Imbolc and the waning Shadow Mountain Moon

Friday gratefuls: For a return to my orbital goal post. Murdoch, bouncy and happy yesterday at Bergen Bark Inn. The Village Gourmet., maybe a solution. Chocolate rocks. Jon made it to the E.R.

Moving from the bewildering and sad to the chaotic and absurd. Jon called about 10 last night from the Emergency Room. Yes, really. He’s been sick since last week and that screws up a diabetic’s response to insulin. His blood sugar got very high. He called an ambulance and had himself transported to E.R. He was afraid of dying.

We waited on his lab tests. Don’t yet know what they showed, but the docs transferred him to the hospital. We’ll see him today after Kate’s appointment with hand therapy and her surgeon. I know. Strains credulity, doesn’t it?

In other family news. Septuagenarian adds another year. Valentine’s day. Anti-climatic given recent happenings here, but there you are. The calendar ticks over despite events. 73 seems, unusual. Not sure why. An odd number. Perhaps a bit mystical: 7 and 3.

As I’m entering this phase of aging, the numbers seem to have less and less significance. Days, weeks, years. Artificial, like borders for nations. Irrelevant, too. I’m alive or not. In this moment, alive and typing.

Tom wondered in a recent e-mail about a name for our house. Our place in Andover was Seven Oaks after seven oak trees clustered on a small rise southeast of our home. In looking up matters related to Korean birthdays I found the name of the Korean mountain gods, Sansin. When I came to close on the house over Samain 2014 and on the day before I started radiation, mountain spirits visited me in the form of mule deer and elk bucks. So. Sansin. Full name, Honoring the Sansin of Shadow Mountain.

The Sansin of Shadow Mountain has blessed me through direct visitation twice. We belong here, in this place, on this mountain. I can feel the god’s presence, a massive bulking, a dense collection of ohr on which we have our home. Becoming native to this place.

A God of Silence

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Art Green, author of Radical Judaism. Zoom technology. Brother Mark’s insights about his work in Saudi Arabia. Gertie’s visible improvement. Murdoch. The Kep. Rigel, who prances in from the outside like she’s 3, not 11. Kate’s rebound from a tough early afternoon.

Intellectual vertigo.

“What could it possibly mean to speak of Torah as “God’s word” or “revelation” in the religious context I am offering here? I challenge myself yet again, as I do frequently, asking whether my mystical language is not merely an obfuscation of my disbelief. God is Y-H-W-H, the wholeness of Being, the energy that makes for existence, the engine that drives the evolutionary process. This is a God of silence…” p. 92, Radical Judaism, Art Green.

The vibration in Art’s challenge to himself is what I call intellectual vertigo. I feel it while reading his work, while contemplating the unusual congruence between his well-formulated, honest ideas and my own less systematic thoughts over the past 65 years.

I’ve pushed away the embrace of all major religious traditions. I know some of you have, too.

Modernism offers the empirical method as its intellectual scythe. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hutchins all wielded this scythe, believing it allowed them to cut through the obfuscation that Green fears and find nothing. This modernist versus religion cage match has resulted in a situation not unlike our current political one. Two sides, fearing and loathing the other, generating quantities of heat, but little light.

Step through the door of post-modernism, however, and a new range of possibilities occur. Post-modernism, to those of us like Art Green, raised firmly in the arms of modernism, can seem dizzying. Vertigo inducing. Art leaps the uncanny valley between Newton and Niels Bohr with mysticism.

The confidence once placed in Newton’s thought was as certain as certain could be. He deployed the scientific method, mathematics, and logic like fine scalpels, flensing the musculature, then the organ systems of our cosmos for all to see.

Einstein shook his electric hair. Not quite. Then Bohr and others developed the Copenhagen Consensus, describing a sub-microscopic world buzzing with uncertainty, with probability rather than certainty, with spooky action at a distance entailed its thought. Classical physics (modernity) and quantum mechanics (post-modernity) have not yet reconciled.

