I wrote most of this post in Washington DC while attending the American Catholic Colleges and Universities annual meeting. I grieved Stock’s absence just days after he died. One of the Province Jesuits came to pack his final effects and leave his room in the Jesuit house empty. I spent 5 hours in his room that day, tasting the harsh and tender fragrance of his years of ordinary living there. I carry the memories with me still and will into my future life.
Posted on February 1, 2016
“Detroit Metro Airport, 7:23 am Saturday. I’m heading to Washington DC for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, an annual ritual right after my university’s January Board of Trustees’ meeting. Lots of attendees, some close friends, some I’ve not met. I stay at the Jesuit community, Leonard Neale House, about a 25 minute walk from the conference’s Ritz Carlton hotel. Gerry Stockhausen lived here; most of the Jesuits in the house work with one or another national Jesuit office. Stock was Executive Secretary of The Jesuit Conference, where he worked with Tim Kesicki, President of the Conference. While I was packing this morning I realized that it will take some grace to take in and be welcomed into Gerry’s absence — for me and the 10 men with whom he lived.
Monday will be busy and I had some time in Detroit Metro this morning so I fished around in Garrison Keilor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and found a poet new to me. Raymond Carver’s “At Least” freshens this travel morning. So does the note just below the poem where GK recalls for his readers that today is the birthday of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: three short FDR sayings.
Today’s Post “At least”
by Raymond Carver
I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world—
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy—have so much
to be thankful for already.
But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.
“At Least” by Raymond Carver from Where Water Comes Together With Other Water. © Vintage Books, 1986. Reprinted with permission.