Last night, over black-eyed peas, greens, and corn bread-- New Year's good luck food, we five women friends talked about faith, spirits, and a clairvoyant some of us had visited when she came to Haines a few years ago. (Our spouses watched the football game.) It was a rambling talk around my mother's old table that veered between the known and unknown, life and death, the great beyond, God and no God, music or flames, all of it. And it wasn't depressing even though two of the friends had lost young sons in tragic accidents. We are catholic, agnostic, Mormon, evangelical, some questioning, others certain-- yet we agreed that there is more to this world than meets the eye, in a good way-- and that the clairvoyant may be right when she says that when we think of someone not with us, alive or dead, or share something they said or cooked or sang-- that they are communicating with us, and may in fact be very near, behind a curtain we can't see.
Now, I am floored to learn that Miller Williams, whose poem Compassion moved me enough on New Year's Eve to share with you, died New Year's Day. He was 84 and had Alzheimer's. I had no idea he was old or sick when I printed it. I'd never heard of him before. So now I'm wondering why that poem then? Why to me? Or as the clairvoyant would no doubt say, why not to me? Or to you? There really is eternity in a poem. And this one is important now, maybe more than ever-- "Have compassion for everyone you meet," Miller Williams wrote. "You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone."