Monday October 27
After yesterday’s Sunday noon mass in the Ignatius/McAuley C&F chapel, walking home past the energy of parking lots packed in for the Detroit high school cheerleading competitions, I stopped in my tracks in front of the tree we dedicated in 1999 for Art McGovern, sj. It’s leaves were still solid green, contrasting with the yellows of older trees around it. Sheer beauty surprise me into seeing it fresh. I went to my room, got my digital camera, and came back to contemplate Art’s tree with the help of a pretty good lens.
For those of you who never knew him, Art was a soul friend for my first twenty years here at Six Mile and Livernois. He was soul friend for many people, more beloved, perhaps, than any person who taught and worked here until he died too young of bone cancer at age 70. In his last months at the Jesuit Colombiere Center in Clarkston, the staff told us he set records for the astonishing number of people who came to tell him goodbye.
We planted a tree for him before he died. Most days I just walk by and I doubt that bothers Art at all. Yesterday the tree found me. “It’s gotten so big!” I whispered.
Stillness and beauty, the blessings of autumn.
Have a good day.
I wrote this poem during grad school in Southwest Philly when another tree woke stillness in me for a while.
For the dogwood in our yard, middle of October c. 1977
Autumn’s russet colors
Age without solemnity
Earthy and simple, they linger
Not for grandeur
Nor from fear of the dust they will become
Their affection for this place
These ripening moments
Even me the beholder
Slows the pace of changing.
Let me be won by this warmth
To slow my chosen pace
To ripen affectionately.
ps. Art’s tree yesterday