Spots of Time

small moments & found meaning

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Jack and Dick passed this past month.

Jack, my father-in-law and Dick, my maternal uncle.

Jack had five sons, a number of grandchildren, and adored his wife. He was active in a local church and, although he made his sons tough out numerous hockey practices in -70 degree Canadian winters, he could cry at the drop of a hat.

Dick spent his life writing poetry, taking art photographs, and--as a former alcoholic--helping people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol pull themselves out of the gutter.

The memorials for both these men were crowded with people who loved them, and who were loved by them. I was fortunate to have been one of those people.


Poem read by a woman I didn't know for Dick:

The Rose
by Theodore Roethke

There are those to whom place is unimportant,
But this place, where sea and fresh water meet,
Is important–

Where the hawks sway out into the wind,
Without a single wingbeat,
And the eagles sail low over the fir trees,
And the gulls cry against the crows
In the curved harbors,
And the tide rises up against the grass
Nibbled by sheep and rabbits.

A time for watching the tide,
For the heron’s hieratic fishing,
For the sleepy cries of the towhee,
The morning birds gone, the twittering finches,
But still the flash of the kingfisher, the wingbeat of the scoter,
The sun a ball of fire coming down over the water,
The last geese crossing against the reflected afterlight,
The moon retreating into a vague cloud-shape
To the cries of the owl, the eerie whooper.
The old log subsides with the lessening waves,
And there is silence.

As when a ship sails with a light wind–
The waves less than the ripples made by rising fish,
The lacelike wrinkles of the wake widening, thinning out,
Sliding away from the traveler’s eye,
The prow pitching easily up and down,
The whole ship rolling slightly sideways,
The stern high, dipping like a child’s boat in a pond–
Our motion continues.

And this rose, this rose in the sea-wind,
Stays in its true place,
Flowering out of the dark,
Widening at high noon, face upward,
A single wild rose, struggling out of the white embrace of the morning-glory,
Out of the briary hedge, the tangle of matted underbrush,
Beyond the clover, the ragged hay,
Beyond the sea pine, the oak, the wind-tipped madrona,
Moving with the waves, the undulating driftwood,
Where the slow creek winds down to the black sand of the shore
With its thick grassy scum and crabs scuttling back into their glistening craters.

And I think of roses, roses,
White and red, in the wide six-hundred-foot greenhouses,
And my father standing astride the cement benches,
Lifting me high over the four-foot stems, the Mrs. Russells, and his own elaborate hybrids,
And how those flowerheads seemed to flow toward me, to beckon me, only a child, out of myself.

What need for heaven then,
With that man, and those roses?


Song played over the church speakers for Jack:

I Can Only Imagine
by Bart Millard

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in honour of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
When I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine