May 11, 2005

The next step

We want to let everyone who reads this blog know that dad's illness has progressed fairly rapidly this week and his body is starting the process of shutting down. I flew in from Singapore yesterday and the three of us kids are here with mom and dad.

Dad is comfortable and spends most of the day sleeping or dozing. When he is awake, he occasionally takes part in conversation and has made it clear that he wants to be in the midst of activity. We keep music playing and this morning we read him poetry which he enjoyed.

We will keep you up to date as we move along this journey together.

Posted by Dani at May 11, 2005 01:39 PM

Experience with my brother's death suggests that things may happen very quickly now. Know that all you McClellans are surrounded with hundreds--maybe thousands--of hearts in that room. We wait, watch, grieve and celebrate the next stage in Donel's existence with you.--Love to you all--Maria

Posted by: Maria Barbee at May 11, 2005 02:33 PM

Thank you for the update. I am so glad that Donel is still wanting to be in the midst of things. Now things will change from day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute.

Having walked this walk so recently, I send angels of comfort and even joy to all.


Posted by: Marilee at May 11, 2005 02:40 PM

I log into the blog several times a day and am overcome by the honesty, beauty and strength you all have. Thank you so much so sharing the journey.

Posted by: Judy Pearson at May 11, 2005 02:52 PM

Love to you all.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.


Posted by: Sherri Winans at May 11, 2005 02:52 PM

For a Lifetime of Growing-------
of childcare exchanges;
on Balboa Island, Lynden and Irvine;
at everydays, holidays and weddings;
in bookstores, galleries and ice cream shops;
watching butterflies and birds;
for the past, present and unknown
---I give thanks and send love

Signe and for all the Hardesty's

Posted by: Signe at May 11, 2005 03:40 PM

Like others, my family has also had its share of these seasons. You are wrapped in the love and prayers of people all over the world whose lives yours have touched for the better.

The Mary Oliver poem is so ideal. It's like breathing in and letting go.

Love to all.

Posted by: Connie Eggers at May 11, 2005 03:43 PM


I could wish nothing finer now for you Donel. If I cannot have you back in this life, this is perfection...

In your home, with your heart held by Marilyn, surrounded by your loving children, yes, amazing thriving adults, yet always your precious children...

...The perfect caccoon to leave from,
on your own Brite Wings unfurling
into your next adventure
with God's love...
and so it goes

May you soar from tender surroundings,
in the love created by you
here among the many, and many
known and unknown, and so it goes...
on it goes

Perfect Love. You have left us your magnificent gift. Thank you forever.

Blessings all over you Marilyn, Dani, Jeni, Martin
Love, Jennifer (the Orcas one)

Posted by: jennifer johnson fralick at May 11, 2005 04:08 PM

Glad you're all together. Thinking of you with love,

Posted by: Cindy Paces at May 11, 2005 04:08 PM

At this time of sadness, I feel everyone's love for Donel lifting me up. thank you.

Posted by: Paula at May 11, 2005 04:24 PM

My heart is with you. Erin sends her love, too. Jeffrey gave me a CD over the weekend that has as its title piece It Is Well With My Soul - I think this is the last song that I sang in close proximity to Donel (when we were at Lawrence Brewster's memorial). We (those of us gathered nearby) made a fine showing on the chorus. I am singing it now and thinking of you Donel. I love you all.

Posted by: Janet at May 11, 2005 04:38 PM

Hello to all,

And God will lift you up on angel's wings,
Bare (?) you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun,
and hold you in the palm of God's hand.

These words are floating through my head right now
as I think about you being together in your haven of
love. I love you all and thank you Donel for reminding
me that we are all wrapped in God's everlasting arms.

The memories of your hugs will always keep me warm.
Shine on!

Just when the catepillar thought the world was over, it turned
into a butterfly.

