Thursday, December 22, 2016

Varieties of faith

This afternoon was the memorial service for my father, who died November 30th.

Kate took this picture this past August at my parents' New Hampshire house.
The service was at Cambridge Friends Meeting. Dad had been a member of Cambridge Friends since moving to the Boston area in 1954. My parents were married there in 1958, and my sister in the same meeting house in 1993.

Following Quaker practice, the meeting was "unscripted." We entered into silence, then people rose and spoke about Dad, as the spirit moved them.

Near the end, I rose and spoke.
After high school, I launched myself off to southern Indiana for college, and experienced culture shock in multiple dimensions.
One of those was the religious fervor of many of the people I was around. This was a change for me, sort of Quaker, sort of Jewish, coming from a high school where you knew roughly what church or synagogue people went to, but it wasn't a big deal.
One evening, I was discussing religion with a dorm-mate, who said, "You must have faith in something."
"I do. I have faith in my family, in my parents, that however things turn out, they'll mean well for me."
"You can't know that."
"You're right, but I do. That's what makes it faith."
And since then, that faith has continued to be borne out.
It makes life a lot easier to start out from that.
Labor Day weekend, 2012, was the last time the whole family was together. My brother was in the end-game of leukemia and we gathered at Joe and Jan's for reminiscing. (Joe would die the next month). After I said goodbye to him, Dad drove me to the airport in Chicago.

In the car, I told Dad the story about the dorm conversation 25 years earlier. He was quiet for a time, then said it was good to know that.

It was even better to have grown up with it.

In Bloomington, Indiana, Spring 1989.
Joe was visiting from Champaign, Illinois, and Dad was visiting from Boston.
Earlier in the day I'd played my senior recital.
That evening I'd played in the orchestra for Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann.
Tuxedos are supposed to make you look classy, but it looks like
my fly is open and the corner of my white shirt is peeking out.

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