The Young Man, The Raven, and Easter
He sat in the pew in front. A young man, possibly homeless, sometimes lost in his own thoughts. At other times he enacted a conversation with some person beyond our ken. They were gentle conversations with mild gestures. Beside him sat an older couple dressed with style, a couple probably enjoying the fruits of a successful career.
We were part of a large cathedral congregation bursting with Easter zeal. The service was long, almost two hours, but almost two hours of a beautifully choreographed Easter celebration.
Through most of the service the young man sat, allowing the drama to unfold around him. At times, though, he became agitated, restless, possibly confused by the sounds around him. At those times, the woman beside him leaned over and talked quietly to him until he settled. When the offering was coming round she gently placed a five dollar bill in his hand. "For the collection," she said. Had he pocketed the money, to be used for some brief moment of happiness later, I do not think she would have blinked, but he didn't and his five dollars found its way onto the plate.
Perhaps his greatest happiness came during the passing of the peace. He beamed as those around him shook his hands.
For some young people the service was too long, and they eased out, but not him. He stayed right to the glorious Bach postlude. The last time I saw him he still sat there, listening, surrounded by these good people.
Later that day we enjoyed a delicious Easter dinner with family, with whom we were staying, and a couple they knew. Sharon, the wife had been a nurse in the neo-natal ICU. She told me a story of an extraordinary event. A 2 pound baby was brought into the ICU, the baby of a First Nations mother, who had died in the childbirth. The father came to see the baby, and shortly after he left Sharon heard a knocking sound. The unit had tall windows, which also curved over to form part of the roof. She looked up and saw a raven pecking at the glass. She was surprised, thought little of it, but noticed that the raven stayed there. Soon after, she went for her break down to the cafeteria. As she emerged from the line with a coffee and muffin she saw the raven again at the this window, pecking. She felt uneasy, and soon left to return to the ICU, as she arrived the raven alit on the window over where the baby slept, and pecked the glass. "I am sure," she told me, "that the woman's spirit was in that raven, reminding me to look after her baby."
Against all odds, the baby survived.
A young man struggling, surrounded by an Easter people. A life lost and one miraculously gained.
It was a good Easter.