Posted by: Lindsay Nyberg at May 11, 2005 04:47 PM

Thank you for the update. We check the blog throughout the day and our prayers surround you.
Much love-
Powers Beggs Family

Posted by: Laurie Powers at May 11, 2005 04:50 PM

Our love, our prayers, our gratitude are with you. We're so glad that you are all together. Words are hard to find, emotions difficult to express...if we could, we would hold you in our arms, we can and do hold you in our hearts.
Love, Chris and Elizabeth

Posted by: Chris at May 11, 2005 05:59 PM

Wild geese flew over as I finished dinner. Then I went to the blog and read one of my very favorite Mary Oliver oh my how God's spirit surrounds .....

Thinking of each of you .... sending love...

Posted by: Margie Kimberley at May 11, 2005 06:47 PM

Since you're reading poetry, here are two of my favorites from Wendell Berry:

"The Slip"

The river takes the land, and leaves nothing.
Where the great slip gave way in the bank
and an acre disappeared, all human plans
dissolve. An awful clarification occurs
where a place was. Its memory breaks
from what is known now, begins to drift.
Where cattle grazed and trees stood, emptiness
widens the air for birdflight, wind, and rain.
As before the beginning, nothing is there.
Human wrong is in the cause, human
ruin in the effect -- but no matter;
all will be lost, no matter the reason.
Nothing, having arrived, will stay.
The earth, even, is like a flower, so soon
passeth it away. And yet this nothing
is the seed of all -- the clear eye
of Heaven, where all the worlds appear.
Where the imperfect has departed, the perfect
begins its struggle to return. The good gift
begins again its descent. The maker moves
in the unmade, stirring the water until
it clouds, dark beneath the surface,
stirring and darkening the soul until pain
perceives new possibility. There is nothing
to do but learn and wait, return to work
on what remains. Seed will sprout in the scar.
Though death is in the healing, it will heal.

This next one (also by Wendell Berry) was very important to me last summer when I was working in chaplaincy. To me, it describes those fine, rare moments when I've been intensely aware of the presence of God. I pray you will be blessed by an awareness of God's presence now:

"The Wild Rose"

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,

suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once more I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

I love you all. Blessings on your new dance, Don.


Posted by: Janet Craswell at May 11, 2005 06:47 PM

Dear Don,

Our wish is for you to go peacefully in the midst of your loving family. We thank you for all the love and caring you have given our entire family and know that we will give the same to yours.

Anita and Chuck

Posted by: Anita & Chuck at May 11, 2005 06:49 PM

Dear Ones,

May this evening's sunset be especially warm and radiant coming in your big West window. Surrounding you all with my loving thoughts and prayers.


Posted by: Nancy Kennell at May 11, 2005 07:45 PM

Dances With the Maker

when his days come to twilight
in the peaceful hush that is the end of his life
he dances with his Maker
a soft, slow waltz
to a song that whispers
welcome Home

earth slips away
leaving only gossamer fluttering behind
to brush those he loves
with an echo of his presence

when the day comes
for each of his beloved
to begin the dance
his voice will joyfully join in
singing louder than the rest
welcome Home

Wishing you all peace, love, and grace.

Karen Riseland

Posted by: Karen Frazier at May 11, 2005 07:49 PM

I am very glad for you all that you can be together at this time. Please know that you are in my prayers. I read the blog daily and feel deep gratitude to Donel and Marilyn for teaching me about love and faith.
Good night,
Nancy Fayram

Posted by: Nancy Fayram at May 11, 2005 07:52 PM


The dance analogy has been comforting through this journey. I am reminded of a quote by the legendary Martha Graham.

"Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion. "

Your passion for life, your family and friends and above all God makes you legendary to us.

Dance, dance, dance!

Our thoughts are with all of you.

We wish you peace, love, and joy.

Brent, Gen, Spencer & Briana

Posted by: Gen Guinn at May 11, 2005 08:48 PM

Words are difficult for me to find. Especially when so many have been shared so eloquently. My heart is full to overflowing.You are in my prayers and thoughts throughout the day. Who would have guessed that such generosity of heart and spirit, such depth, would be shared through a are an amazing family!
May Donel's dance continue gently along this journey's path.

