A blog rises at Easter

The thoughts in writing on this new blog started with the physical death of the love of my life, the artist Hal Koenig, and a eulogy I delivered at his memorial service. The eulogy used themes shared by Christianity, Zen Buddhism and quantum physics to talk about how the important part of Hal is still with us, and how the many who loved him are called to live out his kind and gentle spirit.

Immediately after the eulogy I began receiving requests for the text and questions about what it said and meant. In response I began a memorial blog to Hal that generated surprising traffic and many words of encouragement. Apparently the writing has wet a few handkerchiefs among family and friends and even some strangers. The Zen-flavored expressions of Christian faith helped a dear friend of Hal’s cross into the spirit world shortly behind him, bringing welcome smiles to her face in her final days of this life. Writing everything down and sending it into the world has helped me process more grief in the last month than I thought I’d face in a lifetime.

Words are pretty much the only thing I’m good at, and since they seem to be lifting others (not to mention myself), I’m going to keep the words coming. Easter feels like the right time to go beyond a blog in memory of Hal’s physical presence and begin anew with one to carry forward his still-living spirit, not in lament but in joy. Father Jason at my neighborhood’s fine Episcopal church spoke on Good Friday about how loss unleashes the power of regeneration. Amen and may it be so.

The blog will cover whatever I feel charged to say at a given moment, often, I anticipate, about art in words or on canvas, and the truer-than-fact beliefs that art, literature and faith express. I’ve titled the blog Capturing The Light to salute Hal’s light-based artistic vision using the language of faith and spirit. The title came to me during meditation, or silent prayer, in the voice of Hal, harmonizing with all who are one with God. Nothing is separate except in our selfish, temporary earthly minds.

Soon I’ll start the blog proper by addressing the number-one question I’ve received since the eulogy for Hal: “So are you a Buddhist, or a Christian?” The answer for Hal and me, Christian, tends to bring a response somewhere between “ohhh” and “ewww.” It’s not the hip answer some want to hear.

I can’t blame people for being less than enthusiastic. Christianity has been made creepy by churches that pack their pews with a seductive gospel of wealth, superiority and exclusion, opposite of the gospel Jesus proclaimed. I too am guilty of recoiling in suspicion when strangers proclaim a fervent Christian faith.

Yet my thirty years of Zen practice haven’t managed to turn me full Buddhist. I can’t get past Buddhism’s First Noble Truth: “Life is suffering.” But Zen does help me see the gospel of Christ in a light that fits the world and time surrounding us. Which in turn is helping me triumph against the hardest and saddest days of my life. If what happened in my life this past Lent can’t put me down, nothing can. I hope Hal’s true heart and its work in my words can help others meet the hard Lents of their lives and come out stronger in spirit.

Thank you, everyone, for being with me, now more than ever. I love you.


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