Dear Friends:

I have some sad news. Early this morning our dear member Dennis Wanlass passed away. His wife Barbara, and his children were at his bedside, at Froedtert Hospital. Dennis had developed mysterious breathing issues earlier this year. He was spending significant time getting to the bottom of what was going on. Experts from the Medical College thought they had stabilized him and were getting to the bottom of what the breathing issues might have been caused. Those of us on the Lay Pastoral Care team had been checking in on him throughout the year, not to mention his close friends from the Meditation Circle. The Meditation group had even been back to his home this month to meet in his gardens.

This is a big loss for us at UUCW. Dennis has been integral in so many groups and active as a mentor to our youth, a helper with Ushers, and a listener to many in the congregation. Dennis even helped train two of our newer Lay Pastoral Care listeners this year. The list of activities and committees Dennis has been on is long.

His wife Barbara and I have exchanged messages. This passing comes as quite a shock. This was not what was expected. In time, the family will plan a service. We will pass on any details.

As always, I and the Lay Pastoral Care team are here to listen to you. Pop me an email and we can get a listener in touch with you.  It helps to lay your story down with people. I urge you to be in contact with one another.

Finally, I turn to familiar readings at times like this. Here is a poem that brings me comfort over and over again:

In Blackwater Woods
By Mary Oliver
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Sending love, RevD