An Ecclesiastical Tragedy

Feb 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Much of the time this column deals with the everyday and mundane. On some occasions, it becomes necessary to go beyond the ordinary stuff of daily life in order to examine some of the earthshaking events and moments that affect us. This is one of those times.

One week ago, a clergy colleague, whom I have known for 44 years, committed suicide. Little is known about the circumstances. Those who knew him are in mourning and shock over the sudden ending of his life. We are commonly in deep sympathy with his family. We are mystified and shaken.

The experience of suicide is always an emotional earthquake for those who remain. The “why” haunts us for a long time.

In the case of a minister, retired, it is all the more troubling. Of course, clergy are like the rest of the human species. They are beset by their own complexities and dark side. Those who expect more of clergy need to exercise expecting more of themselves.

Rushing to judgment is never a helpful participation in the process. Grieving comes and needs its reinforcement and allowance by those who are intimate to the experience.

Our colleague made his mark professionally, personally, profoundly on hundreds and more. His articulate wisdom was passed along over and again. His spiritual insights assisted many in their own struggles. His reputation was spread far and wide. He had, by all accounts, a stellar career. None of that can be taken away. To allow that to be so would be a travesty added to the tragedy.

Those whose lives intertwined with our friend were gifted to have known and worked with him. There were times of disagreement and opposition over one or another temporal issue. That is long past. What is present is our affection and indelible memory of a man we respected and admired.

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