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  • Helen Bauer

Sitting in the Spaces

There are spaces in the world. 

I felt it sitting in church this week. 

Looking at the choir members, I was struck (not for the first time) that one of my friends was no longer there.  Fred was a big man in both body and spirit.  A man of deep faith, my friend was a teacher.  He taught public school and he ran a tae kwon do school.  He called my husband and me “his babies”.   When I hit my forties, it felt good to be referred to as someone’s baby.

Fred used his physical strength to teach students to find their focus and improve their health.  The benediction to his students at the end of a class always included the phrase “Might for right”.  Fred’s teachings were never about violence; he taught only self-defense and respect for self and others.  He was a big bear of a man, protective of his dear ones.  He would have beaten up anyone who threatened me (although once he smacked me on the backside with his cane for being a smart mouth).


Fred never missed an opportunity to serve the rest of us with his incredible baritone voice.  He could raise up an audience with a song.  I have a lasting memory of him standing next to his wife’s casket, singing “My Tribute”.  I can’t listen to that song any more. 

Fred’s spot in the choir loft seems bigger during the Christmas season.  His presence there was a comfort to me, a constant that I relied on for over 30 years. He’s missed.  

As 2023 closes and I move towards 2024, I'm sitting in the spaces in my life.  Vacancies left by people I love, long-time neighbors, pieces of my life, and identities that I never thought I would have to live without. 

You might be sitting in a space where you feel the loss of a beloved.

Maybe there's a space where your sense of connection used to be, or you're missing the security of hope and peace.  

You're sitting in your own spaces.

I see you. And wherever you are, I send you light and comfort and hope.

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