Monday, September 12, 2011

of Cordial Bows and Bugle Trills

I wrote this post yesterday, but since it was the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I felt unworthy of actually posting on such a day.  For content’s sake, I left the present tense.

The Hubs and I slept in this morning.  For the past two months I awake quite restless—ought I to be doing something? and I can feel it, too, that aching, longing.  But this morning I fought it, so I stayed in bed, languishing in the warmth.  The previous evening we participated in a blind wine tasting at a newfound group, and the subject of how we would prefer to leave this world (speaking of our dogs of course) and as human beings we have choices.  And at first I thought peacefully and quietly but then I wasn’t so sure. If I’m going to bite it, I want to go down doing something worthwhile.  Don’t we all imagine ourselves in some epic battle with the forces of evil, saving the day while we go out in a blaze of glory?

Today is Patriots Day, 9/11, and again that feeling of restlessness and sadness.  We don’t have television, but I wanted to engage in at least one program commemorating the day.  I made a beeline for one in particular: a tribute to Father Mychal Judge, Franciscan Monk, NYFD Chaplain. And the thread of how do we want our last moments to be really hit home.  He chose to be at the towers during the first moments of the attack, praying, administering, rescuing.

His father died when he was a young child and he always said he could never remember calling anyone father.  At the “wordly” age of 15 he entered the seminary and his friends say that his wish of calling someone “father” became reality.  I immediately thought of Walt Whitman’s poem:

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!

On April 14, 1865, a war-weary nation was plunged into shock when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Across the country there was an outpouring of grief, especially from a man who was a great admirer of Lincoln’s.  Whitman: “he embodied the American virtues of plain-spokenness, courage, and horse-sense”. Apparently he would see the president on horseback around town and the men would exchange “cordial bows.”

I find this scop's evolution so ironic, from my blind wine tasting last night (my favourite was Jefferson Vineyards 2008 Meritage), to my longing sadness, to my watching Father Mychal, then to Walt Whitman's poem.  I like to think as Americans, we're all somehow connected.

I’ve included the entire program’s link below, please watch if you have time.  I’m reminded of a particular quote of Father Mychal’s where he says, “let’s love the hell out of eachother.”  Indeed.


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