Thursday, September 21, 2006

Verses for a friend

Upon death there is a separation between body and soul. But the soul continues to live on as it always has, now unfettered by the physical constraints of the body. And since a person´s true character -- his goodness, virtue, and selflessness -- lies in the soul he will ascend to a higher state after fulfilling his responsibilities on earth.

To put this in perspective, modern physics has taught us that no substance truly disappears, that it only changes form, and that matter is another form of energy. A tree, for instance, might be cut down and used to build a house, a table or chair. Regardless of how the form changes, the wood remains wood. And when that same wood is burned in a furnace, it again changes form, becoming energy that gives off heat and gas. The tree, the chair, and the fire are all merely different forms of the same substance.

In Judaism, a way to honor and continue to elevate the soul of the departed is to say tehillim (psalms) daily with the soul of the person in mind. I have chosen to say daily Psalm 24 for Bill. I believe it applies very well to him, and may his soul, which brought so joy and inspiration to others as evidenced by all the comments on this website, continue to be strong and pure.

Psalm 24
1) By (King) David. A Psalm. The earth is the Lord´s and the fullness thereof, the world of men and they that dwell therein.
2) For He has founded it upon the seas and, guiding it, constantly establishes it upon the floods.
3) Who shall ascend to the mountain of the Lord, and who shall. Stand in the place of his Sanctuary?
4) He that is clean of hands and pure of heart, who has not lifted up his soul, which is Mine, unto vanity and has not sworn deceitfully,
5) He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and kindness from the God of his salvation.
6) This is the generation of them that seek after Him, that seek your face O Jacob (Selah).
7) Lift up your heads, O gates, be lifted up to become portals of the future, so that the Kind of Glory may come in.
8) Who is the King of Glory? The Lord, invincible and strong, The Lord, the Mighty One in battle.
9) Lift up your heads again, O gates, lift them up to become portals of the future, so that the King of Glory may come in.
10) Who, then, is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory. (Selah)

The few verses of this brief psalm contain the most powerful truths that any mortal lips were ever privileged to utter concerning the ways of God in the history of man. I am proud to say them daily for my friend, and a truly good human being, Bill Goggins.

Mike Marcus
Plantation, FL

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Billy - Burning Brightly

I've known Pat and Ute for years and I only met Billy maybe a dozen times. I've been trying to put my finger on why his death hit me so hard.

Whenever I met Bill he was always unfailingly polite. He was always interested in what you were doing and you became the center of his attention. In fact Bill was always interested in everything - literature, history, politics, neighborhoods, puns, food, drink, the list was endless. He could talk intelligently about anything and make you feel that you had contributed something to the conversation even when you spent most of the time just trying desperately to follow him.

I think now that his death hit me hard because I've only met a few people who've lived life at warp speed. Bill seemed to go full tilt at anything he did. I've been reading about another writer who approached life like Bill, George Bernard Shaw. This is from a letter he wrote to a friend about "The True Job of Life". I've edited it slightly and reformatted it:

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the
Whole community and as long as I live it is my
Privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die,
For the harder I work the more I live.
I rejoice in life for its own sake;
Life is no brief candle to me,
It is a sort of splendid torch
Which I have got hold of for the moment
And I want to make it burn as brightly
As possible before handing it on
To future generations.
That's how I'll always remember Bill - burning brightly.

On November 4th, the annual Day of the Dead will be celebrated at Pickleweed Community Center in San Rafael in Marin County. Pickleweed is in the mainly Hispanic Canal neighborhood. Groups and individuals create altars to friends and loved ones who have died. It follows a parade through the neighborhood, music and dancing. Pat and Ute have been involved in the past; it's the kind of celebration that Bill loved and would have participated in.

I'm not an artist but if anyone wants to work with me on creating an altar for Billy - if you have ideas, photos, anything you want to contribute, please feel free to contact me.

Sean Prendiville