Those of us shaped as religious persons in the modern era have also failed to reconcile the older, confident dogmas of the many religions to the newer, science-affirming ways of understanding. One avenue for this reconciliation is an understanding of language as a mediator which stands between each human and core reality.

In this case any language, including the Torah, the Upanishads, the Diamond Sutra, the Tao Te Ching, the Gospel of Mark or Matthew or John or Luke, does not “reveal,” but covers truth. That is, since language is the way that our thinking manages all data, sensory data included, words and letters are a real, unbreachable (perhaps) barrier between us and reality.

When the religious instinct (I don’t know what else to call it.) imbibes from this stream of post-modernist thought, a possibility occurs not available in modernism. In modernism we’re stuck with Wittgenstein, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” (Tractatus 7). If there is a reality behind the screen of language, we can’t know it, so we must be silent.

But. If we make the post-modern leap and accept a broader view of evidence, including our heart and Big History*, we can make out, as Green does, a unifier, “…the wholeness of Being, the energy that makes for existence, the engine that drives the evolutionary process.” It is this wholeness of being with which we interact in a mysterious way.

As a side note, I keep wanting to change Green’s metaphysics as I read his book. Key example above, the wholeness of being. I’d prefer the wholeness of becoming. He goes on in the next phrase to talk about the energy that makes for existence, for example.

This mystical dip into the silent world behind language, or before language, allows us contact with the Becoming, the energy that makes for existence. This is the God of Silence. Silent, yes, but in possession of all the agency that there is.

The question then becomes, if you track with me this far, how does a God of Silence communicate? How does this most ancient (or, timeless) motive force speak across the quiet. And, across the barrier thrown up by language?

This becomes the central religious question, is the central religious question. Not sure I’m fully on board with Green’s answer, but it’s a good shot anyhow. Another post and I’ll elaborate.

* “Big History is an academic discipline which examines history from the Big Bang to the present. Big History resists specialization, and searches for universal patterns or trends. It examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities, and explores human existence in the context of this bigger picture.” David Christian. (I corresponded with Christian for a while after listening to a Great Courses class he taught.)

Supernova Era

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Kassi at Petsmart, who groomed Kepler so well. All the kids from Collegiate Academy who came into the Starbucks while I waited for Kep. Growers of coffee. Dairy farmers. Cappuccino. The checkout clerk at Petsmart so proud of her dog. Passing the emissions test. Emissions testing. Friend Debra who we’ll see for dinner tonight.

A confluence of literature and place yesterday. Started reading Supernova Era by the brilliant contemporary Chinese science fiction writer, Cixin Liu. A star goes supernova close to earth. His astronomical knowledge is profound, the explanation for this event detailed and lengthy.

The resulting energy burst damages the DNA of everyone on earth. Those above middle school age no longer have the capacity to recover from such an insult. Over the course of a year all the adults will die, leaving about one billion children under school age all across the globe.

While I waited for Kep at the Kipling Avenue Starbucks, I read chapters about the transition from an adult run world to a child run world. Parents taught their children the occupations they were in as the most efficient way to transfer knowledge quickly. Cixin focuses on the case of China.

As I read this, kids from the Collegiate Academy about two blocks away began to stream into the Starbucks. One tall senior high youth had a fade and a topknot grown from the crown of his head. A girl with whom he would later play fight had piercings, black lipstick and a friendly demeanor. She asked politely if she could have the chair at my table.

A younger, perhaps middle school girl, had on an orange athleisure top and carried, of course, her phone. She seemed serious until her friend came in, then they laughed and shared pictures off their phones.

The Starbucks lit up with the energy of young folks performing the person they thought they wanted to be or should be or could be.

At one point a college aged woman walked through them. Pant suit, blouse, briefcase. Not that far away in age, but so distant in sense of self and composure. At least outwardly. Her mask was adult.

My mask was that of the elder amused at the antics of the young, serious in his reading, but willing to laugh with the kids, too. Kabbalah teaches that we all wear masks, all the time. That everything is a mask for the ohr, the divine light of creation shattered after the tzimtzum, the sacred’s self contraction to allow space for other.

