Topic: "Father Ed" (3)
In almost everything Frodo reads these days, there seems to be a political conflict between secularists-and- the religious, as if there is something distinguishing one from another. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as in the United States, there are discernible sides being chosen, and in too many cases violence ensues. Everywhere in Middle Earth there is some sort of competition about what exactly is the relationship between those who walk the land of Middle Earth, and those who soar above it. Everyone, save Frodo, seems to have an opinion.
Frodo happens to think that it is one of the most personal of matters, and he has absolutely no interest in what anyone happens to believe. When asked, Frodo ignores the question, and responds with the words to a song he remembers from his earliest of days. It had to do with skin color, children, and the fact that Jesus loved all of them. He adds that there must not have been any gay people when that song was written. Generally, he feels his point is made and that leaves lots of opportunity for common discourse, which gives Frodo the opportunity to determine whether or not he intends to ascribe any credibility to this individual on any subject.
There have been many instances in his life where Frodo sought professional assistance for one need or another. Frodo has a long-term relationship with a dentist, for example, and it is unlikely that Frodo would ever give any credence to a pastor on dental matters. Similarly, there have been times when somebody trained in dealing with a matter of faith went a whole lot further than Frodo's dentist. The following is one such instance in Frodo's life.
After the College of the Shire, Frodo went to study in the City of Orleans. Erringly, Frodo was considering becoming an academic, but soon enough he recognized that teaching without having done anything didn't impress Frodo very much. Frodo lived in a "suite' with five other male graduate students. One of them studied Drama, another History, another Art History, and after Frodo (and some guy who was never quite sober), there was "Father Ed." Father Ed Murphy was a priest from Chicago. As memory serves, he was on some sort of special sabbatical that freed him from his pastoral duties thus allowing him to pursue a PhD, but Frodo is unable to remember what it was that Father Ed was studying.
Father Ed roomed with the guy studying Art History (whom Frodo felt reasonably confident had special concerns about the Book of Leviticus). Frodo remembers that the two would go to a certain bar almost every evening, listen to "Hey Jude," smoke cigarettes, and talk about a lot of stuff in which Frodo had only a passing interest. Accompanying them one evening, Frodo was surprised to learn that Father Ed's honest-to-goodness brother had been the Floor Leader for Senator Eugene McCarthy at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. As much as Frodo tried, he could never get Father Ed to discourse too much on such a fascinating subject. Father Ed knew that his time "on the outside" was short, and he was looking to do as much fun stuff as he could.
Then, one gray day it happened. Frodo got a letter from Sam which he picked up at the P.O on his way to a course in "International Politics." In the letter, Sam informed him that Johhny Jenkins had been killed in Vietnam. Frodo doesn't remember anything about that class, except that he left his best jacket on the back of his chair, and he never saw it again. He was totally and completely distraught, and he didn't have any idea what to do, to say, or even to think.
Frodo knocked on the door of Father Ed's room. It was probably difficult to determine who was more surprised, but Frodo sat down and explained what had just happened, and that was all Father Ed needed. In one of the truly gracious and sensitive moments in all his life, a Man of Faith asked no questions of Frodo about what he was, or where he went, or what he thought. He simply talked about the mysteries, and the fact that bad things do happen to good people, and that it is a part of life as much as is birth itself. Frodo will never forget the solace he felt, and now, as we approach the fortieth anniversary of that day, Frodo thinks of the Word.
Frodo could certainly "google" Father Ed Murphy, and he is sure he would find out what has happened to him since that day when they said their final good-bye. Frodo has not done so, nor will he. It was meant, on that day, for them to be together, and Frodo learned that a guiding hand will be there when he asks for it.