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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, March 26 2002

Leaves of grass

I've never read Walt Whitman's most famous work, Leaves of Grass; it's just coincidence that today's entry uses his title, as will be explained.

David's thoughts in Sunday's postcard inspired more reflections about teen deaths.
My unfinished novel, Nanty Glo (serialized on the Home Page in October and November 2000 but not kept online because of copyright considerations), attempted to investigate how the tragic deaths of a teenage couple changed many other lives and affected the town in general. And the idea of teenagers dying tragically and their passing making a large impression didn't begin here, of course, but has its precursor at least as far back as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

And ironically (in light of the fact that I wrote about favorite movies in the midst of the grieving over Dino Rudolph's death last week), I have now recalled another favorite film that speaks directly to several themes of last Wednesday's entry reflecting on the tragedy. Simon Burch, loosely based on John Irving's novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, is about a teenager who dies after saving the lives of a busload of his peers. It deals with two questions raised in that entry: do some of those who die young have prescience or foreknowledge of their shorter-than-usual lives, and also, do some of them live more exemplary or "worthy" lives as a result of such "knowing in the bones" (and which was suggested in tributes to Nanty Glo's Dino)?

Irving seems to think they're legitimate questions legitimately answered in the affirmative, as Owen Meany aka Simon Burch specifically predicts his early demise and even as a child strives to live for the Lord and influence his friends to do likewise, which is foreshadowed in the book's opening sentences (and recapped in the movie in a cameo by Tom Hanks as the adult former best friend of Simon and the story's narrator): "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God. I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

Though it has some R-rated language typically heard in teen milieus, I highly recommend this film for anyone interested in these topics; though not all reviewers liked it, it's one of my favorites; one of the most moving films I've ever seen.

Leaves of grass? The reference is inspired by Psalm 37:1-2:

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

We'll take up the connection in tomorrow's postcard.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

A losing proposal

A young man came home weeping. He had gone to propose to his girl and his father eagerly awaited the response.

"What happened?" the old man asked. "Did she accept?"

"No Pop, she didn't. When I told her what you advised me to do, she slapped my face!"

"Did you start out by saying what I told you to? 'Honey, time stands still when I look in your eyes.' Did you say that?"

"Oh, man! I got it wrong! I said, 'Honey, your face would stop a clock!'"


—Sent by Mike Harrison

Lenten thought for the day

Prayer — O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the
spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility,
patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and
not to judge my brother: for Thou are blessed unto ages of ages.

—St. Ephraem (d. 373)
the lenten prayer of Eastern Orthodoxy

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