Today marks the 13th anniversary of my son’s passing. He died while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park when he was twenty-five.
I remember the year leading up to Chris’s death. Beneath all consciousness, the mystery appeared to prevail. He had visited relatives across the country and had collected his belongings from others. The weekend before leaving for Yosemite, he visited with old friends at the martial arts school that had helped him grow up. Those who saw Chris that year recall his joy, peace, and love.
Looking back, it’s as though, even as Chris lived with all his heart, the Earth couldn’t hold him. He was two when, on the eve of the birth of my daughter, he discovered stars. It seemed in that moment that a light went on inside him, which throughout life grew ever brighter. As I wrote in the book Freedom To Fall: I thought that Chris, if given the chance, would not go back and do anything differently. From the earliest age, he was always breaking out into new territory, new heights, new vistas—new realms of freedom. You could cherish Chris, but you couldn’t contain him….
I take comfort in knowing that Chris is where he is supposed to be. I know not what he is up to, how he serves God. Only that the love we had is the love we have and the love we will always have. The saving grace in loss is the soul’s endurance.
Chris was a shining example to many whose paths he crossed. May this day be a reminder that he is with us still, even as his journey (and ours) continue on.
Communicate with Carol or order a book via her website, morningsongbooks.com.
Forgiveness sparks the soul—
when, in surrender,
I find strength to freely give
the love that God has given.
Love is for giving,
unencumbered by condition—
rendering blessed peace,
relief from stirring hunger.
May we truly spend this life,
with time still left to wonder
how forgiveness, humbly—
inspires the soul from slumber.
Turning from Presence, the path fades away—
until remembering, I follow,
intuiting how and where to step.
The wellspring rings eternal, finding entrance
as I peer through the entanglement—
to the radiance of fertile ground.
Presence lights the Way for eyes just awakened—
through the rowdy playing field,
up the still silence of Heaven.
Today is Chris’s birthday. He would have been 38. Our love remains, a golden thread spanning the ages.
Chris journeys through the sheer glow of Heaven. A rock climber in life, he now climbs unbound.
Happy birthday, dear son. I feel your humble spirit and the holy heights that beckon. May you drink from streams of milk and honey and be garlanded with stardust. You have my heart, today and always.
It started with a robbery in my Costa Rican home. The swimming pool worker called me outside saying, “Have you seen or heard anyone?” “When?” “Ahorita” (now)! A minute later we were walking together down to the garage, hidden from the house by the garden, where he showed me his open backpack and empty wallet. He’d been robbed. By the time I reentered the house, my purse had been opened, my money gone. So that was the beginning of an interesting week, stressful goings-on interspersed with bright moments.
On the 3th day of the week, I fired my gardener after the demise of a few beloved plants, and Fernando, a humble, lively campesino, agreed to be my new gardener. (As an aside, the tropical garden, in its tenacious, jungle-like growth, overreaches my abilities, not to mention the complex relationship between flora and insects, especially ants. Ubiquitous and among the more intriguing are leafcutter ants, which march off with razor-sharp slices of leaves, as if donning sombreros, leaving behind long trails through the grass.)
On the 5th day, in the same breath as the big sigh of contentment for water shimmering in the pool again, after a month long repair, the pool and irrigation pumps broke simultaneously. No big deal except that the pool guy left town; with the end of the rainy season, the irrigation guy is too busy; I’m leaving for Colorado, and vacationers are arriving in swim suits. (Before you blink incredulously, as in Oh please! please hear me out.)
What I’m building up to is how God puts things in our way purposefully and constantly for our discernment. On the 6th day I awakened, looked around, and thought, Life is where you put your focus.
I thought about how I take little thing to heart and—shall I say it?—turn them into big things. I thought about how much more important the blessing of life is than the events. How just about everything is transitory: If you need a change, wait ten minutes. And how the one thing not fleeting is the one thing to live for: to taste eternity while you live—to feel alive in the moment and to trust that when you surrender, you will be supported, knowing that God knows you better than you know yourself.
