You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

A day of refreshing rain

There was no need for him to mention gravity.

After all, it’s always with us.

But after an old newspaper friend told me he’d lost five inches to osteoporosis, gravity came to mind. Were it not pushing down on him, he’d be five inches taller.

Gravity’s like a lot of things in our lives: It seems always with us, and we take its force for granted as it shapes our lives.

As I sat in an oak pew in Covenant Presbyterian Church April 21 for the funeral of another old newspaper friend, former Springfield News-Sun editor Allan Barth, the beauty of the church’s sanctuary struck me the same way.

With its wood accents, pews and stone space, it feels like an exquisitely designed cave. In the midst of its stained glass beauty, the stone and wood seem to swallow some of the light and remind us of the eons in which humans didn’t live their lives bathed in electric light and surrounded by drywall.

Through its architecture, it reminds us we’re the stuff of this planet, and in so doing, shapes our thoughts.

Aspects of the funeral also reflected the architecture of Allan’s personality and soul, none more so than two readings that, for me, are kind of the bookend reactions to another force that acts on us: death.

The first was the 23rd Psalm, with its reassuring words about God as a protector amidst threats from enemies and “the valley of the shadow of death.” Its much repeated walk-off speaks of the promise of goodness and mercy following us all the days of our lives and living in the house of the Lord forever.

The far bookend was “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” Dylan Thomas’ rage against death that amounts to a kind of retrofitted celebration of all the good in life that is lost at death. The poet’s rant encourages us to fight and spit against the dying of the light that has been our life. It was read movingly by Kiki Wilson, Al’s step daughter.

I’d never thought of pairing the seeming opposites of 23rd Psalm and “Do Not Go Gentle” in a single service. Doing so was a reminder of Al’s sophistication.

Two quotes in the small bi-fold paper that carried his obituary also made me feel his presence.

Al’s smile came through in one from the prolific writer Isaac Asimov: “If my doctor told me I only had six months to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

A quote from writer E.L. Doctorow, was more serious: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it’s raining, but the feel of being rained upon.”

In their own way, these little touches showed of the architecture of our culture — the ideas of what thinking people have thought about life.

And there were other signs of culture afoot.

Basil Fett’s wonderfully trained voice called out songs from the organ loft, the same place from which Al’s son Scott played a Mozart trumpet piece and organist Trudy Faber brought her art to bear, both in her playing and through an arrangement.

My ear heard yet more evidence of culture’s presence each time I stood to sing a hymn and the woman next to me, a full grown preacher’s kid, articulated each word of each hymn in a way that made me feel like a mumbler and bumbler in the spoken word. It was a pleasure to listen to her.

Then it struck me: It’s the people around us who sustain our culture. They sustain and remind us of important thoughts and of artful ways and practices.

Just as masons have been restoring the stone work from the dramatic scaffolding that now wraps around the taller tower of Springfield’s St. Raphael Catholic Church, others are at constant work adding, shaping, restoring, inventing the houses of ideas we inhabit.

As I sat in the modern cave that is the sanctuary of Covenant Presbyterian Church, it felt reassuring to be in the presence of such people, including Al. It helped to lessen the gravity of the moment.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg surprises Ohio family, drops in for dinner
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg surprises Ohio family, drops in for dinner

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Mark Zuckerberg! In their wildest dreams, an Ohio family couldn’t imagine hosting dinner for one of the wealthiest people in the world, and talking about politics and an African charity they support with the Facebook founder and CEO, but that’s exactly what happened. Members of the Moore family...
I-75 shut down for crash, tanker fire in Dayton; Police suspect fatality
I-75 shut down for crash, tanker fire in Dayton; Police suspect fatality

The Ohio Department of Transportation has detours suggested to avoid the shutdown on Interstate 75 in Dayton. For northbound traffic, motorists can use Interstate 675 as a detour, then take Interstate 70 to get back on Interstate 75 in Vandalia. For those traveling south, motorists should take I-75 to I-70 East to I-675 South. It’s important...
Home Depot data leak compromises customers’ private info again
Home Depot data leak compromises customers’ private info again

A spread sheet listing about 8,000 customers, along with their transaction and a range of personal information, was posted for an unknown amount of time, on a Home Depot web site. No financial data was part of the list, which did not compare with the 2014 data breach in which hackers installed software that provided them with personal and financial...
Hip-hop music has fewer drug references than any other genre, but still dominates
Hip-hop music has fewer drug references than any other genre, but still dominates

Think Migos and other rap artists mention molly and marijuana the most in their songs? Think again, because hip-hop has the least number of drug references compared to any other musical genre, according to a recent study.  Using data from Songmeanings API, analyzed eight music categories to determine which style’s lyrics mentioned...
Female dragonflies play dead to avoid amorous males
Female dragonflies play dead to avoid amorous males

Female dragonflies are one of only a few animal species that play dead to avoid mating or death, falling out of the sky and remaining motionless until the amorous male dragonfly leaves. That’s the conclusion of a new study in the journal Ecology by University of Zurich zoologist Rassim Khelifa, Newsweek reported. Khelifa, who documented the behavior...
More Stories