Saturday, August 1, 2015
blessed are they.who come in the name of the Lord.......
Why do we come together?Drink, food, laughter? I can recall occasionally getting together with relatives a few towns over on Long Island, for who knows what reason.The adults would gather around the dining room table, chat and drink until 3 or 4 in the morning.We kids would read comics and occasionally beg to be taken home.
Finally, in an early hour before sunrise, we would be loaded in the old DeSoto and with sleeping heads banging against the window , we would make our way home.How did the adults heads feel the next morning? Do I sound bitter?
I have thought of those nights often since then.Why those late hours?Why sacrifice how you would feel the next day for the fun(?) of the night before?This is what I believe: they were hoping to connect.Bridge the gap that is between human beings.Feel loved.Of course, none of these people are around to ask.
It was a hot August day at Jones Beach in 1962.I was on a blanket with a boy friend getting rays near the water's edge.A disturbance caught our attention, people pointing towards the water.In a split second, the two lifeguards were off their elevated stand and with ropes and floats they charged into the surf.Within seconds, they were dragging a man through the sand and over a large barrel.He was on his back as the guards began their work.Nearby, was a young woman screaming: his wife.
As if by quiet command, four young people, including myself, drifted out of the crowd and took her hands.We gently sat down in a circle in the sand surrounded by the onlookers.Her back was to the man who was her husband of 6 months, but I could see him.As the lifeguards pushed and thumped his chest, sea water seemed to be pouring from every opening.A young fair haired man to my right began the rosary:Hail Mary,Our Father.We all joined in including the wife.She broke down sobbing, we softly prayed and we all got through those terrible minutes as the life guards worked.I kept looking for his hand to move, anything, as tears came out from the bottom of my sunglasses.
After 20 minutes or so, the young wife spotted a friend walking up the beach and getting up she ran to her.Our small group dispersed and I gathered my things and went home.The next day I sadly read that the man did drown and that he was the first known fatality at Jones Beach.
This memory is so clear in my mind that I can see every second of it unfold like a movie.I didn't know it then but now I see this:Spirit moving in the crowd, calling this one, that one to move.Gently, but firmly.Move as Christ would, with hands outstretched.Be present with no thought other than bringing comfort into this overwhelmingly sad scene.Comfort for the moment and when the time is right, it will be revealed to Mrs. Henry who it was that held her hands on that hot August day by the sea.