Vol. 12   No. 8
APRIL 17, 2017
UNIQUE HITS
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                Thinking about Rebirth
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191,778

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Jonathan Gramling
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Mourning the Little Ones
SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison
Infant Memorial Service
It’s Easter Sunday night and I am searching for the inspiration to write nine more columns or stories by 10 a.
m. tomorrow morning. Starting with this issue, The Capital City Hues is changing its dateline to a Monday
morning date. When you look at the front cover, you will notice that it is our April 17, 2017 edition.

We’ve made the change for a couple of reasons. We’re now in our 12th year of publishing the paper and it has
been getting near impossible to meet our Friday morning deadline. I am getting just a little bit older and there
are so many things going on and so much to cover and many other things to do that we’ve decided to have
our dateline be every other Monday to bring everything into alignment including everyone’s expectation of
when The Hues will be hitting the stands.

***
Our cover story that appears on P. 13, Mourning the Little Ones, made me think back to my own childhood.
One thing that was rarely, if ever discussed — I don’t remember how I got this information — was the fact
that my mother had three miscarriages. Now there were eight of us children who made it out of childhood and
thanks to the grace of God are still living. But we could have had three additional brothers and sisters.

My mother was a very stoic person. I mean she loved life and loved to play cards, go on trips out West to see
her daughter and reveled in taking care of her grandchildren, giving her children some respite when they
needed it.

But she was stoic in that she never talked about herself. Now I know that as children — and sometimes as
adults — we children gave her much grief. I know that I probably gave her more than a few gray hairs on her
head from worrying about me as I explored the world, so to speak. None of us children were perfect and
multiply that imperfection by eight and you know that my mom had her hands full.

But she rarely complained. She seemed to take all of slings and arrows or outrageous fortune in stride. She
went to church every morning — with my dad when he was living — and so I know that she was a woman of
great faith.

And just because she was stoic and never complained, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t have a complaint or
feel grief.

Now I wonder how my mom felt about those three miscarriages. Did she have names already picked out for
them? How long in the process of gestation were they when they died in her womb? Did she feel any of them
kick? What kind of future did she have planned for them? Was she depressed for a while? Did she still miss
them when she died in 2005? I will never know.

And I can’t help wonder for myself. What would it have been like growing up with three additional brothers
and sisters? What would they have been like? What impact would they have had on my life? I will never
know.

There is a lot more loss in this world than we ever know, even in our own little slices of this world. There is
a lot that goes on behind the “masks” that we present to the world. Many suffer grief behind smiling faces.
Others we don’t even see because they close themselves off from the world. I just pray that their grief is
somehow relieved.

This story on bereavement is almost apropos for the Easter season. In almost every faith — if not all faiths —
that I have encountered, that sense of loss, of death, is countered by the promise of life, the promise that
death will have no control over us. Or as John Gunther put into a poem, Death Be Not Proud.

There is always a promise of life after death as sure as the seasons come and go on this earth. It is no
surprise to me that Easter comes during the spring. Just as we are beginning to despair over the curse and
death of winter, springtime comes and with it the buds on the trees, the green grass, the birds chirping and
the little bunny rabbits hopping along.

Wintertime can be just downright depressing for most of us with the reduction in sunshine and confinement
for long periods of time indoors — or at least that’s the way it used to be before climate change started setting
in quite rapidly. I always cherish the rush of energy, zeal and happiness that comes with that first warm day
of spring when things are turning green and all of a sudden, people are outdoors and the sun is shining from
the smiles on their faces.

There is such a feeling of renewal and redemption. It feels like a weight has been lifted off of one’s shoulders.
And there is an endless feeling of hope. Heck, I even think that the Milwaukee Brewers are going to win the
World Series every spring until their on-field performance proves me wrong once again.

And so it is with Easter week. It begins with Jesus on top of the world on Palm Sunday with everyone
praising his name and his good works. And then by Friday, He is crucified and dies. Within the Christian
tradition, the hope for humanity is dead. And then on Easter Sunday, Jesus arises from the dead and gives us
all renewed hope once again.

In my journeys through life and far places in the world, I have seen many religions and faith traditions, from
those who say there is no afterlife — this short time on earth is all there is — to those that have an infinite
number of notions on what eternity is. While I consider myself to be a pretty spiritual person — my life is one
continuous stream of prayer, how else could I have survived — I must admit that I have no clear idea on
what the afterlife actually holds out to us. It seems that the afterlife, in many faith traditions, projects what the
holders of the faith tradition would have preferred on this earth, but weren’t likely to attain it. Or it projects a
life of austerity on this earth, allowing the devil to have his way with the riches that you should have
received.

I can’t really say what the afterlife is going to be or who God really is. It seems to me that all religions and
faith traditions are plausible and really can’t be proved or not prove. All of them require a leap of faith, which
is fine with me. We all need to have faith in something.

But I don’t feel that I am in the position to say with definitiveness what the promise of the Resurrection is,
what the afterlife will be. I guess that makes me an agnostic. While I feel inspired by God from time to time, I
would be foolish to say that I have a direct line to God and can say this is what He or She told me the afterlife
is all about. I am just a humble, solitary person on this life who always has hope and belief in the afterlife.

But I have also learned that I cannot predict that I will even get there, that I know the key to success in
getting to Heaven or the afterlife. I’ve had some people tell me that I am a good person. My response is,
‘Maybe I will get to Heaven and God will say, “It’s an interesting spin that you have placed on spirituality, but
you got it wrong.’”

And so, I have come to believe that I must do or continue to do what I believe in my very being, in my soul, of
what being a good man on this earth is and be the best that I can be. But in the end, there are no guarantees.
And so, as in life, I will ultimately place my faith on the mercy of God because of all of the defects in my life as
well. It is out of my hands and is up to God.

That knowledge is not carte blanche to do whatever sinning and cruelty that I wish to do on this earth. It’s
just a recognition that it is out of my hands. It is in the hands of the Good Lord and I just ask that He or She
have mercy on me!