Most days I try to take an hour, either at bedtime or early in the morning, to tune in to my favourite radio program, The Road Home, on “my” radio station, CKUA. (I say “my” radio station because several years ago when CKUA went off the air because of unethical management smacking of patronage, a group of loyal listeners and staff raised $1 million to bring it back to life in a month’s time. Talk about love!)
Its creator and host, Bob Chelmick, a long established photographer and media personality, is my idea of a renaissance man. He describes himself as “Backwoods Bob,” given he lives off-grid near Lake Nakamum, in a solar powered cabin on a quarter section of mostly forest and some cleared meadow for his horses. It takes about 8 hours to create every program, a composition of music, always eclectic, often Canadian (though in the last year he’s been quite enamored of Scotland’s Michael Marra), and both evocative and provocative spoken word. With selections from the program’s patron saint, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Lorna Crozier, Margaret Atwood, Robert Frost, Galway Kinnell, Rumi and Hafez, to name but a few, against the background sounds of birdsong, barking dogs and coyotes, and ramblings about life at the cabin, Bob weaves a rich tapestry of wisdom and humour, compassion and wit, celebration and gratitude. No wonder it inspires so many of us from around the world to travel along with him, minding our way.
Last week, in that hypnogogic state between sleep and wakefulness, I listened in as the theme evolved, through song and verse, into stories about Heaven. I caught the edges of several poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, from his Book of Hours, touched by one in particular. As luck would have it, a couple of mornings later I awoke, heeded the call of my yoga mat, and was greeted by the unexpected repeat of the program. I began my asana practice to this gift:
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards are dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all the other stars into loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is One who holds this falling
endlessly, gently in his hands.