Rick Dryden passed away peacefully on 7 January 2013. He is survived by his wife, Emily, his daughter Kersten (from first marriage to Nancy Dryden), stepson Jack Meyer, and many other friends & family.
Two tributes follow, by Michael Siegell and Bill Cliff.
For Rick on his Departure
by Michael Siegell
There is a kind of enduring, even mythic image I have surrounding Rick and it comes alive as one moves across the space approaching Dryden Farm from the north, from where Darwin was in Schenectady and the way I and our group would all come, from different points in upstate New York and beyond. And even decades later, when I was no longer living locally and would still come from Cambridge where I eventually settled, we would still take the same route when for instance, I came twice monthly to Darwin and Jeanne’s for the Saturday meetings, or simply to be there and visit.
Heading out, we drive through winding country roads and gentle rising lands, starting to feel with — surprising speed — how the opening in the spaces around us would start to stretch out, expanding myself from the inside outwards. Past the occasional scattered homes — some old and stolid in that stone worked, rugged Dutch-settler kind of way, others more generic American country; some did not look so inviting. Cows and horses and graceful, carefully laid out fields of corn and hay other northern crops — and for my NYC-born mind, this was the stuff of very different worlds. And then we would come to the fork in the road and we would shift left and carefully move onto the beginnings of Onesquethaw Creek Road, a name so unwieldy, it took years to get through and not laugh, defeated, when trying to say it. You could see at the road fork, a small sign with an arrow pointing “left” that said, “Christmas Trees $10, Dryden Farm.” This sign had been there for years, a marker for the uninitiated.
More windings and hill foldings, some of which seemed to hide or quiet what was behind them and then ahead and in the distance, towards the south, a higher range jumbling upwards, marking a border to our sightlines — now we were in a kind of valley. Betty used to say how she loved that range particularly, how it was different from the Catskills. And just before we would come to a little ramp bridge over the creek, Dryden Lane would suddenly emerge on the right and we would start up that dirt road, slowly, sometimes like a shy puppy, sometimes like a crazed teen with their first car. I was always amazed how it would be to live on a road that had your name on it — and Grandpa Dan was really proud that he was able to work the system to get the naming done and even get the town to plow the road in winters, the tiny dirt road which would only end in the Dryden’s kitchen. The feeling of “maverick” clearly came with this territory; an active but gentle bandito spirit which could very easily launch us into laughter about almost anything and this quality was there from the very beginning.
And this was where it started for me, some 42 years ago with this place and this guy who are fused within me with those early days of absolute amazement, when Meher Baba poured his beneficence and love and opportunity on me and our tribe, rooted locally in Darwin Shaw’s living room every Saturday but whose radiance extended throughout the whole world, with all the subsequent pathways and stirrings and the experiences that unfolded in all of our lives.
We all have our touchstones in our lives, some clearly symbolic, some more actively moving thru our conscious awareness, that reminds us or keep us turned more steadily to that which we know to be -in our deepest core- to be true. These people and places and events all hold within themselves a quality or aspect, a something which we know to be absolutely attuned to what we know as the most important things of all; something that does not really waver over time. And their familiarity to us when we meet them again in our lives is as a blessing. In such people or places or memories, we get restored to ourselves, or as Darwin and Jung would put it, “we become restored to wholeness.”
I think that there are very, very few people who seem to be present across all the different threads of one’s life, who know all about you and share something of what you have known, or seen, or cared about. And who would have an overall perspective of the arc of one’s life and how, when it is finally composed, the pieces come together. For me, this is Rick. He was part of almost every different phase of my life and had a felt-sense of what each of them meant. I do not think there are many others -even more than a brother- with whom I was so easily linked to in so many different ways. This is what made our way with each other so filled with a naturalness and a sense of ease.
Like so many, I am a fairly busy guy and live in a number of different worlds. For me: Indian classical music, the arts, psychology and teaching, family and personal relationships, including of course marriage and children and most importantly, Meher Baba. And we also know that we Baba-folk are all so very different from each other as well and have different styles and approaches and experiences and we all refer to different aspects of our lives with Him, with different kinds of emphasis and perspectives we resonate with, all as we try to get closer to Him.
I think that Rick and I knew how most of the folds sat within each of us and we were able to see quite deeply into them, both for ourselves and for the other. We knew what everything that happened to each of us referred to. We had so much time in these lives together across these years but not time enough for me. We shared a lot. And the time we did have together there was a kind of perspective that was shaped early and yet still continued spinning out fresh waves of insight and delight -like galaxies spiraling outwards- by our early years. I think that watching and seeing each other, knowing each other’s rootedness in Meher Baba as we did, was one of the ways we loved and appreciated each other.
We were connected by many life markings and witnessed much about each other’s life passages: weddings and births and deaths, children and God-children, Baba-linkings, Hamirpur and vagabonds galore; instruments and concerts, books and college degrees, pancakes at Colonie Diner and major fashion trends too — like the Western bandanas he wore, which I copied when I first saw him wearing one at Tom Riley’s Woodstock meetings in the early seventies. And as we all know, no man has ever lived that ever looked better in jeans!
We spoke a number of times over these past weeks and when time suddenly seemed impossibly short, I made plans to come down to Red Springs. I made reservations on Friday to come on Monday — and Monday at first seemed a bit “too soon” for what eventually was to come, after booking I suddenly had the strongest feeling that I had stepped into a different dimension of time and that Monday was not “early” at all. I sensed then that it very well might indeed, be too late, but the machinery of the Universe was already turning. I spoke with him last on Friday night, told him I was coming and he seemed glad.
