Day 63, May 18, 2020

L.

Today's deadly sin is supposed to be lust, and I have much to dwell on there, but, I need to take a pause because I just learned about a loss in our extended family. So I'll save lust for another day.

Today, I'll meditate on love. A mother's love. Love within a family. I think it is easy to take these things for granted, especially when we are young. And many times, familial love is hard to understand because it comes from such different perspectives, such different angles.

I do not know when I figured out my mother's expressions of love, except, I think it took until I was an adult, maybe even a parent myself, before I began to understand that, her admonitions when I was a child to clean up my room, were an expression of love. That her desire for me to cut my hair, was an expression of love. That her desire to have me wear nicer clothes, or eat healthier, or gain or lose weight, were all expressions of love. That she would cook for me and feed me, even when we argued, that was an expression of love.

And somewhere along the way, my mother learned to express love in what I thought were more conventional ways too, in the awkward hugs of first generation immigrants, like navigating the la bise greeting as an awkward American where you accidentally end up kissing someone on the lips who you don't really know all that well, or is the age of your mother. So, like giving or recieving expressions of affection can be complicated. 

But, it has become easier as we've gotten older and we've both learned the language of love better, have become more fluent. What I once interpreted as critique, I can now bask in as doting. And I can return the expression by asking her questions, about her life, about her cooking, about her memories of me as a child. I can engage in her stories about what she saw on the news, or read in Newsweek, or what a friend told her.

I only hope that I become as fluent at the language of love with my children as I have become with my parents, so that my flailing attempts to be a supportive parent, even the seemingly destructive ones, are understood as expressions of love. I have not always been astute at how to express myself legibly, and what emerged instead was the jerky chicken scratch of a flailing man trying to not inflict further damage.

To die at home in the midst of a pandemic, when there is so much lonely loss all around, to pass surrounded by family, and love, and touch, and to feel the moistness of tears, that is a special thing. A lucky thing. A beautiful thing. 

I suppose there is also something beautiful about a stoic solitary death as well. A mountain top, a desert, adrift at sea. But I fear the solitary death we see around us now, where the only salvation is the degree to which medication might alleviate consciousness.

I am not really a praying man, though a friend might say everything one does is a prayer of some kind. But when I did pray, as a child, and when I do have the inclination to pray as an adult, it is not for the ones who have died, but for the ones who are left behind, to ease their suffering, to give them a sense of peace in their loss, to gift them something like the morning dew glistening on the leaves this morning, the way the plants in the garden seemed a little less homely a few days after transplanting. 

For everyone who has experienced loss in these times...
for everyone who has experienced loss,
I pray that you find a beautiful moment to encapsulate that loss,
and that you can inhabit that beautiful moment
for a little while.

Love,
Leo

Second Congregational Church in Greenfield as seen from waiting in line for the farmer's market.



From Our Friends:

From Paul Lindale, Chair of the GCC Art Dept:

Need a break from final grades? An opportunity to procrastinate? A pleasant diversion from paperwork (without the actual paper of course)? Then why not check out new the additions on pages 1-2 of the Art Department blog, Within, Without and see how our students have been living the remote life.

From the Northampton Jazz Workshop:

1. The Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech out of Blacksburg, Virginia will air Fred Hersch's performance of “Leaves Of Grass” featuring Kurt Elling & Kate McGarry, for 3 days starting this Monday May 18th. Originally recorded April 26, 2019. https://artscenter.vt.edu/performances/moss-vault.html

2.Saturday, May 23rd: Scullers "Living Room LIve Series" Presents Karrin Allyson - 7:30-8:30 on FB. https://www.facebook.com/events/240058657094628

From National Geographic:

Today's Online Teaching Tips:

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
Research shows that underrepresented students experience performance gaps and lower retention rates in online courses under the best of circumstances, let alone in a global pandemic. But remote education experts have highlighted a possible silver lining. Online education provides new ways to identify students at risk of dropping out and opportunities to offer targeted supports

Puddle in the Montague Sand Plains this weekend.
Meeting the challenge of providing special ed. remotely
With school buildings closed and remote learning in place for the rest of the school year, here is a look at how Franklin County school districts are handling the challenge of providing services to students with special needs.Frontier and Union 38 regional school districts School officials have said...

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