Archive | August, 2013

Endings as beginnings: remorse in ‘Harry Potter’ series

30 Aug

At the end of the first book of the J. K. Rowling series ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ Hagrid cries to Harry, It’s -all -my – ruddy -fault!’…
‘Hagrid !’ said Harry, shocked to see Hagrid shaking with grief and remorse…’
Rowling here, at the end of the first book, introduces the compelling narrative philosophy of her series: remorse. This trope ‘Remorse’ is the overarching theme of the Harry Potter series. The word is a thread through the series, a hidden key in each book. How does Rowling use and define remorse?
Remorse is a choice open to all the major characters Harry encounters, including himself. It is what makes wizards muggle like and humans wizards. Snape, (or rather Professor Snape) Voldemort, Hagrid, Ron and Dumbledore, among others, are offered remorse. Harry pointively offers Tom Riddle this choice at the end of their final duel. Voldemort refuses. He has long ceased being Tom Riddle, being human. He cannot and will not ‘try’ remorse. Such a choice, and its acceptance, Rowling herself ( through the character of Hermione) points out in the chapter ‘The Ghoul in the Pajamas” (The Deathly Hallows) can destroy earthly life. Remorse is the only magic that can break a horcuxes’ power in or for a life. But without remorse, or deep, deep sorrow, all life in and beyond earthly existence is lost. Life can only begin when we grieve, grieve at a lost. A son; a spouse, a school, a heart.
Great art, music, painting and writing, have ends embedded in their beginnings. Shakespeare’s Prospero drops an iamb in his last speech in ‘The Tempest.’ There is remorse in leaving his magic, his island, writing and the spell of creation. Something ends with his new beginning. Carravaggio’s ‘The Call of St. Matthew’ shows three images, three paintings of the apostle’s life: the call has the movement from a young man holding, grasping coins to an older man’s hands open, embracing death at his end. Opposites, ends in beginnings; the dropping of a word’s beat, grasping and holding at life’s beginnings, then releasing and emptying at its end: this is deep remorse, the movement from an enslavement to a freedom that hurts, deeply, even to death. Opposites together. All spiritual fruit has seeds of the Spirit’s fruit in its opposition. Remorse is a love, an empathic love of the other. It is a fruit, a love. An end product. The tears of remorse waters. Hagrid cries remorseful tears; Harry forgives; a photography album of pictures of Harry’s Mum and Dad enters Harry’s hands. Harry can not speak. He is loved. And he now can love others beyond himself.
Remorse, closes his mouth. We understand. Hagrid understands too. He feels; he is loved. His remorse saved him. It can also free us.

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meditations part 2: the MACS teacher, passion and coveting

29 Aug

In ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter takes Clarice Starling to Rome:
HL: ‘First principles Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself ? What is its nature? …
He covets. That is his nature…we begin by coveting what we see every day.’
We see what we are passionate about every day. The MACS teacher sees youth that are reflections of a deep desire: young people in colleges, experiencing new life. A choice. Possible passions. Their passions though is their students and Their success; the students’ own felt successes in life. (Teachers have other passions, I am sure, but…)
…but this is what and whom the MACS teacher & staff persons choose to see everyday of their life. It is what All-all-see in the summer, at a beach, at rest, on vacation. It is passion.)
And, and …if it were the only seen thing? Then ‘we/I covet and want possession and ownership. That was me; what i was becoming. Coveting is control. Total Control. Then the simple becomes deeply simple: I would become pure passion, pure coveting itself. No balance. No boundary. One simply becomes the other. Passion becomes coveting. A good desire destroys.
Simply destroys. Simply.
It is easy to cross the line between passion and coveting. I have and still am stepping on that emotional tightrope between coveting and passion. It is my nature. When I do step over, I over eat; I buy sports jerseys for myself. I rage, rage against injustice. Anger overwhelms. And, and…if it gets real bad, i am angry. quiet and angry. All the time. My only way back is to pray. I pray the Jesus prayer ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ He is a living God; He knows …
He simply knows. I know that…
Every MACS teacher I have served with loved their kids ; all of them. And they were in balance and passionate and true lovers. I failed them, sometimes well and sometime poorly. But I loved them, these MACS teachers, because of their passion. And they were and are better than I will ever be.
My UK readers and others, please understand this: they -these MACs staff and teachers- were wonders. I think of them every day. In love. With passion.

