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  • One summer morning the doorbell woke me.
    When I opened the door, there was a man in a Tibetan robe,
    wearing Buddy Holly frames.
    He was a chaplain from the Minneapolis Police Department.
    He read from a piece of paper in his hand.
    He told me that my daughter had been found dead in her room.
    Then I had to tell my wife.
    Rachel, a man downstairs …
    says Daniele …
    has died.

    This really happened.
    It was August 18, 2009.
    Within moments of hearing my daughter was dead,
    God died, too.
    I had put put all my trust in his faithfulness.
    I knew we were on a journey, a journey I could not understand.
    But I trusted God to see us through.
    I prayed every day for protection for Daniele,
    from the dangers that surrounded her life.
    And so God began to shrink, to collapse to a dot.
    I could see him disappearing into air.
    I could hear his tiny voice calling out: goodbye.

    The day of the funeral, a beautiful hawk perched
    on our backyard lines.
    A dozen people looked up as it surveyed us, shrugged,
    and flew away over the garage.
    Sometimes in the fall, down by the river bluffs, I see eagles.
    And herons. And ducks.
    Always, a curious sensation that they are not just birds,
    they are messengers somehow.
    Here I am, they are saying. I am here.
    I am everywhere.

    Winter was hard. Rachel went away.
    Friends stopped calling.
    They were sick of my stories.
    I sat and watched the satellite and I drank.
    Sometimes I was so angry I would argue all day,
    with the people who no longer called.
    Behind their backs I told them the truth to their faces.

    Spring came, the trees leafed out and blossomed.
    One day I heard a tapping in the dining room.
    A robin had returned and flown in the back door,
    and now was leaping over and over again
    into the same sealed window.
    The bird was frantic, afraid and exhausted.
    I fetched a plastic Walmart bag from the pantry
    and slipped it over the frightened bird.

    As gently as I could I placed the bag
    on an open planter in the back yard.
    The bird sat paralyzed, unblinking, one wing cocked awry.
    I left the bag and bird alone, and when I returned minutes later,
    the bag was empty ...
    the bird was gone.

    And for the first time I found myself wondering
    about something …
    If God was truly gone ...
    if nothing mattered and the universe wasn't just
    a snide joke at the expense of the conscious …
    then why was that man on the porch,
    with the stubbly scalp and the stubbly chin
    and the stammering affect …
    and why was he wearing saffron robes?
    And why has that color …
    the color of the embalmed body,
    but also the sign of surprise
    been everywhere I look?



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cD7f0WfgBM
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