Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day~This is My Beloved

At the Airport on Our Way to England, May 1985 

                        Falling in Love                         

It begins with the eyes, usually,
or the voice— a look, a spark—
something evokes a warmth,
a sweetness rising in the chest—
attraction, the tone of skin or voice,
the fragrance of hair—a certain
graceful way of moving—
but this is not love.

Then you speak, and the stories
begin to amaze, arouse, delight you,
and admiration takes hold as
a vibration of recognition
between your minds.
But this is not love.

Then the proximity of time and lives
brings you brushing softly around and
against each other’s aura in the normal
course of things, and affection finds you
in each other’s energy fields, and you feel
the heat of your bodies merging,
the shared smile or glance,
the occasional hug in greeting or farewell,
perhaps a light touch of lips
on cheek or hand or lips.
This is nearly love,
but not yet.

Then, one moment when you are not
looking for it, you suddenly
bring your eyes around to meet
the eyes of this brave and wonderful
being before you, and you find
you are in the presence of God,
being beckoned by a miracle
to move forward and step off
the known world with another soul
exactly like and impossibly unlike yourself,
and it happens to both of you,
and you are
in love.
Alla Renée Bozarth
Falling in Love with Fire
Copyright 2012

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


The body,

a brief visitor,

a moment’s miracle,

a material gift

in the trade

of dancing

particle and wave.


Light, captured

by melanin into

the black hole

of the body,

escapes, becomes

itself again,


leaving the body,

beloved’s body,

in a burst

beyond ecstasy:


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,

sundrenched with

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, like 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 first night, he played for two hours and for most of that time I danced to his music. Later, someone dropped by to invite us to her place to hear Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar. Phil joined me in an interpretive dance response to the music. Afterward we were cooling off and Phil was rubbing my sore neck. Then he gently kissed the nape of my neck right at the top of my spine. That was it. Then it was love, and it was personal. Love at first touch. From then on we were deeply connected and in love, even when life stressed and stretched us apart. We still are.

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.

for Phil

Standing at Christ-Table
Servant of Joy
Into your hands is given the Body
Splendid and holy,
You standing holding Love
As if It were fragile
Or as if you were with Its weight
In only your two hands.

The window dances noonlight
Down over your shoulders
And the silver paten cradling God
Shines Christ-Sun
on your smiling body,
Christ-Sun on your worshipping face.

Alla Renée Bozarth

This is My Body--
Praying for Earth,
Prayers from the Heart
iUniverse 2004

Phil's Ordination to the priesthood
March 25, 1974
Deacons Phil and Alla after his ordination to the diaconate.



                     Young Clergy Couple                    


“What is happening
in the universe?”

“People are dying.”


“In order to become more
intimate with the universe.”*

Dark December
just before
the Turning
when Earth faces
her light again—

You, my Love,
among those stones
flying through space
in singing

you have died
from me.

   Only bodily.

You have become
a star, Beloved,
and I a bird
passed through flame
in your passing.

Your face now
a child’s pure wonder,
you gaze actively
at the cosmic star
on top of the Tree of Life
for the first not-time,
your face a diamond
shot-through, suffused,
ashimmer with Light,
you sparkle being
into my void.

   After tears I drink
   your eternal de-light,
   heart’s Desire.

I reach for you,
the hands of my bodily
(my monster) grief
stretching, grasping
to hold you,
my fingers shudder,
shiver and pass through.

With these mortal hands
I cannot hold
   your light.

Then the loud wingrush
of motion, a moving sun,
your warmth suffuses
me, suddenly,
and I become,
eternally in time,
your light,
a living crystal
of our love.

 Alla Renée Bozarth

Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello~
Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss,
revised edition 1988, Hazelden, 1993 and
This Mortal Marriage~ Poems of Love,
Lament and Praise, [iUniverse 2003]
revised edition 2012.

For Phil

May you be launched in fair weather,
with the wind at your back
and the shining stars streaming you through
the whole map of heaven.
May your strong sails of bright silk billow,
proud and free with the sun’s golden blessing,
and carry you, safe and well
and all the way home.
Alla Renée Bozarth
This Mortal Marriage~
Poems of Love, Lament and Praise
iUniverse 2003

And nearly 40 years later~

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

    for Phil

Marrying you was the best thing I ever did in all my life.
You were that embodied star, that celestial sparkle 
seen only once in a lifetime, and the moment I looked, 
I saw and claimed you for my own.

