Each year we conclude our Coming of Age trip with a hike on Walden Pond to Thoreau’s cairn. This year the group was big enough to make a hand-holding circle around the huge pile of rocks put there by thousands of pilgrims in Thoreau’s memory.
He says, in one of the best-known, most quoted passages in Walden: “I went to the woods because I wish to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I began my ministry in Westport sixteen years ago—at the age Thoreau was when he died. I, too, have tried to live deliberately—to be intentional without being ponderous. Life is heavy enough. We need to lighten up. But we also need to be conscious of the effect we are having in all our relationships—in some brief conversation or the years of a marriage; in our parenting and our decisions about our occupation.
I make lists, deliberately: “Library, bank, cleaners, super market, post office.” I write down the names of films and books that are recommended. If I don’t have time to see a film before it leaves the theaters, I make a note to get it when it’s out in video.
For four years I’ve been meaning to read Eight Bullets, by Claudia Brenner, her account of a hike on the Appalachian Trail with her lover, Rebecca Wight. They were hunted down by a deranged, homophobic escaped convict. Rebecca was killed. Claudia survived to tell the gripping story, which I finally read during the Memorial Day weekend—an appropriate time to read this extremely important book written by a woman who survived, and in memory of a woman whose life was taken. I was reminded of the important work we do through our Rainbow Task Force, raising awareness of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender issues. We have miles to go in that work!
In her book, Claudia quotes from Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery: “Most survivors seek the resolution of their traumatic experience within the confines of their personal lives. But a significant minority, as a result of trauma, feel called upon to engage in a wider world. These survivors recognize a political or religious dimension in their misfortune and discover that they can transform the meaning of their personal tragedy by making it the basis of social action.”
I ordered Claudia’s book through Barnes and Noble. The complete title is: Eight Bullets, One Woman’s Story of Surviving Anti-Gay Violence. I knew the story. Claudia’s son Reuben was fathered by my dear friend Herb Adam’s son Josh.
What I learned by reading the full account of Claudia’s experience was the depth of her fear of homophobia among police, judges, jurors and the public in general. Her lover was killed because of homophobia. Her account should be made into a film, like the film Boys Don’t Cry. Can you help make this film happen? Let me know.