Dr. John Young: 12-10-06
Weekly Thoughts about Living a Humanist Life and Practicing Spirituality
Life is Fragile
Life is fragile. Martha McCann was killed in a car accident on Friday evening. She had just had dinner with a group of church friends, and as she drove into the road, she was hit from behind by a wildly speeding vehicle and died soon afterwards. Her death is a terrible loss, to our congregation and to the Jacksonville community where she was a leader in its mental health programs. She had served on our congregation’s governing Board, was presently Co-Chair of the Committee on the Ministry, and was central to our social, caring, and fund-raising activities. Many of us considered Martha a good friend and an inspiring model of a quiet leader of high principles, persistent thoughtfulness, and heart-felt caring.
For the church members who saw the accident, or had just been with Martha minutes earlier, her death is especially shocking. For all of us, the sudden death of a friend is a slap-in-the-face recognition about the fragility of our lives. Members of the Committee on the Ministry and I had just spent the evening with Martha last Monday. She was her superlatively organized, jovial, and creative self. Martha was 61. We wish that she had been given many more years. She could have done even more for this world that she had already served so generously. She was savoring her family and flourishing in her friendships. Martha was a wonderful model of how to live a humanist life, focusing her Unitarian Universalist faith on our human understanding of the creative energies, basing her life philosophy: upon: perseverance, individual responsibility, vigorous, hopeful actions, and positive commitment to her beliefs. She believed in innate goodness, in making a difference, in having a full range of experiences and in being fair. Many will miss her graceful and supportive presence. Her death is a great loss. Life is so fragile!
Our UU spiritual practices need clearer communication. The UUCJ members who witnessed Martha’s accident and I discovered that current public practices about accidents do not make it easy to discover what is happening. I understand and appreciate the government agencies’ policies about privacy, but after calling many hospitals, police, Florida Highway Patrol, various emergency and information numbers, and finally the medical examiner, I have discovered that our UUCJ practical spirituality needs to share clearer information with one another and have some thing on our person that will make clear that we want our congregation included in our shared communication network.
I had a number for Martha’s daughter, from 2000 when Martha McCann joined, but it was now a fax number, and I am not sure that it even currently belongs to her. I knew Martha’s children’s names, and in some cases their general geography, but I had no e-mails or current phone numbers. So, in January, I expect to have worked out with the Caring Network and the Board a simple new form that everyone [who so chooses] will fill out, send into UUCJ, and agree to update when updating is needed. Also, at the suggestion of Flo Marquardt, a wallet-size card that clearly indicates that in an emergency you would like your minister called or e-mailed, with my information and some information about UUCJ.
Practical spirituality requires pre-meditation, effort, and perseverance, virtues that Martha McCann personified. Let’s take the time to do the practical things we need to do in order to nurture our spirits.