May 03, 2005


COME lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais'd be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love-but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come,
come unfalteringly.

Walt Whitman

Whitman's celebration of death brings the end of life into the very vibrancy and dance of creation. It also reminds me of a transition I am slowly making.

My attention is moving inward and excluding most of the extended relationships I have known over the years. I find that I have a vital interest in those who are part of my family, my current church community, and close friends who participate via the blog, email, and visits. I no longer concern myself with old relationships in the past, or with stories of people I don't know who may be dancing with cancer.

On the one hand, I don't mean to be uncaring or insensitive to the stories brought by visitors. It is more a question of triage. I do not have time for every story, and I am focusing more and more narrowly on the specific path before me.

I see this as a time of centering, of waiting upon the Lord. Silence is full of beauty for me these days. The world speaks to me of its vibrant renewal even as I prepare to leave it.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee.

Posted by Donel at May 3, 2005 12:06 PM

What a gift, to open the blog and find love and prayer and poetry, continually renewing the meaning of what we thought we knew. Your reflections on centering in the midst of your dance send me searching for my copy of Four Quartets:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for that point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

--from Burnt Norton


Posted by: Anna Hall-Evans at May 3, 2005 01:27 PM

As much as I feel bereft for myself, Donel, I do feel a great joy for are going on a grand and mysterious adventure with nothing but love to surround you. You are growing closer and closer to the mystery now. It makes perfect sense that you should be drawn into the facination. We'll hold you as long as you need to be held here and then, hopefully anyway, have the Grace to let you travel on without too much grief. You remind me of Reepicheep in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I commend the ending of that book to the kids. I think I'll go home and read it to Erin tonight. xoxox j

Posted by: Janet at May 3, 2005 01:30 PM

Dear Donel--
I'm reading your blog today after an absence of a few weeks, with great sadness, but also a sense of your growing peace. I have never posted and am certainly part of the world outside your centering circle. Even so, I feel so much love and peace radiating from you and your surrounding family and friends. First Congregational Church of Bellingham will always be my "home" church and your presence will always be felt there for me. Sorry if my metaphors are a bit mangled, but I wanted to thank you for your great gift.

I understand the desire people have to take the gift of your blog and make it into something more tangible and seemingly permanent. But I started having this image of your blog and the precious, beautiful life it encapsulates as a skipping stone, dropped from heaven, dancing across our watery earth, sending out ripples of love and understanding before skipping lightly back into the palm of God. And the lasting gift you have given me is to show that we are all God's precious stones--we just need to have enough faith to let ourselves be "dropped" by God wherever, and for however long, He may wish.

Much peace and many blessings.
Jill (Kuiken) Klein

Posted by: Jill(Kuiken)Klein at May 3, 2005 02:13 PM

Dear Donel,

Jill has beautifully expressed my how I feel about you and the gift of being part of Bright Wings--albeit on an outer ripple. I am so inspired and so moved by the thoughts that you, your family and friends share with us, but eloquence has escaped me lately. Many thanks to Jill for hers.

Thank you for sharing this time with us.

I just send you all love and peace, quietly,
with hugs (sent through the ether like a warm sea breeze),

Love, Hope

Posted by: Hope Newcomer-Jones at May 3, 2005 03:38 PM

Anna - the image keeps evolving and forming. Thank you for that relevant and poignant bit from T.S. Elliot. It is a gift.

Jill and Hope, you aren't on the edge of things but in the center of my memory and affection. Thanks for your reflections. You are always welcome to join this conversation!

Posted by: Donel McClellan at May 3, 2005 03:45 PM


In the picture of you in your chair, is that a flax seed bag behind your neck? If not, and if you would wish one, that wish can be granted long distance. Flax seed is a warm(microwaved) heat source that is warm and moist and oh so comforting. Let me know if you would like this soothing.


Posted by: Marilee at May 4, 2005 02:38 AM

The colorful pillow behind my head is not flax seed, however I have been given a couple flax seed pillows which I used when I had some bone pain.

Fortunately, I don't need heat at this time.

