“Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you”
― Paul Simon
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Verse 6 Psalm XXIII
(an old Jewish book of prayer, opened to the XXIII Psalm / Julie Cook / 2014)
It had all the makings of a most odd union of two very different people.
One, a young tomboy who had a bad habit of saying whatever came to mind, often letting her emotional heart lead when a thoughtful mind would have sufficed. A zealot when it came to her Christian faith and a bit of a rabble rouser, yet one who actually played it safe and obeyed all the rules.
The other was more girly and most reserved, often painfully conscious of words and actions. She was often reluctant in her acknowledgment of her Jewish faith. Her family was multilayered consisting of step parents, 5 half brothers and sisters and several step siblings. More worldly and one who enjoyed a good time.
What drew them together?
What kept them together?
Fast forward over 4 decades.
Sitting in the ornately fashioned sanctuary, feeling a bit out of place and silently waiting for the service to begin, my mind began to wander in and out of the past 41 years and as to what had actually brought me to this particular place today. The delicate sounds of the piano soft and soothing.
Unexpectedly the weight of all the previous years, with all of their enormity, and all their stories, their secrets, their joy, their sorrows, came tumbling forward as I sat in silence feeling suddenly very very tired.
The Rabbi entered leading the family to their places. I watched a fragile figure, lead by husband and followed by daughters, take her solemn place.
A time of good-bye.
Had we not played this role before?
First almost 30 years ago for me, then years later for her, and now, we were gathering once again.
The last time I walked this aisle was 30 years ago during a wedding as I lifted a young confident bride’s trailing gown up the steps. I had worn the same dress 3 years prior as the roles were then reversed.
I grew up attending church 2 miles north on the same street.
What is it that separates us?
Likes and dislikes?
Miles, family, and doctrine?
The Cantor began the prayers.
A mournful and deeply reverent form of prayer as a profound moaning and yearning of the heart reverberated off the masterfully carved roundels along the ornately decorated ceiling.
Our moms both now gone.
Once it was agreed we’d trade them, one for the other.
I wanted the sweet one, she wanted the sassy one.
Now our trade is all but a forgotten long ago secret shared between two young angst ridden teens.
She was the stoical one, I was the emotionally driven one.
For good or bad, time and circumstances have reversed those roles.
Yet today we are both caught in the tide of emotions as life, age and death collide chaotically becoming one massive wave of what will soon be but a memory and moment of time passing.
Our time once passed painfully slowly as we yearned to grow up quickly.
Now time passes painfully quickly as we yearn to live more slowly–savoring and holding each sweet morsel of life tenderly before it filters through our fingers.
The differences are obvious.
They always will be.
The similarities however are found in the lamenting prayer from a mourning heart to the God of all of creation as we each watch the other learning to say good-bye . . .
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.