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Wednesday, March 20 2002

Life's too short (Topic A)

I started yesterday's entry by saying I didn't have much on my mind, "my muse has abandoned me." But I was determined to not share why this had occurred. After the entries the week before last, in response to my friend Steve's death and which occupied this space for all four entries that week, I was determined not to return to the topic of death or a particular death, again so soon. But knowing that Topic A in Nanty Glo and the whole Valley this week has to be the tragic news alluded to in the first link in the list above, I'm relenting. On Super Bowl Sunday, the sermon had better make at least some reference to the game and its fever if the preacher wants to make contact with his congregation. "Topic A" by definition is obligatory.

The reason my muse left last evening was that someone had kindly sent the news article and obituary in Monday's Johnstown paper about the accidental electrocution of BVHS senior Dino Michael Rudolph. I never met Dino, and don't remember knowing any of his family when I lived in the Valley, but that notwithstanding, the news was stunning. Beside it, no topic was much worth considering. Then today I read the follow-up profile article about him on the Tribune-Democrat's site, and have borrowed liberally from it in our own obituary article linked above. I can't remember ever being more impressed by the aphorism "the good die young" than in this case.

This isn't the first time in my life I've had the question posed, do—or why do—the good die young? In the mid-'50's, when I was in my early teens, the death of James Dean was seen in the light of that question, not that he was good in the sense of virtuous, necessarily, but because he was such a good actor we all wished we could see a lot more of him in the years to come, but couldn't. Soon afterward, the "Three Stars"—Richie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly—died together too young and they were memorialized in a song of the name in quotes above, which I still play occasionally. President Kennedy wasn't young in comparison with these, nor was his brother Robert, but both died younger than their time and seemed to promise much to give life, their generation, and the nation. And there were many others.

My friend Steve, at 46, not only died young comparatively, but he seemed to live for decades beforehand with some foreknowledge that his life might be short. That question often arises, too, when someone dies young. We found hints of it in the personal effects of my brother who died at 19, for example. Steve wasn't sick most of the years I knew him, but he lived much more carefully than most people. Most might respond at his eschewing even, for example, coffee as a dangerous substance, that life's too short to not enjoy a little stimulation...but when it is foreshortened as in his case, you wonder...did he live longer because he was so careful? Did something know, in his spirit, subconscious, even his body, that his days were going to be relatively short?

Do those like Dino, who seemed from all accounts such a role model, a parent's dream, have an inner sense of their foreshortened mortality, and so make much more of it than most of us do? Or to look at the same question from an entirely different point...does God take them before they lose their innocence? And if so...?

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

It's for free

A barber gave a haircut to a priest one day. The priest tried to pay for the haircut, but the barber refused, saying, "You do God's work. It's for free." The next morning the barber found a dozen Bibles at his shop. A policeman came to the barber for a haircut, and again the barber refused to charge him, saying, "You protect the public. It's for free." The next morning the barber found a dozen doughnuts at his shop. A lawyer came to the barber for a haircut, and again the barber refused payment, saying, "You serve the justice system. It's for free." The next morning the barber found a dozen lawyers waiting for free haircuts.

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Lenten thought for the day

To fly into the divine air and ejoy the liberty of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18) may be one's desire, but, if he does not have wings given him, he cannot. Let us pray to God that he give us "the wings of a dove" (Psalm 55:7) of the Holy Spirit so we may fly to Him and find rest and that He may separate and take away from our soul and body such an evil wind, namely, sin itself, inhabiting the members of our soul and body.

—Pseudo-Macarius (4th-5th century?)

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