meditations part 2: Jazmin, a first thing

29 Aug

In my former life I was a head of school in NYC: one campus, Morris in the South Bronx; four schools; many, many people. Two days past I received an email from Jazmin about how she is planning college trips now, in our relaxing summer, for all students. Jazmin was the last person I interviewed and hired for my school. She was: early twenties; skilled as a counsellor, though young; asked probing questions and…
She had the one essential quantity, the first quality, the only quality I ever listen for: passion.
Living, loving people have The First Thing First, passion. At the end of my career in education, after hiring and working with a wonderful staff at MACS my Lord gave me a reminder of why teachers teach; why lovers love; why He loves me: passion.
Great art is birthed out of passion; a love for justice springs from a passion for equality and fairness; the wounds on a Saviour’s body are almost all healed.
Almost.
His hands and side remains hurt in form; why? I believe to remind us of His Passion for all. And why the first thing is always passion.
Keep me on the email reminder list Jazmin. Your Passion lives.

meditations: first things first

27 Aug

These meditations are questions I am searching with. What am I searching?
My life; my heart; other hearts; others
am I a man searching his entire life for a monastery?
can another be my monastery?
Can Jesus? Spirit? God the Father?
Community is generosity; overflow; life.
Emptiness creates overflow
Where is the 63 bus in Roma?
Waiting patiently is my struggle. I can wait, but not patiently. Fruit is patience.
How can a first love be returned? How can it be returned to? Clarity and focus Clarice: how do we covet? By the first things our hearts see.
Our first things; a mother; a love; a fruit. A Saviour.

meditation 12-‘breaking’ bad fruit: idolatry & witchcraft

25 Aug

J.R.R. Tolkien in response to a critical question concerning the placing of total power in the Ring of Sauron in ‘The Lord of the Rings” stated in a letter, ‘The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical ways of treating the placing of one’s life or power in some external object outside oneself which… thus exposes (the person) to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself.’

We all do this. Children place their desire on a toy, a ‘new best friend’ at the start of a school term, a doll, a promise, a Christmas day. Adults place their desire in a love, a person, a spouse an ideal, their work, achievement. Or ‘a diamond birthday.’ All of these are idols that we create and recreate through our walk and life. And when we create we ‘place.’ This placement is the worship: we move our internal ultimate value to external object. Our souls to rings. Or to a Ring. Such placement is a form of witchcraft. Paul in Galatians tells us that idolatry And witchcraft work together. (‘and’) How? By creating. And by recreating.Walter White in AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ and Lord Voldemort in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books both place their souls in external objects. They are both worshippers and creators. Idols themselves, made by their own hands. No longer humans, but objects. Fragment and particles. Walter becomes the desire for a ‘name’ and Voldemort is the desire for life eternal. Both change their names; both want to rule in the ‘unknown’ country, the land beyond life. Both are idol worshippers. And both were or desire to be teachers.
Walter White places the black hat on his head and becomes his alias, Heisenberg, the physicist father of Quantum Mechanics, the founder of the Uncertainty principle: particles existing in multiple states and places at multiple times. Walter exists as a chemist, yet also chooses the identity of a physicist for one purpose: to create a name, an object outside himself that will live forever. His fear? Part of what all teachers fear is being forgotten, swallowed up death, or lack of remembrance. Teachers deeply fear that their students certainly won’t remember them. And without memory life loses meaning.(Jesse is such a student who desires to destroy his memories of teacher Walter) Voldemort also desires eternal life through memory. Thus, he creates horcuxes. Objects as Tom Riddle’s Diary, Maravalo’s ring and others. He creates with particles of his unstable soul. Objects that can only be created out of murder. Riddle becomes Voldemort; White becomes black, Heisenberg. Multiple selves in multiple places. In their quests for certainty they become particles of uncertainty. Objects of pure flesh warring with Spirit. Paul closes chapter 5 of Galatians with a statement on their joint fates, ‘those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’
Idol worship, witchcraft, is bad fruit. It breaks and fragments in our hands, destroying our very self, our souls.

sixty, everything I needed to learn I’ve learned in my 60th year (& now I am ready to attend kindergarten)

22 Aug

I remember vividly a very few events: Pepper, our Dalmatian, dying; my divorce and the day I departed permanently from Barbara; Robert dying on my arms in Toronto hospice; the birth of my children and recently my grandchildren; Keith Russell’s sermon on Good Friday on the difference between cheap and costly grace; Tim Keller’s sermon on Hosea & the nature of a love ‘supreme’ (my word). Rothko’s art work in Houston.  Leaving my beloved MACS. Joey’s death.

