We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Blue Whale Eats

Spring                                                              New (Rushing Waters) Moon

A very interesting lesson in the feeding habits of the largest animal on earth.


Spring                                                                               Passover Moon

Synodic-and-Sidereal-3The waning passover moon is behind a faint scrim of clouds giving it a moonlit halo. Each moon cycle repeats the past, yet is unique to itself. The slow orbit (relatively slow) of the moon around the earth produces the same phases each month and in that sense repeats. But the lunar month and the sidereal year do not quite match up*, as all cultures that depend on lunar months for their calendars have long known. Judaism is such a culture.

Each lunar month happens at a slightly different place in earth’s orbit due to this irregularity over the course of sidereal year. In addition, our whole solar system is not static, but moves through the universe at a speed of 12 miles per second toward the constellation Lambda Herculis.** At the same time our solar system is also spinning around the Milky Way and the Milky Way itself is speeding toward a collision with Andromeda Galaxy in 4 billion years.+

sun-movement-milky-way-101222-02When you consider the irregularities in the lunar position occasioned by the sidereal/synodic difference and the speed of our solar system both moving on its own toward Lambda Herculis and around the Milky Way and then throw in the speed of the Milky Way itself, it becomes clear that no one phase of the moon every occurs in even remotely the same location.

Why belabor this? Becauses it underscores the irreproducibility of much seemingly regular phenomena. Now think about the long span of evolution on this moving planet, within this speeding solar system. This means that no animal or plant species has occupied the same cosmic location for even a short span of its existence. So, in this sense alone, each animal or plant species is unique. But, each animal or plant itself is also unique because it comes into existence and dies, having occupied only one small niche in the larger web of life.

Australopithecus afarensis

Australopithecus afarensis

Within this context regard human evolution. Australopithecus, considered the first instance of the Homo genus, has been dated to 2.8 million years ago. Since that time the genus went through many speciations until, about 200,000 years ago, our own species, Homo sapiens, emerges. So, for over 200,000 years individuals of our own specific branch of evolution have been born, lived and died. Each one of them are unique within just our species.

Each of us, then, from the moment of our birth and for the very brief span of our life (in cosmic terms), travels literally millions and millions of miles, speeding around the sun, the Milky Way, toward Lambda Herculis and as part of our galaxies own rush toward Virgo and Libra. In addition each of us represents a specific instance of an evolutionary branch with its own branch on the tree of life, a branch that split off on its own some 2.8 million years ago.

This means we are each unique in many different ways in addition to the obvious ones of parentage, genetics and personal development.

image of godFinally, the point. We are, each of us, unique and precious instances of over 2 billion years of evolution of life on Earth. We represent a moment in time, yet even our moment is not static. It finds us moving incredible distances.

A key insight of both Judaism and Christianity is the notion that we are all made in the image of God. This insight casts a bright light on both each person’s uniqueness while also revealing our oneness. This truth does not change no matter what content you put into the word God.

treeThink about it. Out of all the billions of years since the Big Bang, moving in all the various ways discussed above and at speeds that make Formula One look slothful in the extreme, you and I exist in this special time together. How remarkable! We are in fact made as the conscious image of this whole universe, with all its reckless momentum and we have been given the chance to know each other and through knowing each other to know the universe that gave birth to us.

Camus talked about the river of life that flows toward death, what I have called in recent posts the Gulf of All Souls. He suggested that it was our common responsibility  to make this journey as pleasant and peaceful for each other as possible. As Ram Dass says, we’re all just walking each other home.



*watch this short movie to understand the difference between the sidereal month, 27.322 days, and the synodic or lunar month of 29.531 days.

**solar system speed and the other measurements that complicate it

+This webpage shows the difficulties in measuring the speed of objects in the universe and gives a speed for the Milky Way as it moves in the universe–an amazing 1.3 million miles per hour!

Yet Did Not Fall

Spring                                                                  Passover Moon

sputnikYesterday when I came out to let Gertie and Rigel out of the garage, around 5 am, I looked up at the stars, as I always do, enjoying the clear skies here. That long evolved predator/prey seeking eye caught, right away, a high object streaking across the sky. Was it a satellite, the space station? I don’t know, but I do know that in my childhood, my own childhood, no person on earth could have gone outside, looked up at the sky and seen such a sight. Until Sputnik the only streaking objects in the sky were meteors and comets. Nothing moved quickly across the darkness, up with the stars, yet did not fall or disappear around the sun.

This morning when I came out, at about the same time, the stars were absent, covered by clouds. Six or seven inches of new, wet snow lay on the deck outside our backdoor and it was snowing hard. Still is. This storm is delivering on its forecasted levels. Yeah! This wet snow clogs up the snow blower so we’re having Ted, the handyman/snowplower guy from Ames, Iowa (just across I-35 from Kate’s hometown of Nevada), take care of our driveway. He came about 20 minutes ago and may be back if it the snow continues until midnight as the winter storm warning suggests.

6:45 am today

6:45 am today

It’s light out now and Black Mountain has once again disappeared from view, covered in clouds and snow. The school bus just went past. Being a school bus driver in the mountains in the winter must be challenging. Along with school bus driver, the other two jobs I would not like to have up here are mail person and garbage truck driver. They all have to navigate the mountain roads rain or shine, sleet or snow. They all have to stop frequently, counting on the skills of others not to kill them while they do their work.

The snow shuts off our solar panels just like night. I bought a snow rake to release the snow on them, but I haven’t used it yet. Maybe today.

Resist DST. Now.

Imbolc                                                                Anniversary Moon

Grandma’s cooking jucy lucy’s using the hamburger press I bought her as her first anniversary present. Can’t wait.

Gabe’s been here since last night; Ruthie spent the night at a “sleepover” which apparently involved no sleep. She’s been asleep since she got here, first in the back of Jon’s car and now in the bed upstairs. I found Gabe playing out in the backyard. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Playing.” “Playing’s good,” I said. “Playing’s good but being lazy would be better,” he replied.

That old sun, taking longer and longer to get to bed, is just now sinking below Black Mountain. Tomorrow, back on DST, it will sink at the same time, but we’ll pretend, for some reason, that it’s an hour later. No, I won’t go on my usual rant. I’ll just say, Resist daylight saving time. Resist now!


Oh, well. A pause would have been better.

Imbolc                                                             New (Anniversary) Moon

Black Mountain barely shows itself in the cloud of snow over it. We’ve had snow since yesterday, winter is back. We’re glad here on Shadow Mountain. This Colorado feint of warm weather in the middle of winter keeps me thinking spring, then the sky turns white.

It’s been one of those days when the adult quotient required exceeded my ability to manage it. When I went out and found the guy from Geowater working on our well-head, installing a product I didn’t want, then found out he’d ordered a $1,000 pressure tank to replace our current one, well, let’s just say I didn’t handle it well. WTF! No, I didn’t think it, I said it. Oops. I had them walk back the work order, pushing the day’s bill down from around $7,000 to $2,000.

Then, they nicked a water line from the boiler and had to call a plumber to fix it. That set things back on the right emotional track. I had to get on my hands and knees, literally, to crawl into the space under our house and apologize. I was hot and said sorry. One of the guys fist bumped me and said thanks. The other guy was not quite so quick to forgive. Still, after I apologized that was his issue.

One of those situations where I wish I’d taken the mussar way and introduced a pause between the match and the fuse. I could have gotten the same result without being hostile. Maybe by the time I’m 80?

Anyhow, the ph in our water is now up from 5.2 to 7.5. Much better for the boiler and the copper piping. This was preventive maintenance, something I seem to be doing a lot up here. Of course, our Andover house was a model so everything was new; though over 20 years, we did end up doing some preventive work and some replacements.


The All Clear

Imbolc                                                                          Valentine Moon

20170129_112922Kate’s clear, up and down. Endoscopy and colonoscopy show no problems. That’s a relief. When we came out of Swedish hospital (I know, the Scandinavian touch was right for these two former Minnesotans), the day was one of those gifts Colorado gives frequently bright blue sky, luminous sun, even a bit warm. As in the weather, so in our hearts.

Now, a short rant. Televisions. Every damned where. Waiting rooms, airports, bars, the cafeteria at the hospital. They’re a drug. And, they’re loud, not to mention filled with drivel. Muzak became ubiquitous, too, but noisy colorful images positioned in places where I want peace is an invasion of my inner world and not a welcome one. OK. Rant over. Well, not quite. Plus now most people are looking at their phones while the tv blares. I left the waiting room for a much quieter seat in the hallway. The hallway!

20170204_181447Jon’s grown weary of all the moving, as well he might. Moving stuff carries a physical cost, but even more, it carries a psychological cost. There’s the velveteen rabbit in reverse grief, the burden of baggage, the repetitive actions, but most of it comes from the constant reminder of a huge change. Even when the move is voluntary, the psychological cost is high. When the move has the additional overlay of divorce and animosity, the cost can sometimes exceed our capacity to absorb. That can leave us depleted in heart and body.

Ruth has a phone. She got her dad’s old one when he replaced it. This means I can reach her by text now. She and her friends have a group text that they use a lot sending selfies, pictures of their meals, comments about their day. This is the world of the digital native and it’s different than the one in which I grew up. The communications 20170129_110437aspect of it is a cultural transition similar I imagine to the introduction of the telephone in its impact.

But, oddly, instant communication often interferes with the personal, the immediate, as even when they are together, heads and hands are all too often directed towards the phone and away from the flesh and blood presence. Not sure what the implication of this is, but it feels icky to me.

We’re already getting prepared for the Renaissance Fair. We all plan to go in costume. Ruth’s working on her’s. I’m growing my beard and hair so I can be a credible wizard. The Colorado Renaissance Fair is in mid-summer, so it’s a ways away, time for the sewing to get done and my beard to extend.



