tea bowl / communion cup (2010), & photo by yours truly copyright ©
(poem & inkbrush drawing by Paul Reps)
Got the news yesterday that Father Dan Berrigan has died. Peace activist, Civil Rights activist, outlaw-priest, contemplative poet.
When I was working as a conductor on the underground railroad (the peace train), helping assist fellow war resisters escape to greater peace and safety in Canada and beyond, Father Dan was one of the Catholic clergy who gave real help as well as inspiration. He is one of America’s true heroes. One day, long after relief from the nightmare of creeps like Trump and Cruz has firmly settled in, Americans will truly come to appreciate Dan, and his brother, Father Phil. They will be greatly honored across the land in ways that can only be dreamed of just now.
There is so much more to remember and speak of about Father Dan, but it will take a little while to pull it together.
For now, I’m extremely grateful that he is liberated from the painful bodily limitations that typically come with great age. I have no doubt that he is soaring with the angels now — a bodhisattva for the ages.
And extremely grateful for Dan’s many decades among us and for all the assistance, concern, loving aid and comradely inspiration he gave so many.
I’m happy for him, so happy about him, though sad that his presence here among us, in the Earthy body, is withdrawn, of course. Well, I feel his presence has simply expanded in its scope, that’s all. More subtle, more influential now. But such changes come with an odd sense of sorrow for us as well as great joy.
Joyous soaring, Father Dan, beloved elder brother!
Paul Reps’ revisited inkbrush poem/drawing, featured in The World of Zen, 1960. Edited by Nancy Wilson Ross. NY: Vintage Books.