Friday, September 14, 2012

Connection. So important!

       Folks who have been around the University of Denver for the last six months will know that we have had four students (including a June 2012 graduate) die -- all of different causes.  In addition, we've had a member of the housekeeping staff, as well as a not-quite-as-recent alumna.  In short, it's been a difficult several months.  In all of those cases, I've been privileged to be a part of the care teams that have helped those affected, from family to co-workers to fellow students.  And, this afternoon was the most recent, a visit with a grieving family and friends.
      Indeed, over the five years I have been at DU, I've been a part of numerous funerals/memorials.  It is always a humbling honor, to be invited into such a raw situation.  One thing, however, profoundly has struck me over the last couple of weeks:  I have wished I had known all of those folks better. A pretty common feature of memorial services in this day of PowerPoint or iPhoto slideshows is a video montage, drawing together moments of the individual's life.  Added to that are all of the memories, professional and personal, that friends, family and colleagues bring to the ceremony.  We often hear the favorite songs or poems.  Themes arise.  From housekeepers to administrators, students to professors, children to parents . . . every person has a story.  A unique, funny, wrenching, gripping, everyday story.   Memorials provide an opportunity to hear them, to share them, to marvel at the beauty of lives lived.
      I often don't know the person being memorialized very well; sometimes I don't know them at all.  But I often leave the service feeling like I've missed something by not knowing them.  I know I can't know everyone, so that's not the point.  It is rare enough to be invited into that inner circle for a moment . . . and I cherish it.
      No, I can't know everyone.  But I come into contact with folks every day; we all do.  And for many reasons we often shrug off the opportunities to enter into the other person's story.  We miss their richness because we're too busy, too pre-occupied.  Or we may be too shy, too reticent, to share our lives.   And I believe, given the experience of these last few months, we are poorer for it.  Television.  Internet.  Fences.  Distractions.  All keep us apart, or provide excuses for making the connections we all crave.
      We miss one another, in more ways than one.
      I, for one, want to hear your stories now.  So, interrupt me.  Remind me of this.  And hold me, and each other, accountable.

Chaplain Gary

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