Canon Simon Doogan
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
My introduction to the late James Dean who died on this day in 1955 was at university, nearly forty years after his death. His posters must have graced thousands of student walls. You probably visualise him as I do: a dishevelled picture of twenty-something attitude, smouldering like the cigarette he always seemed ready to flick, still burning, somewhere down near your feet. For such a brooding, static presence the irony was that his life ended at such high speed.
For road racing enthusiast Dean, it was a head-on collision in a sports car as he drove to attend a race meeting, and in so many situations that end in grief for young people speed and the craving for it would seem to be a recurring theme. I have to say as the epitome of bad boy cool, James Dean was never a big icon for me. But little did I think in those carefree student days that in my working life as a clergyman I would end up drawing alongside a number of families who know that there is nothing romantic about a life frozen in time by tragedy.
More than once I’ve wondered is the youthful urge for ever faster experiences something instinctive? Certainly there are times when it feels like a rite of passage young people simply have to go through. And for those who love them, well it’s a matter of holding their breath, crossing their fingers, and, frequently, saying their prayers:
Lord we thank you for the energy and impatience of youth but in today’s go-faster world we remember those for whom life is simply one rush after another: guard them, protect them, and still the hearts of the ones on the sidelines left to watch and to wait. Amen