I cried at these moments. With joy and pain; in sorrow and remorse and in love and healing. Tears were all that came, no words.  Just water vapours in a brief, very brief second or uncontrollable retching minutes. Silent feeling; or shaming overflow of pain and sadness. Real. Not internal. Real external tears. Eternal.

But my first experience with tears that I can remember was my opening day in afternoon at kindergarten. I say ‘afternoon’ because I quietly and firmly refused to go for two days (And the morning of the third.) In the fifties Kindergarten was full on; all day.

That Wednesday my twin Donald and I left our home. We had lunch in the back store room of an Italian Brooklyn deli.  (New Birth Portrait and pictures here http://vimeo.com/39654255) Sitting on two wooden crates, eating quietly (for we were twins and were never to speak or disturb others) we were happy. Donald was looking forward to school. But not me. We walked the two long treeless sunny Brooklyn blocks to school, Our Lady of Grace; we were left by our Mum at a heavy wooden; we were given seats by our teacher, Sister Martha, on opposite sides of what seemed an enormous room  (Paddington like waiting area without the shops.)  And I put my head down and cried. Cried for the remainder of the day. Tears could not be stopped. I couldn’t see or speak. I was alone. A twin alone.

 My 60th birthday is 2 September. (Friends and family I am ‘outing ‘ this day here. No flowers needed. In the UK you throw your own party for a ‘big day’ as this; you bring your own cake & sweets. More on that at a later date. No flowers please.) But, but…I am now ready to attend kindergarten! All day!!

Why? What I have learned in and by this 60th year?

I have learned:

  • People and the beloved leave you (sometimes they simply pass because it is time)
  • I will leave beloved also (as when I moved onwards to London in December) Leaving and moving on is part of life. As Dumbledore states when asked by Harry what is beyond their ‘King’s Cross’ station after Harry’s dying duel and great trial with Voldemort, we move ’onwards.’
  • Your loved ones are always with you; always; in ‘all ways.’ Count on it.
  • Kindergarten is an adventure.  Enjoy the place, people.  Joy in the pace of life and learning.  And the last bit I learned is …
  • My God walks with me. He cries with me. (Hosea 11: 9 & John 11: 33 & 35 ) He lost community; friends and human life. He has the wounds to prove and wash away all doubts, all fears. He was alone but so was, so was I. So He knows. We can be with him always. All ways. We will be with Him. He sits with us. He is the vine (John 15:5) in treeless streets.  (Psalm 1)

He is the emphatic kindergarten teacher who comes by me, sits,  touches and wipes my tears, my years away. And He doesn’t wear plastic gloves. I can feel his hand. Now

 I think I am going to like kindergarten…

 Twitter: @charlesosewalt

 Website:

www.charlesosewalt.com

light in August

21 Aug

light in August

ideas, light in August
Light more light, who said that,
What is it about light in August? Isn’t there great light in August already? Why is Faulkner praying in his title for August light?
Well, by blog this week is ‘light in August’

Time for a light, fluffy entry. Summer light. Let’s start with a tease and a promise,
essential writing: Fairy tales coming true, they are happening to you… (essential writing is ‘coming’ to you very soon in this blog…By its end)

August for me is a time to do lightness. I, this ‘doing’ may entail many things, or nothing. But it always includes reflecting, lightly, about myself. So here are my reflective do (they all are really one big thought, thoughts linking together) of August 2013, in no certain order
What are my reflective dos?
Ideas, adventures, people and images that have ‘grabbed ‘me
do
Tweets: Charlie: everyday I ask Priscilla to marry me’ my friend Martin sharing his response in the presence of his wife Deborah: ‘every other day I ask my wife to divorce me’ the responses and questions are the same: both Martin and I are telling our ‘espouses’ how much we love them, in our own ways
Photos: me kissing priscilla
Images: Keats writing ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ in the Heath @ Hampstead
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: INTERVIEWER
How do things start? One of the recurring images in The Autumn of the Patriarch is the cows in the palace. Was this one of the original images?
GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
I’ve got a photography book that I’m going to show you. I’ve said on various occasions that in the genesis of all my books there’s always an image. The first image I had of The Autumn of the Patriarch was a very old man in a very luxurious palace into which cows come and eat the curtains. But that image didn’t concretize until I saw the photograph. In Rome I went into a bookshop where I started looking at photography books, which I like to collect. I saw this photograph, and it was just perfect. I just saw that was how it was going to be. Since I’m not a big intellectual, I can find my antecedents in everyday things, in life, and not in the great masterpieces.

