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Arrival…and Departure

November 17, 2011

Richard LaMartna
Richard LaMartina
8/26/1952 – 11/16/2011

Rick’s all-too-short journey home ended a little before 11pm last night, November 16, 2011, after many hours waging a silent internal battle against the verbal and spiritual encouragement of those around him to release his spirit from the pain and suffering of this world.

Then, after two and a half weeks without food and nearly three days without water, he ceased his battle, and those who were present experienced a joyful sadness in seeing his face soften into a peaceful, gentle visage.

Four hours later, his body had been washed, anointed and dressed by his devoted wife, Peg, and the extraordinarily loving and caring people from Threshold Care Circle.

Throughout this last difficult period, Rick’s friends from the Dancing Waters community, Soldiers Grove, Viroqua and elsewhere held loving vigils so that he was never without someone near to help him on his journey home.

This morning, Rick lies in the home-hewn casket built from a popple tree felled on Dancing Waters land and drawn by workhorses to the barn where it was lovingly crafted by Rick’s fellow Dancers, Rikardo and Lamar.

Amazingly, sometime during the night, Rick acquired his familiar, warm grin.  This may just be his lips stretching slightly over his jaw as the dying process continues.

But for those who knew and loved Rick, we have a sneaking suspicion that his final expression is more than this simple answer.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Special Note: Prudence Tippins of  The Calliope Center  (Viroqua, Wisconsin) will be hosting a vigil for Rick  from Wednesday, November 16 at 11pm  to Saturday, November 19, at 11pm.  For more information see the bottom of The Calliope Center’s home page.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebecca Wainscott permalink
    December 3, 2011 6:36 pm

    Hello Everyone, What a beautiful Memorial Service today. I’ve been having quite the experience with Rick through his dying process, what with the fundraiser being such a big deal and especially since his passing. I wasn’t able to share at the Memorial, beyond the singing, but I wrote 2 poems since Rick died that are reflective of the depth of my experience, and would perhaps be of some comfort to you all. I will include them here.
    Thank you all for your heart-full sharing and presence today.

    Corpse Pose 1

    In a moment
    what was embodied
    becomes eternal.
    The person you knew
    expands beyond all comprehension.
    You are left with more
    than you could ever possibly receive.

    Stunned senses forget how to breathe.
    Shock becomes panic,
    Relief becomes rage,
    as the surreal calmly enters
    to sit in the chair and lay in the bed
    that held your Love.

    And the only sound
    is your heart breaking open
    as it stretches beyond all comprehension
    to touch, just once more,
    that which is not lost –
    only infinite,
    composed of singing light,
    and no longer
    yours alone.

    Corpse Pose 2

    when I say you will be left with
    more than you could possibly receive,

    This is Truth.

    You now have access to
    All That Is, and beyond,
    Pay attention.

    All points of reference, certainly
    any spark, shiver, vibe or scent,
    any glimpse of particles
    yet bound by memory,
    all instances of recognition,
    desperate or sublime, are valid,
    and inform.

    You are not alone.
    There is a magnificence of
    minstrels and merrymakers,
    angels and warriors,
    cosmic gendarmes and
    terrestrial lookouts on hand
    to seve you.

    Take heed.
    With every gut-wrenching wail
    their presence grows,
    and your ruptured heart
    may freely surrender
    to that great dark night
    of the stricken soul.

    Where, surrounded by all celestial blessings,
    the infinite light of your Love
    will sing you to sleep,
    cradle your dreams,
    and fill the arms of your longing
    with sweet whispers of star-spun,
    earth-bound inspiration.

    The rising voice of the new day.

    Rebecca Wainscott

  2. mokasiya permalink
    November 19, 2011 8:40 pm

    i weep
    if only now
    to taste
    your tears.


  3. colleen gilgenbach permalink
    November 18, 2011 3:17 pm

    Good bye for now Rick. You were an amazing and inspiring man.

  4. mikelamartina permalink*
    November 18, 2011 12:13 pm

    I just have to express how overwhelmed I am by the beauty, poetry and spirituality of the comments being left here for Rick. There is no doubt in my mind that Rick had tapped a great spiritual vein that exists in the Viroqua area. Like many who have settled in this area from other parts of the country, something hidden and ethereal drew Peg and him to explore the spiritual energy that seems concentrated here. I have heard it described as a vortex and that, I believe, is an apt description.