Saw all this through the lens of Cixin Liu’s middle schoolers taking over the adult world. Three children from the same middle school class in suburban Beijing were chosen to become the President, Prime Minister, and head of the military. No time for elections.

As I read, I looked up and saw the kids around me, released from the strict parameters of schooling, letting their still forming selves out to play. And tried to imagine this group here designated to run Colorado.

She’s the governor. He’s the head of the Highway Patrol. That one the Mayor of Littleton. Topknot guy following his mother as a bulldozer operator.

A fun collision of reading and immediate reality.


Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Ruth and Jon skiing. Gabe peeling potatoes. Kate getting Murdoch upstairs. The picker at King Sooper. Having Sunday free of workout. Cleaning off my table. Organizing and preserving my paintings. Kate paying the bills. Ruth. Murdoch.

My paintings. Whoa. Like my novels and my blog. I’ve done, I don’t know, twenty/thirty paintings since I began. A few end up in the trash because I can’t bear to look at them. A few are standing out so I can look at them, review what I like about them, don’t like. The rest I put between buffered paper and/or cardboard sheets yesterday. Not sure what I’ll do with them. My novels exist in printed form in file boxes and in their revisions on my computer.

Two million words of Ancientrails rest on Kate’s old medical school desk, two thousand plus pages printed out with the wrong margins for binding. Sigh. Going to a bookbinder for an estimate and to be told how or if, if I decide to, I should layout the page for printing myself. Might give them a memory stick with all on it. Or, that might be too expensive. We’ll see.

Gabe stayed here yesterday while Ruth and Jon went to A-basin. I asked Gabe to tell me one interesting thing he’d done last week. I haven’t done much. I did see movies. Oh? Which ones? Lots of them on the Disney Channel.

Clever folks, Disney. They priced their channel, at $6.99 a month, so a kid with an allowance might choose to purchase their own subscription. Both Ruth and Gabe have a subscription.

Stirring inside. Declutter, simplify. Downsize. Example. When we moved, I kept every file I made for my docent work at the MIA. Why? Wanted to keep art as central to my life as it was when I was there. Tried several different things, none worked. And, having the files hasn’t helped either. Out they go. I also want to clean up the filing system (?) in the horizontal file which will mean throwing out yet more files.

The bigger, harder question? What about the books? Is it time to downsize my library? I’m considering it.

Doubt it will stop my book buying. That’s a lifelong habit started, I think, with those book lists from the Scholastic Reader (something like that). Sheets with books, descriptions, and modest prices. We could pay for them at school, then they would come at some other point. Sorta like e-commerce. Oh, how I looked forward to the arrival of those books. I read them quickly, too. I graduated to buying comics and paperbacks at the Newsstand downtown.

My first serious kick was all the James Bond books. I bought them one or two at a time with my paper route money. Lots of others, too. I was also reading books from the Carnegie library, too.

Got into the habit of buying books that interested me, books that followed other books I’d read. Buying books. College was hard in that I passed by the bookstore every day in the Student Union. If I went in, I’d always come out with a book or two.

Later, bookstores. Joseph had been in most of the good book stores in the Twin Cities before he hit first grade. And, finally, Amazon. Oh, right here in my own loft. On my computer. What a great deal.

Over 60+ years I’ve bought a lot of books. My interests have waxed and waned, but the books purchased during my enthusiasms remain. A few: Celtic mythology, fairy tales, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, magic, Jungian thought. An ur religion focused on the natural world, not scripture. Literature of all sorts. Plays. Theology. Poetry. U.S. history. the Civil War. Art. Lake Superior. Latin and the classics. Religion.

Getting rid of them feels like betraying my curiosity. I might finish that book on the Tarot. That commentary on the Inferno? Maybe next year? What about that ecological history of Lake Superior? The work on reconstructing, reimagining faith?

Still, it feels like time to begin paring down. Will take a while. And be hard.

For each of the tags listed here, I have a small or large collection of books.

