Sunrise and the liturgical axis (memory and holiday)

Memory and Holiday,

This Easter morning, the one who holds my heart are up before the sun, the oven is warm, and the smell of a coffee cake mixes with coffee, and the house is quiet. We’re up to see T&M off as the make the drive to family in Houston, and somewhere along the drive, the sun will rise.

I remember reading that as the sun rises, Easter morning, that the master mason would align an iron rod with a looped rod (the bishops staff) at the moment the sun would be fully visible above the horizon. The line between the two rods established the central axis of the chapel/cathedral/church, and once established, the life of the building could begin.

I think memory is like that, a central axis in our lives. An invisible thing that holds all our bits and pieces together.

This morning I read a memory, written by a friend and colleague, about this date ten years ago. It had started out before sunrise for me that day as well, riding the shuttle to the little airport in Roanoke, Virginia. I must have seen the sun rise, between rolling mountaintops, but I don’t have a memory of that. My first memory of that day is watching a monitor while standing in line at the counter to check in. I was supposed to present a paper at a conference in Portland. The news was reporting a murder in a dormitory on campus that morning, and it gave me a bad feeling. The feeling grew as the line moved and when it was my turn to check in with the agent I remember saying that I needed to cancel my ticket, something I’d never done before, or since.

I got back on the mid morning shuttle and rode back towards campus. I remember a long line of state police cars passing us at high speed as we got off the interstate. The shuttle driver let me off downtown and I first heard the magnitude of the disaster. My class was in lockdown in the auditorium across from Norris Hall, my friend Sam had agreed to lecture on steel while I was at the conference.

The police had locked down campus and wouldn’t let me get to the auditorium, all I could do was exchange emails with my students. They were safe. I felt bad for not being with them that day, sometimes you try and fail, this was one of those times. For the students and faculty we lost that day, we hold on to the memory, its one of those knots on the axis of my life.

Spring traditionally is a time of rebirth after a long winter. Its a season of losses for my family, Tyler, Mom, and the VT tragedy temper the joy of annual rebirth. But I have more memories of Easter, happy ones watching my favorite oldest daughter collect eggs in the Fargo backyard, having eggs roll from her basket and crunch on the patio each time she bent to pick up a new egg, my favorite youngest daughter, her face blue from candy egg colors wearing a yellow sweater knit by mom, hunting (racing?) to all moms usual egg hiding places around the house (was there a secret map?) and finding candy eggs that hadn’t been discovered during the summer birthday gift hunts she would orchestrate.

I’m wishing my daughters and granddaughter a happy easter this morning from afar, we were able to have our Texas family together last night for a meal, (we used an inherited rolling pin to make a family signature dish last night) they’ll head out to see their families around town and state today, and i think the one who holds my heart and i will share a fire and a glass of wine as the sun sets today, sharing memories, making plans, and feeling the presence of Beverly, Voris, Jack and Lorraine.

I’m hoping you all have a good memory to add to the axis of your life today. Remember those friends and family who can’t be at your table today. Welcome the little ones who will need to hear your memories, its how they live on and connect our axis to those going back thousands of years.

Take care, be good to each other, keep remembering! One day thats what we’ll all be.

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