Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Requiem for my chapter

Wm. Hydrick, LA Gamma (Loyola) sent this post saying goodbye to his home chapter.

Requiem for my chapter

All things die.1 Birds die. Fish die. Flowers and trees die. Dogs and cats and hamsters die. Even cars, and ships, and buildings die. People die, too, as do ideals and their expression. Dying is simply the logical end to living. Things come into existence, serve their purpose, and exit the stage of life’s great drama. Some things die in a matter of hours while others go on for centuries before their end comes. Millions of years from now even our sun will die and fade. All things die.

A man of wisdom2 once wrote that being finite “may be the greatest gift our race has ever received. To live on . . . is to leave behind joy, love, and companionship because we know it to be transitory; of the moment. We know it will turn to ash. Only those whose lives are brief can believe that love, is eternal.” Would that I would not have lived to see this day; happier I would have been to enter that eternal realm of knowing nothing, ignorant of when this day would come. But come it has, the curse known to the parent who outlives his child. To know now not the joy of watching a becoming but to feel the desolation of having no further purpose and the emptiness of failure; this is all I am left with.

As a youth, I remember hearing the parable of the sower and the seeds3. Having not read the passages myself, I always thought it was a treatise concerned with the distribution of wealth; that we were the seeds. Some seeds feel on good soil and flourished (the rich), some seeds fell on rocky soil and toiled harder (the middle class), and still others fell upon the road and were devoured or trampled (the poor). It is therefore not the seeds at fault for their circumstance but rather a result of the environment in which they were place. As seeds we are equal. But as an adult studying the Gospels I came to understand we are not the seeds but the soil.

The biblical texts go on to explain the seed is the Word and the soil is those who hear it. I think that is equally true in Sigma Phi Epsilon. The seeds are the values of the fraternity and WE are the soil. For some, the values are hollow and meaningless. They never take hold and those men never understand the true meaning of our motto. Some will hang on through graduation but many will simply fade with time. Then there are those who become the weeds and choke the life from the new growth. There are also those for whom the meaning is clear but it doesn’t survive long beyond the academic halls. These men find true solace in the values while in school but consider it only a passing phase. Once they graduate they quickly fall into new routines and the fraternity is quickly forgotten or only viewed as a childish affectation now put aside. Then there are the few where the lifetime responsibility of brotherhood takes deep root and the values of Sigma Phi Epsilon are foremost in their minds to their dying day.

I have seen you all in the men of my chapter. I have loved you all as you passed in and through my life.

And now you are gone.

I shall miss having you in my daily life. I shall miss reading Green Eggs and Ham on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. I shall miss dressing as a Santa in December. I shall miss sharing the football games on Saturdays or the meals we part took in celebration of the all too rare win or the more common defeat. I shall miss knowing that, through you, I had the chance to change the world. Without you what purpose shall I serve? What meaning can I ascribe to this existence where all joy has left my world? Let the long night come, the sleep eternal. Let the labors be put to rest at last. What you were, you are; you will be nothing more. No more growth, but no more pain.

Many years ago, at the funeral for the mother of a brother, I was approached by a youngster who told me he had never been to a funeral before and he wasn’t sure what to do. I told him that funerals are more for the living than the dead. They are a time for celebration of all that makes us what we are. It should be no less for our chapter than any brother.

What words remain but “farewell?” The souls that made the corpus breath must now depart to take on whatever challenges lie ahead. What once we did together, we now must do apart. But when the memories of the greatness we shared come, think not of the sordid end but of the glory that once blessed us with its presence. Think of the magic and the wonder of the times we had together. Hold fast to the lessons learned at the knee of our once great assemblage: Live always with virtue in your heart for only in this way can we purge the world of selfishness and degradation; work diligently so that our the Opus Magnus of our lives truly have meaning beyond this temporal existence; and, Love each other whole heartedly for if you do, the Gospel says, in this way all will know you as one of us.

The flames burn dim and the time grows short. Soon it will only flicker within your hearts; all that is left of the great fire that once burned with passion and delight. But that can be enough if you will but nurture it. And as the light fades as the distance between us expands, let us remember who and what we are; the few where the seed grew strong and lived beyond the child for long. And think well of me when I am gone.

God Bless Sigma Phi Epsilon.

God Bless Louisiana Gamma.

1 Acknowledgement and thanks to Robert Fulghum and All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

2 J. Michael Straczynski in the television series Babylon 5 through the character of Lorien.

3 Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-34, Luke 8:4-18

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