Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still Breathing

I am basking just now, risking an open door, trusting sunlight radiant to keep the cold at bay.  I know the clouds are coming back, the rain, the snow.  But for today the door is open, the sun is shining, and I am breathing in the light.

Keep Breathing

 by Ingrid Michaelson

The storm is coming but I don't mind
People are dying, I close my blinds

All that I know is I'm breathing now

I want to change the world
Instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me

But all that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

All that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing

All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Frozen ponds line my winter commute
The Little Miami chokes on ice but carries on
While the Mad still flows free
The ponds, however, slowly turn to stone
Havens for ducks no longer
Surely the geese wonder why Canada followed them south!
The corn stubble is all that remains of summer's glory
As storied old barns struggle to survive another winter
Drivers press on, undaunted, if cautious
As the frosty January moon wanes
Dawn still comes, lighting an ice-blue sky

And a frigid sun is better than none at all!
Still, forgive me if I long for past winter mornings
In a far warmer place
Where restless waves and laughing gulls welcomed me home!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stunned and Saddened

Yesterday we got word that a former classmate of mine had died suddenly, just shy of his 39th birthday, we think from some catastrophic cerebral event.  We await more details, but we already know enough to feel as if there is less joy in the world today, less light and laughter, less beauty.  "Former classmate"...that phrase is so very hollow, but there are not words adequate to describe Bernd to you.  Of all the people I have met in this life, all the characters over my five decades, few if any have LIVED the way Bernd did.  I was a Ph.D. candidate by the time he entered the Master's program, so I technically never had classes with him, but he was not one to be missed or go unnoticed around the department.  A tall, beautiful man from Hamburg, Germany, his voice and accent were distinct, as was the enthusiasm with which he greeted each new day.  Apart from being highly intelligent, he was a great athlete, bordering on world class in the days of his youth.  He still ran marathons, and he was an avid cyclist who thought nothing of taking a forty mile round trip to deliver a gift to a hospitalized friend.  He loved beer, of course, and had a great fondness for taking over karaoke night at his favorite bar.  I was on the periphery of his circle of friends, but that didn't matter.  He knew me, I knew him, and we had the occasional intense conversation, usually involving him challenging me to be healthier, more active, to take better care of myself, to LIVE.  In ancient times, he perhaps would have been seen as the scion of a god, a kind, fun-loving giant among men.  Close friends of mine loved him, and he loved them, and that told me all I needed to know about him.  I spent much of yesterday exchanging emails, etc., with those friends as we absorbed the news that this gentle German giant had passed.  We grieve along with his dear wife, Kiki, his family, and his many friends scattered across at least two continents.  Geh mit Gott und in Frieden ruhen, Bernd.

Bernd's earthly body was cremated on Saturday, January 22.  His wife asks his friends to plant sunflowers in his honor.  They were his favorite flower, and now they will be a symbol of the light and life he shared with us.  When you see sunflowers blooming, think of this beautiful soul and know he is smiling.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Light Perpetual

This evening I looked to the southwest, with news of the tragedy in Tucson on my mind, and this is what I saw:

I lived for many years in John Boehner's congressional district, and given the gulf between my political views and his, I have not had much occasion to quote him, but, today, this is what he said:

"I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country."

Indeed, our prayers are with all the victims, and not just in this case.  This week has also seen the death of a local sheriff's deputy, followed by the death of her assassin, and far more tragedy in our nation and world than I care to try to chronicle.  May light perpetual shine on the souls of the dead, and may the wounded, in body and spirit, know the healing presence of the Divine.

I, along with perhaps more of you than I care to contemplate, may be numbered among the wounded.  Do not fret...I have had these wounds for more than three decades, now.  The body does not always easily forget violence done to it, nor does the spirit, and so there are times when I am reminded that, while I have learned to cope, my wounds have never healed.  The last couple of weeks have been such a time...a season without joy, in stark contrast to the celebration of Advent.  And yet, through the clouds and flurries, rays of hope are breaking.  I am bathed in them, and it is very good.  I look around me, I look within me, and this is what I see: life, and light perpetual, shining.  This, in a word, is Epiphany!

Peace to you this winter's day, my friends.