[Moon through aqueduct on the Villa ________ grounds]
It's been a rough several weeks, hasn't it? It's hard to say much in the face of these days of loss after loss, though I do want to send out my love and sympathy to those who've lost someone close to them. But that almost seems like it's all of us: one really heartening thing has been to see how this community has pulled together in caring and support.
I'm not usually the kind of person who walks around with Bible verses spinning around in her head, but lately I have been, and thanks to the useful hippie mnemonic of The Byrds' version of this song, here's what I've been singing as I walk among the ruins and the dust:
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace...
That greatest hit brought to you in Ecclesiastes 3, King James Version.
And now, if you're old enough to remember it, isn't The Byrds' song stuck in your head? There are worse things, I think.
Obviously, wandering among Rome's many layers of history is a constant reminder of the passage of time, a spur to thoughts not only of our mortality, but of the things that we can leave behind as well. One of the few comforting things that I was actually able to take in right after my father died was when someone said, "At least you have all the things that mattered most to him, right here in his books." Writers are lucky in that respect, but the families and loved ones of writers are lucky too, because we continue to love them, and we write about them, and maybe we can help others too to continue to hold the loved ones in their thoughts. They don't just disappear.
Today, through the wonders of Facebook (yes, kicking and screaming, but I'm there), I was found by someone who had been a student of my father's in the mid-60s. This kind man (thank you, you know who you are) had a couple of nice stories to tell me, and I am grateful that he did; some long-ago memories surfaced, and I could almost, almost hear my father's low, rumbly laugh.
"Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?"