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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Tree ~

In the evening we light the twenty or so candles on the Christmas tree and sit there in long periods of silence.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

At Midnight Mass ~

The priest stood there and read In Praise of Christmas Eve by Thomas a Kempis, composed in the year 1395. I was impressed. It was the joy that went out from the words. And perhaps the way the priest delivered them, obviously stirred. It was an overwhelming gladness that sprang from the realization of what happened at the stable in Bethlehem. You could literally feel the enthusiasm of Thomas a Kempis. He was so full of rejoicing that he could hold no more and had to pass it on to his listeners.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Deep Snow ~

The little Christmas tree I have set up on our terrace outside the dining room is covered and weighted down with snow. The tiny lights have to reflect from deep under the snow and the tree is leaning precariously. There are a few suet feeders on the tree like Christmas decorations that attract the goldfinches, titmice and now and then chickadees. How sparingly they feast.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tom ~ Funeral

It was bitter cold this afternoon as we filed out to the gravesite. Sheets of snow flew at us in the brisk westwind as we stood waiting for the large crowd of mourners to congregate. The minister stood there bravely with snow in his face waiting to say the Our Father. Then, individually we approached the open grave. I stood and looked down at the coffin now lowered to its earthen resting place. I didn't take the little shovelful of earth or the holy water sprinkler, but just stood there and looked down for five seconds, then made way for the next mourner.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

As If He Were Still There ~

Made my way back to Tom's house this morning. Delivered a note of sympathy from my wife. Told Alice how much I admired her loving perseverence during the long ordeal. A short embrace. Then I went to the cemetery and stood looking at the pile of earth with flowers on it. Numb.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tom ~ Passage

It was a cold winter afternoon but full of sunlight and reddish streaks of cloud. Tom passed away at noon. I had been there during the morning hours. Tom was breathing laborously and already seemed distant. His family of six was at his bedside. A candle. Death came on tiptoe and took him without a struggle. . . I walked home and sat quietly at the piano and played Bach's Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden while the evening darkness set in.

From Tamara Deuel ~

Dear Charles,
It is hard for me to express the feelings I have when reading your poem because it is very emotional for me. A deep and incredible poem. Thank you sending it to me. I think that you . . .
I am sending you two of my pictures. They are not the latest but I wanted you to see them.
You are blessed,

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Advent Music ~

Bach's Cantata for the third Sunday in Advent concerns the intense longing of an individual soul for the coming of Christ, quite in keeping with the Advent theme. That strong mystical German tradition: very personal emotions expressed in words we are not accustomed to hearing, but striking and captivating, especially when accompanied by the ingenious scores Bach has created. I am no longer "distracted" by the artistry but am moved by the strong religious impact. Every moment with J. S. Bach is a wonderous gift.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tom's Family ~

Tom's wife and family of six are there this weekend. His oldest daughter has a bad cold and must keep her distance. Poor Kathrin, his wife, is exhausted. Tom was doing so well this morning that I could tell him about Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. The red flag went up, as usual in our conversations in the past on that theme, and he had to grab for the oxygen mask. Then the smirk and wink.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tom - Critical Condition ~

Yesterday Tom almost passed away. Had a critical breathing attack. The doctor came but said he had now reached the end of his medical know-how. He gave Tom an injection, some medication, too. Told him the only thing would be to send him to the hospital for resuscitation. Tom rejected that. Wanted to be at home with his family.

Now today Tom was well. Had had a good night, breakfast, felt strong. Had that old smirk on his face when I told him about our awful choir performance.

Astonishing, how peaceful he is. Never complains. Taking everything in stride. No fear. No drama, little emotion. Well aware that death is near. It would seem as if abundant help coming from elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Tree ~

Bought a Christmas tree today. All the while thinking about living simply in a society that has everything. Almost any object that one can imagine is available and can be had. Living in such a society poses its own problems: the desire to have is one, dissatisfaction not to have is another. To be satisfied with owning little is an ideal to keep striving for because it frees me from so many things that clutter up my life.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hubris ~ Knowing Oneself

When studying Greek tragedy I remember our professor telling us how the playwrights used hubris [arrogance, pride] in their plays to demonstate how a protagonist who displayed hubris could be led to his own downfall. The Gods would show their disfavor by allowing him to have even more success, then when he felt himself to have achieved everything he wanted they would let him fall and drive him headlong into on into his own undoing.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tom - The Night

He was awakened at 2 a.m. gasping for breath. After that couldn't get back to sleep for fear it would return. Was drowsy during my visit and slept most of the time. Came away with the feeling we are losing contact.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tom - Music

In his situation Tom said that he doesn't care to hear music, not even classical. The only music he can listen to is Gregorian chant. Tom is Protestant and his tradition is anything other than Gregorian. He said that the chant makes him peaceful and carries him off.