Tuesday, October 20 2020
Not long ago I lit a candle for Ben Louden in the rear of the sanctuary, a small act of ritual observance, but enough to help focus my thoughts and evoke lots of memories. I'd met Ben some thirty years ago, and though I hadn't seen him for a while I knew this last year had been challenging. Even though his passing was expected the news came as a jolt.
It's that old impermanence, slapping me upside the head again. I want to believe that things will stay as they are, that everything will be okay, but things don't necessarily stay the same and sometimes curve balls come our way. Either we accept the realities of life and death or live in denial--except that denial doesn't work very well. One way or another grief is inevitable, descending upon us like heavy weather; though the intensity of our sadness diminishes over time, it returns with anniversaries and birthdays and other sentimental seasons.
His passing brings to mind the help he gave to others, his love of reading, the wonderful cookies he baked, and the stories he told--particularly one about a boyhood misadventure back in his native Ohio. Though it was hilarious in the telling, I'm sure it couldn't have been very funny when it happened.
He and his brother had acquired an old wreck of a car and were thoroughly pleased with their good fortune--that is, until they began to tow it home and discovered it was full of bees who didn't care for travel--you can imagine the complications. I can picture him telling the story, so tickled he kept interrupting himself with laughter.
Lighting the candle brought so much to mind--memories of him saying and doing things "for the right reasons," organizing meetings, mentoring other men, and more. There was a constancy to Ben that marked him as a man worth knowing, and I am truly blessed to have known him.