    One of the most significant events in Rick’s life occurred within the past year when he became part of the Wheel of Initiation held at The Calliope Center for Reflection and Renewal in Viroqua. After Rick’s participation last year, he became part of the staff of the Calliope Center.

    As I cull the internet for information about Rick, I came across Rick’s staff description on the Calliope Center’s website. (

    I met three of the people associated with the Calliope Center yesterday and had a wonderful and very fulfilling discussion about Rick, our own backgrounds as well as our beliefs and various life journeys. During my all-too-short visit with Prudence, David and Janelle overlooking the beautiful valleys east of Viroqua in The Calliope Center’s warm and inviting open space, I knew immediately what motivated Rick to join the Wheel of Initiation.

    I’ve written much here both in comments and in posts, but the following description of Rick’s lifelong spiritual quest by someone else is a wonderful summary of his complex and adventurous life. It even fills in more of what I wanted to know about Rick. I want to share it here:

    “Rick LaMartina has spent a lifetime searching for spiritual meaning in a world where spirit is often misunderstood, unappreciated or not recognized at all. For many years, his spiritual journey drove him from one religious experience to another: from his strict Catholic school years, to the Buddhist monastery; from lengthy seclusions in the wilderness, to time spent in spiritually based intentional communities. His life transitioned from being deeply theological, to diversely ontological, and on to skeptically metaphysical. He spent many of his early adult years as an ascetic, during which time he experienced both deep faith, and also painful existential and theological doubt. Gradually he settled on a quiet sacred agnosticism and opened up to a late calling as a spiritual counselor. Rick even spent 3 years in a religious cult, which was a turning point in his spiritual life by teaching him one of his most important lessons: no ONE is a conduit to the Divine … WE ALL ARE.

    “An award winning fine art nature photographer, Rick has always been able to experience the Sacred through his art and through his relationship with the natural world; but he has also discovered this same beautiful essence within the heart’s and minds of the people he shares this planet with. With that realization, he has devoted his life to shining a light on the sacred bond we have with our planet, with each other, and with ourselves. Rick now see’s his spiritual journey as being intricately woven with the journey’s of others, and within the experience we all share together in discovering the infinite capacity of love.

    “Rick brings to the Calliope Center an eclectic bag of skills and passions … from group facilitation, to individual counseling; from computer layout and design, to “the Zen of Seeing” photography workshops; and from building healthy compost, to building healthy bodies. But most importantly, he brings a working respect toward the practice of honest and open listening as taught by the author, educator, and activist Parker Palmer. This approach is one that gives voice to the belief that deep inside most of us, we know what is best for ourselves; and it is simply by having the opportunity to share with those who can be trusted to be sincere and active listeners, who can exercise compassionate mirroring, and who can understand the importance of resisting the urge to fix or solve someone else’s problems that we can find our own inner clarity.”

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    This is a wonderfully succinct summary of an aspect of Rick’s life that became increasingly important to him as he got older. I thank the good and sagacious folks at The Calliope Center for helping Rick discover a richer understanding of himself and his place in this life…and beyond it.

  5. Glory Adams permalink
    November 18, 2011 11:42 am

    I know Rick only through my sister and seeing a bit of his beautiful work. He was so blessed to have such wondrous talent, Peg, and to be surrounded by a loving, caring community. May his soul fly free! – Glory Adams (Edie’s sister)

  6. Elaine permalink
    November 18, 2011 7:26 am

    Thank you so much Mike. Your words beautiful and heart warming. An echo of Rick’s eloquent, loving self. While I weep at his passing, Rick will live on in my spirit, forever in my heart.

    What an extraordinarily beautiful farewell, honoring Rick as he lies in state surrounded by those who love him. Peg’s devotion endures forever and always. His family and friends paying homage to one incredible man, brother, friend. He is defined by Love.

    My heart is there.


  7. Beth Walker Stephenson permalink
    November 18, 2011 7:17 am

    Thank you, all you beautiful friends, for your care for Rick and Peg, and for your loving comments here. I feel through these entries that I know him better. I wish I had gotten to know RIck. He seemed like an amazing man. I truly believe, and I teach this to my children, that this life is part of our journey on our path. Those we have loved, and the essence of who we are will remain throughout our many passages. I know this in my bones, after losing my Dad at 15, and many other encounters with life and death. I will not impose this on others, and yet this is what I live by. It helps in so many ways to live my life to the fullest, not being afraid of death or the unknown. Love to you all! – Beth Walker Stephenson

  8. November 18, 2011 12:12 am

    In this life, Rick more than anyone else served as a father figure to me, and for this I am enormously grateful. I have yet to meet a man with a kinder heart or more beautifully balanced value system & way of being. I am very thankful for the time we had together.

