Skyline, Summer - 2009

By Diane Pendola

Remembering Thomas Berry

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When I learned, early in the morning of June 1, that my friend and mentor Thomas Berry had died, I went to my meditation loft to feel what I had to feel. Perched among branches of oak trees and the graceful limbs of cedars, I listened to birds singing and felt the soft breezes come through the windows. I felt Thomas. I felt how he was such an embodiment of love! Not only was his mind keen, his vision far-seeing and focused but his heart was as big as the Universe he celebrated–as all our hearts are– it's just that Thomas not only knew this with his mind, but lived it with his whole life.

When I first met Thomas, it was after a wild-fire had devastated the forest where I live. The event had awakened me to all the losses happening across the planet. Casting about for the next step in my life, I called Thomas. To my surprise he returned my call and invited me to visit him at his home in Greensboro, North Carolina. When Teresa and I checked into our hotel at 9:00 at night, I gave him a call to let him know we had safely arrived. He insisted on coming to our room to take us out for some "nourishment." Here we were, total strangers, yet he drove out into a rainy night to take us out to dinner. But really, no one was a stranger to Thomas. He was the most gracious human being I have ever met.

Thomas spoke to all of us on behalf of the rivers and the rocks and the winds. He called us to re-invent ourselves as human-beings, to awaken as the consciousness of the Universe and recognize our unity with all the wondrous diversity of life–to champion it and to celebrate it. He is one now, with the rocks and the wind. The whole Earth is his body now. And we, the loving consciousness of the Earth, are his voice and his hands, blessed to have the companionship of his spirit as we continue on with the Great Work he so inspired.

In his spirit I offer the following two reflections:

You Are My Body Now
Re-membering Thomas Berry
Died June 1, 2009 at the rising of the sun

Let all rivalry cease.
Let all delusion of separation vanish like mist beneath the sun's rays.
Let breath rise.
Let breath be absorbed in our own lives.
May we inhale your resurrection.
May we exhale your spirit upon the world.
We know you now as the intimacy at the center of our hearts;
as the "I Am" that speaks from the center of the Universe.
The very rocks cry out.
The rivers and winds forever tell your name.
You whisper back:
You are my body now.

Yes, we say out loud.
We are your body now.
Let it be done according to your word.

Written for the beloved community of Thomas Berry
© Diane Pendola, 6-1-09


June 2-2009

I walked out into the evening, the pungent smell of bear clover released by the outburst of rain from the dark clouds. The taste of pine was clean upon my tongue as I thought of you– you who have gone now into the rain, the cloud, the scented air; you who no longer step upon the earth except in my footpads scuffling across this rocky path. I breathe you now and listen to the bird-song with new ears, and water the fruits and vegetables of my garden with a new tenderness. The spray of water appears crystalline light, emanating from Source, glistening from an eternal spring. I sense your presence– not in any way I would have expected– gentler, subtler, hidden like the nest of the blue jay, eye-level and totally visible but unseen until the mother bird, restless with too-long human presence, risks a return, settling into camouflaged stillness.

bird's nest
For those who have eyes to see, let them see!

The morning of your death I walked out into the sunlit horizon. The earth was wet and everywhere there were butterflies! Hokan, my big black bear of a dog, walked out into the green grass and butterflies flew up beneath his paws, fluttered among the orange and pink poppies, the yellow and red roses; drank from water puddles in flocks and floated among the weeping willow branches and hard green fruits of the peach tree. I walked into the barn and a hundred butterflies beat their delicate patterned wings against the glass. Oh so gently I cupped them in my hand and opened my palm again and again to the freeing wind just outside the confining walls. And I swear! Each one of them found their wings. Not one was lost.

birds on window

©Diane Pendola, Summer 2009. You are welcome to print or make a copy in electronic form for personal use or sharing with interested persons as long as the copyright notice is not removed or altered. Please do not print it in any other publication, or sell it, by itself or as part of another work, without express written permission of the author.

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