While I was in my death cleaning mode I found a copy of this poem I had printed out from Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” from National Public Radio (NPR ). It was dated Saturday, December 27, 2003. It seems appropriate for this World AIDS Day 2019. Funerals can unite us.
by Ron Koertge
Because AIDS was slaughtering people left and right,
I went to a lot of memorial services that year.
There were so many, I’d pencil them in between
a movie or a sale at Macy’s. The other thing that
made them tolerable was the funny stories people
got up and told about the deceased: the time he
hurled a mushroom fritata across a crowded room,
those green huraches he refused to throw away,
the joke about the flight attendant and the banana
that cracked him up every time.
But this funeral was for a blind friend of my wife’s
who’d merely died. And the interesting thing
about it was the guide dogs; with all the harness
and the sniffing around, the vestibule of the church
looked like the starting line of the Iditarod. But
nobody got up to talk. We just sat there,
and the pastor read the King James version. Then he
said someday we would see Robert and he us.
Throughout the service, the dogs slumped beside their
masters. But when the soloist stood and launched
into a screechy rendition of “Abide With Me,” they sank
into the carpet. A few put their paws over their ears.
Someone whispered to one of the blind guys; he told
another, and the laughter started to spread. People
in the back looked around, startled and embarrassed,
until they spotted all those chunky Labradors
flattened out like animals in a cartoon about
steamrollers. Then they started, too.
That was more like it. That was what I was used to-
a roomful of people laughing and crying, taking off
their sunglasses to blot their inconsolable eyes.
We started as strangers with a dance one night,
although neither really liked to dance.
Yet we found magic as we twirled and swayed
to our own version of a country western two-step.
Now we have traveled around the sun forty times
as we flow from season to season together.
Love, laughter, dark moments, loss, joy,
surprises, fear, triumphs,
disappointments, sunshine, magic and music,
wine, travel, cats and kids.
I love you madly still!
May we embrace all the seasons of life
for every day we share.
Happy 40th anniversary!
A post from two years ago.
Day of the Dead –
Paths of flower petals and
burning incense guide
spirits to the house of the living.
Tables with favorite food and drink.
orange and yellow flowers,
all offered to the spirits.
Then the living go to
graves of the dead.
Custom says ill fortune, illness
death or worse
those who make no offerings.
Who will decorate my grave?
Who will bring me food?
Who will talk to me?
Cremation may be best for me.
For more on the traditions of the Day of the Dead check out this website.
“Wintering in Port Aransas” by Steve Russell
I Pledge Allegiance to the Earth
And to the Universal Spirit
Which gives us Life;
One Planet, Indivisible
Peace and Justice for Us All.
I Pledge to do my Best
To uphold the Trust bestowed
In the Gift of my Life;
To care for Our Planet
And our Atmosphere,
To Respect and Honor
All her Inhabitants,
All People, Animals,
Plants and Resources,
To Create a Legacy
For Our Children
And Our Children’s Children
In a World of Harmony and Love.
I Pledge Allegiance
To the Universal Spirit,
By whatever Name it may be called.
I align my Life
With the ongoing Process
To grow Myself with Care,
To Act from My Own Integrity,
To Be for Others
How I would want them
To Be for Me.
May We carry this Vision
Into our Hearts,
Into our Daily Choices,
And through Our
Within and Beyond Our Planet.
Edna Reitz, 1988
NOTE: Several months ago I found this pledge from a 2011 post on the blog, The Native HeartLight, and saved it for an Earth Day post. Since then I have not been able to find out anything more about Edna Reitz ,who was given credit for it on a poster, or the pledge itself. Perhaps she got it from someone else. I attempted to contact the author of the blog but never received an answer. If anyone knows anything about it, please share. I still liked it and wanted to share it.
May the sun bring you new energy by day,
May the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away your worries,
May the breeze blow new strength into your being,
May your walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.
like silky summer clouds
or frolicking waves.
We adapt to the challenges
of love year by year.
You take my hand and
we slow dance on the rug in the living room.
Sunlight warms our souls
while moonlight covers us with dreams.
Our young lovers embrace only in the past.
Take my hand…walk with me…
into this brave new world.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY
Thirty-three years ago I wrote a simple poem for an old friend (REALLY old, I thought at the time) for her 70th birthday. She has been gone for many years, but as I approach my own 70th year I remembered that poem and dug it out of my files. It was composed in longhand and then typed without the assistance of word processing. In those days I often wrote basic rhyming poems for birthdays. I am sure family and friends cringed inwardly when they got one! Here is the poem.
For Nettie…in her Seventieth Spring
Ms. Lynn, if you please,
is a friend of mine,
but hard to define.
A gentle soul,
reaching out to touch.
I see in her past
glory and sorrow.
Yet she’s come through it all,
still standing tall.
She brings sunshine and hope
wherever she goes;
a reminder of giving,
a vision of living
Happy birthday to a
Nettie Lynn was Jewish. Her family came to the United States from Russia. She had only one child, a daughter, who would have been about my age had she not died as a young child.
As I enter my 70th fall…I remember Nettie and look both ways…past and future…and embrace today.
This is what you shall do:
love the earth and the sun and the animals,
give alms to everyone that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy,
devote your income and labor to others,
hate tyrants, argue not concerning god,
have patience and indulgence toward the people,
go freely with powerful uneducated persons
and with the young and the mother of families,
re-examine all you have been told at school
or church or in any book,
dismiss whatever insults your own soul…
~ Walt Whitman ~
Cold rain covers the city,
dampening every street and soul.
Gulls are earth-bound,
wet feathers puffed to warm them.
Sky and water are diffused
into variegated gray.
and respectfully slows.
Will we remember all this
in the heat of July?
It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.
– Sarah Morgan Bryan Platt
“The word equinox comes from the Latin words for ‘equal night.’ The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights.” – Old Farmer’s Almanac
We shall celebrate the autumnal equinox by lighting a candle to bring light into the coming darkness and to honor the light. Then we will open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Texas from GrapeCreek Vineyards. We will not feel the chill of autumn in South Texas for some time, but we have had glorious rain lately that has cooled down the summer heat. It is a hint of fall.
ENJOY THE FALL WHEREVER YOU ARE!
Franciscan Estate Winery, Napa Valley California 2012