Marvin Repinski: Trembling, he came into the room. ‘I lost my car keys’

Published 6:30 am Saturday, October 2, 2021

David Brooks wrote in his book “Bobos in Paradise,” “We just fit ourselves into a system that rewards a certain type of achievement, and give our children the resources that would allow them to prosper in that system too.  But, blind to our own power, we have created enormous inequalities — financial inequalities and more painful inequalities of disrespect.”

He also writes in this book about class wars.

I’m not aware that this is as evident in the Mower County area, but certainly there is a difference in how our citizens view themselves and others. We all live at a time when our politics have sharper edges. We are less willing to abide and more easily become believers in slogans that are not cheerful.

Most who read this are, I assume, like myself — members of the middle class. My heritage, friendships, marriage, career and the way I aspire to live is to be content, be forgiving, live with goals and principles and an openness to a larger life — a spiritual life!

When we lose something necessary or dear, like car keys, we may almost go bonkers. A woman who was mowing the church lawn came into the room where we had just ended our Bible study with a ring of keys in hand. “What? Where in the world did you find them? Now I can drive home!”   

“In the bushes next to the outdoor church sign.”

“Yes, I was there — just looking at the message on the sign.”

“What is it?”

“When sheep are lost.”

“That’s a mouthful. We are all lost — keys too!”

When Brooks states in his book, “blind to our own power,” we may wish to widen his thoughts about those who seem to have an advantage with their wealth. He rather pushes us to think of most people having a particular blindness, and I add a certain kind of loss.

My observation is that our view of us can get very far away from all the myriad discussions, reports in the news media, the reportage of conflicting responses, assessments of race that are in the political arena. My own growth is based on a sympathetic greater knowledge and empathy within discussions on racial matters.

Two years ago, at the Glenville United Methodist Church, I preached a sermon titled  “Tolerance.” I try not to speak directly to what I am aware of — a “racial divide” — conflicting feelings and actions toward those who are seen as non-white.   

Tolerance, I believe, is necessary.

An example of the healing, the tolerance that includes individual respect, is in a comment to journalist Kathy Read. In the book “Lake Street Speaks: A Collection of Poetry and Art for Social Justice,” Susan Shields is a white person with her own business, a baby boomer who lives in Wayzata with 20-year old Rashaunea Amber-Sinston, a black college student from north Minneapolis. Amber-Sinston states, “There is mistrust between black and white — but Susan never gave me any reason not to trust her. She connected me with good people.”

My response to her sentiment is for us to be among those “good people.”

There is so much work to be done in the soul of most of us. It is too easy to lose our souls in the conflicts we forge in the days of our lives.

I’m way behind in my reading novels, but today I asked myself, “Marvin, did you skip reading the book by Daphne Du Maurier, ‘Rebecca?’”

The dialogue, the manner of choosing words, the plot, the weaving together of sentences is exquisite. If I were teaching in college again, this novel would be part of the syllabus.

Please read these sentences:

“We can never go back again, that much is certain.  The past is still too close to us.  The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic — now mercifully stilled, thank God — might in some manner unforeseen, become a companion, as it had been before.”

After speaking of her partner, “He is wonderfully patient and never complains, not even when he remembers. I can tell by the way he will look lost and puzzled suddenly, all expression dying away from his dear face.”

This man, in his loss, is not unlike the worlds of many of us — lost children, lost parents, lost jobs, lost the one you had hoped to marry, lost your membership in the club, lost your best friend, lost the map that printed the highways to your vacation destiny, lost your belief in a caring God, lost your brother in a war zone.

In the past two decades, those who evaluate people on this planet have noted a greater loss of human life than any time that human beings have taken measurement.

Bouncing in my mind is the pharmacist at Walgreens, who said to me as I was leaving, “Take care!”  What more can be said?

In the introduction of his book “Good Poems,” Garrison Keillor had this observation:  “Visit Emily Dickinson’s grave in Amherst. Here lies the white-gowned virgin goddess, in a cluster of Dickinson, under a stone that says, ‘Called Back.’  Here weekly, strangers come as grieving family, placing pebbles on her big stone, leaving notes to her folded into tiny squares, under small stones.”