Marvin Repinski: We are living here for a season

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 10, 2021

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A book that may be read with profit and with interest by some people is now on my pile of books to continue reading. “The Rainbow Comes and Goes,” by Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, is memory, introspection, history and a lot of odds and ends.

Worth reading? Do we need to reflect on life’s wisdom’s, the dumb things, about life-overwhelmingly lived, loved, lost and recovered?

I say “yes.”

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The Vanderbilt name seems universal. Gloria dominated the footnotes of a hundred magazines; wealth was like sand poured over the rooftops.  And accomplishments — talents — were like driving storms. The arts were given decades-long boosts by this family. Thank you! 

Anderson Cooper is increasingly in our ears (our faces) as an astute commentator of the world stage.  He’s sharp in my opinion. Anderson, the son of Ms. Vanderbilt, will hopefully be around as a journalist for CNN and CBS for some gracious years.

Vanderbilt has written, “Would it make a difference if you had understood that at the time? So often, I can comprehend. So often, I can comprehend something rationally, and intellectually, but it doesn’t change the way I feel emotionally, no matter how much I wish it did.  Would it have lessened your restlessness, your inabilities to be satisfied, if you had recognized it for what it was?”

Rereading this mouthful and adding our own “its” is the challenge to every thoughtful person. It’s to find some meaning in what Vanderbilt terms her “rage to live” that follows her footsteps. One has to read her reflections in this book to receive her jumping from distraught to peace.

What season is it now?

My bout with the covert has silenced my overactive thinking and I know the global loss of a part of the world’s population only perpetuates my God questions.

Forever I am both tormented and fulfilled by a certain word: “curious.”  We are in a very historic time of riding this planet. It’s not often that I see China, Russia, the Middle East, and a president that has the whole world dropped on its head.  “Please pray,” I say to myself and others.

Fate and faith are twins that hug each other like gasping animals. In that mix I say, “we won’t surrender to the gashes on our skins; we won’t say, ‘I give up — there are some good things that will arrive!’  We will take the NOW of these years and say, ‘this tag-match will be won by responsible, creative persons!’”

This hour’s news brought the report of death

Not only because a person is a relative, but because the quality of his life is really matched. Please allow me to call attention to the mourning that my wife Becky and I share. Her brother, at age 80, is gone but not “gone!”

The headline of an article in the “Royal Canadian Geographical Society” reads, “Celebrating the Life of Renowned Canadian-American Scientist David Schindler.”

His 50 years of research was aimed at efforts to protect freshwater around the world. His publications on groundbreaking studies were staggering and published in many languages around the globe.

How do we integrate death into life? The task for each of us is to take up a challenge. We may work at it. To allow one who has “departed,” as we say, who for a long time has been a part of our lives catches in the throat. We may recall conversations and shared companionship that we will hold dear.  What else is there? We all can fill in many blanks. We can stay verbally alive by the vibrancy of those gone but very much with us.

Hanging on by one’s fingernails

Death, like a dark ghost, snatches people and all living things away. The bottom line seems to place the responsibilities of all above the leadership, being dependent on the current city leaders. One needs to be reminded that a lot of facts, information, responses to details, communications with multiple persons, a wide array of decision-making and a creation of a history, gets focused and internalized in one person.

Is there a risk or short-sightedness in these factors? One certainly is aware that the person who has accumulated the primary leadership role, city manager, may choose to retire, become ill, be subject to a planned restructuring of boards or agencies or leave the position to be hired to employment outside of the Austin area.

For several years the media has, in fact, informed the community of the current city manager being interviewed for similar leadership positions in other Minnesota cities.

All of these reflections are intended to create the best and wisest manner to make decisions that will, for the present and future, fashion a city of excellence.

My projection of the sacredness of physical life is that we are “built for better things!”  Like many persons, I am like the formative figure in the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day.  She was often considered to be a part of the lunatic fringe, hanging on to her place in the church by her fingernails. That perception was held more in her early years as a reformer to traditional religious practice (why such glorious arches in our churches while the dispossessed sleep next to the church’s walls covered with an old mattress?)

The crush of conscience is often a struggle; a new organ or a new church kitchen to provide meals for the hungry?

We are all caught up in so many contradictions. The compassion, application of skills, and know-how continue to beg for our participation. In thinking of those who have passed to “the other side” (I affirm in some such manner), voices are available and they say, “find ways to praise God in the manner that claims your heart!”