Ode to How It Is

When death comes to call

A FORMER colleague is visiting Spokane over the weekend. We had worked together on the Palliative Care Team at Sacred Heart many moons ago. She is now the Medical Director at a hospice in Indiana and we got to talking about her new job; as we spoke, I was transported in the Way Back Machine to a former time, place and space. While back there, this poem appeared.

Parental advisory: It’s about death and dying.

Having had stage-3 cancer twice along with a supposedly irreversible and terminal post-op complication,* I’ve become well acquainted with death. I’d say we were old friends when we first met in this lifetime.

I think this poem is for anyone whose body has scheduled a preliminary meeting with him. If so, I hope it’s helpful.

And so it goes…

*We got it reversed through non-medically-sanctioned means. Medical science knows a lot, but it doesn’t know everything.

A Convergence of Passions

Bringing the Humanities to Life (and Death)

THIS VENTURE started over twenty years ago with amazing songs appearing, unbidden, from nowhere. Had the songs been more mediocre (like the ones I’d written in the past) that would have been the end of it. But they seemed to me to have a larger purpose, though exactly what was not revealed.

Then, I was introduced, equally unexpectedly, to being with the dying—only to discover death and I were old friends and that he was far more wondrous, mystical and even magical than I had been led to believe. As most of your know, those encounters changed my life leading me to become a chaplain working with the dying and their families.

“…only to discover death and I were old friends”

Now I have time to share all that, and am trying to figure out how—in an otherwise death-phobic culture—to do that beyond the occasional gig or festival.  This flyer represents my latest vision, taking parts of my master’s thesis project on grief, my dissertation project utilizing songs and stories to open conversations on death and dying, and bits of other projects and performances to create this menu of programs for schools, faith and retirement communities, and other interested groups wherever they may congregate.

The vision is to use the humanities to inspire conversations that matter. If you know of any group that might be interested, let me know. I appreciate all the help I can get. After all, if it were easy, it would have already happened.

“If you die before you die, you are free to live.” — Sufi aphorism.