Feet planted on the same ground where we’ve stood since our time began. The beginning of time, in a sense. Before our time, the world was a black and white and grainy four-inch by four-inch square with sculpted borders and pasted in a book. This was a place our fathers knew, and in their passing, it is bestowed a holiness of sorts. But, we are not and do not come from holy men.
Born, not far in distance or time apart, this is our starting point. And perhaps it will be our final stand.
From this place and spot and dirt we came, our roots grow strong and deep. Fed by the nutrients of this place and all that grew from its minerals and salts and water.
Here and upright and connected to this ground, every bit as much from this soil as the trees that now tower over our heads, and creek with age and fatigue and branches and twigs and big clumps of oak leaves fall. Here, in this moment, we are afforded a fascinating and terrifying vantage point to look back and past and through time itself, to another time and back to this time.
If you are quiet and still on this spot, you can hear the laughter and rage and tears of the ghosts who have left this place and left us alone to this place.
Here today, a fascinating and frightening realization that as we have gone our separate ways and lived out the lives we were dealt and assembled and committed and survived our collective crimes, we’ve always somehow managed to find our way back to here, to our common dirt.
From the memory of the sting and the terror of the first kiss and falling in love with a girl, her name is long forgotten to the fog and the wind, to the bloody nose and sore bones of the first fist-fight. The sting of bees and the trampled runs across the high field grasses from deadly vipers, and the swollen, broken knuckle of the first slipped wrench. Then without intent or effort we moved into a life the of broken words and commitments and lies of adulthood, a million-million things have come and gone and come and changed. But, in a way, nothing at all has changed.
On this haunted plain, on this north-windswept, stark, gray day, you ask a truth I always feared….
“Were we good?”
Were we good sons and grandsons and mechanics, were we good and true to our chosen profession, fearful for so many years to be discovered the frauds we know ourselves to be. Were we good guitar pickers and story writers and boxers and cyclists and pick and shovel and socket and wrench and hammer and nail men?
Were we good in our souls and kind and honorable? Were we good to ourselves and each other? Did we feed the hungry?
Were we good in the eyes of a god who confused us and scared us and demanded the slaughter of sons and lambs and asses to prove a faith I cannot find, let alone abide by?
Were we loyal and good friends? Did I step up every time I could have to defend you, or did I run and hide in my cowardice?
Were we good at protecting our own lies and crimes from the prying eyes of daylight’s truth?
Were we simply good because we were not intentionally bad?
Were we good and loyal and did we grow strong as boys in the summer streams and ponds and meadows, comfort and amused by throaty frogs?
Were we good as young men, finding our way in our discomfort and angst, trying to understand and define what it is to be a man? And are we now good as we become old men still trying to figure it all out? So many things went wrong and haywire along the way.
Today you said to me, “We were good!” I can only hope, with a waning confidence, your words never betray the underlying truth.
We were good.