I had delved down into a space where I perceived this great pool of gratitude and sadness. And don’t mix sadness up with depression or despair… All sadness is is a way of sensitizing you to what really matters, what’s really meaningful.

And death does that.

I see my death. It looms in front of me sooner than I would like, but because it’s there, because we live with that, I am so grateful for just this moment, for this time together. And that is a great gift.


Absolutely magnificent On Being conversation with Bruce Kramer, who died of ALS earlier this week, while the show was in production. His moving memoir, We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying, is out in April.

Couple with philosopher Joanna Macy on how Rilke can help us befriend our mortality to live more fully


Capuchin Crypt

The Capuchin Crypt is a small space comprising several tiny chapels located beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on the Via Veneto near Piazza Barberini in Rome, Italy. It contains the skeletal remains of 3,700 bodies believed to be Capuchin friars buried by their order. The Catholic order insists that the display is not meant to be macabre, but a silent reminder of the swift passage of life on Earth and our own mortality. Described by Frommer’s as "one of the most horrifying images in all of Christendom", large numbers of the bones are nailed to the walls in intricate patterns, many are piled high among countless others, while others hang from the ceiling as light fixtures.

When the monks arrived at the church in 1631, moving from the old monastery, they brought 300 cartloads of deceased friars. Fr. Michael of Bergamo oversaw the arrangement of the bones in the burial crypt. The soil in the crypt was brought from Jerusalem, by order of Pope Urban VIII. As monks died during the lifetime of the crypt, the longest-buried monk was exhumed to make room for the newly deceased who was buried without a coffin, and the newly reclaimed bones were added to the decorative motifs. Bodies typically spent 30 years decomposing in the soil, before being exhumed. There are six total rooms in the crypt, five featuring a unique display of human bones believed to have been taken from the bodies of friars who had died between 1528 and 1870. 1. Crypt of the Resurrection, 2. The Mass Chapel, 3. Crypt of the Skulls, 4. Crypt of the Pelvises, 5. Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones, 6. Crypt of the Three Skeletons. source | edit

First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems

In the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms.

While trees’ pollution removal equated to an average air quality improvement of less than 1 percent, the impacts of that improvement are substantial. Researchers valued the human health effects of the reduced air pollution at nearly $7 billion every year in a study published recently in the journal Environmental Pollution. “Tree and Forest Effects on Air Quality and Human Health in the United States,” is available online at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/46102

"With more than 80 percent of Americans living in urban area, this research underscores how truly essential urban forests are to people across the nation," said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. "Information and tools developed by Forest Service research are contributing to communities valuing and managing the 138 million acres of trees and forests that grace the nation’s cities, towns and communities."

English oak leaf pores or stomata (Quercus robur)


the video: little girl mortality meltdown

Your nose knows death is imminent (The Guardian)

According to new research, the sense of smell is the canary in the coalmine of human health. A study published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, shows that losing one’s sense of smell strongly predicts death within five years, suggesting that the nose knows when death is imminent, and that smell may serve as a bellwether for the overall state of the body, or as a marker for exposure to environmental toxins.

Pinto, J. M. et al. (2014). Olfactory Dysfunction Predicts 5-Year Mortality in Older Adults. PLOS ONE, 9(9): e107541. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107541.

In Memory Of….

The one hundred fifty men, women and children lost so tragically….so needlessly….so horribly….aboard Germanwings flight 9525….

May their souls rise in peace from the crash site high in the French Alps….and forgive us mere mortals for our frailties.

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»Photo: Warren Bower