Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls

So many post-worthy things have happened of late, but I've been consumed with a three-week, intensive summer class on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I thought I was beyond this, but, at some point, Hebrew Bible papers always remind me of Dad's last days. Not really in a bad way, but always in a profound way.

My Hebrew Bible take-home final was written at Mom and Dad's while we abided together in the time between a minor procedure to determine his fitness for major surgery and the actual surgery four days later.

It was on this computer. This red laptop. I was in a spare room that had once been their study. I would come out and talk to Dad, who was in his easy chair -- the most common place to find Dad in all my memory of him. When I was 5, his easy chair was red faux leather, maybe it wasn't even trying to pretend to be leather, maybe it was just vinyl. He had two easy chairs in the time we lived in Paris, Texas, a 70s orange and brown plaid, followed by one in more subdued 80s brown. At some point, he got a nice real leather one, maybe two. That December, I would come out and talk to him during study breaks. When I had enough written for him to edit, he put his editing and grading skills to work and we talked about the content of the paper. I finished that paper before his surgery and delighted that he had gotten to share in some of the academia of seminary. That we got to share it together.

The exegesis for that class was written on this computer, too. In "the writing center," Molly's condo at her lovely wooden dining table -- I think she was at the opera while I wrote. It was the beginning of my emerging from the initial numbness and shock of Dad's death and into the depth of the pain of grief. But I managed to get the paper written first, before succumbing. I drove to CST on Epiphany to turn the paper in and then fell apart.

This fall, I had a paper similar to that first one I wrote with Dad's editing guidance that was due for the same professor. Even though I was -- finally -- coming out of the grief and depression, the paper sent me back to memories of the nights I wrote that first paper and those precious final days with Dad, where I knew -- thank God -- to drink him in. His love, his Spirit, his gentleness, his humor, his love of my mother, his devotion to his dog, his addiction to sports on tv, his place as my sounding board for all of life's joys and challenges. This fall, I just wanted to get that paper done and over. I didn't even ask to get it back and I don't know how I did on it. It was just too familiar but absent Dad.

And now the Dead Sea Scrolls and Micah. Not until tonight did I have the Dad flashbacks. Perhaps it's the red laptop. Perhaps it's knowing that Dad would have loved to talk to me about this class. I remember that he had a fascination with the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1970s when the first bits had been published but the progress of the project was stalled to the point of conspiracy theories. He would have marveled at all there is to know about this desert community and their caves full of scrolls that confirm and expand and call into question the canon of the Bible. It's been fun talking some to my brother about it.

And now I hear Dad's voice in the back of my head: Just get it done, Neen. Don't waste time or tears on me. You've done the research, you've put some good thought into this. Don't stop now. And I hear his signature advice: "Just do your best then say to Hell with it."

So here goes...


Jeri said...

Yes, it sounds as though your dad would have loved talking to you about the Dead Sea Scrolls. It sounds as though he was proud and probably couldn't be prouder to edit his daughter's amazing writing.

His presence is there with you and will always be. And though it isn't complete and I am sorry for that, but it is a joy to be a witness of the presence of his life as I get to hear your stories of him.

I like the stories of your dad, the stories of you with your dad. Through them he lives for me, in the context in which I only get to know him, regrettably.

Marian said...

Your father sounds like a wonderful man. No doubt had a big influence on the wonderful person that you are. Glad the class is over.

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Facts on Essene Culture

Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.
Bijoy Cletus - Kerala, India