Stick to it

Winter and the Full Future Moon shining through the lodgepole pines in the west

Friday gratefuls: for the Mussar group. for the Daf Yomi, now day seven. for the chance to do the Murdoch mitzvah. for the fresh new snow. for the 12 degree weather, what they call here, Stock Show weather. for Black Mountain who watches over me from above. for Shadow Mountain who supports me from below. for the crazy people who go out on Evergreen Lake for ice-fishing. May there always be crazy people.

Kepler to the vet yesterday. No, not bites and rips from Murdoch’s teeth. Rashes and hot spots. Antibiotics and an increased prednisone load for a week or so. Dr. Palmini has lost weight and buffed up. When I asked him if he would go to the Iditarod this year. The jury’s still out, he said. It’s a long time to be gone. But, it’s fun, isn’t it? Well, some of it, but when you get up at 3 am…? He goes as a volunteer vet for the sled dogs in the race. Lots of Iditarod memorabilia on the walls of his practice.

Back to HIIT workouts for cardio. Hi intensity interval training. A new one. Slow, 90 seconds. Fast as possible, 6mph for me, 30 seconds. Repeat four times then 3 minute cool down. I increased the number of intervals and the incline, from 1% to 2%, this week. Intervals are the best workout for cardio and they take a shorter time period that most cardio workouts.

Mussar. Got caught out nodding like I understood something that was said. Had to admit it, because the conversation expected me to say something about I’d already said. Everybody laughed when I told them. First time I can recall being caught in this oh, so usual gambit of not only me, but all folks hard of hearing. Gotta work on the ear wax thing. Seems to bother my hearing aid a lot.

The quality of the day, see Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities, was perseverance. A lot of discussion, an amusing number of examples about math, not unusual in a group with literary inclinations. Perseverance is in my toolkit.

Mostly. I can write novels. Start and finish them. Not easy, often taking over a year. I did not persevere so well with marketing them, though. I enjoy, as I said a few posts back, long books, long movies, long tv series. I can start all of these and finish them. Think War and Peace, Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Fairie Queen, Faust, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 10 Commandments, the Irishman, Gone with the Wind. And, Resurrection: Ertugrul. I’m finally in the fifth and last season. It only has 88 episodes.

I can make a commitment and stick to it for years, a lifetime. One of my youthful commitments was to keep reading difficult material. Stay political. College. Keep asking the fundamental questions and don’t shy away from difficult answers. Never work in a setting that compromises your values. Kate, now for over 30 years. The Woollies, about the same. Joseph, now going 39 years. Exercise, since my forties.

When I didn’t persevere, marketing and college German being the ones that come to mind, it was out of fear, I think. Fear is not a guide, it’s a caution, but I let myself get stuck in its glue at least those two times and I regret it. Anxiety grows along with fear and fear increases the anxiety. As I’m learning to be easier with myself, I’ll give myself an “I’m sorry to hear that, but you’re ok now.” bit of self-talk.

Cancer on my mind

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Those who discovered and manufacture lupron. The makers of the Cyberknife and those involved in radiation therapy. Dr. Gilroy, Pattie, Camela, Nicky, all those who took care of me then. Dr. Eigner. Anna Willis. Shelley, the lupron lady from Georgia. And a second time on the clear PSA.

Yes, cancer is on my mind this morning. At eleven I have my third lupron injection. Not sure about half-lives, but this will kick me back up into therapeutic range. Which means, a chance of mood swings and scattered hot flashes followed by continuing sarcopenia. Inner weather influenced by true chemtrails.

With the recent PSA I’m more sanguine, that much more willing to put up with the side effects. If I have another clear one in March, that will be my last lupron injection, setting me up for the critical PSA in June. It should tell the tale of the radiation. Did it burn out the fire that had kindled?

No, cancer is not all consuming. Most of the time I don’t think about it though it’s always lurking in the background, skulking like a thug in a dark alley.

In other medical news my bandages are off and Kate takes out my stitches today. A week ago this evening. We have become that much more vigilant. Doors closed, intercom calls to check on Kep’s location before moving Murdoch.

Kate felt good enough last night that she wanted to go out to eat. She felt cooped up in the house. A good sign. She has the psychic reserve to realize a need to get out. We went to Brook’s Tavern. Sort of tired of it, but it’s close.

