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Category: beauty

heron

heron

A great blue heron frequents the pond behind our house in Cedar Falls. Magnificent bird! Here is a photo taken last Monday …

in three weeks

in three weeks

Iona Abbey


Three weeks from now, I will be on my way here … returning to the Isle of Iona and the Iona Abbey for the third time. I will be taking nine companions, one of whom was with me when I brought a group from our church to Iona three years ago.

It is a powerful place: powerful to the senses, powerful to the imagination, powerful to the spirit. It is a place for awakening senses, for cleansing imagination, for refreshing spirit. It is a place to be exposed — spirit and body — to the healing graces of God. It is a place to be with God, and to be with each other with God.



Looking across the Sound of Mull from Iona

a great man died tonight

a great man died tonight

Lynn Nielsen A great man died tonight …

Lynn Nielsen was great by the only measure that matters, that so many of us loved him.

We loved him for his courage, living and dying with multiple myeloma. Eventually it claimed his life, but it could never diminish his vitality or his humor or his eagerness for what tomorrow might bring.

We loved him for his faith, unconventional and genuine and exuberant, a faith that understood that God’s desire for us is life in all its fullness, here and now.

But, above all, we loved him for his joy. Teaching was joy to him, that unique setting where teachers and students come together to challenge each other and grow each other and put personal gifts and skills to use to nurture the skills and gifts in another person. A most unselfish profession! His students, from Iowa and from all points of the globe, brought joy to him, and he to them. And he found and made joy in his colleagues, my wife among them. He was the one who brought my wife into the College of Education and the University of Northern Iowa family, and for that she and I are most grateful.

And he found joy in making beauty, extraordinary beauty for all of us to relish! He made beauty with his music, playing organ for worship or jazz piano for the delight of the patrons of Elms Pub at New Aldaya Lifescapes and for concert-goers at other venues including our church. He made beauty at his home on Tremont Street — lovely backyard gardens, an interior decor warm and inviting and eclectic and elegant. He made beauty with his parties! Good food, good drink, extraordinary dishes and desserts, all carefully prepared and arranged by Lynn, the consummate host, the consummate friend. Parties for laughter and for music and for bringing people together, for making new friends and for treasuring every happy moment with friends old and dear.

He was a friend, old and dear, to so many. We loved him, for many good reasons, but we would have loved him regardless, just for how he loved us and for how he loved life. No one can replace him. No one could. No one should.

It is grief for us to lose him. But what joy it was to share some of our life with him!

everyone loves a parade

everyone loves a parade

Last Friday evening, I rode in a parade through the streets of downtown Waterloo. I saw some of you along the route: Lee Jensen and all the Prescotts, Kurt Kaliban, and Grant and Klara Hornung. It was a beautiful early summer evening, a great night for a parade.

It was, of course, the My Waterloo Days parade. I rode in a black Toyota convertible with Frieda and Anna Mae Weems, invited to join them as a board member of the Cedar Valley Civil Rights Peace Walk Memorial Committee. This committee exists to promote the development of a Peace Walk memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington Park, to commemorate Dr. King’s visit to Waterloo in 1959 and to serve as a symbol of our community’s commitment to peace in the midst of an often fragmented and divisive society.

Thousands of Waterloo’s residents lined the streets of the parade route, watching and waving and cheering, and it was a thrill for us in the car, having the advantage of moving among all of them, to appreciate the scope and diversity of the crowd. We have a beautiful city! We are an emblem, a case in point, of the melting pot that is our nation. The parade brought together, side-by-side, rich and poor, mayors and street people, young children and old men, African-Americans and Bosnians and Africans and Hispanics and European-Americans. For a few moments, we existed, not in our isolated and separated neighborhoods and working places, but together, all of us sharing a parade, all of us sharing this beautiful summer evening.

It was a glimpse of what we are, as a community, as a people, a glimpse that convinces me all the more of the appropriate purpose of a memorial, a peace memorial to Martin Luther King, and of the honor it would be to have it here, in our neighborhood. Don Damon said he saw me that night in a TV report about the parade. He scolded me because I wasn’t smiling. Sorry, Don! But I am smiling now as I think about that parade and about all the people, all God’s beautiful children, I saw along the way …

a spring delight

a spring delight

I have been experimenting with our new digital camera, the camera I plan to use extensively this summer during my sabbatical. This is a photo of the phlox and daylily shoots growing at the foot of our mailbox.

Lavender creeping phlox