You gave music to my dance, you taught me your song,
you gave me my own true self, you showed me 
the essence of two, you gave me the natural world, 
you gave me to life and all future history and time 
to live it clear through.

People think you left that day when 
suddenly your physical breath stopped.
I alone know how deeply and truly
you are here, more present than before,
even as I go on missing the parts of you
that are no more accessible to my senses.

You became the best husband on Earth,
and we both fought hard to make it so.
Now you are the best husband in Heaven,
and Heaven is within all that is, streaming light
through all our awareness, giving us voice
to raise our thanksgivings.

I feel you beyond the temporal touch of the body,
see you without its eyes, hear you most strongly
without ears, taste your honeyed spirit lifting from tears,
smell the scent of your pleasure without an olfactory nerve,
love you in your everywhere, know you loving me
into eternity while still in my skin and right here.

You are not vague. You are precise, but still moving so
quickly, as when I first saw you, that comet streak,
that glint of fire through glass, that gleam in the mind of God.

      Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequency of Light
       Copyright 2011

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 . . . 

Sure, we can talk!
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 . . .

Okay. Then tell me~
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!

Tell me another as if
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.
All ways.

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~
you must take your time,
and plenty of it, because
you were right about this~ 
You have to practice for Paradise. 

            Alla Renée Bozarth

The Frequency of Light  
Copyright 2015
Below~ Butterfly Nebula and Butterfly Nebula Wings 
(or my name for them: Cosmic Wow Kisses!)~ from the Hubble  Space Camera

Love Poem to My Husband on His 61st Birthday 
When the Eye of Osiris fell from the heavens, 
the earth sang and the mountains danced.
The Eye of Osiris by  R. Austin Freeman 
On the day you were born
the sunlight was born in my soul

On the day you were born
a new galaxy was born in the heavens

On the day you were born
humanity was born all over again,
and God came into the world with a song

On the day you were born
the planet increased in soul growth
by exponential splendor

On the day you were born
the promise of peace quivered
with new possibilities

On the day you were born
Life and Love and Wellness
were newborn in my world 

On the day you were born
a fragile secret became
an astonishing gift

On the day you were born
my life was made perfect

On the day you were born
the Face of God wore
     a supernova smile       

On the day you were born
our wedding was set and our marriage
was sealed in the stars

Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequency of Light
Copyright 2015

NASA's Butterfly Nebula Wings Christmas Tree Ornament

You Have to Practice for Paradise 
You have to practice
for Paradise.

The music of sweet
the colors of love,
the poetry of gratitude,
the dance of pure bliss.

And the food! the food
that needs your soul’s
palate at its highest
pitch of receptivity
to be sensitive to such
delicate, deep flavors.

You can’t keep postponing
your real life.

You can’t keep renting
your experience,
giving yourself only
in half doses,
a provisional presence,
a bit player
in your own existence.

Give it all you’ve got
every day.

You must empty and cleanse
your glass each time
to be able to fill it again
with everything fresh
and new.

Let go of attachment
and no longer identify
with merely your ego, your body.
Don’t dismiss Reality
just because it’s too weird
to be true.

Go deeper to where the meaning is,
where the mystery lives.
You can only describe it
in as ifs.

Real bears don’t speak English.
Real angels don’t have feathers or faces.

But we draw them
by our own lines of connection
to be able to relate beyond ourselves
and understand ourselves and them
through them and with them.

A fairy tale almost always
has the facts wrong, but
if you insist
on just the facts
you may miss the truth.

Listen to the Mystery
call your name. It will be
with love, love and forgiveness
and faith in you. And love~
Mysterious and True.
Alla Renée Bozarth

Love’s Alchemy 
Copyright 2012.


Images of Us~ 

Philip Ross Campbell’s  Wedding Poem for Alla Renée Bozarth

I went walking through your mind again today.
I’ve been walking there a lot lately.
(Have you heard me tiptoe past your consciousness?)
Down the hallway of your contemplation
I walk ~softly~ sharing in the image—
Veron Icon

In the garden of your joy
I dance ~rejoicing~ with the Light of God.
In the cathedral of your dreams
I stand ~awed~ overcome by their beauty.
In the sanctuary of your love
I kneel ~humbly~ and see God smiling
At us.

And then ~through your eyes
I see myself
And through my eyes ~which I see through yours~
I see you.
And our eyes and our images
And our love
Melt into eternity
In each other.

  {Phil read this to me during our Nuptial Eucharist.}

    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 . . . .

                                                Lovely Thea

And us, singing "Follow Me"~
Mt. Hood our backup is
visibly outlining Phil and
extending behind me.

After my ordination to the diaconate
at the Cathedral of St. Stephen four days before the wedding

We were very happy. Later we would go through the dramas and comedies that most married people need to experience in order to create depth and breadth and all that goes into a marriage achieved. In the end I knew for certain that marrying Phil was the best thing I ever did, for countless reasons. We helped each other grow into our true and best selves.

Through the years ahead, sorrows shared were sorrows halved and joys shared were joys doubled . . . as we created our life together~

We read out loud to each other every night before bed.
We fought, we cried, mostly, we laughed.
Sometimes we pondered.

Always there was music. 

Singing School Chorus   

it was the honeymoon of the ocean
and the land where mountains
leaped forward to say I do
and the ring of fire at once
lit up beneath
the sea, where otters lay
on their opulent backs
and sunbathed their bellies
while casually breaking open
a shell of freshness
for breakfast
and the fellow on the beach
was singing to his bride
and strumming his guitar
to which she danced circles
around him, the sand quivering
beneath her toes and seagulls
descended in neat even rows
to listen, transfixed, but when
the groom stopped and the bride
stopped also, the gulls rustled and
squawked their disapproval~
for they had discovered how to make light
come up from the inside of earth
in the same way that it came
out of song
and they did not want it to stop,
not ever, ever
to stop
but to keep on showing 
through their feet 
and the sheets of air
around them ~ 

for they were a chorus 
themselves and knew
that the secret of life 
is that we repeat,
repeat, repeat ourselves
but with great or small important variations
through spindrift, fog and everything            

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Scripture reading for a liturgy
during the Campbell Family's annual
summer month at Camp Van Vac
 on Burntside Lake near Ely, Minnesota.
Phil officiating at a wedding at St. George's.
The bride behind him in red would give birth
to a beautiful baby daughter on the same morning
as Phil's birthday into Paradise.

                                           The Rev. Phil Bozarth-Campbell
                                           Rector of St. George's Episcopal Church
                                           St. Louis Park, Minnesota 1975-1985

 Peace poster on Phil's office door
at St. George's Episcopal Church, Minneapolis,
and now on my study door at Wisdom House, Sandy, Oregon.

Below, my father, René Malcolm Bozarth, Phil Bozarth-Campbell and me
at St. George's altar.

Hummingbird Daughter 

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:

I was in a store, one of those kitchen boutique
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 . . .

First two stanzas of the poem from 
       My Blessed Misfortunes 
          by Alla Renée Bozarth



Becoming Composed         

How long it takes to wait for the hummingbird to hover in front
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 
a painful, thorny memento. A bear could take all morning, too,
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 become composed as that dozing creature, to become composed
as a Turner seascape with turbulent light in the sky, churning energy
from within made visible in heart-raising color, yet whole, complete
to itself. To become. Finally, something like color, something like music,
something like wind— something  like light.

From birth we are told to become something else, or less, or more—
become calm, little baby, become composed, young man or young lady.
Become more disciplined. Become more tidy. Become less anxious.
Become yourself. Become your best self! Become all you can be.
Become— and this is the soul-killing one— become punctual.
For the quick trip through time, I do not want to be distressed by
the tyranny of calendars and clocks, but unmolested by haste, free.
I want to take my time to become everything~~ a lifetime becoming  

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
in rain, reading the paper, visiting a friend. 

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.

I want to become tuned to them, 
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.  

      Alla Renée Bozarth
My Blessed Misfortunes 


How Dying Works

It takes different
degrees of time
for each soul
to ripen.

When it is ready
to drop from one
dimension into another,
the sac of matter
dies away from it
to release it.

Spinning or
throwing forth or
flowing or sliding
away, the sac returns
to earth, air, fire
and water, and when
Earth herself dies
everything here
will go back
into stars.

Meanwhile, the individual
soul being born into
a new form becomes
a kind of supernova
star, gigantic, beautiful,
devastatingly bright,
hot with Godfire
as it explodes into

Other souls who vibrate
to this light’s same music
through love or likeness
become opened, and by
magnetic resonance and
attraction, shards
of the dying person’s
soulfire pierce the souls
of others.

So we say our hearts
are broken and we do not
know ourselves for a time,
while we incorporate these
piercings of the beloved.

This is why it hurts
and this is how we become
opened and larger and lighter
ourselves, for we carry
these shards within us

The more we lose,
the more open, large and
bright we become.

When we explode
into the Infinite
we are more than ourselves
already. We are many.
We are all who have become
a part of us in love
and all who will become.
It is all true.

Heaven is not a there.
Heaven is not somewhere.
Heaven is now, here,
streaming through.

    Alla Renée Bozarth
                                     This Mortal Marriage: 
                                   Poems of Love, Lament and Praise 

                                Going to Heaven Like a Bee, Like a Fish, Like a Bird 

Begin —
Learning to track ground lightning
Learning the seismic readings
of the soul.
Learning to follow loud rumblings
of change with elegant ease—

Learning the dance of surrender
to all the Unknown:
Earth to Water, Water to Fire,
Fire to Air, Air to the divine Body.

Learning finally to move on through
and do the completely ordinary
impossible thing —

take off, dive in,
to fly through deep waters
and swim in the sky—

               Alla Renée Bozarth
 From This Mortal Marriage: Poems of Love,
 Lament and Praise, iUniverse 2003.
 All rights reserved.   

May you be launched in fair weather,
with the wind at your back
and the shining stars streaming you through
the whole map of heaven.

May your strong sails of bright silk billow,
proud and free with the sun’s golden blessing,
and carry you, safe and well
and all the way home. 

Alla Renée Bozarth
This Mortal Marriage: Poems of Love, Lament and Praise
iUniverse 2003, and Postcards from Paradise, copyright 2011

New Seasons Come

Fall comes
and you remember—

Winter comes
and you remember—

Spring comes
and you remember—

Summer comes
and you remember—

The thousand moments
of sharing the same
dimensions, meanings
and memories.

The heart beats
through the seasons,
each one in rhythm
with the Beloved’s Name,
because you know
that to remember is to honor
and to continue to live and be able
to pass love forward in your own name.

You do not need to get over the loss.
You need to incorporate what came before
and the meaning of loss into your ongoing
life and the love you live out— until
memory will no longer be needed,
because you are together again
and healed of the need for memory
in all at once everywhere Now.

               Alla Renée Bozarth               
Love’s Alchemy
Copyright 2011

Eleven months after Phil's death I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, went out in a small boat to give some of Phil's ashes to the Sea of Galilee and then went up to the Mount ofBeatitudes of leave some of his small bone fragments
beneath a eucalyptus tree. The next day in Jerusalem I was alone in this room of a thousand year old mosque where the Last Supper is commemorated, above a room where King David's Tomb is said to be.  

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.   

Phil’s Love of Leather

Today I went into the archival vault of my closet and found the perfect dress to wear tomorrow for my birthday party at the Black Rabbit Restaurant with friends, Constance and Carol.

The sticking material placed on the hanger by the dry cleaners had disintegrated completely, but the dress was perfect. Flowing black crepe with an elegant ankle flare at the side seams and an overlay of transparent chiffon, pink rose clusters with leaves. After fifteen years since last wearing, all it needed was ironing. Also, I pulled out the black suede pumps so elegantly designed, an antique gold wreath at the toe with a shiny black stone.

And what earrings? Antique gold to integrate with the shoes?
No, my face needs more brightness. The bright brass dangling sagaris! They dance when I move and talk, and twirl when I laugh. But they need to be polished. Brass polishing is hard. It takes muscles and time.  While I’m at it, I’ll polish these other brass things that have bothered me— A plate stand spattered with hard water spots that have tarnished, from boiling water being poured nearby for coffee or tea. And Papa’s chiming clock on the bookcase.

Carrying the clock to the kitchen I realize I’ve never before polished it. I remember how the clock maker who worked on it for a year had wanted to buy it and offered me a good price, but I refused saying, “Would you sell a clock that had belonged to your father and was all you had left of him?”

