This was a day of mourning for me, not that anyone had died. We like happy days, and don’t want sad days, but sometimes sadness is the most meaningful thing of all. I heard unfortunate news about a woman I got to know at an American Academy of Religion meeting. Since she teaches nearby, we had subsequently spent an afternoon sharing experiences, breaking bread together, and visiting the great cathedral of her church. We talked from head and heart. She sent me some excellent pieces she is writing, and we had a possible project in mind. I was surprised that, at the end of the semester, when I e-mailed her to follow up, she did not respond. Nor when I sent another message. I just learned that she has cancer. Don’t know the type or seriousness of it, but one goes stone cold at any mention of the “c” word. There was also another piece of news, not so grave, but saddening nonetheless. Glen Campbell, the country-western singer, has Alzheimer’s. He can no longer play the guitar. Most of these guys and gals, even as they move into twilight years, still have their music, which was always their best form of expression anyway. Instead, Campbell will have the frustration, or perhaps for him it will be more like a longing, for the missing heart of his life. To stay cheerful, one might very well shield oneself from the suffering of others – and, God knows, there is no way one can take it all in – but it seems best to share the setbacks and heartbreak and pain of others, at least enough to keep one’s own heart in tune.
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