One of the regular commenters on this site, who we know as "Fred", passed away. His obituary is at Neo-neocon's, where his handle was FredHjr. One commenter at Neo-neocon's says, "I feel like I lost someone that I knew personally." What does it mean to know someone personally? Perhaps its true meaning is to "see within"; to gain insight; to look past external appearances and gain a glimpse into the person inside. Fred told us what he felt; what he feared; what he rejoiced in; what he hoped for. And that is more than we can say about so many people who we meet 'personally' in our daily lives. So maybe we can, with justification, say that we lost not just a commenter, but a friend.
One novel whose title I can't remember begins with a scene describing an old woman, who, suddenly reacting to a greeting from behind, turns and momentarily forgets her age. For an instant the observer can see in her fleeting smile the girl inside the aged body; the spontaneity which she allows herself to show in a careless moment. And it raises the question of whether, deep inside of each of us, there isn't something unchanging under our mutable circumstances. Perhaps the greatest miracle the blogosphere has wrought was in allowing us to meet those who snobbery, reticence, and lack of opportunity would have kept us from knowing. We knew you Fred, but a little and for a while.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Update: Neo-neocon embeds a link to Leonard Cohen's "If it be your will". The lyrics are on the page. As a child, Cohen bore a peculiar burden. "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest," he said. I had never heard it before, though I knew Suzanne and Hallelujah and regret the gap in my education, but I know it now, as is Your Will.