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Carpe Diem!

November 19, 2014

I know re-watching Dead Poet’s Society and hearing Robin Williams tell his students that the deceased people in the class pictures on the school walls are calling out to them, “Carpe diem, seize the day boys!” will be difficult. I thought I had longer to enjoy this world with Robin Williams in it.

 

A few days ago, I attended a funeral for a person who deeply impacted me as a young man. Jerry Dorn was a Glenmary priest who gave up having a family of his own yet poured out his soul to thousands of young people from across the country who came through a summer service program in Appalachia. Jerry was full of crazy humor, endless songs, and a readiness to talk about deep things. He had a way of teasing you and affirming you at the same time that I’ve encountered in no one else. He stayed up until 4 a.m. many nights during the summer program because that was a time he could connect with young people about their lives.

 

The feeling I’ve had since learning Jerry died suddenly on November 10 is that someone hit the fast forward button on my life. How did I get so quickly from that summer of 1980 when I was privileged to soak in Jerry’s abundant energy to the moment of singing some of his favorite songs to him at the graveside as mourners took turns sprinkling dirt on his casket? I had not been in touch with Jerry in recent years, but he had become part of my spiritual DNA, as is anyone who plays a significant role in shaping our lives. Just knowing he was still living and doing his soulful work in this beautiful and difficult world was an unconscious comfort. As with Robin Williams, I assumed I had more years in a world that included Jerry Dorn.

 

I would like to believe that Jerry’s interred body is like the discarded shell of a cicada that is now flying and singing in another realm. I do not know that, but I hope it is true. What’s most important for me is that his death be a call to seize the day. As Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel put it: “Life is short and we never have too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!” (p.141 in The Inconceivable Surprise of Living).

 

What I hope for Jerry Dorn and for all who have been the face of God to me in this world is expressed in this nested meditation from Divinity in Disguise:

 

 

My life is a gestation.

 

 

My life is a gestation,

this world is but a womb.

 

 

My life is a gestation,

this world is but a womb,

death’s another birth.

 

 

My life is a gestation,

this world is but a womb,

death’s another birth

canal, and dying is just hard labor.

 

 

copyright 2003 by Kevin Anderson

 

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All writing excerpts on this site copyrighted by Kevin Anderson.  For permissions, email wingedlifeinfo@gmail.com

Crecopia moth photo in header used by permission of Scott Rosenfeld, scottrosenfeldphoto.com