I was running on a trail this morning and came across this:
A moss-covered brick, with flowers and a small football boot, and a plastic memorial plaque.
It seemed an odd way to remember a son – why on the side of a trail? Why a concrete brick? What outpouring of pain could have prompted this tribute? Perhaps this part of the park was where the son had died, or was somehow special to him.
And then I thought: a concrete brick isn’t that different than any other memorial. Earlier on my run I’d passed this churchyard:
Who was I to determine what constitutes an acceptable memorial? What kind of gravestone is appropriate? What kind of worship? And then I thought: worship. That’s exactly what this is. What are Gods but idealized visions of our ancestors? This poor mother’s brick, and the porcelain bootie, and the flowers, are all symbols, just as the gravestones are symbols, of affection and love. And that reminded me of India, and the roadside shrines that, while different in appearance, were not all that different in intent:
And so for the rest of my run I thought about loss, and love, and how similar we all really are in our sacrifice.