Celebrating a Life with Moments of Grace

Snow crunched between asphalt and shoe tread, my breath muffled in the scratchy warmth of a wool wrap. For this Texas girl, six-plus inches and a morning temperature hovering at 10 degrees Fahrenheit were quite the novelty.

I’d arrived in Illinois just prior to that mid-January snowfall. Each day, I eagerly bundled up for a morning walk through that winter wonderland (more familiarly known as the Eastland Suites grounds). Warmly ensconced in sturdy boots, heavy coat, and lined mittens, I could easily enjoy an hour outside, circling the parking lot and thinking. 

Whether I’ve got pieces to write or knotty issues to solve, movement helps me process. That mental detangling and unfettering can be unconscious–I just know that, after running or walking, an inner calm and, often, some sort of conclusion, are reached.

On my last morning walk in Bloomington, the bright winter light gave everything a sparkling sheen. Pausing frequently, I stepped in snow banks, twisting for just the right angle, hoping to capture some delightful image with my phone’s camera: the beauty in fir needles, dried grasses, bright red berries, eaves dripping with icicles, the silhouette of bare, snow-laden branches. 

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Not until I saw the starburst of rays, long columns of light reaching from heaven to earth, did I understand that these snapshots–tiny moments of grace–were helping me find comfort. My uncle had died, and the family had gathered to celebrate his life.

Sun shining with rays against snow and fir tree

David was an avid photographer who saw beauty in nature and family. He would’ve certainly found delight in capturing such an amazingly crystalline morning, and I smiled to think of him in life, out with his camera, finding such joy in everyday scenes.

And he was out. I felt him there, with me, and in each winter photograph.

David Rademacher celebration of life program and photograph
David Rademacher’s “Slot Canyon,” one of his many photographs, graced the cover of his celebration of life pamphlet.
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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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