Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tears and Laughter

Back to ye old airport, my second home, and half-expecting the security people to greet me by name. Using our miles (and of course, charged double miles just because), we managed to get last-minute tickets to Michigan, but first had to go through Washington D.C. just to take the scenic route. With a longer layover, we could have had daughter Kerala come meet us at the airport for a Starbucks date. Ironically, our plane was going on Buenos Aires, home of Talia, the juniah sistah (as they called her in Ghana). Thought about writing a note and asking the passenger who discovered it to deliver it.

Settled into Hawthorne Suites in Ann Arbor and awoke to a surprising breakfast with real plates and glasses and no Styrofoam. Sunny outside, but Spring has still not arrived. The headline in the paper is “Texas considering new law for 85 miles an hour speed limit.” Way to go, Texas!! Burn that fossil fuel, baby!! Hold on to that adolescent version of freedom—“I can do whatever I want and ain’t no one gonna stop me!”

Today is a day of details—tape the photos to foam-core, check on the flowers, go to the Ann Arbor City Club to figure out how to arrange the chairs for my father-in-law’s memorial service. The cousins and family friends are arriving from all corners of the country to pay their respects and say their farewells collectively. It is at once a fun reunion, the celebratory side of departure as all the people who shared in Ted’s life come together to enjoy each other’s company and hopefully soon to be a time of shared grief as well. God in any language loves both tears and laughter. In New Orleans, they make space for both formally, with the old hymns bringing forth the salty waters and the infectious jazz rhythms bubbling up some joyous festivity. My job in tomorrow’s service is to invite both, through a few well-chosen songs and words.

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, an alum student all of 15 years old lies in a coma after a snowboarding accident, one of our 8th graders on the school Spanish trip to Nicaragua had an emergency appendicitis operation and a friend in Finland begins chemotherapy. Despite the best efforts of our Risk Committees, life remains a dangerous and precarious proposition and the best way I have found to cope is to live more fully, with more awareness, more gratitude, more vigor and more love. Failing every day, but doing my best to keep the senses alert, mind active and heart open. 

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