There was some poignancy, realizing how little we get out together now. Also a realization that eating out has lost a lot of its luster. Too much of a production and the food’s not as good as I can make at home. IMHO. At least at Brook’s.

Resurrection: Ertugrul. Wow. This is a really long commitment. I’m on episode 84 of season 4. There is a season 5, too. Which I’ll watch. I’m a completist here. Why would I do this?

Fascination. Religion is so much at the core of this show: Islam, the good religion of the Turks. Christianity, a bad religion when it consists of Crusaders and Knights Templar, tolerable when its villagers, merchants, craftspeople. Paganism for the Mongols, portrayed as crude, barbaric, bloody, mystical. Definitely bad. Representing the polytheists who assaulted Mohamed in Mecca, I think.

I find it very interesting to watch the writer’s portrayal of Islam, how it effects daily life, political life, inner life. I don’t have much experience of Muslims living their lives. A bit, but nothing like the insight available in these shows. The history may be somewhat fanciful, the characters sometimes stereotypical (though there’s a lesson in stereotypes, too), but Islam is treated respectfully and fully.

More on all this when I read Season 5, the end. Sometime in the not too distant future. In shallah.

Death and Resurrection

Winter and the Future Moon

Saturday gratefuls: The snow, coming down hard. The temperature, 17. All 8,800 feet above sea level. Two weeks of consistent workouts, 5 days, 3 resistance, two with high intensity training. Ruth’s being here. (she’s sleeping with Rigel and Murdoch right now.) The Hanukah meal last night. Hanukah. Whoever conceived and executed Resurrection: Ertugrul. The internet.

Been thinking a bit about resurrection. Not as in Resurrection: Ertugrul, which is about resurrection of the Seljuk state, but in the New Testament mythology. Birth, life, death, resurrection. Christmas, Ministry, Black Friday, Easter. The Great Wheel. Spring, growing season, fallow season, spring. Osiris. Orpheus.

Death is being overcome every spring. Life emerges, blooms and prospers, then withers and dies. A period in the grave. Spring. Resurrection is not only, not even primarily, about coming back from death. Resurrection is a point in the cycle of our strange experience as organized and awake elements and molecules.

Saw an analogy the other day. Twins in the womb. Talking to each other about whether there was life after delivery. How could there be, one said. What else is all this for, said the other. Do you believe in the mother? Yes, she’s all around us. I can’t see her, so I don’t believe in her. How would we get food after delivery? How would we breathe? I don’t know, but I believe we’ll do both.

We know, too, the story of the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly.

Might resurrection itself be an analog of these ideas? Could be. Easier for me to comprehend is the death of a relationship, the period of mourning, then a new one, different from the first, but as good or better. The death of a dream. Having to sell the farm, a period of mourning, then a new career, different, but satisfying, too. The death of a certain belief system. Say, Christianity. A period of confusion and mourning. Then, a new way of understanding. The way things are. Consciousness and cycles. This comes; that goes.

A Minnesota life. Well lived and full. Dies. A period of mourning and confusion. A Colorado life. Different, but satisfying, too. The gardens of Andover. The rocks of Shadow Mountain. The lakes of Minnesota. The mountains of Colorado. The Woolly Mammoths. Congregation Beth Evergreen.

Are there other resurrections? Of course. Is there a resurrection like that of Jesus? Unknown. I choose to celebrate the resurrections that I know, rather than the ones I do not. The purple garden that emerged in the spring. The raspberries on the new canes. Those apples growing larger from the leafed out tree. This marriage with Kate, a notable resurrection of intimacy in both our lives.

What is dying? What are you mourning? What resurrection awaits?

Merry, Merry Meet

Winter and the Gratitude Moon, waning sliver

Christmas gratefuls: the silence on Black Mountain Drive. Black Mountain itself. The stars above Black Mountain. Shadow Mountain. Our home. This loft, a gift from my Kate, now five years ago, and still wonderful. Kate and her increased health. The sacred side of Christmas. The pagan (also sacred) side of Christmas.

