Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Morning Thanks--an epithet
Just a week or so ago, Frederick Manfred would have celebrated his 100th birthday, had he lived. He didn't. He died in 1994, from the complications of a brain tumor.
I miss him. He was a force in my life, a huge force, a man so immensely passionate about what he did that he couldn't help becoming an inspiration to others. I used to bring gangs of students up to his place, and every year they'd come away in stunned silence, even awe. Like no one else, he urged me to take an interest in writing--and he did so long before he ever knew me, or I him.
For years already, these few sentences on his grave in the Doon, IA cemetery have haunted me. I know the thirst he had for this life was gargantuan; I knew him, and I know he wanted to know, wanted to feel, wanted to understand everything he could. The farmer in him never quit really--he loved the land, the air, the breeze, the critters who'd wander up the hill near his place. He was, in a way, in love with this world.
And yet, when I read it again, I can't help but think it's a view of life I've been taught is plain wrong, even sinful. This world is not my own, after all--I'm just a'passin' through.
But Fred Manfred's tombstone epithet makes me want to believe in the beauty of the earth, the splendid joy of this life. How can that be wrong?
Just think of that indigo bunting.
This morning I'm thankful for those haunting lines on Manfred's grave. They don't go away. They stay with me, as truth should.