How did I? How did I walk down those narrow stairs with the worn, grey berber carpeting while holding the tiny hand of my priest and friend Diane? How did I descend into the potter’s studio and sit at the table to view my choices?
I attended a beautiful all-female Episcopal service today. It was the closing to a two day “Gathering” filled with the wit and wisdom of Kelly Corrigan and various clergy and lay teachers. As always there was a lot of learning, a lot of soul kneading, a lot of “oh yeah, me too-ing.” The harmonizing “alleluias” gave pause to the heart and brought one into that “thin space” where one reconnects with God and says, “Oh yeah, there you are. I couldn’t find you for the last week or so and am so glad to feel back in the fold, or “back in your arms again” safe and sound.
There was a healing service too. We could each choose to go to one of six circles of women, hold hands, ask for prayers for a certain someone or something, go into the middle where all hands would be on our shoulders while prayers were said. Powerful stuff actually. But in my group, there she was, Maida Ellington. I looked long and hard into her eyes and fixated on her hands. They were indeed the hands of a potter and an artist. My mind went back to the descent on the stairs on that day so very long ago. It was a time when I was present and yet completely gone all at once. I imagine my eyes on Maida were so probing and piercing that she began looking back at me, appearing to be thinking, “What, what, what is it? Do I know you?”
When asked for my prayers instead I said, “Oh Maida, when I see you after years have passed I can only think of one thing. I can only remember coming to your home, going downstairs to your studio and choosing the urn in which to bury my son’s ashes. It was not possible. It was totally impossible. I thought you were all stark raving mad, expecting me to be able to do such a thing. But, I had to do it anyway. I chose a small white urn as I remember. We buried it and him the next day. Thank you.” “Thank you,” Maida said. She had tears in her eyes. So did I.