Passing Seasons

Today’s “Highland Views” column in our local paper.

A touch of poetry, nature, death and the tree of life.

Passing Seasons–In All the Living, Flowing Currents

Categories: poetryTags: , , , , , , ,


  1. Chris, Thanks for sharing your sad memories of losses of loved ones of your youth and adulthood. So good you could be there, too, for “many people who died homeless.” The latter unique individuals is the most tragic, since probably a number of them had few who cared; but you were there. Thank you for that.
    Unlike Burroughs, I take no comfort in his thought that my dear dad and mom (who died 4 and 7 years back)…their bodies “diffused in great Nature…”
    Bodies aren’t what are the wonder of each special individual. What is lost in each permanent death,at least appears so, is the unique person–my dad’s keen interest in nature exploration when we used to fish together and hike, his serious self trying to come up with puns to please my funny self, his love of ice water and strawberries… his “I” is gone…not in “the soil…air… sunshine…” Tragic.

    • I appreciate your honest and heartfelt comments, Daniel. The memories of your father are poignant. However we conceive of death, and what may or may not come after, is quite personal. And each person handles grief and loss in their own way. My view is that if faith helps to comfort, I wouldn’t try to interfere. When I sense the belief is adding to the suffering, or even harmful, I may speak up to offer alternative perspectives. Yet, once again, this is a very personal experience. I wish you well.

  2. Thanks so much, Chris…. I love Burroughs’ thoughts, your “lives not so much lost as transformed,” and the way Thich Nhat Hanh describes us as transitioning from form to form like a cloud transitioning from water vapor to cloud to rain: nothing is lost; we are part of the whole. Thinking about it a lot recently because of age & what I call my “barnacle” on the brain that isn’t causing any problems but we’re watching.
    For those who love you in your current “manifestation,” though, it’s so hard. What’s helped me most (don’t know whether it would appeal to you, Daniel…) is this from “Winter Grief, Summer Grace”: — when one you love moves from life into Life,

    “you begin a new relationship with them,
    one you can always cherish.
    Once you release them from earthly time,
    you can embrace them in eternity.
    When you release them from the physical dimension,
    you can hold them close in a dimension no less real: the spiritual one.
    For, even though they no longer walk beside you,
    they will be even closer.
    They will be within you.
    And you will not forget them, because you cannot forget them.
    They will be as near to you as your own breathing,
    and as much a part of you as your own dreaming.
    They will exist in you as love.”

    I have felt this is so true. I read recently that Rabbi Artson said we’re not so much “passing on” as “passing in” : )
    Thanks so much again, Chris, and Daniel for the wonderful tribute to his father. It’s so great to have fellow musers

    • Beautiful images and sentiments in that poem, Elizabeth, thank you! Glad you noted I was borrowing from Thich Nhat Hanh. “Passing in.” Great.

    • Again thanks to you Chris for posting your poignant death reflection, and now to Elizabeth, I appreciate the spiritual poem. For me however, when I came to the conclusion that Christianity can’t be true, I lost all hope for an afterlife.
      All the facts available seem to demonstrate that when a human dies, his/her “I” consciousness ceases to be. Only the dead body remains to waste away or be cremated. The “I” of my dad, though in some sort of coma, when I arrived late, did squeeze my hand with his hand (unless that was only a muscle spasm). But moments later, his breathing ceased; he died; his wondrous “I” ceased. I wrote a tragic poem about him. Here’s a few lines (the rest is on my blog):
      “My dad at the end
      down to ice water and pain

      …Last breath and his stretched skin over skull,
      Looking like a turkey’s throat–
      Cut through
      No Thanks

      The undertakers come,
      the younger looking like a freshman on a date

      Refuse collectors
      Lift /it/—a skin bag of bones,
      like a decrepit wrinkled carpet

      Onto their white winding sheet,

      Roll /it/ up like a fabric cigar and place /it/ on a gurney–…
      They wheel the thing outside…”

      • Sounds like a great love.

        Thanks so much, Daniel.

        In hospice, we’re told to always assume the person can hear us. And surprising to me, when conditions allow, there seems to be an element of self-determination at the point of transition…. someone will incredibly live to see a child married, or until loved ones “give permission” to transish — “We will be all right” — or until they connect with all those in their heart. Sounds like a *mutual* great love. Sympathy, awe.

      • A very real, honest reflection, Daniel. The “I” passes. . .the pain of loss remains for the living.

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