Note: this year, yesterday (Sunday) was Pentecost and Shavu'ot was the day before. Thirteen years ago, however, Pentecost fell on the 19th of May and Shavu'ot on the 18th. I had just returned from the Island on the 17th. So this is another occasion where I'm publishing posts a little out of order because of differences in dates from year to year. Today (Monday) is, of course, Memorial Day, but I don't plan to do a Memorial Day post--as far as I recall, we completely ignored it on campus that year.
Yesterday was Pentecost. We celebrated it when I was younger, although it was never a very big deal, and I've even met other Methodists who have never heard of it, which surprised me. It's the day when the Holy Spirit descended onto the Apostles and the other early followers of Jesus, empowering their ministry. Among other things, they gained the power to preach in other languages so that they could carry the Good News to everybody, all over the world. What I remember, mostly, is that the sermon on Pentecost Sunday would usually focus on the universality of the Church and how we should not let social or cultural barriers stand in our way of reaching out to others--a good message.
I also remember that last year I asked Ollie if he planned on leading a service on campus, as he'd lead one on Easter and he looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently, Baptists don't celebrate Pentecost, regarding it as overly ritualistic or something. This year I went to a service at the UU church (they celebrate everything) and thought of him.
He hasn't begun his Absence yet, since he's waiting for Willa to graduate, but I hardly ever hear from him. Probably it's that most of what we did was go running together, and we can't do that now that he's off campus.
I was feeling kind of glum about it, especially since this morning was beautiful weather for running and of course I went alone. So, after I got back from working at the landscaping company, I went into the Mansion, intending to go upstairs and take a shower, but instead I wandered into the library and sat down. It was cool in there and no one except Aaron was about. I've gotten into the habit of talking to him recently, which is kind of funny because he's a librarian and I'd always thought that the main job of a librarian is to tell people not to talk.
I asked him about that once and he made a noise like "pffh!"
"If you want a quiet place to read," he told me, "You can check your book out and go someplace quiet! This is a library. Anyway, if we couldn't talk, how could I help you find your books?"
More recently, I mentioned that I've gotten to like talking to him.
"Yeah, I think a lot of research librarians get that," he said. "We're just kind of there. Like bar tenders."
"People talk to bar tenders because they're drunk," I told him. "Bar tenders get used to dealing with drunk people in crisis." I don't actually know if this is true--I haven't spent much time in bars, for obvious reasons. "I don't see the similarity to librarians."
"Don't you?" He asked me. "I'm a research librarian, not a circulation librarian. You guys mostly come talk to me because you have some homework assignment due and you have no idea how to find the information you need. That's not so different from a drunk in crisis."
So, today I went in and sort of flopped down and the table in a dejected kind of way and Aaron came over and asked what was up.
"Ollie hasn't contacted me."
"Oh? Have you contacted him?"
"Litha's coming up. Ask him to come visit for a few days."
"My bother and his wife and kid are coming."
"Yeah? So get Ollie to come, too."
He had a point.
"Aaron, you're Jewish, right?"
"You're pronouncing it wrong. I'm a Jewitch."
"Ok, I mean you were Jewish."
"I was a man of the book. Now I am a man of many books."
"You celebrate Pentecost, too, don't you?"
"I mean there's a Jewish version."
"Yeah. Seven weeks after Passover. Pentecost is the Greek name for it. Fifty days. We call it Shavu'ot, or the Festival of Weeks."
"What's it about?"
"It's the first harvest festival and it commemorates the giving of the Torah."
"Like Lammas plus literature?"
"Something like that. So, what's yours about?"
"It's the birthday of the Church, the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Jesus."
"So it's the same thing--the beginning of the religion."
"Yeah, I guess so. Founders' Day." I hadn't thought of that before. "Hey, why doesn't the school have a Founders' Day?"
"We thought about it, but it didn't seem that important."
"We? Were you there?" I hadn't heard anything about Aaron's history.
"I was a candidate when we bought the campus. Two years later, just after I won my ring, they hired the non-teaching staff. There was a woman named Lara in the library for a while, but when she left they hired me."
"Why did she leave?"
"I don't know. A bunch of people did, though. They did a whole lot of volunteer work to get the school up and running and then when it was they decided they wanted to go do something else. Maybe they were afraid they'd stay forever?"
"How long have you been here, Aaron?"
"Seventeen years. I'll be here till I croak, I expect."
The scents of summer, grass, flowers, and animals, floated in through the open window and mixed with the scent of old books and clean wood. The dust still on my knuckles from working itched and I felt a tickle on the back of my neck, at my hairline. I reached back and pulled off a tick and watched it wave its eight legs in the air. It was at my mercy and I knew I was not going to kill it. I can shoot a deer if I have a good reason to do so, and I can eat her afterwards, but I cannot kill an animal simply for biting me. It would seem an unfair trade.
"I can understand that," I told Aaron.