A Blessing and a Curse

Imbolc                                                             Valentine Moon



Computers. As in biblical covenants, they are a blessing and a curse. A blessing, usually, when they work and a curse when they don’t. I bought a new computer because this old Gateway has begun to disappoint me regularly. However, setting up a new computer is a chore, requiring much hemming and hawing (at least for me), so when this old computer (a new TV show! This Old Computer) came back to life, I put off installing the new one.

The Gateway is well over six years old, maybe seven. Desktops have a lifespan and I’m past it with this one. When the screens started going blank on me yesterday, I thought, well, that’s what you get for not setting up the new computer. Problem being, though, that without access to this one, the Gateway, it’s a lot harder to set up the new one. So, I spent a while this morning searching for answers.


Don’t know if I found one, but it has not happened again. So far. Most problems on a computer have been encountered many times before so if you type into google a description of what’s going on, things to try usually appear. I tried all of the obvious ones, then tried uninstalling the video card driver and reinstalling it by rebooting. This bothered me a bit because the ongoing and seemingly intractable problem for this old computer was an occasional unwillingness to stop playing with itself after rebooting, just that little windows circle that means, I’m working.

Got it back, finally, after three reboots. In computing, at least at my level of knowledge (small), the definition of insanity-trying the same thing and hoping for  different results-does not apply. I keep trying until things go my way. Or, they don’t. So far, most of the time, crazy as it sounds, this approach works.

The lesson here? Setup the new computer. Right away.


Look. Up in the Sky. It’s a bird. And a drone.

Imbolc                                                                             Valentine Moon

A Druid and a Radical

Winter                                                                                      Valentine Moon

OK. I admit it. I occasionally take the quizzes that pop up on facebook. I mention this because one set of quizzes seems, well, accurate. The same quiz website offered two recently: What kind of ancient religion would you follow? What kind of philosopher are you?


Druid Harvesting Mistletoe

Though I thought I’d saved the piece about ancient religion, I didn’t. Still. The ancient religion that matched my answers? Celtic Druidism. How ’bout that? In the year leading up to my leaving the Presbyterian ministry I was in spiritual direction with John Ackerman at Westminster Presbyterian Church. When I told him I no longer believed in Jesus/God/Holy Spirit, but was more focused now on how I fit into the natural world, he said, “Well, you might be a druid.” He meant it. Not a flippant observation. Prescient.

Since then, the Great Wheel has become my liturgical calendar. I’m much more like what I would once have critiqued as a flat-earth humanist. That is, the metaphysical realms of the world religions seem like poetry to me rather than statements about ontology. I am not a new atheist, a scorner of faith and its many, many permutations. And, yes, I recognize the role religion plays in human conflicts, but I know that most of the time religions gather people of similar demographic characteristics. When conflict emerges, it often has roots in economic and political realities that align closely with religious preferences.


I did save the note about which philosopher I’m most like.* This also seemed apposite. It surprised me, in both instances, how the 29 questions they ask managed to get somewhere close to how I see myself.

*Your mind works like the philosopher: Thomas Paine

An anarchist who championed reason and free thought, Thomas Paine was never afraid to speak his mind no matter how unpopular or revolutionary his theories were. Like Paine, you see life as full of possibilities and love to shake up the status quo by thinking outside the box. You are spontaneous and communicate confidently and fluidly. Could you write a post to inspire world-transforming events like Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ influenced the start of the American Revolution? Who knows? (But we think it might be worth a try.)

My Avatar in Minnesota

Winter                                                                             Cold Moon0

I was at the table last night when the Woolly Mammoths gathered at Scott Simpson’s house in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Scott and I tested the Skype connection earlier, both on his laptop and on his new phone. When Mark Odegard came early, I spoke with him using Scott’s phone, able to see and be seen. Video phone calls! No flying cars, but…video phone calls!

Mark told me of his desire to go to Burning Man, holding up a coffee table sized book featuring various art installations from this annual festival of strangeness. He’s always got a next adventure coming on line. This was involves camping out, carrying in all your food and water (a gallon a day for the weeklong event), and required participation. “No observers” is a Burning Man rule.

Later on I was able to check-in along with Bill Schmidt, Warren Wolfe, Frank Broderick, Scott and Mark. This time I was on the laptop at one end of the table, able to see most of the guys, though when individuals checked in, somebody would turn the laptop so I could see that person.

Part of the beauty of 30 year old relationships is knowing the backstory. When Frank talked about helping a young dancer, I knew about his relationships to the arts, especially opera. When Ode talked about Elizabeth and her family, I knew them, having married Ode and Elizabeth. As Scott talked of being snubbed in his workplace, I knew the story of his transition from counselor to financial planner and his plans underway to retire. Warren spoke of cleaning things up at home. I knew about the time when he owned four houses. Bill had positive news for his venture, U-Face-Me, a possible investor. I knew about his coding, his work on mainframe data storage, his life as a Jesuit. Just as, when I spoke of Shadow Mountain, of my new knee, of the book I’m writing, they knew about my past as a Presbyterian minister, of my two ex-wives.

We can hear the subtle resonance of words and feelings, know often where the current dilemma fits into a life. I felt lucky to be part of the meeting last night. Not the same as being there physically, but nourishing in its own way.

April 2017
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