... on the Feast Day of St. Matthias.
I got up this morning thinking of my long-ago classmate and friend, Marilyn (Nickell) Gibbs, who we learned at church last night had died early Tuesday after being struck Monday night in a crosswalk on a busy street in Ocala, Florida. Marilyn and her husband, Floyd, of Corydon, had delivered a recreational vehicle to Ocala and had just had supper before the accident occurred.
I had always thought of Marilyn in terms of sunshine because of her disposition --- as I remember it --- and had been thinking of her and those old days just the week before after being reminded forcefully that I was mispronouncing “Nodyroc,” the name the Gibbs gave to the old Grismore Motel in Corydon after taking it over a good many years ago. It’s pronounced NoddyRock, by the way --- as good a way as any to speak “Corydon” spelled backwards.
Marilyn and I attended school together first at Dry Flat, a mile south of the farm. I was whisked away to begin third grade in Russell but a few years later, after country schools were consolidated and we all were sent to school in town, Marilyn and some of my other Dry Flat schoolmates were sent to Russell, too. That was a gerrymandering plunge into Wayne County by the Russell school district that also scooped up the Wrights (then living on what I still think of as the old Wishmeyer place), the Nichols, the late and much lamented Linda Allard, and others.
Marilyn did not graduate with us in Russell, since her family established a café and motel (was it the Sharon Motel, called after Marilyn’s younger sister?) at the then-intersection of Highways 2 and 65 south of Humeston and west of Corydon and moved there. But we considered her an honorary classmate and were happy when she came to class reunions.
In those last days of innocence shortly before and after graduation, in a time when it still was possible to be remarkably innocent at age 18, several of us who belonged to that exceptionally close-knit Class of 1964 piled into cars and drove down to that restaurant to have supper with Marilyn.
This has been a hard year so far for that tiny class, 18 in all. Our classmate Sandy Walker died earlier after a long struggle with illness and a spring memorial service in Russell is anticipated. The sadness among those of us now on the remote edges of the lives of these long-ago friends is nothing, of course, when compared to the present grief of those who loved them now. God rest and bless them all.
This is one of the Lenten Ember days (along with Friday and Saturday), an ancient establishment of the western church of obscure origin set aside for prayer and fasting, and also, in the Episcopal Church still, the feast day of St. Matthias, whom the Acts of the Apostles tells us was chosen by lot (after prayer) to be an apostle to replace Judas Iscariot after his betrayal of Jesus and suicide.
Here’s the Lenten meditation for today, taken from this year’s booklet distributed by Episcopal Relief and Development, a benevolent arm of the Episcopal Church. This year’s meditations were written by Sr. Claire Joy of the Community of the Holy Spirit.
“St. Matthias won the toss. He got to be a disciple because the eleven gambled. I know how easy it is to throw seven farkles out of ten; this was quite a feat. (Of course, we’re told, the disciples prayed first.)
“Okay. But that’s all we know about Matthias, nothing else. He’s one of those unsung heroes; his fifteen minutes of fame boiled down to a throw of the dice.
“If he was martyred, it’s not mentioned; if he gave up the faith, it’s certainly not mentioned. Whatever his accomplishments, they are known only to God.
“We don’t want to be remembered like that. We want to leave a legacy. But, like so much of life, our human legacy will be determined by the whims of those who come after us. Our spiritual legacy … that will be remembered by God.”