Brass polishing is a meditative job. I see now why altar guild ladies emphasize the spiritual practice of polishing brass candlesticks and Gospel stands, and with what love they polish the wood railing and pews. Suddenly I see my husband at the altar St. George’s Church, leading worship on Easter Eve, light the Paschal Fire at the back of the dark church in a brass bowl, touching his candle to the fire to light the paschal candle, then beginning the long, solemn procession up the center aisle, leading the chant sung antiphonally, first on low notes, then progressively higher, “Light of Christ!” and the congregational response on the same notes, "Thanks be to God!” All of the candles were lit from the paschal fire, stopping at each pew so that the worshipper on the ends could step out and dip his or her wick into the paschal candle, then light the candle of the next person in his or her pew and passing the flame this way until everyone present was holding the Light of Christ ~ Thanks be to God! After all the Scripture readings had been voiced beginning with the Story of Creation and ending with the Burial of Christ, everything was illuminated and the music began, the movement hastened, the Full Eucharist began, and the Gospel reading brought us to the empty tomb at dawn.

All day on Holy Saturday, after the altar had been stripped following the Last Supper and foot washing service on Holy Thursday, the ladies, and by then, also gentlemen of the altar guild worked hard to prepare everything— cleaning, polishing, renewing, pressing hard on tarnish as I am now. How handsome and satisfied with life and all that was holy Phil was on the Holy Day of Days, standing taller than ever at the altar with arms uplifted in welcome, praise and thanksgiving.

The heavy gold, white and red vestments hung well on his tall slender body. He twinkled all over with the glory of God, a man fully alive.

In those last years he wore the purple leather jacket I’d given him for Christmas on high holy days, his personal celebratory vestment, and he wore his best black leather dress shoes under his formal vestments instead of the cowboy boots he was known for.

I remember how lovingly Phil would undertake his own polishing ritual, bringing out the multitude of leather boots and shoes of all sorts from the floor of his double closet, how he caressed and smelled the leather before he’d begin to work on each pair, how excited he was to go into a leather store and stand at the door, close his eyes and inhale appreciatively before going in to browse.

After over a quarter century of being without him, I do these small rituals of thankful reverence, and delight in the sensual beauties of creation for him, aware with him of the life exchange between creatures, wood that is the body of trees, the cows and other animals whose lovely skin continues to cover the bodies of human animals after the original owner’s spirit has left its bones. This is Divine Home Economics: nothing is wasted.

I’ve kept Phil’s purple jacket. It is a muted, masculine color,
elegantly cut as everything he chose and he himself was.

From time to time, I open the closet, stroke the leather arms,
lay my chin against its soft cool skin and inhale it with thanks
for the animal who once made and lived in it,
and for the man who later wore it.

Recently, a friend asked me playfully, “How’d you get to be so adorable?” I answered her quite seriously, “I married Phil. He rubbed off on me, and I know I rubbed off positively on him somehow as well, because he said so. . . . But from where I live, he gave me more than I could ever give. If I’m adorable, it’s because he helped me become a real person.

“He gave me the big push for all the years of our life together
that turned me into my best self. Everyday, Phil is right here.
Hug me, there’s a big angel man spirit hugging you back, right along with the small me that you feel and see. Love makes everyone adorable.” 

  Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequencies of Sound
      Copyright 2012
I found this line in the same poetry
collection, The Frequencies of Sound,
at the end of  "A Message to BrianWilson."
It fits Christ in the Easter garden and Phil, too,
on Earth in past tense and from Heaven in the present:
You sang down heaven and gave us the sound of resurrection.

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.
Dance for Me When I Die: Death as a Rite of Passage

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.

I Bless You, I Release You . . .

Phil accompanied me to the conference and taped my talk
on his personal recorder, which rested on his lap throughout.
There were about 500 professional people in the room—
oncologists, surgeons, nurses and nurse practitioners, hospice workers, therapists, grief counselors, funeral directors and clergy. At the end of the talk, I led a guided imagery meditation.

I invited the individuals present to close their eyes and visualize something or someone they were ready to and needed to let go of, and to bathe the image in gold light. . . . Then I asked them to visualize the image diminishing and finally dissolving into the light while they said, “I bless you, I release you— I set you free, I set me free— I let you be, I let me be.” Then I asked them to imagine that they themselves were being bathed in soothing pink light flecked with gold. The gold was meant to represent Divine Grace and the pink to represent Divine Compassion.

Phil was sitting on a center aisle seat toward my right from the podium and about three rows back, and the co-keynote speaker, Comparative Religions scholar Huston Smith, was directly behind him. During my talk, both of them, Huston much older than Phil, had radiant smiles on their faces as they leaned forward from time to time, as if it was all they could do to keep from saying “Yes!” or “Oh!” out loud.

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?

