Happy Birthday John McKnight

ImagesIt’s early September and I really should be downstairs at work.   But the morning sun has attracted a golden finch to the railing.  And juice from an Okanagan freestone peach is sticking to my bearded chin.

John McKnight in autumn – wonder floats on my drowsiness.  Autumn is the fullest season.  Autumn reminds us the smallest seed, the smallest plant and the smallest idea can tumble into existence. Enlarged with life.  Reminding us of our natural capacities, often in spite of ourselves.  Autumn is the beginning of the end of those fragments in us, which are not yet consecrated.  John McKnight and autumn – sweetening what is naturally possible.

My story was different when I met John.  Perhaps yours was too.

Now our separate stories belong to each other – we have knowledge of our fullness and emptiness.  Trust, caring and faith release us to come and go with justice and generosity.  Abundance is freedom.  Freedom is creating with pleasure.

How joyful to know John at eighty.

Grasp the end of the golden thread, he says.  It reaches back before the world was made and extends as long as your dreams are alive. Go with love to the field.  Listen to each other’s song.  Don’t outsmart your own nature.  We are enough.

Now instead of fumbling with our own story we can, “touch each other with the tenderness of mortals, who know themselves…”(Wendell Berry)

Come, John sings, I’m entering my ninth decade of having fun.

Happy Birthday John



Written for John's birthday celebration November 5, 2011.  Send me a comment and I'll pass it on to John.




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  1. Sean Moore

    Lovely piece, Al

  2. Jack Pealer

    John. Happy Birthday from southwest Ohio. Jack Pealer

  3. Anne

    What can one even say about an icon? The impact of John’s work can never be measured; only a poet could hope to capture it vividly. John’s mastery in the fine art of conversation has created so much more than ripples; it has created ripple-makers, puddle-splashers, and even a few cannonballers out of a “younger” generation. We promise to pass it on, John.
    Enjoy the celebration – Cheers!

  4. Lorna Aberdein

    A very heartfelt Happy 80th Birthday John! You have touched my life and my heart with your words and your presence and I am so grateful that you are in this world. Here’s to the next decade!
    Wishing you all the best!
    Lorna Aberdein

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