Posted by: Diana Harrison at May 11, 2005 09:16 PM

Dear Donel, Marilyn and family,

Our love and prayers are with you and your entire family tonight. Our hearts are full of tears, yet also full of love. Thank you for this chance to share in this extraordinary dance. You have been such an important part of our forever family.
We love you.
Cathy, Tina and Jenna

This African-American spiritual keeps running through my head......

Precious Lord, take my hand.
Lead me on. Let me stand.
I am tired. I am weak. I am worn.
Through the storm,
Through the night,
Lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
and lead me home.

May you have a gentle night.

Posted by: Cathy A. at May 11, 2005 09:28 PM

Dear Donel and Family,

I have stayed silent since this journey began. I have believed for so many years that I could not survive yet another death of someone I love, nor could I imagine walking beside them on their path. So, out of fear and self protection I grieve in silence and commune in my dreams with those spirits whom I still long for so many years following their passing. Now, with some encouragement, I break the silence and attempt to capture some of what I am feeling.

Marilyn, your grace and bravery leave me in awe of you. Reading your entry helped me to see the joy that exists in the depth of such pain. I am reminded of a quote from the film "Shadowlands," where a dying wife consoles her husband who is caring for her through her final days. She says to him through her tears; "The pain now is part of the happiness then."

Almost ten years ago, my horse was hit by a truck and killed. I was nineteen years old, and the loss of my best friend and companion was devestating. I remember my pastor at my bedside where I lay crippled with grief and depression. Donel, I remember your strong hand on mine and your kind words of compassion. I also remember the months and years that followed when I would come into your office and share the triumphs and struggles on my journey of faith. I have felt so held and cared for in your presence, and I have gathered such wisdom from our conversations.

One of my favorites has been a definition of faith that you shared with me a few years ago. You said "faith is subjecting the parts of yourself that do not believe, to the parts that do." Grief and loss has shaped my life more than I would have chosen. They have shaped my fears and my insecurities, but they have also shaped my depth of caring and compassion, and my capacity for joy.

The anticipation of your death has been an opportunity, and only after some reflection time do I see how transformative this process has been for me. Even in my silence, I have taken this time to look back on so many years of precious time I spent with you and the church family you have helped to create.

This loss is so much different than the others I remember. Where before there were only tears, there is laughter breaking through them. Where before there was anger and fear, here there is compassion and gratitude. Where before there was resistence, here there is acceptance.

You have walked with me on my path for so many years, never wishing the path was different, always embracing exactly where I was in that moment. Now, though I cannot change the path you walk, I can walk beside you just as you have done for me. I can break the silence which has prevented so much healing in the past.

I want to extend my gratitude for all of your gifts. I hold so much love for you in my heart.

Ginger Kennell

Posted by: Ginger Kennell at May 11, 2005 09:37 PM

My love goes out to all of you. That you are home, Dani, is the event I am sure your dad has awaited. The love in your family is so touching, and having you all together is vital for his farewell. Bless you, each and every one of you for all you have been to each other and for all you have taught so many of us about the deepest, most unforgettable meaning of family. Ann

Posted by: Ann Chisolm at May 11, 2005 10:05 PM

Donel and Marilyn,

Reading the latest news, that the disease is accelerating, I find myself looking back to the joyful service of Jubilee and closing of La Mesa Community Church--your first church--on Pentecost Sunday last year. It is not a calendar year since then, but it is a liturgical year. There is something poetic about the timing.

Marilyn, I too have been wondering all along about how you are bearing up, knowing the great loss you are facing. Your "Letting Go" piece was so very moving. And I don't think there is much I can add to the 40 comments already posted...just an affirmation that the wonderful quality of your marriage is being born out in this awesome ending.

May the Lord of the Dance be with you all.

Posted by: Leslie Wilson at May 11, 2005 10:32 PM


Posted by: A friend at May 11, 2005 11:46 PM

Wild Geese was the poem that Bryce and I chose to have read aloud at our wedding. If I had to choose, I would say that it's my favorite poem. Thanks Dani, for posting it today.

