Meeting for worship was quite an experience for me today.
Of course, Judy Harrow's death was on my mind. I felt a poignancy to
giving two Quaker elders their ride to meeting
today--I was so conscious that what I cannot do for one elder, I am
comforted to be able to do for another, so that even carpooling felt like an act of remembrance.
Then, as I sat down, and just as I felt myself give way to sadness, one friend left her usual place and walked across the room to sit beside me, took my hand, and gave me a hug.
I was reminded that I was not alone in my sadness, but with yet another of my
spiritual tribes. It felt as though my grief brought Judy into the room
with me, that it made a link, not a division in my worlds.
John and Mary Ellen were there. I had hoped they would be.
John and Mary Ellen were caretakers at Woolman Hill back in the days
when NELCOG used to meet there, and the fond memories go both ways; they remember their Pagans with love, just as they--a…
want to write about Judy, but it's too hard. It's like I'm standing too
close to something, trying to take a picture. Nothing comes into
focus. It's all too big to fit into the frame.
family. I guess that's what it comes down to. She could be maddening;
she could be irascible. She sang off key; she made mistakes.
She had the most astonishing students you could imagine; she was
smart and disciplined and passionate, and she adored reaching out to
people she imagined might be more those things than she was. She was
righteous to a fault, absolutely dedicated to Pagan movement and the
Craft, and probably constitutionally incapable of compromising her
ethics. She loved scholarship and scholars, she loved innovation and
music... and she loved her community.
She was the first
person to call me a "Pagan elder," and her saying it was part of what
made it true, what made me think I could maybe live up to that.
I wonder, sometimes, how much of my spiritual life is owing to the physical arrangement of books in the Wilbraham Public Library when I was small.
I learned to read early; I can't remember a time when I didn't know how to read. And in the beginning, I'm sure read what every young child reads: picture books picked out by my parents.
But my memories of books begin in the Wilbraham Public Library--not the spacious brick and glass building they have now, but the late Victorian building that was torn down before I started school. Built in 1875, it looked like a castle to my childhood eyes... which is almost all I remember about it, except for a glass display case for a teddy bears' dollhouse, and the fact that there was one particular little nook in the children's room that was just the right size and shape for my small body to feel cozy and enfolded.
And that small nook was where the fairy tale books lived.
It's only now, as an adult, that it comes to me how odd …