Vol. 12    No. 8
April 17, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                               Thinking about Rebirth
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!
Mourning the Little Ones
SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison
Infant Memorial Service