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Lenten Poems - 2007
This year's retreat topic was "Death: The Lighter Side," led by Barbara Crafton. Barbara "is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director and author. She was rector of St. Clement's Church in Manhattan's Theatre district. She was also a chaplain on the waterfront of New York, and served both historic Trinity Church, Wall Street and St. John's Church in Greenwich Village. She was a chaplain at Ground Zero during the recovery effort after the WTC bombing." --from her web site at www.geraniumfarm.org
Barbara writes "[Death,] we won't talk about it. Won't even think about it. Won't make a will and won't talk to an insurance agent. Won't even write down what hymns we want --all as if we were afraid we'd bring it on simply by bringing it up. ...But let's talk about death, and let's have fun doing it. After all, isn't it true that the gifts someone has given you in life become much more evident after the person has died? Isn't it true that you sometimes have a sense of the ongoing presence of your beloved, even now? Doesn't there come a time when the memory of the one you love brings you a smile, rather than a fresh avalanche of tears? ...And wouldn't you like to be that person? How do we 'handle' our losses, and how do we approach our own inevitable departure from this world we love so dearly?"
I believe Betsy Adams, a former fellow warden at St. Francis Church, said that Barbara is "a prophet among us." I think that is right and good. When Barbara's voice rises with the passion of which she speaks, I imagine this was voice of Isaiah or John crying in the wilderness. I think it takes a prophetic voice to speak the truth about death in our post-modern era. While we hear so much of death in the nightly news, it is so often a continent away, so often not here. Even the losses we have all experienced are not our death. Barbara spoke about the denial of death, especially among my generation of "baby boomers" who are instilled with such a sense of competition, faith in our ability to fix anything, and a need to win, so that even death can be conquered, or at least held indefinitely at bay. I'm reminded of this in the line from the opening song to the old TV show, Fame: "I'm gonna live forever!" There comes a time when we realize we will not be here forever, that the years we've lived will not equal the years we have remaining.
For an overview of the retreat and the Trinity Conference Center, click here. For a collection of quotes from the meditations, click here. If you have quotes to add from your notes, please email them to me and I will include them.
I hope you enjoy the poems. If you have thoughts or questions, please send me a note at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org . If one or more speaks to you, then I am honored. While on our web site, please take a look at the current issue of The Fairfield Review at http://www.fairfieldreview.org . To read the poems with a commentary, click here. If you prefer to read the poems alone, please click here.
All Poems © Copyright 2007, E. Granger-Happ, All Rights Reserved.
Other Lenten poems are here:
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Document last modified on: 03/18/2007