I feel a little shy to write this story down, but since I'm up late doing work and my guard is down because it's late I guess I'll write it. Yesterday I dedicated my morning to finishing the box that Donel asked me to make. I talked to Jeni on the phone yesterday and kind of told her my experience with the box, but I just wanted to share the story with the rest of Donel's family in case it didn't make sense. Bare with me as it requires a little explanation of the artistic process.

I started the paper making process with a bucket and some paper. The paper I used included mostly scraps from bookmaking but I also printed out many of the poems and the postings from the blog onto paper to use in the process as well.

I shredded the paper and put the shreddings into the bucket. I folded a paper crane, like the ones the congregation has been making for Donel, but I decided not to shred it because I couldn't figure out how to put it in the shredder gracefully. I threw it into the bucket in-tact and unshredded. The next step of the process involves pouring water over the contents of the bucket. After that I use a blender to blend the water and the shredded paper into what becomes paper pulp. I was nervous about what to do about the crane, my blender doesn't take to big chunks very well.

Meanwhile, I was listening to the sound track of Oh Brother Where Art thou? With the CD player set on repeat to the song "I'll Fly away." We sang the song at my mom's church on Mother's day and it inspired me. I thought it would be a good prayer to pray through through the papermaking process. It felt like a beautiful letting go.

Most of the ink from the blog printout shreddings washed out in my water so not many letters or words were showing up in the shreddings as I made the pulp. It didn't matter much as most of the shreddings were fragments of words torn up, it was the idea that felt important. But I will say, the only intact words I encountered in the entire paper making process were "My father" on one perfect little shredding, just enough to make me smile.

But the coolest part of the whole papermaking process was not that. It was the crane that I had thrown into the mix. I never encountered it while I blended the pulp. I took handful by handful of wet shredded paper and put it into my blender, expecting to run into a big awkward crane at some point that would need to be shredded, but I never did. It was gone. It flew away I guess.

"When I die Alleluia by and by, I'll fly away."

I don't know if that made any sense, but I have to admit I felt the spirit.

Love, Kj

Posted by: Kj Hayes at May 11, 2005 11:57 PM

I have shed many tears reading this blog, and I know I'm bound to shed some more. But mixed in with the sadness, is a lot of gratitude. I am grateful to you Donel, for sharing this most intimate and profound experience. And I'm grateful for the many happy memories I have of wonderful times spent with you & the rest of the family over the years. It is hard to find the right words — I will just say that you are all in my heart and that Jay & I send you all our love -

Posted by: Erika at May 12, 2005 12:17 AM

I just delivered the first child for a couple who had experienced several miscarriages, and it was one of the quickest and easiest first deliveries I have been involved in. Donel and family, I pray that your journey will be as peaceful and joyous.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart for including your entire family, all of us around the US, in your journey, and know that there are more prayers and support surrounding you than you could possibly imagine.


Posted by: Nicole Marshall at May 12, 2005 01:52 AM

Dear Donel, Marilyn, Dani, Jeni and Martin,

This week the sign on the corner of Dumetz and Canoga outside of WHCC says "Love Means Learning to Let Go" Hmmm. A gentle reminder.

Godspeed, Donel, your gift to us is great. May your transition to the other side be gentle.

To all of you, you are surrounded by enormous love from more people than you can probably ever imagine. Your amazing strength is an inspiration and the lessons learned from you almost daily will live with me forever.

My love to you all, Ruth

Posted by: Ruth Abel at May 12, 2005 02:26 AM

Dear Ones-

It is late, so late. The dance music slows and my emotions are tender. The extended family represented here has served well as any family should. This family has taught, encouraged and comforted like none I have known before.

