this is where I heal my hurts
Chloe, this is such a beautiful, raw reflection. Thank you for sharing it with us. The distinct lack of pastoral wisdom or care from those supposed to be the pastors of a parish is jarring. As you ask, where is the Reverend’s reverence?
We in the West have such a sanitized relationship with death, provided with as many anodyne channels as possible to remove ourselves from the deterioration and discomfort leading to and resulting from Death, and in the process also, I think, the possibility of witnessing life’s autumn harvest and sunset masterpiece. Winter and darkness follow, and for fear of them we treat our elderly - and Dead - contemptuously.
I think you have your finger on something.
I read this and didn't know how to respond, what to do. Then realized that you did not need or ask us to 'do' anything. Just to sit with you. As you sit with all that swirls and asks your consideration. So I left a part of my mind to sit there, in silence, with you, with your righteously angry, David, beside your mother's resting place. And so I've been sitting here, that part of me that I asked to sit here, listening. One can hear each voice raised in your behalf, each of these readers' kind notes. You have brought together a congregation at your mother's graveside. People who see you. Feel with you. Stand with you. I wonder if she would be pleased for the visitors, each loyal to her daughter, who is loyal to her. Graves are the trickiest of intersections. They do not conform to any rules of logic, which really, makes them all the more fascinating. I could never wish you the achey parts, but I love this story and the way you have brought us all to your mother's graveside for a visit and a chance to meet like minds.
I have such dark thoughts about this category of phenomenon that I think it unhelpful to share them; I feel special horror when I see how we devise forms through which evils flow without any evil intention, these metastatic bureaucracies… I struggle not to loathe those involved, who are often themselves quite innocent.
About the rest of this, though: thank you for writing it. I find myself so averse to talking about these things, and purely from cowardice I think. Anyway: this is a lovely post.
Oh Chloe, this is awful. I'm very sorry (and also very sorry for your loss of your mother all those years ago, and at such a young age).
Whilst it may well have been carelessness on the gardener's part, it's a complete lack of empathy and respect from the reverend. They should know better and they should practice their reverence better.
"my exposure to religion consisted only of mandatory church attendance at school; its mandatory nature ensuring my rejection of it." Ditto, along with a number of other factors that have kept me as atheist.
That your own church is reverence, attention, and love, is a beautiful thing.
Oh Chloe! When I read this I just wanted to sweep you up in my arms and hold you...
I understand and also see the connection between the plants and your mom, BEAUTIFUL living beings that were taken suddenly and too soon. And the slate you laid down to offer protection, was something you never really were able to provide for your mom. Having to replant the plants and to be made to remove that protective slate, leads me to believe that the Dead belong to us, in whichever form we receive them (my dad comes to me as a bird), and what remains of their physical form, just as their life, is beyond our control.
Sending so much love! And birthday wishes 💕
When I was a kid and one of my beloved dogs would pass, my parents would buy a little tree. We'd plant it in the yard and hang their collar on it. It's interesting to me, reflecting back, how much comfort that always brought me. My little family has yet to land in our forever home, but when we get there, I'll plant a tree, or a rose bush, or perhaps some lavender, for my mother, and perhaps a few more for others that have passed. I think it's such a lovely way to remember someone. I'm so sorry that happened to you, I can only imagine how heart wrenching it must have been to discover the damage. How disappointing the response from the Reverend must have felt. Empathy isn't all that difficult, it's disheartening how few people exercise it.
Oh Chloe, this is so potent---I feel as if I have heard a sister's lament. Your words are wide open, your questions deep, and as I read on, I sensed the beautiful parallel of lavander and rose growing beside your mother's stone. I imagined the love you held for her as you planted them, how they reassured you with blooms and scent as you visited her over the long years, there, where grief and peace joined together. I teared up as you spoke of the shock of finding them mowed down---oh how that scene must've cut deep, made your mom's death hurt deep, again...
Rules and behaviors that ignore the spirit are darknesses I detest. Your beloved's anger seemed holy.
And ohhh, I love the birds, too...
Late afternoon on the day my mom died, a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks flew in and settled on the deck near the window by her bed----we hadn't seen them in the yard for years. I still keep that scene in my heart...
Thank you for sharing this piece. It is beautiful and touching and heartfelt.
It’s also infuriating the way the church and the reverend handled your situation.
I related to your bumpy relationship with a higher power. Religion was pushed on me in school, and so I resisted. Then I went full scientific materialist for a while. And then the trajectory of my life took another turn and things like philosophy made my relationship with a higher power much more nuanced.
And I must say, there were so many well-written and poignant lines in this piece. Truly a lovely read.
I’m so sorry that happened. Hugs!!! The reverend is human and not perfect, however, it feels that the only response should’ve been, “I’m so sorry, please, let’s schedule a time right now for you to come see me so that we can make sure this doesn’t happen again.” I’m sorry that’s not the response that was given.
It’s okay to write your feelings and thoughts in the moment-because sometimes that’s all there is to give. You gave a beautiful, honest, and respectful perspective, which you didn’t have to do, but you did, and it speaks to the human you are💜
What a very insensitive, bureaucratic response to a very natural distress. You write about it with delicacy and tact, while being honest.
I think I’ll arrange a FaceTime call with me mum now... thank you 🙏🏼
This is profoundly human and for that reason profoundly beautiful.
I am meditating on your post, Chloe. I listened to God is a DJ. I will echo David Perry's comment that we have all come together to support you in your grief and shock - a virtual service in your mother's memory. This could be a moment of power, and we can hope, greater compassion.
The pastor there seems to have misplaced her reverence, which is a great pity for her and her congregation. It's part of the reason more and more of us are finding our way to the divine on our own. 💜💜💜
It is frustrating for sure! I mean, they are making you abide by their rules, when they have been negligent in following the rules regarding the taking care of your family's space. Is there any paperwork detailing the relationship and service agreement that was made with the church when the space was purchased / received? I'm sure some good money was paid for it (?), and perhaps they need more than unpaid volunteers to follow through on their commitments! They should at least replace the plants. Ugh. Institutions are just that. Institutions. That includes the Church. ANY church of ANY denomination or religious belief is just that - an institution run by people who are indeed flawed. Also, Episcopal churches are very hierarchical in nature so there is always an archdiocese or some governing body that complaints could be raised to if the reverend is unable to accommodate you.
That is just awful. I would have been furious, too. And the lack of kindness shown to you in response is disheartening. I'm so sorry.
I’m so sorry this happened, sending you many hugs and love 💕