This week my synagogue community laid to rest a beloved member of our congregation– Marcia. The last time I saw Marcia wasn’t at Temple, but at Trader Joe’s. I was on my way out with the kids and she was on her way in. A true lover of children, Marcia immediately struck up a conversation with my daughter. A minute later we parted ways.
When we are in community with someone we sometimes reach a point where we take their presence for granted. That, or their presence is so undeniable that we assume it will always be there. There’s hardly been a time in the last 7 years that I was at Temple for a major (or minor) event that Marcia wasn’t. She had a strong laugh, strong opinions, and always had a kind word for me, my wife, and my children. The Temple was, literally, her home and her family.
As I was traveling back from serving as an artist/scholar in residence in Little Rock, Arkansas, my wife shared the tragic news of Marcia’s passing. It has haunted me since. I didn’t realize it until her death, but Marcia and I shared a special bond– our faith home– The Temple. It’s not a unique bond, but rather a bond that Marcia shared with hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. Most of them, like me, assuming they’d see her again. Assuming we’d share a laugh, a prayer, a pre-worship cookie, or something like that.
Life doesn’t always make sense.
When I meet people who don’t understand what it means to belong to a synagogue or another close knit community I’ll think of Marcia. I’ll think of what it means to share a pew, to worship together, to study together, to celebrate and mourn together. I’ll think about how a community can be a home away from home, or in some cases, a home unlike any other.
I pray that Marcia’s memory be an enduring blessing and that her family and her extended family find comfort in honoring her life.