Last year, Dad and I watched the NFC championship together. With only half of one eye left to see the game with, Dad watched, he listened to the game in good spirits. And then we watched movies together that night, reading poetry all weekend. Been a full year of watching football without Dad. But the striving of Dad watching that game with a quarter of an eye left, that striving has been with us.
That was on my mind at Judson today.
That was on my mind listening to Micah preach about “collective striving” and the mysteries of living, of those things we do not understand in between songs prayers and words from the community.
That was on my mind all weekend long, wondering about the police and the protesters and referendum on treatment of Black people after the great migration north, of the ways the city still infuses discipline on outsiders, the church and the people, and the quirky ways our small church responds to these moments.
They were on my mind reading from Psalm 139, with its word about our frailty.
“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
These odd words ran through my mind all morning, as they have for years and years.
Father Bob Arapin, a Catholic priest who came out before losing his life to AiDS two decades ago, borrowed these words for the title of his memoir. He said was were all part of a collective body.
Father Bob’s striving was on my mind, as were Anne Frank’s strivings. Lost seventy years ago, she would have been 85 this year. Number two and I finished her diary this year, reading about her collective striving to live and see the beauty of this world, even in the darkest of moments in history. Her stories of love, of seeing nature, of being moved by art, love, eros, and being part of it, that still moves readers around the world, as it moved us. But to complete the story meant to contemplate her last days, separate from her father, from friends by barbed wire, from food, and ultimately life, that was hard.
Ruby Rims spoke to the community, making us laugh, contemplating why after some twenty-three years with the virus, he is still here?
Tracy Morgan talked about Civilization and its Discontents, the ways we make meaning of a world seemingly gone mad.
Steve Duncombe and I sang.
Dale’s strivings to make art and joke, even when facing the ravages of Cancer, they were on my mind.
Finishing the service, Doris walked up to me and gave me a Christmas card with a newspaper article about her fifty years on the community board, her struggles against landlords and Robert Moses.
And so we were all collectively striving - my dad, my kids, my friends.
And a kinks song resonated at Church. We are all Gods Children they sang.
By the time we got home, the Seahawks were battling.
My friend Cecily posted a note on facebook:
“Dear God, please let the Seahawks come back to kill the Packers (especially after that horrible call you allowed last week). Love, Cecily”
Down 15 points, i walked to a book reading on frackng, returning to check the store and watch one of the great comebacks ever.
“so do you believe n god now?” i asked.
“I might have to believe in God now” Cecily replied.
“Growing up n Dallas, we were always taught to pray for the cowboys at church, not much else, but still.... old habits die hard!” I replied.
But for now everyone’s striving.
History looms large. And MLKs still striving.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
And we’re all striving to live up to his call. Tomorrow we march for that collective striving.