Memorial for the Street

Every so often I come off the rails. Not so anyone would notice. I hide well. Move in the shadows. Every so often something happens to upright me. At least until my next derailment down the line.

What coming off the rails looks like for me is preoccupation. And the preoccupation is about a niggling desire for making a mark in this world, or at least a slight concavity. Of course once you start down this road there is no end.

It has to do with desire. I know well enough that I have received my life through the eyes of others. That my desires have been formed by the desires of others. This of course is all of our lot. We desire what we see desired and these desires have been engrafted within before we knew better. Of course many of these desires are healthy but many are obsessive and destructive. Whatever original sin might mean, this is at least one description of it.

HM Memorial service Jan06What brought me out of self-preoccupation this time was a memorial service I went to for the men and women of our city who have died "on the street" this past year.

The whole thing, the worship band, made up of guys who are in our addictions program, the collective eulogy, the pictures and names of the deceased, fading on and off the screen, and of course the faces in the audience, faces of grief and consoling faces, all of this brought deserved attention and a proper form of remembrance to lives lost.

It’s too obvious and inadequate to say those who died were all people with stories, with mothers, with childhood friends…or perhaps with not many friends. For most, their stories were too well hidden, are too easily forgotten.

What was it that they longed for? What were their joys? What were their sighs all about? What did they leave? What impression? What dreams did they leave untried? What was left undreamed?

These questions can scarcely be answered. But at least what happened here at this memorial service helped to restore dignity to friends and family by restoring dignity to the men and women who have gone on ahead. And at least it gave me pause.

Technorati Tags: , , ,


  1. have you read “The Least of These My Brothers” by a doctor who worked in an AIDS clinic/hospice for the dying in the 90’s.

    It tells of such memorial services as you just participated in and of the lives of the dying (which is about all of us).

    It is very powerful encouragement to love and a charge against our indiffernce to suffering and to humanity.

    it is a wonderful read.

  2. NOT true that nobody notices you getting derailed (your becoming preoccupied isn’t THAT subtle!)…I know at least two people who notice, and I’m sure there are many more. Your writing often betrays detrailment too, subtly of course. Funny how easy it is to get derailed in the day to day, and how it’s things like memorials (or band reunions, or a really great party) that put us back on the tracks though. I think it’s a reminder that we’re emotive beings, that we thrive on joy and sorrow and connection, and wilt a little with our so-cerebral routine existances.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *