or the voice— a look, a spark—
something evokes a warmth,
a sweetness rising in the chest—
the fragrance of hair—a certain
and admiration takes hold as
in each other’s energy fields, and you feel
the heat of your bodies merging,
perhaps a light touch of lips
on cheek or hand or lips.
This is Phil Bozarth-Campbell, my beloved husband, also an Episcopal priest and an astonishingly gifted musician (guitar and voice). Phil was the most fun friend and best companion imaginable, and he was both my playmate and soulmate. We were married on September 12, 1971, four days after my ordination to the diaconate. On December 9, 1985, at the age of 37, he died suddenly of massive pulmonary thromboses from a genetic blood clotting disorder we didn't know he had~ Factor V Leiden Thrombophilia. Whereas hemophilia causes unstoppable bleeding, thrombophilia causes unstoppable clotting, though unlike hemophilia, it happens spontaneously, suddenly, and sometimes only once, but that one time can be fatal. One of the triggers is a virus (which, his physician explained to me, can go anywhere in the body it wants to), and another trigger is physical injury. Phil had mild sniffles at the time, and a traumatic injury to his upper nasal passage during a physical exam three weeks earlier. Apparently the combined factors triggered a cascade of clots that killed him within minutes while he was preparing to go to work one Monday morning. The disorder was unknown until 1994 when it was officially named and described, with diagnostic criteria and tests following. Because the disorder was first recognized and studied there, it is named after the Dutch city of Leiden, which is the birthplace of the great 17th century painter, Rembrandt van Rijn. Phil's siblings also inherited the disorder, but not in the homozygous form from both of their parents as Phil did. The homozygous factor from both parents increases the likelihood of the disorder activating to fatal proportions by 500% over inheriting from just one parent. Though their chances of experiencing an episode of severe clotting are greatly lower than Phil's, his siblings now prevent it simply by taking one baby aspirin a day. Had we but known!
Phil and Alla Hugging the Light
through Each Other's Eyes
Photography Means Light‑writing—
Picture of a Soul
a brief visitor,
a moment’s miracle,
a material gift
in the trade
particle and wave.
by melanin into
the black hole
of the body,
leaving the body,
in a burst
This picture I took
of you in Wildwood
by the river sitting
in the dead body
of a cedar stump,
arms thrown open,
head upward, exultant,
the forest, alive,
your whole being
hugging the Light!
Alla Renée Bozarth
This Mortal Marriage: Poems of Love, Lament and Praise, iUniverse 2003, and This is My Body— Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart, iUniverse 2004
A few years before he left his Earth body and spacetime, Phil and I took pictures of each other sitting in this beautiful old red cedar tree's lap, the only remaining part of it. Around it in the forest are burnt-out stumps of trees struck by lightning. Every summer hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest catch fire from lightning strikes. I read in a recent issue of Discover Magazine that fire is not a thing but an event, or more accurately, a process. Heating anything produces vapors that rapidly mingle with oxygen to produce more heat. As matter, born of photons of light and the even smaller neutrinos, everything will in time recycle back into those primal forms of energy. Earth to Earth, Light to Light, Soul to Divine Mystery, Loving Spirit to Everywhere Love Is. "Most of the fuels we use derive their energy from trapped solar rays," says the article about Fire. "In photosynthesis, sunlight and heat make chemical energy (in the form of wood or fossil fuel); fire uses chemical energy to produce light and heat. So a bonfire is basically a tree running in reverse." The body reverses itself and returns to fire, which in turn produces water by condensation. Everything returns to Source elements. Everything participates in the ongoing cycle of creation as composition, decomposition, recomposition, and Light hides in the colors and shapes of matter, then cycles beyond visibility into Light again.
I first saw Phil through the window of a door to a sanctuary~ He was playing guitar and singing in the seminary chapel the first month of his three years of studies there. The Anglican priest musician Ian Mitchell was visiting from England and was singing his liturgical compositions for The Jazz Mass. I heard the music from down the hallway outside the closed chapel doors. I had come for an errand in the library but as soon as I heard the vibrant music, it drew me. I stood outside and looked through the window to where a noonday Eucharist was in progress. I saw the two musicians, Ian and Phil to his right in front of the first pew on the left, the Gospel side, facing the congregation. My eyes were instantly drawn to the tall young man with a dark beard and pony tail. His whole face glistened as if sparkling light were reflecting off eye glasses or water, but he was not wearing eye glasses, nor was he perspiring. The radiance started from his eyes and filled his whole face. His whole being vibrated with the strings of the instrument he played. It was as if I were seeing his energy in its raw essence, vibrating with the spheres of the Universe, light made visible as color and color made audible as music. I was transported outside of spacetime into a place of recognition, of knowing, what some would call love at first sight, though it was an entirely transpersonal love.
A few weeks later after another noon liturgy we were both standing in front of those same doors in the hallway together. Our beloved mutual friends were there, too, Mark and Sharon Engle, and they introduced us to each other. One of them said that we should do something fun together. Phil suggested that we go bowling, but before he could register the thinly disguised dismay on my face, our beloved mutual friends intervened and jointly said, "Oh, we should all go to a movie and dinner together tonight, the four of us," and Phil and I agreed at once! That was sometime between October and early January. We were both preoccupied with our studies, reading and writing papers.
We saw each other only occasionally until January 14, when I happened to be having dinner with a friend in the seminary refectory. Phil was leaving and as he passed our table and greeted me warmly I asked, "Phil, do you know 'Here Comes the Sun?' " He said, "Sure, come on up and I'll play it for you." He played his guitar, the one in the first of two guitar images below, which he would later name Veronica, meaning True Image, after I'd told him that when I expected to be a nun I would have chosen Veronica for my name in religious life.
That winter I attended the noonday Eucharist several times. One time, Phil was serving at the altar as acolyte. He was standing under a long narrow window through which sunlight was pouring in and dancing around him. At one point the priest celebrant was carrying the paten with the consecrated Host (a circular disc of unleavened bread) on it for Holy Communion. He forgot something and turned around to go back to the altar. Phil was right there, praying or daydreaming and not paying attention. The priest suddenly put the paten in Phil's hands. Phil was startled into full consciousness . . . and a look between awkward dismay and wonderment came over him as the light played on the silver plate, the paten, so that it glistened and reflected back onto Phil's face. That's when the poem, "Host," was born. It describes how I experience Phil's essence.
I think of my Beloved now, with me and beyond me, always both, as the Holy One is both within and beyond all that is, in the language of those encompassing theological words, both Immanent and Transcendent Mystery. I experienced Phil's transfiguration and the return of the elements he borrowed from Earth's body for his own as his natural spiritual evolution, culminating in spacetime as the birth of a full-grown star into an expansive and transforming supernova event. And we, with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Holy One, are being transformed into God's image from glory to Glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Love After Death
Alla Renée Bozarth
Conversation with My Husband
an Hour after His So-called Death
Can we talk, or will it distract you
from your first day (so to speak)
of Heaven School? I know you have
other people to visit, too . . .
I can do it all at the same
time ("so to speak").
How is that?
Well, you know how
we critters are created in God's image?
Yes. At least I know that we are.
And you know how God is Spirit,
and so are we, as well as body, mind and soul?
And you know how God's Spirit can be
everywhere at once?
Yes . . .
What's it like?
I can't tell you—
As you said in your talk,
“Dance for Me When I Die,”
you have no frame of reference.
Bother. Then give me an as if—
It's as if all the best is
happening now ~
And you have the feeling
that there's always more—
And there is !
You're gonna love it, Honey~
It's Cosmic Wow!
What are our new bodies like?
This is hardly close, but the best I can do
to help you get a feel for it is to tell you
to imagine that your body and mine
are made of light and color and music,
and a kind of radiant wind
that moves through them.
They are not limited to time and place
but can be in many and anywhere at once.
And how can it be?
These bodies are spirit bodies,
which sounds contradictory but isn't,
for isn't that what the bodies of angels
and the Holy One are, outside of space and time?
As God is infinite, incomprehensible, indescribable
Beauty past beauty, Motion past motion, Light past light,
and as we go back into God and God enters us wholly,
as bubble opens to take in the iridescent sea —
so do we open and become such Beauty, Motion and Light—
So do we . . .
And when those bodies of light and color and music
embrace, yours even now by mine in our souls' bond,
we are in the depths of Beauty and Mystery and Peace.
Because you can imagine a little of this reality even now,
since all creation is constantly embraced by the Larger Life
and is in the process of Waking Up to it~
(or my name for them: Cosmic Wow Kisses!)~ from the Hubble Space Camera
Mt. Hood Wedding at Mt. Resurrection September 12, 1971
The bride's mother Alvina deGolikov Bozarth,
my Goddaughter Veronica Smith, Alla, Phil,
the groom's mother and father Betty and Doug Campbell
Phil's father and my mother held the traditional Russian Wedding Crowns over our heads as we said our vows to each other. Traditionally the crowns are made of precious jewels, but Phil's handiwork the night before crafted Nature's jewels into our wedding day rose crowns. Phil also designed our
rings, etching a fish which the goldsmith copied~ the symbol used by early Christians to identify themselves because the Greek letters comprising it were an anagram for Jesus Christ ~ God. Our wedding fish, however, was comprised of the Roman letters ALLELUIA, which was the theme of our
marriage. The root of the word is the ancient word for what in English we call God. Al, El, Allah, Elohim, all mean the Essence, the One Who Is, the Great Mystery, or more literally, the Great Mysterious. Alleluia means Praise to the One Who Is.
