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A Seemingly Mundane Day, But Not So After all
The joy of our 'here-and-now'
Note: This reflection of mine popped up on my Facebook memory this morning. I had posted it six years ago (Sept. 9, 2017). As I had then, I spent the first part of this Saturday delivering newspapers, came home and mowed the lawn, and listened to the MSU football game on the radio—only the Spartans’ opponent on this afternoon was Richmond. I did not do all of the walking and exercising as I had then, a concession if you will to the advancing years, but I haven’t yet napped. Also, like then, among the news of the day is a threatening hurricane. I’ll likely listen to some music later this evening, either folk music or jazz, or maybe both. Keith Liverance, mentioned in this article, died in October of 2011 at the age of 69, a few years prior to my having written the post. However, Pastor Tarpley, also mentioned, passed away a couple of years ago. Both of them were wonderful gentlemen. While the essay has some dated references, I believe its overarching message remains relevant.
So here it is:
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If you care, it started out as a normal Saturday for me. A mundane day.
I had my coffee and then delivered newspapers—a task that took me to mid-day. Then I stopped off at the office, checked phone messages and emails, and headed home. I proceeded to mow the lawn, eat a modest lunch, and—since I'd gotten up quite early—indulged in a nap.
I'd still be sleeping, but my darling companion, Dawn, called me on my cell phone concerning a check we'd received and where to credit it. She was doing her normal, i.e. mundane Saturday routine.
Awakened, and it being still early in the afternoon, I decided to head to the nearby football field with its encircling asphalt track of a quarter-mile, and do a bit of walking. I started out with a goal of four circles, or a mile, but a young lady appeared and jogged a few laps during my initial effort. Not wishing to quit too early when faced with such fine example, I went ahead and did my usual eight laps—or two miles—and finished off with a flourish by doing 40 push-ups leaning against the fence.
I returned home, went to my home office and browsed the news of the day—most of it about the Hurricane Irma that was approaching Florida.
I then took my portable radio (also a CD player) and went to our side yard and listened to the Michigan State versus Western Michigan football game. This was a new wrinkle in the recent normal Saturday routine since it had been nearly a year since I listened to a Spartan football game on the radio while sitting out-of-doors.
I love hearing George Balha do the MSU football play-by-play, preferring his verbal description of the action to watching it on TV.
At halftime, not having any interest in the halftime show, I decided to listen to a CD that was in the radio/CD player. It was an album of gospel songs sung by Reba McIntire that I'd bought for Dawn.
Sipping on a beer as Reba sang these standards, my thoughts drifted to the dearly departed. Religion, for me, is most significant in that equilibrium between "we" survivors contemplating the loss of loved ones and the finality of death—and, as part of that contemplation, searching for a means of consoling ourselves and going on with the seemingly mundane minutia of life and living.
Hearing the songs as I stared off into the western sky and the setting sun, I recalled being a pallbearer for my great aunt, Thelma Finlan. After the funeral mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Fowlerville, I ended up riding with the funeral director Keith Liverance in the hearse. The rest of the pallbearers, along with my Finlan cousins, Ann & Jon (the immediate family), were in the trailing vehicles.
As is the tradition at St. Agnes, as we were leaving, the bell began to toll. Moved by the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, I interrupted the conversation we were having and recited the famous line from John Donne, "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."
Keith, having seen his share of funerals and dealt with family grief—as opposed to poetic sentiments—ignored my indiscretion and continued with our talk.
Thinking about that moment these many years later, I understood that such seeming "mundane" chit chat is the means (for most of us) of dealing with our loss, and our grief.
I also remembered the funeral of my step-father—known to his grandchildren as Grandpa Bob. We'd remembered him, along other highlights, for his bringing pies to our family gatherings, including the time he unknowingly showed up with a pumpkin pie that was still frozen as opposed to being pre-cooked. The poor man never got to live that miscue down, even at his funeral.
The pastor, having heard these "pie" stories, consoled us by suggesting that Bob was in Heaven carrying his pies.
A nice sentiment.
In our dealing with life and death, many of us wish to believe that the hereafter will be a continuation of this life on earth. We have faith this will be so, still none of us knows for sure what awaits—or doesn't await.
But then, in that moment of hesitation and doubt, I heard reassuring words in one of Reba's songs "Hallelujah, Amen". . .a testament to the joy of our ‘here-and-now.’
For the times we get
For the chance we don't
From the very first breath
Till it's carved in stone
Hallelujah for the heartache
Hallelujah for the good days
Hallelujah for every breath we get
So, even in what seems to be a mundane day, in a seeming insignificant sequence of life and living, there is cause for thankfulness— "Hallelujah, Amen" for the insight and reassurance than comes when least expected.
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Steve Horton is a mid-Michigan journalist and editor-publisher of the Fowlerville News & Views—a weekly newspaper.