Michael Dowd (1958-2023)

Tribute by Jordan Perry


Michael Dowd lived a life of love in action and he thrived in the thrill of being alive! On Saturday October 7, 2023 while in his sleep, he returned to the infinite joy that he had never left.

Michael died in New York where he had traveled to be present for his father’s final hospice moments. His father died Thursday, October 5th and Michael stayed after his death to continue to work through the process.

Michael was staying at a friend’s house, took a fall helping to clear dishes, and opted not to go to the hospital despite feeling some effects. An autopsy revealed he had a massive heart attack – a very fitting conclusion for the man who was filled with so much love for life, the earth, and all beings…his heart just finally burst.

I’m not one for tradition. Others may be. I don’t claim to understand what Michael would have wanted but I do believe he always sought to inspire everyone he met to live fully with gratitude as if it could be your last year, last season, last month, last day. One last hug. One more glance. One more joke. One last laugh.

One last opportunity to watch a bird fly overhead and alight on the withered branch of a dead tree leaning over a river. Life and death, guts and glory, all captured in a single breathtaking moment that leads by necessity to the next, equally breathtaking moment. A post-doom death in a pre-doom world asks us to rise to the moment with joy, love, gratitude, and grief. I accept the challenge and the gift. Thank you, Michael… From all those you have touched by your love.

I wish I could have hugged him, once. I’ve gotten his “cyberhugs” in many emails. They always felt real, and I’m not someone who feels things like that. Years spent reaching out of his persona from stages, pulpits, and computer screens honed his ministering to a fine point and he cyber and live hugged his way through all these mediums with ease. His electric, surround sound version of loving attention was wild and joyful to experience. His limitless curiosity and bombastic reverence for life never ceased to compel me to want to lean into my life with more authenticity. He could challenge, cajole, compel, and confuse with grace. I loved the man.

Michael and his father Pete Dowd March 2005 – Breakneck Ridge, above the Hudson River

Michael has many close associates, friends, colleagues and co-conspirators. Whether you knew him or just knew of him, his work lives on through us. As we all grieve and allow the necessary stillness of the moment to saturate, let’s actively imagine the ongoing love-in-action living with gobsmacked joy that always lay at the core of Michael’s message. There is always work to do, service to offer, love to share. Saturday was a good day to die. Let’s make today a good day to live.