Wednesday, August 20, 2014


 Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew… ~ old hymn
For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. ~ Colossians 3:3

The atoms of  Keith’s ashes now vibrate
in every root and branch and needle of
the tree we planted in his memory
eighteen years ago.
Ashes no longer, but bark and sap and
the green energy to urge another
two feet of growth this year
onto what is now a twenty-three foot spruce—
Its brave, fragile spire reaching straight up
into the universe.

There is a kind of religious parable in this, I suppose,
But “Take away from me your religion...”
I find my faith’s basis in the organic actuality,
natural meaning,
and, yes, cosmic mystery of it.
Not a metaphorical Mandala-Wheel
of repetitive circularity:
around and back and around again,
but the real linear movement of life
and death—and life—through time;
time with infinity at each end.

The thrust of root through soil, water
into capillary, chlorophyll into energy
into growth into the soft glide of the dropped cones—
the tree’s children—
gently lowered
from branch
            to branch
                        to branch
                                    to earth.

A tree at the center of the world,
whose lithe yet grounded trunk is this moment
swaying before me,
moved by that invisible force that can be translated
in Hebrew as “wind,” or “breath,” or “spirit.”

A tree that will die.
Like Keith.
Like “a grain of wheat that falleth to the ground….”

Like this:

When it is struck by lightning or caught up
in the great blaze Keith’s Tree will become
ashes; its ashes, atoms; it’s atoms,
the particles of all that has been or will be:
earth and oxygen and the tip
of a butterfly’s antenna
and the ink for the tiny font in which
the latest upgrade of DNA’s genetic software is written,
and all the other things that await
that last infinitesimal quarkish piece
to click into place in order to be.

Until that day when time’s linear arrow
reaches the sun’s heart and its final flare
curls around the earth,
and the same particles, released, will rise
to become, again, the material of stars.

And the starfires themselves will cool to embers
and ash, and the delicate grey dust of
bodies that once formed the galaxies
will float on the spirit-wind of space,
to be swept into scattered satchels of
ever-expanding gossamer fabric,
until these black holes burst their sacs full of
the ashes of atoms--the last stuff of matter--
to be--with the faint flutter of the last energy--
breathed in and out with the sighing of
a weary universe;
the last outbreath of the sigh caught up into
the inhalation of

                                            another breath…

into a bright eternity that waits like love
to enfold all the dying and all the cold
darkness in the arms of the original light,
in the warmth of the original breath,
into that which was before there was anything.

Into God.

There never has been nothing.
There never is an end.

In Memoriam ~ Keith Rohr

Paraphrased Bible passages (in quotes) ~
Amos 5:21-23
John 12:24