Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost*
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay
A few months prior to my discontinuing satellite service to our house I got hooked on a network television show on ABC. Castle has recently entered its sixth season but due to 4-5 reruns per day being shown on TNT I was able to quickly catch up (thank you DVR!) I’ve always wanted to watch the show, mostly because I’ve been an unabashed fan of Stana Katic (who plays Kate Beckett) ever since she played a 400 year old vampire in the last of The Librarian trilogy of made-for-tv movies opposite of Noah Wylie. The slew of reruns allowed me to finally catch up and I was soon hooked on everything about the series. It’s smart, funny, very well-written and acted. And its human. In contrast I became hooked on my second network show this fall when The Black List debuted on NBC (I swear these are the first network tv shows I’ve been addicted to since Seinfeld went off the air). While both Castle and The Black List are on Monday nights at the same time I was able to watch both thanks to the DVR. Alas, I no longer have the means to record shows anymore and so I had to make a choice. I chose Castle precisely because it is what the other is not: human. While The Black List is human in the sense of being very dark, gritty, and possessing a meaty role for James Spader (whom I’ve never liked but do in this show), Castle for me is human, interesting, and more fun. We all need a little fun in our lives and the characters are easy to root for and to like.
We are not two weeks away from a time of remembrance. All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints and All Souls Day are still etched into my memory as this year I chose to observe them in a more traditional Catholic way by immersing myself in the prayers for our beloved dead. On All Souls Day (November 2) I prayed the traditional Office of the Dead comprised of beautiful psalms, Scripture passages and petitions for loved ones that have passed from the world of the living. While some might think this morbid or uncomfortable and foreign, I found myself surrounded by a great peace and comfort as these prayers fill us with hope. Hope not only for our loved ones who have passed on but for ourselves as well. These prayers are a reminder of the love and mercy of God, of the eternity that awaits us in His presence and of the joy to be found there.
I found myself returning to the Office of the Dead yesterday to pray for a very good friend of mine who had just learned of his mother’s death. He pulled me aside to ask for what has become not as uncommon as it once was for me and something I consider a great honor each time I’m asked: to pray for someone. In this case he asked for prayers for his mom, and for himself as well. As I said: a humbling and great honor to ask of me. I almost said it was a great “gift” for me to give, but it is in fact just as much a gift given to me when asked. It’s a gift because it forces me to take my eyes off of myself and my own perceived problems and instead pray for and remember those who are no longer with us.
Rather than expound upon the details, beauty and merits of these prayers I will instead return to Castle. In the finale to season five Richard Castle’s daughter Alexis delivers what is one heck of a valedictorian speech. She is preparing to leave the nest she’s shared with her father and grandmother and is expectedly nervous, anxious and excited all at once. For fifty minutes we watch her struggle to pen the perfect graduation speech, delivered in the waning moments of the episode in which all of the major characters are struggling with goodbyes of their own. Departmental careers, partnerships and relationships all hang seemingly in limbo as Alexis delivers this short, simple yet profound speech. Just as the prayers and readings in the Office of the Dead spur meditations on the ending of one stage of life in the hope of the next, Alexis Castle speaks of transitioning to the next stage of life as the current one ends.
There is a universal truth we all have to face, whether we want to or not: everything eventually ends. As much as I’ve looked forward to this day, I’ve always disliked endings. Last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with a close friend. But endings are inevitable, Leaves fall, you close the book. You say goodbye. Today is one of those days for us. Today we say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. We’re moving on. But just because we’re leaving, and that hurts, there’s some people who are so much a part of us, they’ll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground. Our North Star. And the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us … always.”
God speed to you Mrs. R, and to your family as they travel home to comfort one another. While Robert Frost was right in that on this mortal plane at least nothing good can last forever, we have faith that the hint of beauty we find here is but a shadow of the luminescence and brilliance of what we’ll see in eternity.
*From The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, 1947, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright 1942, 1951 by Robert Frost, copyright 1970, 1975 by Lesley Frost Ballantine. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.