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As death … is the true goal of our existence, I have formed a close relationship with the best and truest friend of mankind: Death’s image is no longer terrifying but soothing and consoling. So wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his father in 1788 when exhausted with chronic illness and tormented by fears of having been poisoned.

In my perception, Mozart endured a conflicted life: the compulsion to explore and amplify the then known genres of classical music and create his own—he composed six hundred pieces, still enjoyed today—with the limits of his slight body, dead at thirty-five.

As others had composed Requiems, dating from the beginnings of the Christian Mass, and as Mozart awoke to his mortality, his passion to compose his own Requiem consumed him. But the work only began in 1791, the year of his death. Completed were the Introit, Kyrie, and the first eight bars of Lacrimosa, tears that shagged my own, as found within the sequence, Dies irai, all in the key of D minor, symbolic of music of the afterlife.

Assembling Mozart’s drafts of the other six parts awaited another’s hand, composer Franz Xavier Sussmayr.

For those who grieve—and they’re everywhere—there is balm in Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, K. 626 (1791). His psyche experienced the full majesty of God’s mercy and gave expression, symphonically and chorally, to this phenomenon. We’ve only to listen with humble hearts and rejoice and be renewed. There is another way to view life’s hardships.

It was a brilliant Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, and, sleepy-eyed, I met my friend at the airport for our flight to Gloucester, Massachusetts, for our annual retreat—Everything as usual, or so I thought.

Only airborne a short while, the intercom clicked on. “This is your Captain speaking—Air Traffic Control is delaying our arrival at Boston. Some difficulties, they’re having. We’ll keep you posted.” I buckled my seat-belt, intuiting that something was very wrong. My friend didn’t agree and our conversation about terrorism continued until interrupted.

It was the Captain again. “There’s been another change. Air Traffic Control directs us to land at the nearest airport. Since we’re closest to Indianapolis, that’s where will land. They’re expecting us, as well as other planes ordered to clear the skies.” Only while deplaning did the Captain inform us of the terrorist bombings in Manhattan.

Slowly, the ghoulish pieces of the nightmare begin to coalesce while listening to the car rental’s radio on the way to Gloucester: a series of suicide planes had crashed into and leveled the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center; another crashed into the side of the Pentagon; and still another, intended for the U. S. Capitol or The White House, crashed-landed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, thanks to Todd Beamer and other passengers who almost subdued their four hijackers.

Panic, fire, dense smoke, mangled and burnt bodies, shocking injuries, lingering deaths, families decimated, destruction of symbolic edifices, disruption of the economy and much more scarred America’s psyche—an emotional scarring it still bears, despite the media’s sanitized coverage, twenty years later.

Only later did Osama bin Laden, founder of the pan-Islamic militant organization, al-Qaeda, take responsibility for this atrocity, his choice of the date to avenge the September 11, 1683 Christian victory over the Turks at the battle of Vienna.

Prayer and Memorials help, but the scar of 9/11 remains: No one has forgiven anyone—the war continues.

It seems like The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (2019) surfaced from the unconscious of Charlie Mackesy and left tracks of the Sacred upon my psyche. Years of professional writing, painting, and illustrating merge within this whimsical tale and enliven seekers; its twelve translations, its mini-adventure film in the making, its audio-book, its vinyl recording, its prints and posters, its study groups illumine another way of relating with others. Mackesy can do this because he’s a humble man. He’s been there.

The stark simplicity of Mackesy’s words interfacing his pin-and-ink sketches with occasional watercolors, serve to brighten four questing spirits: the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse, each of them replete with symbolism. The ensuing dialogues, tinged with humor, feels like the gracious Voice of the Sacred almost giggling, because of finally being heard. Toward the book’s beginning, we find such a turn-around:

What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole.

Kind,” said the boy.

Of little avail, is the Voice experienced in its usual sources, long discarded as irrelevant, but Mackesy’s message is the same.

Other outstanding features in this book include cursive writing rather than print, occasional blank pages for the reader to further reflect upon the import of what was just shared, and no pagination—one place is as good as another to start: Heartwarming wisdom is handsomely displayed within tracings of great trees and lakes and skies. Life can be fun in working relationships.

 The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse finds a resonance within anyone of any age and life circumstances. Its message to me is: You’re loved and always have been. Smile!

Available on Amazon

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