Monday, December 6, 2010

Hooded, Pinned, and Missing Dr. Dan E. Goodman

I got my Bible out this afternoon. I removed the black and gold ribbons I have pinned into the inside cover. I affixed the ribbons in a loop on the lapel of my graduation gown, set the Bible on my bed, and hurried off to the School of Divinity's hooding and pinning ceremony.

The ceremony was ceremonious. For the most part, I'm quite underwhelmed with such events. Dr. T. Perry Hildreth put my pin on me, "in the name of Dan Goodman." I was moved by how many people joined me in remembering Dr. Goodman and all thanks to those Steelers colored ribbons. I shouldn't have been surprised that so many people noticed, but I didn't foresee anyone saying anything, since I didn't wear the ribbons to make a statement to anyone but myself and God.

I read recently, "Memories are small prayers to God" (Jonathan Safran Foer). After reading those words, I recalled the words I read in an e-mail from Dr. Goodman, an e-mail he sent in response to a request for prayer: "And I will remember [you] earnestly in my prayers and best wishes (I don't always differentiate between the two, you know?) in the days and weeks ahead. I promise."

I don't know if it does any good to pray for Dr. Goodman these days, although it will always be and do good to remember him. Memories and tears have come from unexpected places and gone to God as prayers comprehendible only by the Divine. I'm not sure where the prayers go after they reach God. Perhaps they are sent to his wife and children. Maybe they are further dispersed to his family and friends, including, of course, the man who fastened the pin on my gown. Maybe some of them even return to me, although I don't deserve them.

Life changes fast.
Life Changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity. (Joan Didion)