and Twitter are simply a waste of time, keeping people apart even while promising more communication. And while it would better to talk to people face to face, sometimes when you only have a few minutes, checking up on people's lives online is easier. It's the magic of Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is declining because people just post silly pictures of cats and messages now, instead of using as an instrument of communication. And when a thread is cut, Facebook (especially with the new Timeline idea, which I love.) becomes a portrait of someone's life. A virtual biography that will last as long as the Internet (or at least Facebook) does. They become those crosses on the side of the road, a plaque next to a statue. May they stay there for many generations.

A customer came up to me in Lifeway a few weeks ago and bought some devotionals, and I instantly recognized her. Many years ago, when my stepdad drove an ice cream truck, I went with him from time to time. On one of the stops, a mother would come out with her young son and buy ice cream, and she and my stepdad would talk about life and such. It made riding in an un-airconditioned truck worth it, to bring happiness to those in the community. The son's name was Eli Simpson. And so Mrs. Simpson would come up with Eli to the grocery store where I worked and buy groceries. I went over to their house one day to invite them to a new year's eve celebration at our church, and when I went into the kitchen, I found that Mrs. Simpson had saved all of the Snapple Elements bottles and put colored water in them. I have those same bottles on the top of a bookshelf in my room. I always remember that we had the same collection going. At the celebration at the skating rink, Eli was skating and fell, hitting his head on the side of the rink. Made a nasty gash on his head, and he had to go to the hospital and get some stitches. Don't think I ever saw them again after that, as I went off to college and then to the bookstores...etc...

So, back to Lifeway, I asked her how Eli was doing. She told me that he had killed himself about a year before. Shocked, I didn't know what to say. She said she wished we could go back to those days of innocence next to the ice cream truck. It saddened me, to think that someone that young and full of life was suddenly gone. So I tried to find what happened, some record of it. There was no obit. in the Rockdale Citizen, only a record of mischief in a police blotter. I finally found a record of his death in the funeral homes records online. I did find his Myspace page, with little activity past about a year ago.

I don't know what happened to him. Why his thread was cut short. I don't know how he grew up or what his life was like past getting ice cream. What is on Myspace is normal teenage banter, so there's nothing to learn from. Further, there is no record on there of his passing. So, as a eulogy for him, I leave this blog post with metatags so that anyone that searches for his name will find it, and they can leave memories of his life. For parents out there, never let your child's "thread" get too far from your own, and hug them and let them know they are loved. I know that Mrs. Simpson loved her son very much, no matter what trouble he got into. All this for a thread that only crossed mine a couple of times, but it is worth it. Those are the memories that make up our lives, that make creation whole. Let us remember them.

I leave this with a linked song from Spotify, since I cannot find it on Youtube. It is Stan Rogers' song "Delivery Delayed," sung by Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary. It suggests that, even when we are born, our lives have many births, whether religious or otherwise. In this song, we grow up, grow apart, and only are "delivered" when we reach out for the love of our parents, only to find it had always been there. A very powerful song, and fitting for this Eulogy.

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