Friday, July 12, 2013

Lost in The Smog

I grew up in southern California in the 60's and 70's and, on occasion it was determined by the experts to be too dangerous to go outside because of elevated pollution levels, so that even school sometimes got canceled. (These “smog days” were our version of snow days.) Amazingly, things have actually gotten better over time and I have not heard of any such days being announced for many years. Occasionally, I’ll return to my hometown and am always astonished to look out and see the wise and ancient San Bernardino Mountains staring back at me.

I wonder if an increase in ones mountain-sized vision should actually be the typical reality associated with the passing of time rather than the exceptional experience? The idea that the smog of life could actually clear away and lessen with age... an illumination of time, rather than diminishment! 

I was Lost in the Smog 
and didn't even know it
blinded by the burn
sleepwalking through my days
Until Love came in brilliant Light...

But long-living soon emptied me
Little losings and Big Grievings 
stripped me 
of childish unrealities
leaving me death-drawn

In my weariness, a hidden Mystery
chose to birth in me 
a deeper seeing 
a greater knowing
a harsher but necessary way

Giving me weight-words 
honoring me with irony
whispering of things that endure
such as: 
"the memory of the universe is Love"

It is Subject
I am Object.
I can let Love love now, knowing
However thick the fog 
Love is in the Finding

Thought #1: Spiritual (and other) smog days will come.
Thought #2: We must leave our children a better view.

(photo of San Bernardino Mountains source:">  courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Commencement: A Place to Begin

Yesterday was the day Esther would have graduated from North Quincy High School here in Quincy, Massachusetts. We attended the ceremony and it was good for the soul. Our overall emotions were not those of sadness and regret but rather of gratefulness and comfort. 

We moved to this town when Esther was in the 7th grade. She ended up spending the majority of her years here studying from home but did attend classes off and on (even making the Honor Roll twice!). She also made friends, though realistically she wasn't especially close to any of her classmates. The real blessing is that her fellow students have not forgotten her. Several of them, including many teachers and other staff, remember Esther with much fondness. It's enough for us that they remember her at all, but there's so much more! For example, the school requested TSWGO bracelets be given to each graduate and over the past few weeks this community has gifted us in her memory in several ways. Here are a few: 

The principal (who knew her) began the graduation by saying, "The graduates are all wearing bracelets in memory of Esther Earl, who was part of this class. Let us take a moment to quietly reflect on her life..." 

The senior class president, Melissa Ma (also a friend) mentioned Esther in her speech.  She said, "Speaking of compassion, we wear these green bracelets today in memory of Esther Earl, a fellow classmate of ours. This bracelet represents the compassion she showed to her classmates and that we all show to each other at North, and show daily through our interactions with each other... I hope that whenever you wear this bracelet, you will be reminded of the compassion and the love we have shown to our community, friends and family, just like Esther had shown."

Earlier, in April, at one of the final school assemblies, Lori and I spoke to the entire senior class about Esther's life and legacy. The school purchased copies of John Green's book, The Fault in Our Stars, which were given to each senior after we spoke. 

Then, in May, the first ever "Esther Earl Memorial Scholarship" was awarded to a student who had exhibited an "especially Esther-like love of life and compassion for the world." Someone who, "never forgot to be awesome." Kristen Hayzelden was the first winner and she is an amazing nerdfighter! She attended French class with Esther and they also shared many other interests including Doctor Who and Harry Potter. We are so happy that Kris was recognized and her feelings for Esther are rich, and from the heart. We expect to hear great things from her life in the future! (Read her thoughts about Esther here.) 

Last week, Esther's high school quiz team won the state championship and two of the four starting team members were her irl friends. (The class valedictorian was also a friend.) I guess Esther was a real nerd, after all!

There is one more NQHS related honor involving Esther, and it's a big deal! It's something her fellow students decided but it's still a secret so you'll need to check back with this blog later this summer when we will 'dedicate' space for an update. At that time, all will be revealed.*

I am convinced that all of these stories are signs of life, evidence of new beginnings. And there can be no good start without a previous end. We simply can't keep track of all the awesome that is being done in Esther's name and we cannot catalogue all the giving that she has inspired -it's plainly gotten out of hand! Imagine that, all this goodness gone to seed. It's not the kind of ending I'm used to; rather, it's a legacy, a commencement challenge. 

A place to begin. 

With Esther Earl Memorial Scholarship 
winner Kris Hayzelden

*Update Reveal: On August 7th we learned that Esther's Alma Mater, North Quincy High School, dedicated their 2012-2013 Yearbook to her! Surely, This Star Won't Go Out!