  9. Chris Barrett permalink
    November 17, 2011 9:11 pm

    nothing I can say will be suitable for the loss to the world that Rick’s passing has caused. But I just wanted you to know that I have nothing but joyous memories of you and Rick, and that you were both a positive force in my life as a child.

    Chris Barrett

  10. November 17, 2011 7:51 pm

    I was blessed to have known Rick and for him to give me such a compliment by saying that he really enjoyed my friendship! This is from a quiet, inward man towards a very extroverted person like myself. This highlights Rick’s non-judgmental attitude towards all. I got to say goodbye to him the day before he passed on from this sphere and I can’t be sure but I felt he was aware of me saying goodbye.

    Bon voyage, Rick; your life shone forth is such a brilliant way and you have touched many…as I said before, you have shown us all how to die consciously. What a gift you were/are!

  11. Judith Kubish permalink
    November 17, 2011 5:43 pm

    Thank you for letting us know of RIck’s death with such touching and loving detail. I have often thought during Rick’s “Journey Home”. that there must be a special light and energy extending into the atmosphere to the west of where I live from the incredible beauty, love and devotion being shared there.
    I am sad beyond telling, and compassionate for Peg’s and your and all of your families’ and close friends’ grief. As I look at the picture of Rick above your message, though, I “hear” him telling me: (in my heart) -no regrets, acceptance, affirmation, LIVE!
    The sunset as I walked outside after reading your message reminded me of all the ways Rick saw (and, I believe,is now one with in a new way) color and shape and light and life- earth and sky and water and air. I know I will best honor the passing of this lovely man by tuning in more to that legacy.
    My husband Hal and I will continue to remember all of you for many days to come. The Lakota People with whom Hal spent ten years recognize the importance of the “memorial year” following a person’s death- walking through the 4 seasons for the first time wiithout that person. You will be in our minds and hearts throughout this Memorial Year.
    Thank you again. Deep sympathy-
    Judith and Hal

  12. Joanna Lawson permalink
    November 17, 2011 5:29 pm

    I only met Rick twice, but he made a big impression. Sending love to Peg (who Rick told me was his soul mate) and to the rest of the family.

    Joanna Lawson

  13. Emily Satterstrom permalink
    November 17, 2011 4:49 pm

    My mother called me this morning to tell me of his passing. When I told my 7 year old daughter she said “that is sad, he was a nice man” – No more to say. Rick will be missed by all who knew him. I will look at nature and smile thinking of him. I am blessed to have some of his artwork in my home & will cherish it always. Hugs to Peg & all those who helped him through his last days here in the physical world.

  14. Malkah Geller permalink
    November 17, 2011 1:00 pm

    I’m at a loss for words, so much in my heart that I don’t know how to express. I feel that Lauren said it all — what a beautiful way to live, what a beautiful way to die. Rick will be greatly missed!

    Mike, thank you for sharing so beautifully and deeply felt. May peace surround you and your whole family. A special big hug and prayers for Peg.

  15. Rikardo Jahnke permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:49 pm

    Ilana should be included as helping with the coffin, having spent much time helping me choose the boards, plane the boards, and much general encouragement and advice.

    Certainly will miss Rick. Already, it has been difficult to look at the cold empty farmhouse and all it represents a la Rick. I am grateful for all he has taught us here at DW with his upbeat non-judgemental attitude and his push to get the group thru a needed stage of development/growth. His death, too, was another teaching. May he live on in our dedication to beauty and living well conscientiously. Rikardo

  16. Loma Huh permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:00 pm

    I was thinking of Rick last night, shortly after 11:00, and what came to me was laughter and joy. I didn’t know him well, but our few conversations always burrowed beneath the surface to meaningful territory. My heart is full of deep gratitude to you, Rick, for your pioneering life of beauty and consciousness and for how you shared it so generously.

  17. Lauren Hunt permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:00 pm

    What a beautiful way to live, what a beautiful way to die. Thank you so much for sharing Mike.

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