I didn't think that it would be COURAGE I would learn here....I thought it would be faith and family and devotion. But I am so grateful to have been taught to be unafraid. My father's death 7 years ago was a busy one,intensive care hospital, long, kids still at home, working and spending 3 or more days a week commuting to Seattle to be with my mom to interpret for her. I thought I had it handled. But when I knew his time was near my courage failed me. I was afraid of the process of death. I fled the hospital.

I have been reading and posting on the blog since the beginning. Together we have been learning from one another and supporting The McClellens. I was truly blessed to have all this backing me as my mother struggled to fly away. I realized that I was NOT afraid, this time I would not flee.

I am so happy that Donel rests gently with his family in their home which brings gentle and joyous memories for many of us.....knowing that "every time you sing, you pray twice."

Donel's dance slows now. Listen if you will to the gentle waltz of this hymn performed at our wedding. It speaks eloquently of the joy and peace and grace and, yes, courage that I feel.

I walk with Love along the way
And O it is a holy day
No more confusion, no more fear
I feel God's presence with me here
And joy that none can take away
Is mine, I walk with Love today

Let's walk with Love along the way
And talk with Love in all we say
Inspired by our Father's care
Beholding beauty everywhere
As carefree children laugh and play
Let's walk with Love along the way

Come walk with Love along the way
Come step into the sun today
With purpose stand, with courage go
Allow your heart to overflow
And peace will shine upon your day
Come walk with Love along the way

Lovingly, Marilee

Posted by: Marilee at May 12, 2005 02:34 AM

Marilyn and Dani. In one of those moments when Donel wants to hear this news, please tell him that the two boxes of Ecunet files he entrusted me with will be put to good use.

Some of us have revived the conference ECUNETS HISTORY after a dormancy of six years, and we will be bringing the history up to date, thanks in a great part to Donel.

Blessings, everyone. And we loved our visit. The pie was terrific. I'll bet the rice pudding was too!

Love, Gordon

Posted by: Gordon Laird at May 12, 2005 07:33 AM

I told your email, Donel,just now, that I woke this AM about 5:30 trying to multiply all the benedictions we have had to bless us from you over the years, in services, at meals, at board meetings, weddigs, mind ran to empirical extension...I wanted their fantastic echo to stand in vigil surrounding you this morning and all your family. We have been so overwhelmingly blessed by your life. We will celebrate God's LOVE forever. Amen. Julie

Posted by: Julie Gorrell at May 12, 2005 07:46 AM

I told your email, Donel,just now, that I woke this AM about 5:30 trying to multiply all the benedictions we have had to bless us from you over the years, in services, at meals, at board meetings, weddigs, mind ran to empirical extension...I wanted their fantastic echo to stand in vigil surrounding you this morning and all your family. We have been so overwhelmingly blessed by your life. We will celebrate God's LOVE forever. Amen. Julie

Posted by: Julie Gorrell at May 12, 2005 07:46 AM

Dear Partners in this Story,

This morning about 4:15 I was thinking about tikis, China, and Donel. I had this image of Donel's service of celebration and all of these bloggers coming together. I have faces for some of you but others I have only your reflections as a way to see your face.

Here we are at FCCB, in a building Donel helped to birth. Not an easy delivery, Nicole! The cranes are evident. The energy is wonderful. The tears are many. And the music and words are joy-filled.

But then, as we recognize each other, we also recognize Donel's presence with us. It will be as clear as being rear-ended by a full grocery cart in a busy market! We won't be able to miss him! Once again we can say, "thank you Jesus!"

Thank you all for being part of this blogging family and especially for Donel who allows us to share with him and his dear ones a journey that awaits us all. Jennifer

Posted by: Jennifer at May 12, 2005 07:58 AM

Blessings to you all as you watch and wait. It is somehow appropriate for me to follow all of this on the blog, because much of my contact with Donel through the years was via Ecunet, the wonderful gift he introduced me to just before I went to PSR in 1988.

Like the others, I am grateful that he is at home, surrounded by loved ones and the vistas he loves so much. It is also a home where I received such wonderful hospitality at all sorts of important moments (as did my daughter Amanda ..)

