Oakland church

“I Would Rather Be Ashes than Dust”

© Steve Baroch ID 960131 | Dreamstime

Our congregation is full of amazingly talented and multifaceted individuals. One of them, Rod Repke, known to many as “Brother Rod”, recently shared with me a beautiful tribute that he wrote in honor of a beloved friend Fred, who recently died. With Rod’s permission, I am sharing an excerpt of his reflections, because they have universal meaning for all of us about how we live our lives and how we consciously use our precious time.

Blessings and see you on Sunday! Pastor Laurie  
You know folks…

If you go down to Jack London Square, there is a life size bronze statue of Jack London there down near the water, just across from Scott’s.  It’s a very dynamic statue—right hand in the air—necktie flapping—he’s almost jumping off the pedestal!  And if you stand in the right spot, his eyes will directly connect with yours  almost as tho’ he’s looking into your soul—or maybe you are looking into his…\
On the base of this statue are the words :

I would rather be ashes than dust.
 I would rather that my spark should burn out 
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
 I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom 
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
 The function of man is to live, not to exist.
 I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

Well…I wouldn’t call Fred a “superb meteor”  but  he always kept active irrespective of his medical problems.  He did a lot of stuff that would never even cross my mind—like kayaking on the upper Sacramento once—or more recently snorkeling somewhere in the Caribbean Sea where, as fate would have it, his meteor splashed down—you might say “He died with his boots on”.

Yes indeed…I would rather be ashes than dust


I’ve known Fred and Kathy for a long time—maybe 30 years?  I think we both came to work for Cal/OSHA about 1980 or so.  Sometimes we worked together—other times we worked in different units in Cal/OSHA.  We never went on trips or anything like that together but we’ve spent many a pleasant evening at that old Victorian on Yosemite Street or going to dinner on Piedmont Avenue or someplace—or Freight & Salvage for Bluegrass—and Golden Gate Park once I remember—and of course the occasional office party…

Fred wasn’t born in Colorado but he was raised there and considered it his home turf:

Like Paradise upon this Earth 
Its Wonders to behold…
A  Gateway to the Wilderness
Where all my Dreams unfold…
The changing of its colors
As the clouds go floating by…
Above the Rocky Mountains in 
The Colorado Sky.

The mighty river flowing 
In The Valley of the Pine…
The Shooting Star in meadows on
A summer’s day so fine…
The Forest is alive with Song—
I watch the Bluebirds fly, 
Above the rugged landscape in 
The Colorado Sky.

The seasons change so quickly 
Yet its precious soul remains
As Wind does bring the Snowfalls there
Upon the mighty Plains…
To see the Snow-capped Mountains
With their peaks that reach so high,
Beneath the Fiery Sunsets in
The Colorado Sky.

Good Morning Fred, wherever you are…

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