The conference had been around the fifteenth of November, and the day after Thanksgiving at the end of the month, Phil took me to the Twin Cities airport to fly to Oregon for my writing retreat. I was going to be gone until just before Christmas. 

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.

But on December 9, I was awakened from sleep by the telephone. It was Phil’s mom calling from the hospital to tell me that Phil had just died. I had been dreaming. I dreamed that a man in a United Parcel Service uniform had asked me to witness and bless his saying Goodbye to the woman he loved. It was like a wedding, and later I realized that I was both priest and bride, and the groom was Phil, declaring his eternal love. And then the phone rang.

I was still half-asleep when I heard the words. I fell out of bed onto my knees and wailed the single word, “NO!!” My mother-in-love said, “Call your neighbor right now.” My dear neighbor came and wept with me.

Then she called two other friends. Soon, three women were with me. One called our friends around the country, one packed and one drove me to the airport. I lay across three seats on the plane and quietly sobbed myself half asleep again. How else could I endure those horrible hours? The family and our friends Bob (our bishop) and Mary Anderson met me at the airport where less than two weeks earlier Phil’s bright loving eyes looked into mine and we blessed and kissed each other for the last time on Earth.

Phil was a 37 year old in robust health. He had the sniffles and was getting ready to go to work at St. George's Church in St. Louis Park where he had been rector for ten years. Suddenly he had an absence seizure but couldn’t bring himself out of it and called 911. He died in the ambulance.

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
triggered by a virus, and as his physician explained to me when reviewing his autopsy report, “a virus can take a detour anywhere it wants to in the body, and his had gone to the clotting centers of his brain.”

Three years earlier I saw my father at the same airport and kissed him Goodbye for the last time also. After recovering from a long illness, he had gone on a tour of England and Normandy called “In the Footsteps of Thomas à Becket,” in celebration of his new freedom. He had called us from London to say that he would be flying home to California the
next day and that Northwest Airlines had changed his Customs entry city from Denver to Minneapolis. We accepted his invitation to meet him at the airport and spend an hour with him at the gate before his final flight home.

During that last sweet hour he showed us maps and told us about his glorious pilgrimage, the people he’d met— about how a few nights earlier when they’d crossed the Channel into Normandy their bus driver got lost in the rain, and for two hours they drove around in would-be frustration. Tired and hungry, the pilgrims and driver felt every jolt and curve of the ride along narrow French roads, until my father took
charge. The next two hours flew by, at least for the passengers, as they sang show tunes to their hearts’ restoration. {I later learned how much this meant to them from the people themselves when I phoned to let them know what happened.}

Papa told us that the next morning he got up early to take his first walk in France by himself. They would be going back to London and then fly home the next day. He started that last portion of his pilgrimage by walking down to the river. He found a small bridge over a rivulet of the Seine and from there he watched the dawn mists rise from the river. He said he took a picture that he was sure would capture the beauty of light on the water as silver gave way to pink, then gold. He
patted his overcoat pocket and said, “The picture’s right here on my last roll of film.”

Phil had to leave for a meeting, and as we walked down the corridor from the gate I said, “I forgot to tell Papa that I’m proud of him.” Phil said, “Call him tomorrow and tell him.” I turned and Papa was watching us, so we smiled warmly and waved to each other. I let him rest the next day and planned to call him the day after. That night, he died in his sleep. When I arrived at his place I saw my new book, Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello on his nightstand. I’d inscribed an advance copy for him and mailed it so it would be there when he got home. It said, “Thank you for all you have given, all you have taught me.”
Knowing that he’d read it as was his custom before sleep, I felt like he’d hugged me from Heaven. I vowed never again to delay saying words of praise when I felt them. And yes, I found the roll of film still in his pocket and had it developed immediately. I enlarged and framed the picture he’d described in an antiqued gold frame. It was on my wall for many years, an icon of his last deep vision, one which he experienced with the eyes of his soul and passed on to me as a beautiful legacy. I am so glad that we got to hear him describe it in his own voice. . . .

The night of Phil’s death I sat in his big leather chair and remembered that he had made his own recording of my talk three weeks earlier I put his tape recorder on my lap and played the closing meditation as I visualized him lying on the beautiful emerald green carpet of our living room, but I hadn’t anticipated what would happen when I pressed the “Play” button. Since the recorder had been in Phil’s lap during the meditation, his voice was the primary sound when those 500 people said, “I bless you, I release you— I set you free, I set me free— I let you be, I let me be.” In that way, transcending time and space and death itself, Phil and I said Goodbye to his body together.

