Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here on Earth

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism 
is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. 
And we’ll change the world.
Jack Layton
Yesterday, I logged on here early and read that someone I admired very much and respected deeply had passed away.

Last month, Jack Layton had taken a leave of absence from his duties in parliament to battle cancer, having already weathered one bout of cancer and a broken hip. He had high hopes of coming back to the House of Commons next month, but treatment was not successful, and he passed beyond the fields we know early yesterday morning with his family at his side.

I am sorry for for the Layton/Chow family's loss, and my heart aches for them, but we are all poorer for the departure from life of this good man, gifted teacher and skilled politician. Jack was a soulful warrior, a passionate humanitarian and "the real thing" - someone with true grace within, a heart as wide as the world and a bone deep commitment to the common good. For those of you who did not know him (or of him), there is an excellent obituary here, The full text of his farewell letter to all of us is here.)

I couldn't settle after I read the news, just wandered around the house not sure of what to do with myself - stared out the window, kept losing my train of thought, read the same page in my current reading material over and over again, let cups of tea go cold, picked things up and put them down again. Grief is like that, and it is a wonder that anything got done at all yesterday.

Returning from an aimless walk late in the day, I looked up and saw a kite dancing in the breeze overhead. The scrap of rainbow colored silk was tethered to the planet by the lightest of cords and held in the chubby hands of a smiling toddler. I hadn't cried a single tear all through the day, but grief took over then.  I crumpled into the grass right there, and the tears came pouring out like a salty flood. Why they chose that moment to well up, I don't know - I only know that a good man has dissolved back into the great sea of being, and I am very very sad. Here on earth, it's up to us to carry Jack Layton's vision into the great wide world.


Cindy said...

My eyes welled up with the vision of you sobbing. The smallest most ordinary things can trigger such powerful emotions in us. May your heart find comfort this day.

Mystic Meandering said...

My heart goes out to you. Sometimes it feels like the tears will never end for all the grief we hold...
May your heart be lightened like the kite that soars...
Many Heart Hugs to you this day...

Anonymous said...

You've so eloquently expressed how I very much feel about the passing of Jack. Thank you. I take comfort that his legacy lives on in the actions of all those he had an impact on.

the wild magnolia said...

The child, of tender age collapsed your strength, the simplicity of the moment.

I read up on him, very accomplished, very wise, and filled with bright words of encouragement.

Thank you for sharing his life.

Anonymous said...

What you wrote reminded me of a passage in Anne Seller's memoir A VANISHED WORLD. This speech was made by the local congressman, Mike Driscoll, at a church banquet in mid-February.
The time is around 1900.

(It is a long speech, and this is an excerpt.)

"As I've told you many times, Onondaga County is the Garden of Eden. Tonight it is Paradise after the first snowfall. I look around, and there is hardly a man or woman in the church whose hand I have not shaken and whose farm or store or shop I have not visited, and each face is the face of a valued friend.

It's a good many years I've been serving you in Washington, and God willing , there will be a few years more, but not too many. The wings of Time are over me. The service has never been a burden. I have had always your affection and your faith to strengthen me. No man could ask more."

Belle said...

I just wanted to let you know that someone put up a beautiful memorial to him in the Temple at Burning Man this year.. He was cherished by many.

Barbara from San Francisco