Keeping Watch with Love

Text: BrevityJust because there are designated days (All Saints, Memorial Day, Defence Day, Anzac Day, Volkstrauertag, Poppy Day) for recalling those we’ve lost doesn’t mean in any way that we restrict our respectful, loving and admiring remembrances to those days. Those whom we hold in our hearts remain there, living or not, forever. That’s our path to peace.Digital illustration from a drawing + text: May We All Rest in Peace

The guarantee that we will die, and that all of those we hold dear will die too, means we will do best by finding ways to embrace and recall, most of all, the good and the uplifting things from their lives and ours, and expand on such things for the sake of our finest predecessors’ honor, if not our own.

Calling All Saints

This is a day designated by the Christian church for the remembrance of all the good, fine people who have lived, illuminated our lives, led the way for the rest of us, and now are also gone before us in death. Recollection, commemoration and admiration of those who have lived as great-hearted souls on the earth and set an example, large or small, of excellence for those of us who follow is, I think, a practice that anyone of any stripe, religious or not, can embrace; we are certainly all made better by such meditations, especially if and when we are made stronger by their guidance to follow in our honored loves’ radiant footsteps.Photos + text: How Sweet the Moment

Spending a day in remembrance of loves lost is bound to be bittersweet, of course. When the bond has been close in life, it remains so in death, and however the pangs of loss may subside over time, on a day devoted to thoughtful recognition of our trusted and beloved friends, mentors and avatars of all things great and good, the pain can be as sharply new again as in the first sweep of sorrow. But if I am genuinely mindful and respectful of their gifts in life, I think that this can be transformational and healing and comforting, too.Photos + text: Bittersweet

Can I live as a reflection of my most-admired angels? It’s too tall an order for any ordinary mortal, I know. But that’s exactly why I think we have these living and loving models among us: to show that in community and mutual, loving support and with determined and patient growth on our own, greater things can happen than if we try to do significant and meaningful things independently. We are raised up by the waves of support around us. How can I not be grateful for that! This realization sweetens the day perceptibly. Do I wish that I could have my lost loves back again? Who would not! But I wouldn’t trade one tear, one iota of the hurt and anger and grief I’ve felt over any of their losses, to miss out on recognizing the beauty and joy and brilliance that they brought to this world in their too-short tenure here, and I know that some lights seem so bright in life that they can blind me at close range to what’s more easily discerned, when seen from this greater distance, as having the distinctive shape of an excellent soul.Photos + text: Last Lullaby

Musica Mnemonica

photoI Keyboard Position

(For HH & JDH)

I went to hear a singer sing his due

Recital and to learn to love his voice,

Yet on the instant knew I had no choice

But watch th’ accompanist and think of you,

For when they came onstage a dream began

As German art-songs sung up from a deep

Chasm of voice that ought to haunt my sleep,

My heart was drawn instead to that tall man

Curled over the piano in that soft,

Sprung posture that in you I used to know,

When you assumed it, meant that you would go

Anon, and play your listeners aloft

To dazzling heights of ecstasy and free-

Fall back with us to depths of bronze despair

Because your fluid playing pulled us there,

And art, remembered now, that let me see

That this man taught those notes to you, each one,

And from his posture, know you were his collage

II Nocturne

(For JDH)

You always play the Evensong or toll

The close of Compline on that rank of keys

That lets the darkness in at night and sees

No morning come again where dawn should roll

Its banner out, because your day is past,

Untimely so, and others left behind

Whose love for you through music was refined,

And evening services to hold us fast

Within your arms; now elders play the songs

As you’d have done if time had let you play

A lifetime–even just another day–

With melody to right the thousand wrongs

That took you from our midst, that stopped the tune,

Left only other hands to tend the notes,

And threw you like a star among the motes

Before you could play in another June.

Now summers come no more, nor daylight’s dawn,

Though through the night your music lingers

Improvisation Leads to Reverie

photoThought Becomes Deed

Improvisations in the gold-lit nave, where I sat as of old,

Among the candle flames and greens, the paraments and carven screens

And incense-laden night, these scenes of ceremony were the means

Offsetting those surprising, bold improvisations that you told

The sanctuary’s lofty lair, and all of us who huddled there

So mesmerized by new-made tunes, to which our souls were not immune,

Since you were writing down the runes

–as you have done these many moons–

You marked this newness down with care, though improvised out of the air;

digital illustrationI bent to listen to the way that old pipe-organ seemed to say

Something, in whispers, of a time–long past, I thought–in which sublime

Rhythms and patterns like your chiming play of Tierce en Taille, were, I’m

Quite sure, shaped as a different lay, wherein another love did play,

A love now gone to other stations of the Cross than these relations,

Playing something sweet and deep across the borderlands of sleep,

Across your grand recital; sweeping through the memories I keep:

Those evening organ-conflagrations, candlelit improvisations.