Wednesday, January 30, 2008

He's My Brother — John William Hickey

click here for Full Size imageThis morning I got the sad and unexpected news that my brother, John William Hickey, has been hospitalized and diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer which is advanced enough that it appears to be untreatable. After getting the news I rushed to my computer to see if there was any eMail from our sister, Nanci, and found that she'd sent the picture on the right (before the news about Johnny). It struck me as a foreshadow of exactly what I expect Nanci and I to be doing over the next days, weeks, or months: reaching out to our brother so that he knows we're with him, supporting him in love, praying for him to have what he always wanted: to come, to go, and to leave — to fully live his life — on his own terms.

click here for Full Size imageWhat more can I say?

I'm in pain — deep sadness over the anticipated loss — with a myriad of confusing, mixed feelings. For now I'm not going to say anything more other than to include a not-so-recent picture — a real picture of the three of us — from Johnny and my birthdays in July 2004.

The other foreshadow that comes to mind is from my posting of just two days ago... with a background of the ethereal voices from the Libera boys choir, the "Elderly Father to Son" video reads: "If ever I do not want to eat, do not force me. I know well when I need to and when not. And when some day I say to you that I do not want to live any more... that I want to die... do not get angry; some day you will understand". Yes, indeed. Life will never be the same after my Mom's dying weeks in the summer of 2000; I do understand. So does my sister; see Nanci's blog about Johnny. And see also the YouTube clip of Libera singing "Far away" — that haunting melody, the source of the "Elderly Father to Son" soundtrack.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My Own Epiphany — Listening to "The Voice of the Water"

I've been wondering when I would have an inspiration upon which to base my first blog entry of the New Year... and how appropriate that the epiphany I was looking for came during the UUC service I attended today on Epiphany Sunday. My first hint was from the weekly bulletin, in A Thought Before the Service Begins click here for Full Size image:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The image of our "First Parish Church" — shown on the right — is from early October, so it's not the Wintery snow banks that I saw there today. But I like this image because it shows the changing of the seasons — just like we were doing today with Elea's sabbatical.

Below is the Rumi poem, read by Becky Pine during the Chalice lighting today.
   Everywhere, something begins to arrive
every soul is seeking truth; every soul parched with thirst
they've all heard the voice of the quencher of thirst
everyone tastes the love, everyone tastes the milk
anxious to know from where wisdom begins to arrive
waiting in fever; wondering ceaselessly
when will that final union begin to arrive
people of all beliefs raising their hands to the sky
their chanting voices in unison begin to arrive
how happy is the one whose heart's ear
hears that special voice as it begins to arrive
clear your ears, my friend, from all expectations
so you can hear the sound as it begins to arrive
if your eyes are marred with petty visions
wash them with tears
your teardrops are healers as they begin to arrive
keep silence, don't rush to finish your poem
the finisher of the poem,
the creator of the word, will begin to arrive
               —Rumi, 13th-century poet
Becky's poem opened my mind to listening for and really hearing "The Voice of the Water" — the metaphor we have chosen to symbolize our congregation's quest for spiritual rejuvenation which we will be doing over the next four months during Elea's sabbatical. Ever since I first read Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha as a teenager, appreciating the sound of the water (and the wind, and most of nature)... have brought me closer to my true inner self. So I'm totally on board with this metaphor!! click here for Full Size imageAs background for this journey, I offer an audio-made-into-video of Rev. Elea's sermon on "Grace". Described also in my sister Nanci's "Gifts of Grace" blog, click on Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 of "The Breath of Something Incomprehensible", divided into clips solely due to YouTube size limitations.