Twice this weekend, I've found myself thinking about the year of my birth - 1967. I wonder, sometimes, if events that took place as you make your entrance into this wild thing called "life" are in some way indicative of who you will be or what you might consider important or why you're here in the first place. Maybe they are stars you're born under which affect your destiny? Of all the things that took place in the tumultuous year of 1967, these two surfaced this weekend. I do not take their "surfacing" lightly.
I'm reading Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez for the umpteenth time. In a piece entitled "Yukon-Charley" I was reminded of the deaths of Julie Helgeson and Michelle Koons in Glacier National Park in August of 1967, just months after my mother birthed me. Their deaths were the result of grizzly attacks. And the reaction by park officials (killing five bears in the park) ignited an ongoing controversy about the meaning and importance of wilderness in America. This may not seem much to you, but for me, it is significant. Over my years, I have filled my mind with "wilderness" writings (Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez); it is a subject I have always felt strangely drawn to, almost a gravitational, starlike pull. The preservation of wild places and wild things, both external and internal, feel to be an aspect of why I'm here in the first place, and quite possibly, why we're all here in the first place.
The year I was born also witnessed the publication of James Kavanaugh's A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church. I wrote a post about Kavanaugh months ago and slowly, but surely, have gotten comments from people also touched by the words of this poet. I received another comment this weekend which prompted me to seek out Kavanaugh, which led to a little online searching, which led to the reminder of his seminal work in the year 1967. Kavanaugh's stripping off of his clerical collar at a Notre Dame graduation that year (after ten years of formal ministry in the Catholic Church) was a cry for freedom and expansive thought; a liminal moment which led to poems such as "There Are Men Too Gentle To Live Among Wolves" and "Will You Be My Friend?" I, too, stepped away from the pulpit after ten plus years of formal ministry in the Protestant Church and I, too, feel there are things severely outdated about the Church, things which I may have to write about some day, things which need to be spoken of or about, which could only be spoken or written about by someone born in the spring of 1967 who also spent at least a decade in formal ministry. I, too, feel a very natural, almost gravitational, starlike pull toward poetry and freedom and expansive thought and a stirring of the "God-pot."
Are these stars under which I was born, stars which hold hints of meaning for the man I am destined to be? There were other events that took place that year, no doubt of equal or greater importance to some. But I did not go searching for these reminders; no, it was as if these two "stars" sought me out this weekend, asking me to remember that in the fullness of God's time for me, I was born. The year was 1967; my mother groaned, my father wept, into the dangerous world I leapt.