A Seamless Flow of Presence
May you know that absence is alive with hidden presence,
that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life grow full of eternal echo.
— from ‘For Absence’ (Benedictus/To Bless The Space Between Us)
John had a wonderful circle of friends with whom he shared strong connection – a remarkable “circle of belonging.” As the fifth anniversary of his passing drew near, we reached out to this circle, asking them to to share with us their memories of John’s presence, and also their thoughts on the transformative effects of his work on the living present and future possibilities.
This page holds the responses we have received from this dear Circle of Belonging.
We will add more as they become available.
by Helen Riess
The room seemed darker this dawn
A muffled stillness
Suggested snow had arrived
And covered the skylights with a
The house was utterly still. [… continue reading]
by Jacki Lyden
Only today I was thinking of him. Only today, I mentioned his name to someone who’d not heard of him nor had the pleasure of his living acquaintance nor a talk with him over a pint. It’s beautiful, to keep introducing him to people five years after his transition. As he might put it, over a glass and a cigar, his rather profound lack of visibility. It was just this morning. I said his name, spoke about the affinity a new friend and I had for each other; she seems to appear every time I think of her. I’ll be walking down the street in my hometown; she’s behind the lamp post and pops up. Her name happens to be Delia. “We’re Anam Cara,” I told her. “You must read this. We’re Anam Cara.”
The echoes of it. The living clay. Him beneath my fingertips, my other dialogue, my constant friend. I’m engaged in an environmental fight to save a hundred trees in a Wisconsin village, some of them over 200 years old, and he is with me every day. [… continue reading]
When I met John I was lonely. I had just returned to Tübingen (Germany) from Charlottesville, VA, where I spent a wonderful year as an exchange student and fell in love with my future husband. He stayed back in the US, while I finished my degree in Germany.
John had come to Tübingen to write a dissertation about the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who had studied in the Tübinger Stift, a Protestant seminary attached to the University of between 1788-93.
We met in a Buddhist meditation group hosted by Reinhard Manner who taught meditation classes in the Zen tradition. It was either his laugh or his funny English that made me ask him who he was. [… continue reading]
By David Whyte
You arrived as a ripple of change emanating
from an original, unstoppable,
memory, a then made now,
entirely yourself, found now in the world,
now as a creator of that world,
you were a signature written in sand
taken by the ocean and scattered
to another wave form, your disappearance [… continue reading]
by Noel Hanlon
I met John years ago in Ireland, when, after listening to him read from his first book of poems, Echoes of Memory, he learned that I wrote poetry. The poets in us became friends that day and continued to fuel our broader friendship throughout the years.
With the advent of email we were able to reach across the distance between Oregon and Conamara, sending new poems to each other for critique and inspiration. Even John’s emails were poetic – his unique way of looking at one’s life, his ability to articulate the heart of it, often ending with a blessing.
You didn’t have to be in a room with John to feel his kindness and his wild self. He’d often check in with family and friends on the phone, and unless it was sad news, the occasion of his call always brought a great blast of joy. If I reached him at home he would ask me to listen to the poem he was working on that day. I can still hear the echo of his shoes crossing the room to retrieve the poem, his whoop of joy if I thought it was working or beautiful. [… continue reading]