Monday, April 04, 2011

The Sacrament of Grief: I

Last summer, I was lucky enough to be invited to guest post at one of the bloggernacle biggies. The blog in question (apart from being my gateway drug into blogging) has, I think, the most consistently high-quality material in the 'nacle, so it was very nice to get the invite. I have decided to post the same essay here over the next few weeks, because my mind has been dwelling on the events described therein since Lent began. Unfortunately, it still lacks a conclusion, but perhaps revisiting the material will help with that. Here's to hoping.


Note: Among my many deficiencies as a missionary were my journal keeping habits. These habits were deficient mainly in that they did not exist. The events described are true to the best of my recollection, but there may well be some inaccuracies regarding certain details and timing. Also, names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the guilty.


Merear, Domine, portare manipulum fletus et doloris... [1]

Both too early and too late, the phone rings. It is after seven o’clock in the morning when Elder Latu picks up the receiver and mumbles a groggy hello.

“Yeah, let me get him, President.”

The magic words. I am suddenly awake. There isn’t much time, so with my hand covering the mouthpiece I run through a few vocal exercises (who knew those lessons would come in handy as a missionary?) making an attempt at not sounding like I just woke up. The success rate of these games is doubtless pretty low, but they are mission etiquette; pretending slightly greater obedience than we practice is really part of how we show respect for Pres. Lawson. He returns the favor by pretending not to notice, and we are both saved from the unpleasantness of chastening. Even now though, part of me wonders if this is what dropped the sheen of awkwardness between us during mission interviews, dangling there like a theater scrim or the grille of a confessional.

“You knew Marta Souza in the Williams ward?”

“Yes, of course. I know Marta.” Spent almost six months in that area.

Had we been up on time, would I have noticed his past-tense? Knew. Maybe the coming shock was part of God’s punishment for sleeping in.

Only three weeks until I go home.


[1] “Grant, O Lord, that I may bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow...” From the vesting prayers of the Tridentine Mass.

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