We hold you all in God's loving presence,where you clearly already are ...

grace and peace,
sandy johnson

Posted by: Sandy Johnson at May 12, 2005 08:22 AM

Good Morning, all you dear McClellans -

Donel, you are making poets of all of us! I find myself mentally composing phrases of poetry in the strangest of places.

You are on my mind and in my prayers without ceasing. I love you all and wish you peace.

Carly Simon once sang: "There's more room in a broken heart". Even as our hearts are breaking, the love spills in and overflows. What joy!

With tender love and deep admiration for your generous sharing of this remarkable journey,

Posted by: Cheryll Blair at May 12, 2005 08:22 AM

Dear McClellan family,
Please pass this message on to Donel, if you are able: Thank you, Donel, for giving so much of your self to me, and in so many wonderful ways, since that first day I met you in March, 1993. You have helped shape me as a person both spiritually and professionally (You were the one who taught me how to use a mouse!) I was fortunate to serve as your secretary for 7 years. The sound of your hearty laugh penetrating your office door always brought a smile to my face! You were the first person I called to tell of Phoebe's birth, you baptized me, you encouraged me through many difficult times, you have always been a source of inspiration. There are far too many memories to list. Just know, you have left an imprint on my life, and on my heart, and those memories and lessons will never be forgotten! Thank you. Thank you, Donel. Peace be with you.

Posted by: Julie Feuer at May 12, 2005 08:50 AM

My heart is heavy as the end nears--and yet I know that God's love, grace, and peace are with you as you participate together in this truly incredible experience. We all lift you up to God's comfort and care.

Posted by: a loving reader and former member of FCCB at May 12, 2005 09:30 AM

My life has been traveling a mile a minute lately, so I stopped by the blog to remind myself that dear ones in my life are slowing down to appreciate each and every minute they can share. Reading the postings and the comments brings a peace to my soul, reminding me the truly important things will ever stay a part of us. Dear McClellans, I hold you all in my thoughts and prayers, grateful for the continuing lessons you are graciously sharing, especially you Donel. You have been such a gift to everyone whose life you have touched. My love to you all.


Posted by: Kathy Seibert at May 12, 2005 10:01 AM

I am one of, I suspect, many many people you don't know but whose lives you have touched, Donel. I was drawn to FCCB by stories of the kind of congregation it is and the kind of pastor who resided there. Unfortunately I arrived the week after you retired so we have never met but I have been following your family journey with prayer.

I was the sister chosen to sit up with my mother on the night she died, two years ago. My two older sisters, in great need of rest, went home, reluctantly. As I settled down by Mama's bedside this is what I read aloud to her. I don't know if she heard it, but I did and say it again for your family.

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake,
or watch, or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who sleep.
Tend our sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest your weary ones,
Bless your dying ones,
Soothe your suffering ones,
Pity your afflicted ones,
Shield your joyous ones,
And all for your love's sake. Amen
(St. Augustine 354-430)

You are about to enter into the mystery, Donel.
Godspeed and God Bless.

Janet Johnston

Posted by: Janet Johnston at May 12, 2005 10:25 AM

Beams of heaven as I go
Through this wilderness below
Guide my feet in peaceful ways
Turn my midnights into days

When in the darkness I would grope
Faith always sees a star of hope
And soon from all life's grief and danger
I shall be free some day

Often times my sky is clear
Joy abounds without a tear
Though a day so bright begun
Clouds may hide tomorrow's sun

There'll be a day that's always bright!
A day that never turns to night
And in it's light the streets of glory
I shall behold some day

Burdens now may crush me down
Disappointment all around
Troubles speak in mournful sigh
Sorrow through a tearful eye

There is a land where pleasure reigns!
No mourning soul shall roam it's plains
And to that land of peace and glory
I want to go some day

I do not know how long twill be
Nor what the future hold for me
But this I know, if Jesus leads me
I shall get home some day.

My peace and prayers to you Donel as you find your way home. And to the McClellan clan and all of us he leaves here in the wilderness below, a star of hope in these dark midnights.


