A Memorial for Life in the New Year

I was going through my digital files and found a tribute I had written for a friend who passed away in the summer a few years ago.  Why I opened that file I will never know.  But reading the words, I was struck that I needed to hear them NOW. TODAY. Perhaps you do too. It’s late July in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The sun has nestled behind the ridge and aspen trees shake their leaves in a goodnight kiss. A hummingbird keeps dodging at an unseen enemy, making the strangest clicking sound. Below my condo, a snow-fed creek attacks stones with the vengeance born from ponderous winter blizzards. Here but a few hours and already I’ve watched tiny swallows bring food to their babies housed in a roof tile and a brown bear chase a coyote across the upper ridges of a driving range. Ah yes, let’s not forget the toddler on bowed legs exploring the outer reaches of park grass and petunias.Life: immutable, amazing, varied, fragile. I’m here for a memorial service of a 78 year-old man who chased life with a vengeance and within nine months, melted away as a brain tumor took his mind, personality, and eventually, his body. The juxtaposition with teeming life at my fingertips underscores what the ancient Celtic race knew with certainty: life is a circle. When James’s ashes are cast to the winds, the brown fox with amazing multicolored tail will roll in the dust of the man who once stood facing the wind.  The swallow’s babies will hatch and the toddler will hold sway as a precocious kindergartner. Life: immutable, amazing, varied, fragile AND precious in the smallest of moments. Blink and you miss the bird. Bury your head and the fox vanishes. Stare at a computer screen and you miss the man.  James Campbell would remind us not to miss anything. He’d tell us only to be present and use our ability to soak in all that matters.  Do we listen to the love of our beloveds, the delight of our children, the words of a friend, and the instructions of a God who tossed an eagle into the air and rolled the sea like a bowling ball from his cup?Listen. Learn. Love. Leave behind. Return again. Life is a circle. Forward. Ever Forward.

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