This week one word keeps cropping up in my head and sometimes it falls out of my mouth: fuzzy. Fuzzy logic. Fuzzy excuses. Fuzzy beliefs. Fuzzy hillsides and places in the garden. It has been a fuzzy week.
I needed to drive to Salt Lake City several times in the past few days and each time I did, I noticed the hills were changing colors. What had been brown was now a quiet, dusty, muted hint of green for miles. The next drive, just days later, the hills were clearly fuzzy. A soft green had covered more ground and trees that had been bare branches only days before, were leafy, and soft, slightly fuzzy shades of green, popped out of formerly brown, barren canyons and gullies. And the whole drive that for months had been only in monochromatic tones, required attention. The fuzzy new colors were so soft and so appealing to the senses, you took notice.
The tragedy of the ferry capsizing with all the young students on board made me so sad and so mad and finally so confused about the fuzzy thinking that must have taken place that day, I was left with heartache and profound sadness. It would appear the ferry crew told the students in the cabins to stay inside their cabins, as the vessel was sinking. All of those students died. The students who were already on the deck or made their way to the decks, survived. The captain, and many of the crew, left the sinking ship and were saved. In a country that values honor, there was none. The captain did not stay with his ship until every passenger was safely off. He left. Left children shut in cabins as they sunk to their watery graves, while he and his crew abandoned those children and saved themselves instead.
And it felt like in this one story, something had ripped in the moral fabric of the universe. Ship captains know their job is to stay on the ship until every passenger is accounted for. Every one. Not some. It has been this way since there were ships and captains. But here, for reasons not yet clear, the captain and his crew left the their vessel to sink and left their charges to sink also. What kind of fuzzy rationale did they tell themselves and each other-that it was all right for you to leave someone, children, behind?
Meanwhile, down in Argentina, a woman who lived with a divorced man wrote the pope and told him it made her sad not to be able to take communion at her church because she lived with a divorced man and had for 19 years and they had two children and a life together. But her priest had refused her the Eucharist and told her she lived in sin. The woman wrote the Pope because, she said, "he's Argentinean, he listens to people and I believe in miracles." Reportedly, six months passed and then last week the phone rings and her husband answered and the man asked to speak to Lisbona. When asked who was calling, the voice replied "Father Bergoglio." He then proceeded to tell her that he had read her letter of six months ago and he had no problem with her taking communion. He reportedly said he was looking at the whole issue of divorcees remarrying and her letter helped him clarify his thinking. Then he was to have said to her, "there are some priests who are more papist than the pope."
God, you gotta love this guy in Rome.
For 19 years this woman has been separated from her faith because of some laws that men made up to threaten other men and women into believing eternal damnation would occur if they ate a wafer, inside a church, delivered by a priest. I am not Catholic nor do I attend any church with any regularity. Both sides of my family were Catholic until my parents' generation, who become country-club Christians because it was more convenient in the '50s to do so. I have great faith and I am observant of a myriad of high holidays from a myriad of belief systems and it all works for me.
That said, I really love this guy in Rome. He is messing with unreasonable traditions and corrupt, greedy, unbending priests. He lives in a modest apartment instead of the palace. He calls himself a priest, not the pope. He sold his motorcycle to feed the poor. He is upending centuries of dogma for a more loving, tolerant practice of kindness. He is simply a man of God.
The footnote to the whole story, as reported by the Washington Post, was the priest who had refused the woman communion has been released from his ministry. He left... to get married.
Fuzzy. The world looks very fuzzy right now to me. And some of that is lovely. And some of that is sad. And some, most, is downright hopeful. I plan to spend a bit of time looking at the start of my creeping thyme taking hold, fuzzy, amid the rocks in my backyard this very Sunday in the Park...
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.