My father, René Malcolm Bozarth, officiated. Here he has wrapped the stole around our hands and is blessing our marriage. This custom gives the expression, "tying the knot." It was a Sunday afternoon. Three years later Phil and I would wear the same vestment at our ordinations to the priesthood, his on March 25, mine on July 29, 1974.
We mostly slept through our honeymoon. . . .
But meanwhile, on our way to the reception~
My mother painstakingly designed and created our wedding clothes and her own, making full use of her professional training as a designer and tailor in Russia which allowed her to come to Canada and the United States with a worker's visa in 1928.
My gown is a 17th century Russian costume worn by the Boyars, a class of the ruling nobility. Phil's wedding shirt is likewise of that period. Though she was unwell, my
devoted mother also made a full trousseau of beautiful dresses for all occasions for me.
Our mothers threw rose petals at us as we drove off to the Coast for some rest and quiet rejoicing and a little guitar music with singing and dancing on the beach among the seagulls. . . .
Phil's parents drove from Minneapolis to Sandy, Oregon for our September wedding, and we did it all over again (but without the crowns) in Phil's maternal grandmother's
classical living room overlooking Lake Harriet and the Rose Gardens in Minneapolis in December. No half-day spent in the beauty parlor for back-combing this time, I did my own hair.
The retired bishop of Minnesota, Hamilton Kellogg, was famous for his speaking voice which sounded so much like W. C. Fields it was difficult to wait for the punch line before laughing when he told me a story at the reception which began with a rhetorical question: "Do you like preaching? I hear you were ordained a few days before your wedding, so I wondered if you liked preaching. I like it, myself. . . . Was on an airplane recently when the flight attendant referred to me as Father. 'Make that Bishop, m'Dear,' I told her. 'You're a bishop?' she asked. 'Where's your pectoral cross then?' " Here in his narrative he solemnly pulled open his jacket to reveal his original style which you will see by looking carefully in the lower portion of the photograph. "I patted my cross and said, 'Don't wear one, m'Dear. Wear a navel cross. Wear a navel cross.' "
He is saying those words and just about to pat it again when a guest took this picture. Phil's only sister Betsy is laughing beside us, though whether from overhearing the conversation between the bishop and the bride or engaged in a funny one of her own I do not know.
Phil and I were very grateful to our families and friends, among them especially to Phil's close friend John McLaughlin and my close friend Thea Brown for singing at our wedding.
John some years later
celebrating his son's graduation
from high school . . . .
And us, singing "Follow Me"~
Mt. Hood our backup is
visibly outlining Phil and
extending behind me.
Through the years ahead, sorrows shared were sorrows halved and joys shared were joys doubled . . . as we created our life together~
Always there was music.
Singing School Chorus
through their feet
and the sheets of air
for they were a chorus
themselves and knew
is that we repeat,
The Rev. Phil Bozarth-Campbell
Rector of St. George's Episcopal Church
St. Louis Park, Minnesota 1975-1985
Below, my father, René Malcolm Bozarth, Phil Bozarth-Campbell and me
at St. George's altar.
Twenty-four years after my father died
I found a letter he’d written to me
when I was away at university, going on
forty years ago. Here is my elaboration
of the sense of it:
places, two stories deep with one sealed window
high up in a corner. A hummingbird flew in
through the door, and, frantic and disoriented, attempted
to escape by means of that unopening window.
People panicked in helpless sympathy for the bird.
I began to coo to it, moved slowly and held out my hand.
Miraculously, the creature came down and allowed me
to rescue it. I felt its terrified heart beating in my palm
with such creature kinship as we two moved slowly
toward the open door, and I released it, joyful, triumphant
as it flew toward the sun. . . I felt quite Franciscan . . .
of one’s lens, luminous purple and shimmering fuchsia blooming
around it. Unless one is a bear, how long it takes to pick enough
blackberries for a substantial cobbler, all morning to walk the roadside
or out to the middle of the pasture where the foxes live, and ask
permission to take one after another carefully from the bush,
so as not to mix in blood with berry juice, or take away
filling her furry oven until she falls into the grass in a drunken noonday
slumber, while sweet, dark purple pearls of fruit inside her turn
from berries into bear.
to itself. To become. Finally, something like color, something like music,
the tyranny of calendars and clocks, but unmolested by haste, free.
I want to watch the weather become better
after a week of heaviness and heat.
I want to notice how a poem or painting
or music becomes a composite, while its human
conduit is taking a shower, walking uphill
I want to be immersed in living,
drench myself in life, become aware
of its detail, like the awesome precision
of a classical painting or polyphonic fugue,
or a blue morph butterfly wing.
