in memory of John Sassani
In the beginning
the thing is taking hold.
Picture the tiny fingers encircling yours
and gripping with surprising strength.
There was a time when
your tiny fingers learned to do the same.
Thousands of days follow,
with the order of the day still to
of gains of every kind.
How strange it seems after all those days
that the most gripping chapter
of the story may be
the letting go. Be it
in old age, or by loss too early,
we become less able to take hold of the new
less able to maintain our grip
on the old and familiar.
How to learn the art
and accept the beauty
of letting go?
Each path is unique and
in a manner solitary.
In the midst of rich community
you heard the call to let go,
beginning with the deep within
I cannot know how hard that must have been
or whether you spoke of it thus or not.
Perhaps it was beyond words, from the first.
But I know the letting go is always mutual,
for we who are letting go, and those
who are compelled to let go of us.
Those who still in their time of taking hold
hear an unfamiliar invitation to gently
generously and with gratitude let go,
to release you into the good God from whom
you graciously came to birth
and took hold,
and in the end, let go.
I remember you in the early years of taking hold.
You did it well. With a combination of skill and tenderness and faith.
A winning combination.
In those years the thought of letting go,
if ever we thought it,
seemed only for the old, and a thousand lifetimes away.
But it comes at last, on its own time
and on its own terms, the letting go.
And you have done it, I pray, just as well
as the taking hold.
Pray we do the same in due course,
good priest, good man, good friend to many.
(J. McGinty, 4/24/19)