Six months later, my doorbell rang back in Oregon. I had driven back and forth to Minnesota to pack up our things and bring them all to Oregon with me, as I had to sell our condominium in Minneapolis. I’d packed everything but furniture in 27 United Parcel Post boxes and sent them to meet me by truck. When I opened the door, standing there to bring me the last material treasures of our life together was a man in a United Parcel Service uniform. I gasped, remembering the dream Phil sent me as his spirit was flying on its way Home to God.

What the Heart Does Not Tell 

Because of its infinite solitude

the soul knows peace, but

it misses the sheltering wings

of the beloved, the nights

when stars shimmered above them

as they slept in each other’s arms

and breathed each other’s breath—

This sounds like the opening

of a tragic long love story,

but it comes after the ending

when nothing more can be said

but a prayer, nothing more can be done

but to sway with the invisible partner

in middle of the night moonlight,

still swaying in a visible/invisible dance

toward the dawn.

It is the burden of bereavement

to live and not to die, but loving

and longing, go on—

To discover ways to transform

despair into service and loss into wisdom,

this is the new goal of maturity—

the hope of humanity—

Until the soul

grows out of the body

and back into Oneness

with God.

           Alla Renée Bozarth

Diamonds in a Stony Field
Copyright 2013.
What Jesus Really Said

Not much.

I am
with you.
I see you,
I need to touch you.
I need you to touch me.
I need to be alone sometimes.
I will not leave you alone.

Respect all beings.
Be compassionate.
Take risks to help others
and to become your whole self.
Be present in every moment.
Love as fully as life allows.
Lives as fully as love allows.
I love you.

Let yourself be loved.
Accept acceptance.

Remember me.

        Alla Renée Bozarth
 Wisdom and Wonderment 
    and The Book of Bliss

On Pilgrimage

Eleven months after he died,                     

I took my husband’s ashes

to Jerusalem.


That capital city of the Holy Land

was too noisy, too crowded with

the usual nations and religions

vying for a claim.


I wanted peace and beauty

for my Beloved’s earthly



I went north, into the Galilee,

surrounded by tree-green mountains.


Out on the water in a boat,

I poured our mortal life together.

His ashes went straight down,

deep, toward the ground beneath

the holy lake where Rabbi Yeshua

once fished with his friends.


Then I went up to the Mount of Beatitudes

and planted a small remaining handful

of his mortal part our actual marriage

in front of the church, under a graceful

eucalyptus tree overlooking the lake,

called the Sea of Galilee.


Upon returning to Jerusalem, I visited King David’s Tomb

and the Upper Room above it where the Last Supper

may have taken place. I prayed with others who sang

in many foreign languages together. The world

comes here, I thought, grieving and rejoicing.

After the others left I stayed.


My sandals came off and I danced my own

give-away dance of thanksgiving

on the cold stone floor.


A streak of sunlight through a high window

blessed my give-away of grief on that day,

though it would come in new forms on other days

throughout my life. Here it was blessed.


When I left the room a friend was there waiting

in the hallway. She told me that after the others

left, she stayed, wanting to be sure I was all right.

She peaked around the edge of the doorway and

watched, unknown to me, and took a picture,

a memorial of what I did that day.


Finally we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

in the Old City. It is not where Jesus was actually

buried because it is still inside the city. The graves

were outside the walls in the Garden Tomb,

where I had already visited.


The Church of the Holy Sepulcher commemorates

the death of Christ in a special mausoleum within.

It was raised a few steps above the main body.

People took turns going in. I remained outside,

exhausted. Looking around at the masses of souls

from everywhere, I suddenly saw a tall young man

with dark hair and a beard who looked and moved

exactly as my Beloved had looked and moved.


I sat on the steps and cried.


Alla Renée Bozarth—

Copyright © 2024


A new poem for Phil, in memory, from Alla with Love.
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.

Alla Renée Bozarth ~ The Frequencies of Sound © 2017

Through hard times and happy, we grew each other
into our best, and complete, selves.

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 the pictures 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.   


  1. Oh, my dear Alla.

    My dear Alla.

  2. Alla, Thank you so much for posting these wonderful images and your incredible words. It is wonderful to see these images of you & Phil again, and some I had not seen. Beautiful. I love you, & I love Phil too!


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