I want to become alert to the distinct voices
of the late afternoon concert—
the cricket, the frog, the goat and the dog,
the crow and the goldfinch,
with bright water falling over rock.
join them with my own mammalian noises
and sounds, sighs and laughter, even with singing.
I want to hear deeply when it’s time to become
light again, return like the sated bear to the earth,
dissolve back into the Great Mother womb of creation, become that original thing, that hiding photon, that
wisp of air across the skin.
Then my friends can inhale my presence,
find me in what they see when they open their eyes
to the day, to the night, when our beings mingle,
light to light.
Poems of Love, Lament and Praise
Going to Heaven Like a Bee, Like a Fish, Like a Bird
Alla Renée Bozarth
and healed of the need for memory
Then I went home to the ocean, ancient forests, Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and Mt. Hood in the Cascade Mountains to pray and dance in those holy places and let the Grace of Nature heal me.
Lacey shadows of light at Hay Stack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon two days before my 50th birthday~ receiving the blessing of Heaven and Earth~ in Water, Wind and Light.
This piece is below the title, Dance for Me When I Die on the Interview, Books and Reviews entry. Not everyone who reads this blog will see it there, so I'm posting it here as well.
is the title of Alla’s address to the Minnesota Coalition
on Terminal Care, November 1985, three weeks before
her own husband Phil’s sudden death. The following story
is of course not on the tape, but explains its significance.
On the way home in the car I asked Phil if he would feel all right about telling me what he let go of during the meditation. He said, “I let go of the last vestige of my lack of self-acceptance.” Phil also told me that I had been his priest and a source of spiritual counsel and wisdom throughout our marriage, as of course he had been for me, which I told him in turn. Then Phil said,“It's because of your relentless acceptance of me that I've finally been able to accept myself.”
Unknown to us, in this way we had experienced our own workshop for his departure from space and time three weeks later. What more healing and beautiful preparation could one have than complete self-acceptance?
On December 8, Phil called me. We'd been talking so much on then expensive long distance that we'd agreed to wait four days until Wednesday for our next visit, but Phil called the next day, Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent. He was too excited and happy to wait. He wanted to tell me all about the Advent service that morning. Everything was gorgeous~ the altar, the flowers, the music. He sang and played his guitar with the choir. His sermon was called, "What are You Waiting For," and he was very pleased with it. I delighted in hearing and imagining all this.
Then I said, "I'm so glad you called because I wanted more than anything to call you and tell you something. I read in the Sunday Parade magazine this morning. Toward the end of Franklin's life, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote him a love note and tucked it in his coat pocket for him to carry around. It said, 'You are the best husband in the world.' I wanted to say that to you, Phil. For all our years together you've worked hard and you gave me the courage to work hard with you so that we could truly achieve marriage together. Now I can say it to you with all my heart, Phil. You Are the Best Husband on Earth." I could hear him purr . .
When he had proposed to me on February 27, 1971, after a kiss good night in the front seat of my 1968 Plymouth Valiant, heasked rather casually, "Will you marry me some day, Hon?" And I even more casually grinned and said, "Uh huh," and kissed him again. Nearly fifteen years later on the telephone I playfully said, "Will you marry me someday, Hon?" and he said, "Uh huh." Then in turn he asked, "Will you marry me?" and I exclaimed, "YES!"
While in Oregon I had gone Christmas shopping and wrapped presents for the family on December 6, St. Nicholas Day. They were in big canvas shopping bags and ready for my return trip around the 20th.
The autopsy revealed that his heart was strong and healthy but his lungs had filled with blood clots. It happened very quickly. It was 20 years before we knew why it happened. His younger brother had a routine physical and during the history he’d mentioned Phil’s death. His physician ordered a blood test, suspecting a genetic clotting disorder that had only been discovered and named in 1994, nine years after Phil died of it. His brother had inherited the mutant gene from one parent, but by deduction, Phil was posthumously diagnosed as having inherited it from both, increasing the likelihood of a fatal episode five hundredfold. It can be
Because of its infinite solitude
New Poem for an Old Love
I will fall in love with your poetry.
I will fall in love with your music.
I will fall in love with your light.
And I will mistake them for you . . .
And then after fifty years of our eternity
I will realize that I did not mistake them for you.
They are you.
Through hard times and happy, we grew each other
into our best, and complete, selves.
I took the picture of Phil sitting in a tree stump at Wildwood, Oregon, and he took the picture of me that is at the top of this blog's heading. We also took thepictures of each other at the ocean at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I took the photo of Hay Stack Rock on the same beach a few decades later, and Robin Carey took the photo of me with parasol standing in front of its moss-covered flank.
Various people took the other photos of Phil and us together. I took the pictures of the roses in my garden. The white hummingbird images are by Marlin Shank from the Internet. Supernova or cone nebula and red flower images before and after "Love After Death" are from the Internet.