After 12/7/2011, this blog will no longer be updated, although content will remain. Please visit my new blog at Hidden Latitudes.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Blue Blazer, Conrad Aiken and Death

   Last week, I attended a funeral. She was a long-time friend and colleague of my wife, whom I had only met once or twice, long ago. After I parked the car in the long queue that would follow the family to the gravesite, I slipped on my blue blazer. I felt something inside the right vest pocket. Pulling it out, I discovered that it was a program for another funeral, that of the father of a friend, which had occurred eleven months ago.
   Two things struck me: One, it seems the only time I dress up these days is to go to a funeral. Or, at best, funerals are the only occasion to which I wear my navy blue blazer. And secondly, funerals are the occasion where we bid goodbye to loved ones (or support those who do). And while they are full of sorrow, much effort is made to make these goodbyes full of hope as well. The loved one is, after all, going to a "better place," no?
   That is the crux of human faith: that there exists, unseen, a better world. And better all around: according to the book about it, there will be no pain, no tears, and no more death.
   Part of me agrees with Conrad Aiken. The southern poet is buried in my favorite cemetery, Bonaventure, near Savannah, Georgia. His tombstone is a bench, and on it is inscribed a notice he saw in the shipping pages of the Savannah paper. There, among the notices of ships arriving and departing, was this cryptic notice:

Cosmos Mariner
Destination Unknown

(click photo to enlarge)

   The poet in me loves that. The mystic in me agrees as well. While I am well aware of the promises of God to his children about the world to come, nevertheless I realize I do not—indeed cannot—begin to imagine what it will be like. My wife's friend knows. And my friend's father knows.
   And one day, so will I.
—Wayne S.
(photo credit)