Clarissa Rizal Walks On

Clarissa RizalClarissa Rizal walked on to join the ancestors this week. The fact of writing that sentence seems surreal. She was diagnosed with what would turn out to be a lethal condition less than 8 weeks ago, went back to Colorado to her adult children, and then left us. Our hearts haven’t caught up with reality yet. We still expect to get an email from her, telling us when she’s going to visit this spring as we’d planned. She was going to buy an RV and tour the country. We’d planned to talk to her, our old and dear friend, about joining Tapestry’s Board of Directors. Here’s a very recent picture from her website of Clarissa with one of the astonishing Chilkat robes she wove. It is this face of joy, the beauty of person and created art, that live so strongly in our hearts and our minds that we can’t get used to the fact that she’s gone.

Clarissa RizalWe met Clarissa back in 2002 at a conference Tapestry hosted called “Stories from the Circle: Science and Native Wisdom.” Then she was part of a film pre-production team that met in Palo Duro Canyon the next year. The group went for a horseback ride that bitterly cold but beautiful weekend, and Clarissa was thrilled to draw the only mustang in the string as her mount. Here she is horseback on that mustang, smiling her beautiful smile, ready to set out on the ride. That same trip she walked off into the scrub oak and cedar as shadows began to fill the canyon floor, and a short time later the sweet sound of her flute drifted out of the trees to echo from the soft canyon walls and rise into the clear and darkening sky.

In 2004, Clarissa attended a Snowchange meeting in Alaska with Dawn, dancing joyfully with the local people and making good friends of visiting Maori. She and Dawn stayed up late at night as Clarissa talked about her girlhood growing up in Homer, Alaska, the town on such steep slopes that houses were above one another rather than side by side. We talked marriage and children, life and rebirth, mystery and the mundane. Such was Clarissa’s gift of weaving different things together into a breath-taking whole you never saw coming.

Visit Clarissa’s website to soak up the beauty of her work and her life. The more people who carry her glorious vitality and love of life in their heart, the stronger Clarissa’s spirit will live on in a world that so desperately needs it.

Clarissa, we miss you already! Walk on in beauty now, as always, and revel in all the new adventures before you.