For Michael Collins, Andrew and dad


July 17, 2019 – Yerevan.
Some people perform miracles. Others facilitate them. Both are necessary to make miracles.
Today is my dad’s birthday. He was born humbly in the Diaspora to parents who had escaped the Armenian Genocide. He had a desire to see Armenia and even articulated that it was where we belonged. But life, being what it is, kept him busy tending to the needs of our family.
The python hold on his namesake
In 1988, after the Armenian Earthquake, he applied for his passport. He was a pharmacist and physician by profession. It would have been his first time leaving the United States – the country which had given him home, opportunity, the country he had served with his life. But the calling to serve the needs of a hurting country and people were overwhelming. He knew he had to go. Sadly, with passport in hand, conditions did not allow him to travel and he passed away shortly thereafter.
My dad was a facilitator of miracles. He wasn’t the main show, but without him the show wouldn’t go on. He and my mom created a life out of nothing, a fairly huge miracle by all accounts considering the plan of Genocide precluded the survival of any – even one – Armenian. In my dad’s case the miracle wasn’t mere survival but thriving, with culture, art, song and dance. As a facilitator of dreams, he made it possible for so many others to enjoy the true miracles of life and happiness.
Facilitating a session of duduk play
Fifty years ago, three men launched from Earth to visit our closest celestial neighbor. We all remember Neil Armstrong this week, for his “small step” and his “giant leap” on the surface of the moon. We might even remember Buzz Aldrin, who followed and danced on the moon. But few will remember the third member of the team Michael Collins, who facilitated the lunar landing. He sat in the lunar orbiter, circling and waiting for just the right moment to insure the safe return home of his party of three. Michael Collins wasn’t the main show but without him there would be no moon-dance.
Throughout life we are inspired by stories, the trials, tribulations and accomplishments of men and women who have done seemingly impossible feats – performed miracles – and all the while we miss the opportunity to celebrate the unsung heroes who lifted the curtains for the performers, sewed the space suits for the astronauts or laid the foundation for the brilliance of thought.
Statue of Garegin Njdeh – inscription:
“God, Nation, Fatherland.
Live and work only for those things
that are worth dying for and dye
only for those things that
are worth living for.”
One of my heroes from scripture is the St. Andrew. He is known as the first-called disciple of Christ. He humbly followed and served God. In the narratives we read that he was the one who introduced the boy with the fish and loaves to Christ. Andrew: he wasn’t the main act, but without him there was no “feeding of the 5,000.” (John 6:1-15) Miracles don’t happen without facilitators.
So I sit here in Yerevan, Armenia – a country of miracles – across the statue of Garegin Njdeh and salute the unsung heroes in our lives. The ones who touch the moon without landing, the ones who can’t cook but feed thousands and the ones who plant the seeds for us to nurture and ensure their sprouting. Happy Birthday dad, you made it.
The sound of the rest note


The bow screeches the string
as we note the sharp descension from life’s song
Critical critic finds disharmony
twist noes, written and played
The bow screeches the string
All that is meant to be played is written
1971 – taking a leap
at Dorthy Chandler Pavilion

We have disguised the song

It’s not the tune we want
Nor the one we’ve heard.
Day turns to night
Abundance must be paid for
Fiddler on the edge of traffic’s lane
Needs to provide us with song and dance
We set the beat and count the notes.
Skip the rest one
Whole or half
giving becomes obsession
as critic searches for consistence
finding no concert
The bow glides on the string
Four strings sing as one
Paganini sleeps to a pure tone tune
We awake to a song
From beginning to end
it is our song.


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