We're going North today, to the White Mountains. Back in the day, in marriage #1 to Outdoorsman, it was a favorite haunt. Outdoorsman and I were spectacularly ill-suited to one another, but I am grateful to him for the camping trips and the mountain hikes we took. I can recall the smell of campfire, and the splendour of the Milky Way seen without interfering lights, and, today, thinking about my first trip North in decades, I remembered a photo Outdoorsman took of me on the Kankamangus highway in 1980 1 week before I gave birth to my son. So I looked for it.
There it was, right in the middle of a splendid collection of Photos Of The Dead -- Mom, less than half my current age, spooning babyfood into me.
Mom, Grandpa, Bubbi, Auntie Sophie and Uncle Peter (as always) behind the camera, with crewcut Dad (belying his current below-the-shoulders ponytail) my baby brother and my pre-vegan child self about to demolish yet another Thanksgiving turkey.
As in the photographs, the living and the dead coexist. I found a perceptive little piece on the internet about age and church -- an answer to the quibble that greybeards like solemn, dull, "dead" liturgy and young 'uns like cool, happenin' & lively God Stuff. The writer points out that these subdued elders likely have dying on their minds -- some actually read the obituaries ! Everyday ! (Disclaimer: I have done this since my late 20's) I was grateful to find this piece, as, weekly, the average age of our congregation seems to be plummeting, and the sermons increasingly feature toddler&infant-rearing anecdotes, and even the weekly newsletter revels in the energy and missional accomplishments of the youth and young adults.
That's lovely, it's what keeps churches alive, this multi-generational-as-a-family thing, but I find myself driving around with the service leaflet from M's (85) and Mrs. B's (94) recent funerals tucked into the slot in my car door beside me, and the line from the last of Samuel Barber's hermit songs, "The Desire for Hermitage" running though my head : a lovely little corner among tombs/ far from the houses of the great."
So I'm off to the ancient, haunted mountains.