Early Sunday morning I had a dream. Remarkably, it was simply an image, an image that lingered without changing. This image appeared in the midst of multiple sequences of me interacting with various people in seemingly inconsequential conversations and actions. And then suddenly the image appeared:
I saw a glass shaped like a large champagne glass with a wide, elegant brim and a long, thin handle. More refined in shape than a goblet or chalice, the glass seemed floating in the air and had a small, single lit flame, shining in its center. The flame was quite steady and not flickering or moving at all and yet it was completely alive and vibrant, a clear, beautiful flame. And this graceful glass was floating in front of a window that was opened to the outside and I could see through that opening to a most lovely and inviting green expanse, rolling and stretching outwards, way beyond the window . . . (and yes, there was a similarity to some of the views at the Farm). There was almost something medieval about the scene. And all around the image of this floating glass with the small flame in front of the window, there was a complete surround of light — deep and steady — this light had a quality of both serenity and strength and was self-generating; this light was in the very fabric of that space itself and it was not coming from anywhere else. It was the kind of feeling or perception people sometimes describe in such terms as: “the light seemed to shine from within…” This “light” was the very grounding within which the glass and window were seen.
This was the image I woke to early Sunday. It was about 24 hours before he left and I felt then that I had somehow witnessed or been part of, or perhaps had been messaged about what had happened, or was about to happen. It has stayed with me. Kirsten has suggested that perhaps Rick was showing me what he was seeing at that time but of course I don’t really know, all I have is the image.
I will miss my brother, as will all of our family in Cambridge and I know all of us will. My daughters, Jyoti and Kalyani, each felt to write a letter to Rick in preparation for my trip to Red Springs and I was to read it out to him when I came on Monday to say goodbye. Of course, Rick had left us a few hours earlier but I still read them out to his quiet form. I know there are many details and stories within each of us that can spin a thousand tales and over time, they will come out and comfort and delight us and also spark mountains of laughter, something we all know he loved so very much.
Adios and Namaskar, brother! I wish you Godspeed, Rick, and of course, I cannot imagine that you are not well; most definitely your way can be nowhere else but into the Light, into the Light, into His Love, into His Love.
January 10, 2013
Some thoughts on Rick
by Bill Cliff
I think it was the day after New Year’s that Steve Esley phoned and let me know that Rick was close to passing on and that I should get in touch “sooner rather than later.” Although I was unable to make any phone contact despite a dozen tries over the next few days, right after speaking to Steve I felt a great rush of upliftment and happiness and felt strongly that Baba was about to give Rick a great push, if not the final push (he had told me that he had accepted his illness wholeheartedly as “Baba’s gift” to him.) Last Sunday as I was gazing out the window near my favorite picture of Baba and thinking of Rick, a city bus went by and on the bus billboard all I could make out was the word VICTORY in huge letters. Perfect timing! Again, an hour later, as I was driving up to New Year’s brunch at the Hindu temple, my thoughts turned to Rick and India and that billboard and as I glanced out the side window, I noticed a sign for a doctor’s office. His name? Dr. VICTORiano. Perfect timing again! Rick always used to kid me about the little “clues and cues” I would get from Baba (I don’t think he needed them ) and here were a couple more for a grand finale!
This last Tuesday Allan Gaither, a longtime member of our group, phoned me and said that each time throughout the day that his thoughts and at times sadness turned to Rick, the following powerful image would present itself in his mind: Rick would be ecstatically waving his hands and exclaiming “Yes! Yes! Yes!” As Allan had never even seen or even imagined Rick acting like this, he felt that this contact was for real.
That same day I got an email from Bart Flick. Here’s an excerpt: “Yes indeed, the Victory is Baba’s…interesting how paths cross…knowing Rick from Junior High School though Senior High School and meeting again at the Shaws…when I meditate on Rick …He is filled with Baba’s light and LOVE.”
I had a chance to visit with Rick for a couple of days just before Thanksgiving and he mentioned that he thought we had been monks together in a former life ( Buddhist??) and humorously added that I still seemed to be somewhat in that phase while he had gone the married and children route this time around. We sang a bunch of songs together including most of his favorites. Did you all know that Rick played guitar and at one time wrote a very moving song to Baba? …
One evening we went to get some made to order pizza at an upscale supermarket in Fayetteville and I noted quite a few servicemen there. I asked Rick if he had any soldiers as clients. He said yes, that he’d had quite a number, and then proceeded to tell me about one of them. It seemed one young fellow had post-traumatic stress disorder from one of the recent conflicts. As Rick got more and more into his issues, he sensed this disorder had precipitated in this young man the type of questioning and introspection that is the first stage of a real and genuine spiritual search. As his client opened up more and more, Rick began to share some brief messages of Baba with him and finally the Discourses themselves. And yes, Rick then suggested that he visit the Center which he subsequently did. The whole subject of Rick’s therapy work reminds me of one of Rick’s most endearing qualities: the peaceful and gentle quality of his voice, a reflection, of course, of his inner nature. I’m sure his clients appreciated his calm reassuring manner, and I know that I appreciated it anytime Rick would read Baba’s words at our meetings up here in the Albany area.
In His Love,