David’s Love Song
How do we say goodbye to a man who was impossibly big, big enough to gather us, big enough to fill this meadow, these peaks of Yosemite with a presence so unique, so spirit filled, so heart full that he makes us all weep? Though we may say today he ‘was’ we all know he still ‘is’.
We are still receiving his gestures, the look in his eyes that both made us quake but also shiver in the truth of the mirror he loved to hold. We are receiving his love, right here, right now, right where we and dozens of others are gathered. He too is gathering his wings, spreading his heart over all of us, dropping love into us, opening places that may be closed. Let’s take a moment to feel this opening, to release ourselves even more.
Let’s give ourselves permission to grieve, to celebrate, to remember, to give thanks, to bow. Let’s fall in love with each other inside of this extraordinary human moment of saying goodbye, of saying hello.
He would want nothing less.
I met David, then Randy, 34 years ago in Berkeley California when we were both studying with the same spiritual teacher. How could I not fall for this ruffian sprite, this man of the mountain, this ephemeral being, this artist in waiting?? We have traveled together, taught together, cooked endless pots of rice together, walked trails, hiked mountains, sat by the creek in my own backyard, written poetry together, chanted and even danced at a bar.( once) He lived in tents, in teepees,in yurts, even a night in an igloo next to me and my family. A true friend on the road of life. We always found each other in the keys times when only the oldest of friends could ‘know; the right touch, the right words to ease a heart. For this journey on earth I will always be grateful to you, my dearest friend David.
David was his own mandala. A swirl of colors and images, pulsing from his center outward.
An extraordinary mandala made of earth, air, fire and water. Each quadrant, unique, bright, expressive and totally David.
The first quadrant we all know and love is David, the trickster.
He always seemed to be up to something. His surprises were rooted in something we said, or a line in a story he thought suited us. Before we knew it, he would slip a drawing under our pillow or a colored pencil. Maybe a stuffed animal or an elegant piece of driftwood or a cartoon.. Once he showed up at the door with a huge grin with a bouquet of yellow roses just because I dreamt about them that morning. His surprises were thoughtful, impishish and designed to make us take ourselves a wee bit lighter. Always offered with a sleight of hand, his eyes crinkled with delight.
Thank you David the trickster, the coyote for the unexpected delights you offered each one of us.
Then there is David the researcher. His mind and his insatiable appetite to research an interest was undeniably David. Whether he was studying the nature of the Hypothalmus in the brain or the history of the male brain versus the female or the inner workings of the human cell, or the biography of Hilledgarde, he spent countless hours at all times of day or night digging. And out of his research he would make the most exceptional connections..linking our nervous systems to Halley’s comet?? Making us all scratch our heads and ask him to repeat himself..Halley’s comet?? His mind was a systems mind and he loved this magnificient web of information and connection. All I can say is thank God for Mr. Google!!. I think it saved him during the darkest hours of his illness.
Thank you David, the researcher, for the way in which you put together the universe so we could deepen our own understanding and spark our curiosity.
Then we move around the Mandela to David the Bard.
David’s love of song and chant was birthed in the quiet moments growing up on a glacier. He once told me that he would sit on the mountain as a child and hear the songs of the stars, the high alpine trees and the raptors. Ever since I have known him, he was chanting. he once told me quite vulnerably that he thought he didn’t have a very good voice but in a mysterious way it would get better when he chanted. I asked him HOW. He said that chant had the power to harmonize everything..even HIS voice. His voice evolved into the true definition of a bard, he sang stories and legends, poems and proverbs and the lives of the saints . And of course his storytelling became the poignant stories of our own destiny lines. How many of us have wept in his recognition of our truest story??
He has lugged his guitar all over the world, to the most remote camping spots in Alaska, to Crete, to Assisi.
I believe he has it with him now.
Thank you David, the Bard, for your voice.
And then there is David, the universal father.
David touched the lives of countless small children, teens and young adults. He had a way with kids, pacing himself to their pace, he waited patiently at the door until they gave the nod for him to enter. My three children Taylor, Cameron and Brooke ( Patrick and Royal ) heard countless bedtime stories from David. There was Taylor’s birthday party when he initiated an unusual version of hide and seek…everyone had to hide behind a tree and could only come out if you told a story about your tree. He was a pied piper, a kind of Pan being, blowing his golden horn and enchanting even the shyest to come forward. He understood teens, knowing the steady presence of love and interest they needed. And he loved the threshold age of young adults. I believe this time reminded him of his own youth and how important mentorship can be. Many of us here have children that David was connected to..always simple in his way, a kind word, a question for them, a funny story ( an occasional joke) he always spoke to their soul and made them feel that their depths were the most important thing in the world. He once told me that though he didn’t have his own children he knew part of his destiny was to be a father to the world.
Thank you David, the universal father, for reaching out to our children, insuring that this next generation had a hand to hold. May those unborn find their connection with you!!
And then David as the lover.