Posted by: amy at May 12, 2005 10:34 AM

This is my first comment, though I've been reading along for weeks. How very Donel to create this profound blog and dance metaphor. As a pioneer in the formation of Ecunet Donel you have always known that computers are more than clicking keyboards . . . they can be an extension of community, the building of relationships over instant time and infinite space. Donel, your vision has brought thousands together in ways we never expected. We thank you for that gift.

I hold in my heart and prayers the images of you in your home surrounded by family, music, poetry and the outpouring of love from your vast community.


Posted by: George Conklin at May 12, 2005 11:21 AM

A Shaker hymn for these times of grief and gladness:

How beautiful are those
And how blessed they be
Who in deep tribulation
Daily follow Me.

I have a robe divinely fair
For such children to wear
And a crown shining bright
They shall wear with delight
When done with the fading things of time.

Love to Donel, Marilyn, and all your family.

Posted by: Meg Bruck at May 12, 2005 11:22 AM

I join Jennifer in thanking all of you who have been a part of this 'blogging family' - both Donel and his immediate family,and those of us who are, as Jill K. said so beautifully, in the 'ripples' of his life - for putting into words so many of the emotions and responses that I have had as we have danced together over the past 10 months. My life has been enriched, and transformed, by the depth of the thoughts of those of you who are much better 'word-smiths' than I. I have laughed, cried, and had breath-taking "a-ha's" as I have read and learned the lessons that have made up the rythmn of this dance.

Since entering 'the next step' phase of the dance, I find myself reflecting on the entry Donel made on August 13th. If you haven't read it.. do. If you have, re-read it. My response to it now is simply "YES...YES...YES" Yes to accepting the undeserved blessing of each new day; yes to living out this gift in the spirit of love that is life's greatest promise and utimately our finest achievement; yes to daring to hope that the finality of 'I'm Gone' gives way to a joyous reunion with all of our loved ones when we too return home and into Love's arms.

As Cheryll B. wrote... "love ALWAYS wins"!


Posted by: Marcia (Crane) Johnson at May 12, 2005 11:37 AM

Dear Jeni, Dani, Martin, Marilyn, Donel, Ron, Allie and Nicole,
I am so glad that I had a chance to spend time last summer with all of you at that beautiful Point of Inspiration--Camp N-Sid-Sen. You all had so much fun spending time together, lifting a glass of wine on the porch of cabin 3, hiking the trails, walking the beach, skipping a stone and sharing stories with one another and the rest of us "family campers." I can't remember for sure whether you were the MacWells or the CrasMacs or what the contraction of the McClellen and Craswell name was but it was perfect and reflected the closeness of your families. Thank you for sharing this journey with so many through this blog. You are surrounded by prayers from your friends in Bellevue. Peace be with you.

Posted by: Sharon Linton at May 12, 2005 11:40 AM

I wrote this song for Donel's scrapbook at the retirement. The music for it has not "arrived" in my head...I am waiting still. But it is for us all I think. It is my thank-you to Donel for what he teaches and for what the McLellan family models.

To Dance with Donel

The table that we see here
As we gather in this place
Is round and carved and precious
And creates our sacred space

And the carvings on its edges
Are the simple things of life
Grain and grape and fish and bread
To nurture soul and body

As we move towards it
To receive the gifts of G-d
We stop to thank the spirit
For Donel and his love

He teaches of community
Of many becoming one
Of the importance of "together"
When singing unknown songs

He models responsibility
For each other and the earth
For stewardship of self and others
For each has inherent worth

We gather at the table
We come as community
For we know that that we are not as strong
When living individually

It is only as one growing group
That we honor Donel's care
When we share the joys, the burdens too
And the growth if we but dare

We gather at the table
With hands joined in respect
For a teacher wise among us.
He taught us how to begin the dance
We watched him from afar
Then we held him in our prayers and thoughts
As the music moved closer

The speed, the rhythm of the dance
Changes as life moves along
Would we have it not be so?
Not with Donel's urgings
To join in endless song

"We hear the sweet though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation….
How can we keep from singing?"

