Last month we watched in amazement as a plane plunged into the Hudson River and all 155 passengers and crew emerged safe and sound. A week ago Continental Flight 3407 had a different, tragic ending – all 49 passengers and crew were lost, as well as the owner of the house the plane hit on landing.
Among the passengers were musicians with the Chuck Mangione band, Coleman Mellett and Gerry Niewood, on their way to Buffalo for a concert. Coleman was married to Jeanie Bryson, who is our own Scarlett Moore’s closest friend, and a dear friend of Coleman. Gerry Niewood was a long-ago friend and fellow musician of another congregant, Ruth Ahlers, who offered fond memories and words of personal appreciation for his encouragement and support of her career.
The Continental flight left from Newark at the same time I brought Lory and Carlyn to Newark to board another Continental flight – they were flying the same direction, going to Cleveland, where Carlyn is auditioning for college music programs at Oberlin, Cleveland Institute of Music and Northwestern. Before I drove them to the airport Lory expressed concern about the heavy winds. News of the crash hit home…hard.
At our service on Sunday candles were offered in memory of Coleman and Gerry. A few minutes later, when I stood in the pulpit to begin my sermon, my mind couldn’t let go of the tragic losses and the close call. I spoke with Scarlett on Friday, the morning after the crash, when she was at Jeanie’s house. She was inconsolable. “It’s the worst day of my life.”
I considered sharing the conversation with Scarlett, and explaining that I had driven to Newark airport, leaving Lory and Carlyn for their flight…but I knew I could not go into that deep place and maintain the composure I needed to do my work. So I kept it to myself and carried on, after the long, difficult pause I needed to carry on.
We’re living through a difficult time. Lots of friends and neighbors have been hurt by the economic crash and the grand theft of Bernard Madoff. A support group is being formed, the details of which can be found in Soundings and on our website. In addition to this in-house group, Jim and Pat Francek, who are new to our congregation and seasoned group facilitators, are offering an afternoon workshop at our Meeting House on April 19, from 1-6 p.m. It will begin with lunch and end with wine and cheese, so there will be time for socializing and networking as well as the workshop. It’s being sponsored by the Westport-Weston Interfaith Clergy Association.
About the workshop Jim and Pat said, “It is at times like these that we need to connect to our substantial human resilience.” So we’re calling the event, “Resiliency: The Power to Bounce Back.”
We’re reminded that we need one another, so save the weekend of April 3-5 for a special all-church gathering. A variety of community-building events are being planned. Details to follow.