David’s walk on this earth was in partnership. In many ways he was a loner, growing up in a one room school house in Utah. But he loved the relationship path. I believe it was the daily ground that kept him embodied, always learning and opening. The polarity of male and female was one of his great passions. I can’t count the number of phone calls where we processed the relationship koan. He wanted to ‘get it right’, he wanted to know that he could heal some of his childhood wounds through relationship. And I believe his course was strong and true and profoundly devoted. I believe he found what he was looking for..the union that happens when two lives are joined, in the kitchen over tea, in the planning of a workshop, in the sharing of a reading, in a walk, in a beholding of beauty and of course in his love of food and eating. How many times he made some crazy meal out of leftovers from my refrigerator and delightful served it to me. How many campfire meals?? All of this was the way David loved, day to day. Including hisdeep love for the animal kingdom, the wolves, the eagles, the whales, the dolphins, the bears and the chipmunks
Thank you David, the lover, for all you gave to the ‘loves’ in your life, especially our dear Ananda.
David the Maker, the artist. Painter, drawer, woodworking, sculptor, designer, writer, photographer and builder. Wow!! There wasn’t much that didn’t manifest from some flash of brilliance in his own mind into creation. The piece of hard wood he found on the forest floor became a lamp, the eagle feathers a mandala. All creation came right through his hands. I am sure we can picture the power of David’s hands. Remarkably strong ( did you ever receive a foot or shoulder rub??)
I would watch how the seed would slowly sprout, working on him for days until he would announce he wanted to make a wreath out of shells because they were the shape and design of DNA. Who else do you know who had such an insistence to fashion the unformed into form??
With talent and perseverance and beauty?
Thank you David, the Maker, for each one of your creations. You’re books, you drawings, your art pieces, your sculptors, your paintings, and your photographs. Thank you for leaving these in our hands.
David , the human Being. David was so totally human that half the time he didn’t know if his fly was unzipped. his shirt buttoned evenly, his toenails trimmed. How many of us wanted to JUST brush his hair ?? But strap a pair of skis on his feet and this gorgeous man became the most liquid embodiment of pure Grace.
He shared his vulnerabilities, his tenderness with me.. I will never forget the time he called after the Valdez Exxon oil spill crying because he held a beautiful white bird in his arms whose wings were black with oil. How many of us saw the tear forming in the corner of his eye when he told a story of St. Francis or Montana, as though the bittersweet membrane of their suffering and ecstasy was his as well. His humanness was always close to the surface. though at times we wondered because he was in such service to others. But if we became still, we quieted down with David, we could feel that his journey was a human one as well.. Throughout his illness, though he endured as a saint, he kept his tenderness.
Thank you David for your humanity. For the perfection of your quirky imperfections.
And of course one of the greatest quadrants in the Mandela of David, the teacher.
I think David came here to teach. To not possess or own his wisdom but to share, to ignite, to use his uncanny laser focus to strip us of our barnacles. He helped us relax into the rivers of our own destinies, ensuring that we make a safe passage. He understood the weight of the word and the weight of silence. He also understood the play of light on water as the humor we needed to separate our old sense of Self from that which was trying to be born.
There are few words for the marvel of his teachings… profound, insightful…. he was a lineage carrier, pulling in all wisdom traditions, all religions, weaving them into a tapestry that was elegant and colorful. Each one of us has been offered a slice from the wisdom cake that he made from the ingredients that he came into the world with!! His own fabulous recipes!!!
And in his last years he came to truly know that he wasn’t the one teaching, that the powers that be, The Great Spirit was simply passing through.
He served and served and served and served. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.
Thank you David, the teacher, for your service while here on Earth. Thank you for the wisdom that now moves through us that was passed through you.
David the devoted son.
He was a devoted son. To the end. He never forgot his origins.. He loved his parents Ed and Dolores deeply and was always looking for ways to express his love. He was a blend of their charisma, their power, their love of this physical earth, their desire to name, to express beauty, to write and their insistence on leaving their wisdom behind. He had the rare chance to touch both of their lives through their deaths only days apart from each other, spending hours going through their objects, their books and their photos, looking through the windows of their homes in Alaska and Silverton at the mountains … and remembering.
They are together now. In death they find each other. A family reunited. A devoted son joined with his parents.
And finally at the center of the Mandela of David, was the silent one.
Nameless, wordless, the channel that was filled with Spirit, a rare atmosphere that we can only call the Divine, the beloved, or as Hafiz says The Friend. We have all fallen into that center. We all have been changed.
When a great Zen teacher was dying, his devoted student expressed that he didn’t think he could go on without him. The teacher took his hand and said,
Let go, so I can dissolve into your heart.
Let us let go, so David can dissolve into our hearts.
Let’s chant with David to his beloved earth. To Mt. McKinley and Rainer, to Wolf Track Bay and Juneau and the magnificent forests of the Northwest, to Alta and the high glaciers, to the Rocky Mountains and Lost creek, to Kennicot glacier and MaCarthy, to the blue blue ocean of Hawaii, the big island, to the island of Crete, and to Silverton and its peaks.
Spread your wings David.. Fly higher than you could ever know possible. Dip and dive and laugh while we watch you. and wave and grieve and celebrate and say goodbye.
Farewell our trickster, our researcher, our Bard, our universal father, our lover, our artist/ maker, our human, our teacher, our devoted son.
May your journey continue to be your life’s fulfillment.