Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I wrote this November 14, 2004, two days after my sister was killed.
I still need reminding.

O mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities;
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give....

Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

We breathe, we dance, we sing, we read. The sun's energy, captured by protoplasts, converts carbon dioxide and water to form sugar. Our brains cannot function without the sun's energy.

The saccadic movements of your eyes as you scan the words, capturing photons, transform the energy of photons captured on a farm not long ago. We once worshipped the sun; now we praise the mitochondrion. Energy flows and transforms in either model.

None of this is earned, or deserved. Just is.


Our greatest problem is not how to continue but how to exalt our existence. The cry for a life beyond the grave is presumptuous, if there is not a cry for eternal life prior to our descending to the grave. Eternity is not perpetual future but perpetual presence. God has planted in us the seed of eternal life. The world to come is not only a hereafter but also a herenow.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone

I am a man of faith in reaffirmed with every easy breath I take, faith that will no doubt be questioned when my breathing becomes difficult.

Do not talk of heaven (or hell)--both unknowable, and the future, truly, does not exist. It never exists. We have herenow.

My sister no longer breathes in the herenow, and her last breath was pushed in by a machine. I could look at her chart, and see the numbers, and know what they mean. Peak inspiratory pressure. Positive end expiratory pressure. Tidal volume. Rate. FiO2 1.0. That is not grace.

Grace was the last breath she took before seeing a car in the wrong lane, headed for her; she was on her way to her favorite place in the world, an apple farm in Michigan, to see her love.

Grace. Her words now in my head, already asking me to forgive the carelessness of another.

The world is a wonderful place. She knew this and lived this. I may need reminding for a bit.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Michael

You have fond memories of a loving sister. Your sadness is a tribute to her love and your love for her.

Cherish the fond memories of her in beauty and in happiness. She lives in those memories that you carry so close to your heart.

Ka kite

lucychili said...

And a loving brother you are.
Your wonder at wasps and bees, stars
fish. Respect for nature's saving Grace. Myriad lives and patterns of interwoven balance. The way we all mesh into this world for a moment. What we choose to bring to it. Loving siblings are a force.
Thankyou for the reminder.

doyle said...

Thanks to both of you Ken and Janet,

A few days ago I finished the last strawberry melomel I bottled right before Mary Beth died.

Dave and I scattered her ashes last spring on a hill overlooking the apple orchard she loved.

I told myself that this year I was going to come out the other side writing letters to neglected friends, putting her death in a box behind me.

And I cannot do it (which is OK). She'd listen to me babble for hours about anything.

Thanks for listening.

(And I need to brush up on my Maori.)