Food & Service: the idea of Crepes,
Fresh Sushi; Minca’s Ramen; & Gauchos in Hampstead’s staff

Words: David Mitchell on ‘medieval topos’ : ‘As the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano was spewing plumes of ash into European airspace in April, shuttering airports and stranding millions, the British novelist David Mitchell, a tall, gracious, high-spirited man of 41, was marching me across a long, flat tidal beach near his home in Ireland’s West Cork. Along the way, he told me a story about the perils of humility. “I had a short and rather valuable lesson,” Mitchell said after a morning on the beach, “one of these warnings that the universe gives you on a platter sometimes. I’d done an event in New Zealand at a very large auditorium, hundreds of people, and I was kind of pleased with it; it had gone well. A woman came up to me afterwards, a medievalist at the university there, and she said, ‘Have you heard of the humility topos?’ I said no. She explained that, in the medieval era, humility was seen as a great virtue. The humility topos was used for these abbots — you can think of a good one in Eco’s ‘Name of the Rose’ — who were actually monsters of arrogance, but were always banging on about how humble they were — ‘Just like our lord Jesus Christ. We serve him in humility’ — when they were the least humble people you can find in history. Some even became pope. And the woman looked at me and said, ‘Watch out for the humility topos.’ And then sort of disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Children’s book: ‘Fables’ by Arnold Lobel-story ‘the Lobster and the Crab’

Restaurants: the Fatty Crab on the Upper West Side (now closed)
Travels: China (haven’t been yet); Venice; any one place that’s Michael and Sarah tell me to go (but only one!)
Friends: can’t choose anyone, miss them all madly even when they are with me in my heart’s mind
Pets: Our Dalmatian, Pepper & walking with her in a white snow blinding New York blizzard and ‘seeing’ why fire-fighters have Dalmatians as their dogs
Encouragements: Tim and Kathy’s birthday card; Alex’s smile & laugh; writing
Unfinished writing work: my movie screenplay ‘Weight Losers.’ Young hip very overweight guy has a lovely girlfriend who has lost a lot of weight and she wants the same for him. She brings ‘Charles’ (or Rick Bann on????) to an all female Weight Losers meeting and….

So now, your Fairy Tale…and you have a choice. Choose one Fairy tale to live in. Reflect on ‘why’ you choose this tale for yourself now, in this time and place. Write your tale of choice and the ‘why’ or reason for your choice in my comment box. I will respond to all ‘Tales’ by 2 September. (If you just want to reflect and not receive a comment, simply state no comment.)
Prompt: You are a character in a traditional Fairy tale. (For example: Snow White) The story narrative cannot change in its ending (Snow White marries the Prince and leaves the 7 Dwarfs) and you will live in that tale 999 years. State what tale you choose and why you choose that tale and that character. How to begin…How about….. Once upon a time, for 999 years…

meditation 11: bad fruit ‘and the like’

19 Aug

‘and’; a word that combines connects and communicates multiple relationships, ideas and works. ‘Ands’ build.

Paul in his letter to Galatians describes ‘bad’ fruit as desires of the flesh. He uses multiple ‘ands’ to build the image of fleshy desires, what I am calling here bad fruit. Paul calls these desires acts:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

All of the fleshly desires above work together. And they work in such a powerful manner that they become life: ‘I warn you, as I did before, that those who live…’ The people of the church in Galatia were living in the flesh ‘before’ this letter; Paul is warning them again. Why? Because the flesh and its desires are so strong. They grow as one. They act internally and externally. How? Fleshly desires grow and build together with ‘ands.’ Impurity and debauchery; idolatry and; factions and envy witchcraft; orgies, and the like.’ And the like. Like calls to like; desire call to other desires; addictions to other overwhelming desires. One desire leads to another and another and another. Each then builds into a series of connecting ‘acts.’ And theses are acts of the flesh, the body, mind and heart, the community of our self work together to infuse and become our spirit. Multiple desires multiply into acts. And these acts of thought and desire then become flesh. A feed-back circle/loop that forms spiritual life. All these desires and their acts then reform one central, controlling and transforming desire. An uber desire.The German word ‘uber’ is a cognate of the Latin word for ‘super’ and the Greek word ‘huper.’ Two languages joined together to form a word beyond a superman; a top gun; a best of the best. This German phrase is our Tower of Babel. On Tweeter @Uber describes their tweeter self as: ‘Everyone’s Private Driver.’ And/or, everyone’s idol; or their uber desire. What then is our uber desire, our driver?

