Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Suicide in Slater Park
OCTOBER LIGHT--I said to my husband recalling a novel by that title written years ago by John Gardner. Shocked and saddened today when I read in the Times that a man despaired;killed himself on Monday in Slater Park.I go to the Park almost daily and it is my husband's favorite outing.It is a place of family picnics and fishing on the pond and gaggles of geese and children running excitedly through them.It not a sad place but an oasis of beauty and peace. So it is sad to think that someone despaired there. Monday was such a gorgeous day.I remarked that the light had changed. The bright sky was blue;intensely blue and the fluffy clouds; white clouds sailed in blue;high relief. All was bathed in a glow; kind of golden light. And even though it is a sign of the change of seasons from summer to fall; it is also a glowing light that seems to shed glory on even the humblest scene. And in that light pouring down like liquid gold on us all, a man decided to end his life. I am thinking of the Pope's urgent message to think of life and its sanctity at every stage--the newborn, the criminal condemned to death and the lonely old. He stressed the loneliness of the aging. I think that is something to contemplate--the loneliness of the old. As I age I feel a kind of deep loneliness because in a way my path of disability and care giving has caused me to diverge from the path of some friends. And also so many times when we hear from old friends and acquaintances, we hear of their disability, their diminishing, their despondency, their diseases and sometimes of their deaths. We all know that we are as the poet Emily Dickinson expressed it-- on a trajectory towards eternity. Because I could not stop for Death – (479) BY EMILY DICKINSON Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality. We slowly drove – He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility – We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess – in the Ring – We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – We passed the Setting Sun – Or rather – He passed Us – The Dews drew quivering and Chill – For only Gossamer, my Gown – My Tippet – only Tulle – We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground – The Roof was scarcely visible – The Cornice – in the Ground – Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity – But knowing that we are all going towards the same destination and hearing that someone chose to quicken and end the journey early makes me pause. So often in the Bible life is compared to a race--one that we must finish , that we must run well. Sometimes I think of our souls that are within us as a great thoroughbred longing to reach the finish line, and we are told by Saint Augustine that we are meant for God and "our hearts are restless until we rest in thee." I hope that the man who died at Slater Park found himself racing towards the waiting and welcoming arms of God as he sprinted into eternity.