See: A Viking Funeral???

on the strand of web
a white moth wing

                                     – Soji (aka Gary B.)

A few weeks ago we buried a good man. Well, not so much buried as burned. Well, not so much burned as burned again. Gary was a member of the Unitarian Universalist church where both my wife and I work. He was kind, and fun, and beloved by his spiritual community. When he died it was his desire to have the closest thing to a Viking funeral: to be put in a ship on the water and set ablaze. His wife, and his UU community would have nothing less for him.

On Sunday evening, April 10, the day after a memorial service for Gary that included multiple moving eulogies, a tribute video presentation complete with nose-flute duet, and the singing of Gary’s favorite songs, “Blue Boat Home” and “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” many of his friends and family gathered again at the Little River boat ramp to watch Gary sail across the Rainbow Bridge into Valhalla. To the thunder of numerous percussion instruments (and guitars) Gary’s ashes – loaded into a beautiful scale model of a Viking ship – were guided via kayak out to a preselected spot on the water and set ablaze. At the moment of the ship’s final descent the instrumentalists organically fell silent, paying their final silent respects to their fallen friend. It was beautiful, unusual, sublime; and I’m glad my son was there to see it.


The miniature Viking ship  ablaze (photo credit:Nancy Krause)

After the sinking we casually walked back to the parking lot where wishing lanterns – tissue paper balloons that one sets a fire under – were being lighted. Nancy, John Adams, and I each lit one and watched it carry its light across the evening dusk as a final silently ascendant prayer to our friend.

moonviewing —
from across the sea,
neighbor’s voices

                                    – Soji (aka Gary B.)

I write this now, not just in memory of Gary, but also as an invitation to new people to get to know the man’s work of passion. For Gary was a haiku poet of significant talent. Writing under the name Soji, Gary’s website, Haiku Poet’s Hut, is a treasure trove of his poetic legacy. I strongly encourage those of you who are interested in haiku (and I know many of you are) to check out the beauty, simplicity, and elegance that Gary has left behind for us.

Namaste, Gary. May we all live a better life through your example.



Gary aka Soji (photo credit: Nancy Krause)

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