Sarah’s Snippets – 6/2/2015
What an interesting week…I talked with a community member still experiencing PTSD from the flood, even though they thought they were over it; I listened as a friend shared their grief about a spouse who is dying; I celebrated with a family who had finished another major step in their recovery; I visited a community that has made great progress with their church rebuilding; I attended a funeral.
Perhaps it all seems typical; in many ways it was. It was typical for a rural community where the fabric of life includes other people and support for each other. Case in point was the funeral at the end of the week.
Friday morning was warm with a pleasant breeze blowing. The sky was bright blue with only a few puffy clouds. I found myself seated in a small country church for the funeral of an old friend. The attendance was modest, mostly family, neighbors, and close friends even though the visitation the night before had been packed. Those gathered stood out of respect when the widow and family were ushered to their seats. The minister shared several Bible passages, poems, and memories from friends, before using the twenty-third psalm for the text of her short message. After singing “Amazing Grace,” everyone was ushered outside where we waited for the casket to be loaded into the hearse. Then the mourners all walked behind the hearse down the road for a quarter mile to the local cemetery. Following the placing of a flower on the casket at the end of the committal service, everyone walked back to the church to share a meal with the family and other mourners.
At the meal, prepared by the “church ladies,” everyone shared memories. I sat with a couple who had grown up with the deceased and drove five hours to remember him and revisit their childhood home. Since this couple lives in a major metropolitan area, they marveled at the continuity of this county…the traditions that have been maintained even though there has been significant progress since they had moved away. This couple spoke of the friendliness as they were welcomed back, even by people whom they had not known previously. They marveled at the beauty that had not been destroyed, the relaxed pace, the fact that people don’t feel a need to lock their cars or even their houses. They were amazed that everyone still knows each other and supports each other like one big family. And they spoke of the intimacy of the funeral itself, especially the walk to the cemetery.
Their comments were “right on” as the saying goes. Their observations describe some of the special qualities of Schoharie County. It made me realize again, that this is why we at SALT are working so hard for the full recovery of this area. This funeral experience represented the quality of life available here, the core values that are shared, and the important traditions that should be maintained. As important as forward progress is, it will only be successful if we honor these traits that are the heart of what it means to be “from Schoharie County.” As SALT strives for vibrant, thriving, resilient and sustainable communities, we cannot lose sight of these underlying traits that hold us together.