Not to fight, to imagine war
Of good cells over bad
But to nurture grace
And nourish G-d's
Touch in all creation

A pasa doble
A pas de deux
A flamenco
A ballet

Grasping at the outstretched hands
Or pushing off with flair
The dance can still be solo
Or in couples if you dare

We gather at the table
We come as community
For we know that that we are not as strong
When living individually

It is only as one loving group
That we honor Donel's care
When we share the joys, the burdens too
And the growth if we but dare


Posted by: Gillian at May 12, 2005 02:41 PM

Thanks Sharon - that would be the McWheelWells! N-Sid-Sen was a truly wonderful (dare I say inspirational) place to spend a week as a family. It remains one of the highlights of this last year.

Thank you KJ for telling your story. I wanted to post it, but didn't want to do so without checking with you. (Not to mention that I wasn't sure I would translate it well!)

We are all gathered in the living room, resting, blogging, reading and watching over dad as he sleeps. He is relaxed and comfortable and for that we feel blessed.

Posted by: Jeni at May 12, 2005 02:53 PM

I so very heartily agree with my friends Sandy and George about Donel's belief that the blogosphere isn't virtual but real. It always ha been for me.

For a couple of nights, now, I've awoken around 3 a.m. thinking about Donel and all of us, who are in every sense one. Because of how Donel and his family and friends have witnessed to us -- as have others I have followed through the exact same process that is happening now -- I am given confidence and hope that, for the first time I've ever imagined such -- that I myself can maybe take the journey the way he is taking it.

I've never been good at dancing, but Donel's dance -- and I mean that of his whole loving family -- is not material but spiritual in the deepest possible sense. I am incredibly blessed by a family I came to love long ago. Love, lots of love, to Donel and Marilyn and all of you who are physically part of Donel's dance. Bob Cramer.

Posted by: Bob Cramer at May 12, 2005 03:47 PM

I know Donel's wife, Marilyn, as a wonderful woman, incredible school counselor, and glorious writer from years of working together at the middle school level. I came to know of Donel through Marilyn, but saw him in his element for the first time as he officiated the funeral of our school principal, Gail Aarstol, whom we lost one November to cancer. I watched and listened as he acknowledged a collection of people from all ages, places, backgrounds, and beliefs. Some, at the service, such as Marilyn's colleagues, knew Donel and others, including some of Gail's relatives, did not. However, that was of no matter as Donel's gentle air of authority and fatherly, comforting presence filled the space with acceptance, peace, and harmony. When I think of Donel, I remember this feeling and I think,
"There is a gracious man."

Posted by: Michelle at May 12, 2005 05:06 PM

A Little Prayer

To the God of
Eagles and Butterflies
Ice cream and
Deep sighs

In the morning
In the evening
In the deepest pain
of grieving

Lift me
Laugh me
Hold me
Have me

Not alone, please
Keep my soul
Be my comfort
Now and old

The Family of Donel

We'll all be together again
Can't know just how or when
But joy will be there
Of that I'm aware
Through the love and
the peace that you send

Posted by: jennifer johnson fralick at May 12, 2005 07:10 PM

That one! That gold butterfly on Brite Wings
is so beautiful. I thought I liked the last one best, the blue one in the window, but it's this one.
Who changes the butterflies all day? They are lovely. thank you. They let me know you are still there...and I remember to breathe again.

Posted by: me again at May 12, 2005 08:30 PM

Dear ones,
You are ever in my thoughts. During the rare quiet moments in the busy-ness of my preschool day, my mind drifts to the scene of quiet tranquility I envision your livingroom to be. This evening, in the chaos of Costco, John Rutter's, "A Gaelic Blessing," chose my head. It is my prayer.

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the gentle night to you,
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you,
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to

Goodbye, and safe journey, my dear, dear friend.


Posted by: Nancy Kennell at May 12, 2005 10:34 PM
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