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Daily archives for November 27th, 2017

Saws and Paws

Samain                                                                    Bare Aspen Moon

20151013_112839Down the hill to Aurora yesterday afternoon. Newly spruced up (ha) chainsaw, limbing ax, pole saw, loppers, Swede saw, fuel for the chainsaw and bar and chain oil were on a tarp in the Rav4. Cleared out some overgrown shrubbery, cut down three scrubby trees and trimmed up small trees grown into the chain link fence on the south side of Jon’s new place. Also removed some dead wood. Had to leave a couple of dead trees. I didn’t know how to take them down without taking out the neighbor’s wooden fence at the same time.

Rigel went with me, sitting in the backseat, sometimes her head between the front seats, looking, looking, always looking. She spent most of the time I was there with Ruth, who was reading on the bed in her room. Gabe came out and helped me move a dead tree limb. He also offered advice on cutting limbs off a tree in the corner of the property. “Use the chainsaw, grandpa.” “Using a chainsaw overhead is dangerous, Gabe. I might cut my head off.” “Oh.”

Jon had lumber out, building a table in his backyard. He ran boards through a planer, nailed pieces together. Measured twice. Cut once with his power saw. In his kitchen there are no appliances. He and his friend Max deconstructed the kitchen a month or so ago and moved the appliances into the living room. Jon is at the point of installing douglas fir strips from a former museum as a new kitchen floor. In Ruth’s room he’s building a loft bed, in Gabe’s a desk. He loves making things and he’s good at it.

20170928_172531At 5 pm Jen came and picked up Ruth and Gabe for their week with her. “Bet it’s lonely when they leave, Jon.” “Actually it’s sort of a relief.” Single parenting is hard. I remember that feeling of relief when Joseph returned to Raeone’s, though my joy at his return was much greater.

Rigel and I drove back as the clouds turned red, then pinkish-orange, gray, then disappeared in the darkness of night. The lights of the Denver metro twinkled from the vantage point of Highway 285. The large lit cross positioned on the side of a mountain where the foothills begin shone out at us, a familiar landmark now. The humorists at the Colorado D.O.T. are at work again. The led sign just before 285 begins to climb read its usual: Watch for rocks and wildlife. But, it then blinked, changing the wording to: “Be aware. Falling rocks have the right-of-way.” Mountain humor.

 

 

Enthusiasm and Courage

Samain                                                                   Bare Aspen Moon

No more metaphysical presleep wanderings. Just to sleep, to dream, to wake again. Grateful each morning for that. Grateful too for the food in our fridge, the wonderful house Kate found, Kate, the dogs, friends near and far, Orion in the sky this morning, the bare aspen moon showing itself through a faint curtain of clouds last night.

Worked on middah summaries for Beth Evergreen’s newsletter, the Shofar. I’m honored to be asked to provide these but also a bit shy about it. A middah is a soul characteristic, an aspect of character itself. They can be identified, learned, then acted upon in measured ways. Here are the two unedited pieces I turned in yesterday.*

*Middah of the month Tevet (Dec. 19-Jan.16th

Zerizut=diligence, zeal, enthusiasm

Why focus on the character trait of enthusiasm?  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (sic) to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Rabbi Luzzato in his Path of the Upright, studied by the Thursday mussar group for the past year, suggests a surprising antidote to the laziness which Burke adjures. Gratitude.

Alan Morinis, in the essay linked below says, “…recognizing the good in your life can dissolve the inner conditions that give rise to laziness. And when laziness falls away, the natural inclination of the heart is to be active and energetic can flow unimpeded.”

He suggests:

Spend five minutes writing down gifts received in the last few days
Keep a gratitude journal
Put insights in an Accounting of the Soul Diary

For more, follow this link: Mussar Institute Zerizut


Midah of the month Sh’vat (Jan 17 – Feb 15):  Ometz Lev = Courage (courage of the heart)

“It was the result of God’s wisdom that the Israelites were led about in the wilderness until they acquired courage.” Moses Maimonedes, Guide to the Perplexed, part 3 32:2

Middah require cultivation, perhaps especially in situations where fear and uncertainty predominate. We might think it took ometz lev to leave Egypt, but Maimonedes suggests it was the wilderness where the former slaves acquired courage.

“Who is the mighty one? He who conquers his impulse, as it says, “slowness to anger is better than a mighty person and the ruler of his spirit than the conqueror of a city.”” (Proverbs 16:32).  Pirkei Avot 4.1

Courage of the heart is an inner matter. “A man walking on the road saw a pack of dogs and felt afraid of them, so he sat down amongst them.” Genesis Rabbah 84:5

What fear could you face today?
Who do you know as an example of heart-courage?
Who do you know who needs ometz lev in their life right now? How might you encourage them? “Chesed is to ometz lev as rain is to a withering plant.” Rabbi Sid Schwartz in his sermon, Profiles in Courage.

 

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