Harold & Maude


When it comes to spirituality, small children get into spaces that an adult never could reach. I half suspected it also happened during pregnancy, and in the small spaces and events that led up to the moment of the pregnancy.

Looking at this photo from the Aran Islands, your author is looking west to the New World. After about a 20 year silence in listening to Cat Stevens’ songs this week, I thought of the soundtrack of that movie, “Harold & Maude.” The songs in the movie were all by Cat Stevens. And it dawned on me 6 months after returning home, that the view from the Aran Islands with a different perspective was the same westward view if you now lived in California that the“Harold & Maude” movie maker had when he presented a lot of life and death issues. Of Harold, as a kid just completing his formal education. A lot like me, in the time period the movie was made.

I did not recognize the spirituality in the music, at the time. This was during the time before Cat Stevens had his own conversion to Islam. And no one where I lived quite knew what Islam really meant. You could be isolated when you came from the Aran Islands about what was going on in the rest of the world.

I went to a burial yesterday lacking in any spirituality. Or below the acceptable level of spirituality. When we all had standards, of what was the acceptable level. My acceptable standard, like some kind of sea level. The ones set long ago either by people who lived by the sea. Or the ones set by nomads. The ones who came from the dessert. And I did not really know what to say.

Who really knows a family? Or what went on to reach the ritual of burial of this Irish Catholic woman. Who really knew the level of grief. When grief was described by Thomas Lynch, a guy who was involved with family decisions about burial in Michigan, as the tax that people paid on the richness of a life. And grief was an ongoing tax that no one knew you were paying, in the rummaging for God. On issues of birth and death. And fertility.


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