It is: to become another’s desire; to be desired as a desire itself. An ultimate. As,

How many followers do you have?

In the video game ‘Star Wars Jedi Knight’ a gamer can become invincible, an uber Jedi.

As being the centre, the life of the party.

Or being the ultimate underdog, the weak defeating the strong.

The richest gal who dies with the most toys.

The prettiest boy at the party

The thinnest.

Sexiest. Uber person. Beyond human. Desire itself. Real Bad fruit.

So, bad fruit, fleshy desires? How can I live with them without their becoming my life? Can I escape the loop? Get off the roundabout?

My” How to” comes from Paul’s ‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’ Slow down, Charles. Walk. Don’t react. Don’t run, dance, don’t get over excited. Don’t let the immediate thought, worry, desire control your actions. Walk. Meditate on the Word as you walk. His Spirit will be ‘gentleness and self-control’ within you. (Paul’s first and only use ‘and’ in his qualities list Spirit fruit: ‘gentleness and self-control.’ These are the only spiritual qualities Paul has working directly together.) Why are only these two qualities joined by ‘and’ when Paul has so many infinite fleshy qualities –‘and the like’ joined together?

Because I believe His gentleness works with our self-control to ‘make me great.’ (Psalm 18: 35) For it is, by the Spirit, how He stoops down into my life, that I can walk away from the flesh, my flesh. He desires great, fruit. Fruit of Him, His Spirit, His gentleness. Me. Built by and with the Spirit. Walking.

Aside

meditation 10: ‘Spirited Away’

12 Aug

meditation 10: ‘Spirited Away’

fruit of the spirit, kind gentleness-Beauty is…kindness & gentleness, working together as one fruit

People can be raised, born with gentleness, with ‘kind’ touches, voices and seeing yet not probing eyes. Their ‘kindness’ comes in large part from their gentle characters. Some are even born with this ‘gentle’ gift. Some are raised to be gentle. Christians, though, are to be ‘spirited away.’ We are fruit; and we are made, ‘spirited’ by a gift. Then we become one fruit with multiple rich, exotic tastes. Our lives are what are being tasted, by others, our lovers, our children, our family, our friends and community. Ourselves. We are to become gentle kindness.

As I practice the kindness I am not borne but gifted with, I become gentle. Spirited kindness creates gentleness in me. I was borne neither gentle nor kind. I was raised with wolves. Niccolo Machiavelli said in ‘The Prince@ that ‘a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good.’ Yes, Nick. Quite correct. If I strive, I die in ruin. But if I am ‘Spirited…

Slowly I am reformed in another, His, image. This is the practice of a Christian walk; it is practice and fruit of the spirit. I cannot do it by my own will for any sustained period. If I try on my own, if I strive, l become a Real Zombie soon enough; created by my own sinful desire, without His Spirit. A hallow man. A Zombie who can’t feel; can’t taste. I devour what I see more and more. Even the desire to be ‘goodness’ will devour. I taste nothing. I become Zombies, yes Zombies in the plural. Multiple, real real aspects of my own sinful desires that seek to become flesh, my own flesh and blood. Zombies. And I battle them every day. Sinful desires that also want my Spirit. And I lose some days. But other days I am healed. I become real, living, Spirited.

Paul speaks of how a hurt brother or sister is to be restored in Galatians: ‘Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted’. Galatians 6:1

Paul is telling us, me, a Real Zombie can come back to a living being. We Zombies just need gentleness, kind gentleness. How? Who heals?

Gently, as a physician setting or putting in place a broken bone. That is how. That is the meaning of the English word “restore.” ‘Restore’ translates a Greek word (katartizein), a word with multiple meanings. Its primary meaning as a Greek word is ‘to set a broken bone.’ A broken bone is both painful and useless. The broken leg doesn’t walk. The broken hand doesn’t hold. The broken limb simply doesn’t work. And it is painful. Pain needs, thirsts for gentleness, kindness. My definition of ‘restore’ is Spirited. Physicans gently restore spirit by the Spirit. That is my thirst, a desire to taste His Spirit.

Years past I was hit by a car when crossing a street. My leg was shattered in two places. After many months I started physiotherapy. I will never forget my first day in the physio office: directly across the way from me in an adjoining room sat a woman gently caressing her leg, recently broken and slowly healing. There was, there is something about a gentle touch that heals; even if you do it to, for, yourself. And we, she, did not do it once but many times, back and forth her hands moved over her scarred leg. We need this touch to be, to become human. And then we need the Spirit’s touch to become more than human, but never less than ourselves. We need the Spirit’s touch o become like Him. A living touch that is not afraid to reach out and heal, even a Zombie that threatens to devour. A gentle, kind touch.

This is fruit: gentleness and kindness working together. One is begetting the other; kindness growing as a child forming other acts of kindness. This is His Spirit.: fruit bearing fruit, gentleness forming/engendering kindness. Kindness, in its turn creating gentleness. Goodness ruining evil.

Taste and see; taste and envision; taste fruit of His Spirit and live. This is living fruit that gives life. Good Life. His life. He is good.

meditation 9: fruit of the spirit, goodness

6 Aug

meditation 9:  fruit of the spirit, goodness

 What is goodness? Can anyone be ‘good?’ Any act?  Any purpose?

As I look at myself, for own motives, loves, looking and coveting, speaking solely for my own heart and self, my answer is “No, not good, not me.”

I can say this because I have glimpses of goodness. From others.  Brief compelling can’t stop thinking about glimpses. My heart replays these vary rare views over and over, over and over. They are so rare; I don’t recognise them at first. Here is a recent one.

Priscilla, my wife, is goodness. Yes, at times she is angry, forgetful, and full of self. But at small, very key life moments, she rises. Her goodness empowered by the spirit shines as a new moon in a clear night sky, or a moving piece of music. She, immediately and without thought, is’ good.’ It is her first instinct.

In mid June I saw an advert for a local Proms concert. St. Jude’s church in Golders Green was to have Sir Willard White sing. Priscilla knew him over 40 years ago at a small church in NYC, The Bronx Household of Faith. She always spoke fondly of him and was excited to see that he was in the UK. I booked two of the last three tickets available and Priscilla called the church to leave a message.Can you please tell Mr White that Priscilla from the Bronx Household of Faith will be at the concert? She would love to say ‘hello.’Graciously, the church and the person Priscilla spoke to assured her that they would leave him her contact information.

We heard nothing in the week between her call and the event. Very excited that Friday, in a slight rain, we arrived to a packed house. When we picked up our tickets, Priscilla again explained to a kind steward how she knew Sir Willard. The event staff listened attentively and assured her Sir Willard would get her hand written note. Ours seats were in the first row off to the side. We went in.‘Perfect ‘was Priscilla’s response to our seats: she could see him; and he might recognise her, though people change.

Sir Willard came on; he had not changed significantly except for the greying of age in his hair. He looked well and sang with power and zeal. He opened with a number of German classical pieces that shared the subject of death. He sang, at times with real power. The interval came.  He and his accompanist left the stage.

As a little girl, Priscilla needed vanilla ice cream to cool her excitement. Returning to her, I spoke to another steward. Yes, Sir Willard would leave the stage at the end of the performance and he would ensure she could have a brief moment with him.

The second act began. My sense of the evening was that of a man singing of death in a place of risen celebration, a church. He seemed a performer, not a worshipper of anything, even his own performance. Needless to say, the evening closed. Priscilla waited and told me how he sang ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ to her in New York before she knew me. The Head steward waited with us at the exit. Sir Willard never appeared. He ducked out to avoid her, my Priscilla.

 And here, here, is where I saw goodness. Myself, I was angry Not even a ‘hello.’ He purposely avoided her, as though she was a stalker. In the Head Steward’s word to me: ‘really, he could use the fans; the work.’  Standing by the exit door till the last possible moment Priscilla said ‘Thank you.’ As we walked to our transport she said, ‘Church must have hurt him. He must be hurting deeply.’I asked her is she was hurting; wasn’t she angry? How insensitive…Priscilla said looking down, ‘You don’t know what he has been though. I have my memory of his singing for me.’How generous; how good.

 

 

Twitter: @charlesosewalt

 

Website:

www.charlesosewalt.com