Sunday, November 27, 2011
I suppose it is natural to think of traditions during the holidays if only in the manner and style in which we prepare the meal and set the table. But a friend of mine here in blog land recently recalled an old man fishing that stood with his hat off in silence while a funeral convoy passed. I have not seen many funeral convoys or corteges of late. But then I live outside a small community that until recently did not even have a cemetery. But I do remember my Uncle Ray passing this bit of behavior to me on his lawn in Kansas City.
My father also always stood in silence with his hat off and over his heart when the United States flag passed by in a parade. It is in there will all the other passed down knowledge given to me by my elders. And I was of the generation that believed traditions like wedding ceremonies held back progress in society. Age has changed me. I now see so many of these stumbling blocks to progress as glue that holds a society together.
The fisherman that stood in silence with his hat off as the procession of cars passed was acknowledging his part in the human condition. One day he might be the body in the lead hearse. Will anyone stand for him? My ex-husband's wife did not even hold a memorial service for him so that the community he lived in for over twenty years could say goodbye. Such traditions or rituals are a step in the process of healing - of closing the open wound left by a member's passing. But a lot of smaller traditions are a way of cementing a society even if it is only opening a door for an elderly citizen. Or a woman with a baby in her arms. Or a young man on crutches.
Automatic doors or the hurried pace of the life we have set for ourselves seems to preclude these traditions taught to us by our parents. I might be part of the last generation that remembers these things. Have I passed them on to anyone younger. As anyone younger listened? Obviously not because we now think it is perfectly okay to bust down doors and run over the weak and frail and pepper spray others to get the best bargain on a big screen TV.
This time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is suppose to be on most church calendars a time of reflection on our own lives (not a make others wrong). What are you doing to tie yourself to other humans, to acknowledge your commonality and not your differences? What oil are you spreading on the wheels of society? Are you letting someone with less items and a screaming child go first in line? Are you parking further away in the big box store lot so someone who needs it can have access to the handicapped space? Are you opening the door for anyone that might have trouble doing it themselves.
What little traditions or common courtesies have you learned and buried in some recess of your mind? Time to revive them and share them openly. Time to make our society a kinder and gentler place to reside.