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My "Person of the Year"




My





“When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ th’ sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that; move still, still so,
And own no other function. Each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds,
That all your acts are queens.” ~Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Scene iv.

“The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.” ~John F. Kennedy

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there within me lay an invincible summer." ~Albert Camus

For my 407th and final upload of 2007, I have decided to inaugurate an annual tradition, which I have borrowed from Time magazine and adapted for my own purposes. Henceforth, my last Flickr upload of a given year will be a tribute to the person who has made the greatest contribution to my life during that particular year. And even though several other individuals, named below, have contributed their own special luster to this season of my life, the designation of my honoree for 2007 was really a no-brainer, and will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed my photostream lately. She is Miss Angie, beloved dance instructor, friend, comedian, confidante, therapist without portfolio, and Renaissance woman, whose impact on my life has been as unique as it has been powerful. Few individuals -- probably no more than ten or twelve, if that many -- have done as much as she has to earn my gratitude, respect, and appreciation.

I met her for the first time about 11 months ago as I write this tribute to her. I appeared one evening at the local Fred Astaire studio to sign up for the promotional introductory classes I planned to take while my wife was out of state for a few weeks, and Angie showed me around the place and explained the program to me. My first impression of her was more or less neutral, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. She was businesslike without being unfriendly, and during this brief encounter I committed my first faux-pas in her presence, which in turn drew my first rebuke from her. (Both were very mild, and nobody's feelings were hurt.) I explained to her that I wanted to do this as a romantic surprise for my wife, and she began putting me through the most elementary dance steps. I am not agile or well-coordinated, and this was something that did not come naturally to me; but gradually, after patient instruction and plenty of practice and effort, the results started to appear. And my opinion of Angie herself soared as I came to know her better, and to appreciate more and more what she was doing for me.

At the time, I was probably at the nadir of my life; and while I had absolutely no idea what she was about to unleash, I rather suspect that Angie did, as she is smart and insightful and, over time, would come to know me quite well. Dance proved to be the best therapy I could have envisioned for myself. I recently told Angie that while I did not realize it at the time, in a very real sense I put my life into her hands when I enrolled at that studio. Angie took a very sensitive, grievously wounded, and dangerously vulnerable man as her raw material; and then, like the skilled professional she is, set out to work her peculiar magic with him, partly through teaching the rumba, Argentine tango, and West Coast swing, and partly by providing him with an example of courage and fortitude, and of embracing life and joy in spite of serious hardship and misfortune. I have since shared these thoughts with her, adding also that in my view, she had proven herself to be entirely worthy of the trust I had placed in her. It is largely because of her ministrations that my year is ending on a far more positive note than when it began. And with regard to what she has taught me about how to face life and its challenges, it would somehow be appropriate today if she were to place her hands on my shoulders and look me directly in the eye, as she habitually does when she really wants to emphasize a point -- and then say, quoting scripture, "Go, and do thou likewise."

I also told her recently that even though 2007 has probably been the worst year of my life, I can't deny that two of the very best things that EVER happened to me also happened this year. One was my involvement with the studio; the other, quite honestly, was to end up having her as my instructor, which was a magnificent stroke of good fortune all by itself. A friend recently sested to me that Angie had been my "guardian angel," but I respectfully disagreed with her; in fact, I continued, I had had many guardian angels and angels of comfort during my life, but Angie had been something more: she had proven to be my angel of deliverance. And I smile now as I ponder that. It made perfect sense to me that when my "angel of deliverance" appeared, she would be a woman, and a strong and courageous one at that; but how on











The Very Model of a Modern Unitarian




The Very Model of a Modern Unitarian





by Christopher Gist Raible
Sung to " I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from " Pirates of Penzance". [Borrowed from First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa]

I am the very model of a modern Unitarian,
Far broader than a Catholic, Hindu, Jew or Presbyterian.
I know the world's religions and can trace their roots historical
From Moses up to Channing, all in order categorical.
I'm very well acquainted, too, with theories theological,
On existential questions I am always wholly logical,
About most any problem I am teeming with a lot of views,
I'm full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty pews.

Chorus members:
We're full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty pews.
We're full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty pews.
We're full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty empty pews.

I quote from Freud and Jung and all the experts psychological.
I'm anti nuke, I don't pollute I'm chastely ecological.
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
I am the very model of a modern Unitarian.

Chorus members:
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
We are the very model of a modern Unitarian.

I use the latest language; God is never Father or the Lord,
But Ground of Being, Source of Life or almost any other word.
I never pray, I meditate, I'm leary about worshipping.
I serve on 10 committees none of which accomplish anything.
I give to worthy causes and I drive a gas conserving car,
I have good UU principles (although I'm not sure what they are).
I'm open to opinions of profound or broad variety,
Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous piety.

Chorus members:
Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous pie-piety.

I formulate agendas and discuss them with the best of 'em,
But don't ask me to implement, we leave that to the rest of 'em.In short in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
I am the very model of today's religious liberal.

Chorus members:
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
We are the very model of today's religious liberal.











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