Fernando, my new gardener, lives right around the corner. When I had asked him to work for me, he lit up. He could keep an eye on his cows across the way while gardening. He could come and go as he pleased. He could literally “brincar” (hop) from his house to mine. “I should have hired you a long time ago,” I told him, feeling equally pleased. “But now is the time!” he said, suggesting that everything is as it should be.
On the 7th day, I told God that I was ready to make good on the promise to live in His light, adding “as I can,” just in case…. But truly something within had settled, as if a sunbeam had broken through, awakening trust.
I was sitting down to breakfast when a large, colorful form moving about in the berry tree caught my eye. It was a toucan, scooping up red berries by the beakful— a sight I had not witnessed before on my property. That’s it! I thought. Life really is what you choose to pay attention to. And it was as though God were right there, winking at me. I tucked the experience into a place where special memories are kept, as an omen of good things to come.
Living from the wellspring of the soul requires standing still—to know the truth of its resonance and wisdom.
The soul is a wayfarer, bearing witness to experience, gently whispering: Give life passage, living the freedom of love, holding the crossings of paths in light.
In stillness, the soul lifts into awakening. Through life’s fleeting nature, we traverse as one, standing our ground in God.
On May 31, 2003, my son died in a rock climbing accident in Yosemite National Park. He was twenty-five.
After Chris died, I created a manuscript about his life, which included many poems. Later, the manuscript was culled into a book without poems. In remembrance, for the 11th anniversary of Chris’s fall, I am sharing a few of the poems.
Love’s Angel expresses the sense of Chris’s freedom following death. Growing Up and Reverie cast light on his character and love of life. The final unnamed poem reflects on my experience of loss as a whole.
Chris is Love’s angel,
such wealth untold;
I feel his sparkling Presence—
stardust turned to gold.
Love is not earth’s servant—
rather rapture on the wing.
Love flames mortal hearts,
then soars to hear seraphs sing.
Angels flit among us
like shining shafts of light—
Some linger but a moment,
then spiral into flight.
to Love’s sweet home.
I’ll know you by the ash
you hail from heaven’s dome.
Chris grew up and up,
an unwieldy clatter of bones
ahead of himself.
He was the tallest kid in class.
While playmates tilted
to tease or taunt,
he tied knots in their shoes,
and learned to laugh at himself.
At six foot five the kid settled in—
a slick, swift, lanky
gem of a guy,
though they say he couldn’t dance!
When others cracked up,
he’d jazz it up,
bobbing above the crowd.
Goofy or graceful, it was all the same.
Chris rolled with the rhythm of life.
Chris danced the elfin jig
under a crescent moon.
He leaped to touch the arc
of a rainbowed afternoon.
Live your life, forget the strife,
Whirl and twirl; be free!
The wind is heckling clouds,
and the sun glitters glee.
Chris juggled feathers
strewn by wayward flocks.
He gazed on nature’s splendor,
whistling on the rocks.
Laugh and play your nimble days,
tread lightly on the earth.
Rain is clapping; trees are sapping—
My love is full of mirth.
Loss is loss of pleasure—
the pleasure of a tantalizing smile.
But what is loss compared to love,
when love is all the good worthwhile?
Through faith, miracles work
to rouse the tender twinge to wing.
Through loss I probe that deeper well
to tap the silent mystic spring.
When Chris was 14, he discovered rock climbing. His brave journey as a rock climber and my climb from despair after he died come to life in the book Freedom to Fall. To order a copy, click on the appropriate link above.
I have embraced this life with all my heart, explored the breath of Earth, and still I long for more. The world has not bequeathed awareness of my Creator.
But from a precipice of crystalline panorama, wisps of cloud have caught my eye through shards of rainbow color, beyond Earth’s reckoning.
Before my mind can ponder, I leave this temporal sphere to soar, whereupon God, with sparkling laughter, catches me into the deep, buoyant net of Heaven. Home in Thee, my Lord; faith has no bounds!
Alone, I climb to Earth’s far edge and leap to pristine wonderment—until together we ascend, praising God as One.
To order a copy of my book, Freedom to Fall, the story of a son who lived without compromise and died following his dreams, click on the appropriate link above.