Posted by: Donel McClellan at May 4, 2005 07:12 AM

Your Whitman poem made me remember this--a butterfly and transitioning thought for you.

It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life. -Richard Jefferies, 1883

With love to you and yours,

Posted by: Cindy Paces at May 4, 2005 09:00 AM

Dear Donel and Marilyn,

We'd hoped to visit between trips but both have indications of the "airplane virus". So - we will continue to use the blog and keep our world traveling germs to ourselves!

We've followed the blog from Saipan and then Hawaii but were not online for several days.
There is a different feeling reading several blog entries at one time. While each one seems to be a small jewel in itself, entries taken together have an ebb and flow much like the tide. It speaks of the a comment by Jeffrey Tate, "The most perfect expression of human nature is a string quartet". I like to think that perhaps the blog is perhaps a very delicate "symphony" created in community with each other.

Marilyn and Donel - while we are not much in Bellingham these days, you travel with us! You were definitely beside us in spirit as we offered prayers for God's grace on the shore of the Phillipine Sea at sunset. We somehow felt connected across thousands of miles thinking of Donel's taking pictures of sunsets from his own windows.


Posted by: sharon at May 4, 2005 09:27 AM

I continue to be so very impressed as to your wealth of knowledge and all of the poems that you bring to mind. You remind me so much of my Dad in that respect. He could always pull up a title of a book or a quote. I admire you as I do my father. I am afraid that I do not have the ability to write as well as you and or others who respond, but I hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Posted by: Carol at May 4, 2005 11:26 AM


I so appreciate the comments by both Jill and Hope since words fail me at times like these. They, along with you, are an integral part of my association with FCCB. I thank you for your gift of sharing to this community, far and wide. I feel myself being pulled along on this journey and learning so much from you in the process.

Peace to you and yours,

Sarah Bussard Watts

Posted by: Sarah Bussard Watts at May 4, 2005 12:08 PM

Dear Blogman,

Since we are to weave a thread through these writings, I will take a moment and reflect on my Dad who did not know literature nor art but had a thorough grasp of real estate. At 4:30 this morning I was thinking about you Donel. Since my family has been involved in real estate on Capitol Hill in Seattle for almost 60 years, I think in this language. We talk about people "splitting the sheets" (divorce) and "reefers" (refrigerators) as part of our language.

I was thinking about you being born into a particular house and having lived in it all your life. It's changed as you have changed. Occasionally you have redecorated like the time you had your hair permed in the 60's (to go with your beads) and when you had "Marilyn My Rose" tattooed on your left nostril in your 50's.

But now you are ready to move again. This present house is past even being a fixer-upper. It has no future. It needs too much work and so it will have to be recycled.

Your new digs are waiting for you and they are incredible. You have only imagined what they will look like. A rainbow of colors, a plethora of sweet smells, a grace-filled touch, and you won't have to worry about the toilet backing up.

Who knows when moving day is. Maybe in three months or maybe in a year. The van will arrive and you will know that it is time to put in a change of address at the PO and with all those who love you.

In NH many of our saints would leave us in the late fall as they said they couldn't stand another NE winter. You, of course, don't have -30 degree windchill to contemplate. You only have your First Blogging Church of God and the abiding love of so many. You are a lucky guy!


Posted by: Jennifer at May 4, 2005 05:28 PM

(moved from 1st post by the editor)
When I began living with cancer it was you who gave me the strength to face each day. For the third time in three years the Lord has, through much prayer from my friends and acquaintances, made me free of any tumors through surgery. As I live with cancer and wait for its next visit my thoughts are ever with you.

It was great to visit with you in church a couple of weeks ago. It was difficult for me to say what I wanted and needed to say to you because I was celebrating being free of tumors and on the mend after surgery at the UW and you were living with cancer walking faster than you.

My prayer is that I will live with cancer and pass on to a better place with dignity. You are a great inspiration to me.

My big fight today is with pain and pain killers don't work for me. I am so happy to hear that your pain level is low and I will be praying profusely that the pain remains low and your comfort level remains high.

With great love and admiration
Steve Cronkhite

Posted by: Steve Cronkhite at May 4, 2005 07:15 PM
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