When I went out for the paper this morning, it was dead quiet. No dogs barking. No cars or trucks on the road. No mechanical noises. The sky was the deep black of the cosmic wilderness, lit only by bright lights: planets, stars, galaxies. Silent night, holy night.

Those shepherds out there tending their flock, sheep shuffling around. A baa and a bleat here and there. Visitors on camel back. All that singing. As imagined, probably not a quiet night.

Here though, this dark Christmas morn. The deer are asleep. The elk, too. Pine martens, fishers, foxes, mountain lions might be prowling, but part of their inheritance is silence. Black bears went to sleep long ago. Millions of insects are quiet, too. The microbes in the soil, the growing lodgepole pines, the aspen organisms, their clonal neighborhoods, bulbs, corms, rhizomes all alive, all quiet.

Silent night, holy night. Yes. Sacred night, holyday night. Yes.

I read this long essay on consciousness by the president and chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. In it he says this:

” Yes, there’s this ancient belief in panpsychism: “Pan” meaning “every,” “psyche” meaning “soul.”…basically it meant that everything is ensouled…if you take a more conceptual approach to consciousness, the evidence suggests there are many more systems that have consciousness—possibly all animals, all unicellular bacteria, and at some level maybe even individual cells that have an autonomous existence. We might be surrounded by consciousness everywhere and find it in places where we don’t expect it because our intuition says we’ll only see it in people and maybe monkeys and also dogs and cats. But we know our intuition is fallible…”

Even silence, since it presumes an awareness of noise, is a proof of consciousness. All that consciousness around us here on Shadow Mountain. The trees and wild animals, grasses and microbes, dogs and humans, all here, all experiencing a self.

I take panpsychism a bit further than Koch with the kabbalistic idea of ohr, the divine spark, resident in every piece of the universe and the process metaphysical view of a vitalist universe creatively moving toward greater complexity.

This waking up mornin’ we can see the baby Jesus as an in your face message that, yes, of course we are holy. Yes, of course the universe sings to us from the depths of the sea, the top of the redwoods, and the person or animal across from us this morning. And, to get downright personal, from within the deep of our own soul.


Winter and the Gratitude Moon’s 3% crescent

Christmas eve gratefuls: Hanukah. Kate’s increased stamina. The mind of Rich Levine. The lights on our drive to Evergreen. Murdoch the happy. Cold weather. Newspapers, the few that are left. Journalists like my Dad. Impeachment. These days of wonder and awe.

A word about the mythic. Long ago, in a faraway time, there was a teacher, a Jewish teacher who wandered Palestine with his followers. His followers loved him and when he died, they loved him so much that they resurrected him in their stories.

Somebody asked one of the followers, where was he born? Nobody had given it much thought. His three years with them had been filled with exciting moments, but no one had thought to ask. Well, the follower said.

You know the story he told. Of a woman, a young woman, maybe a teen, pregnant out of wedlock, and her husband, Joseph. Joseph apparently married her after he knew she was with child. They go on the road. Homeless? Not sure.

But they end up in this town, Bethlehem. No rooms for them there, so the young woman gives birth on the straw of an animal shelter, placing the newborn baby in a feeding trough, a manger.

There were stars in the sky, she said. And, angels. Singing. Visitors from faraway, mages of Persia. There were, too, donkeys and sheep, maybe a lamb.

What had happened? Some said a god, the great god of the Jews, had decided to live in human form. Some said, no, how could that be? The birth was, though, special. In some way. It had to be, didn’t it? Look at who he became.

What we know now is this. The sacred and the holy were manifest. In that animal stall. In the birth. In the woman and in the visitors. They knew, they saw. The divine spark.

Somehow the wonder, the secret of that Christmas story is the revelation of namaste. The god in each of them met the god in that newborn. And they knew that the spark was there. They saw it.

Now the old, old truth of the divine within us had a story. About how it was, again, revealed. This time in a barn out back, in humble circumstance. Why? Because the revelation of the god within us is a humble story, not a grand narrative, a tale to be told over and over.

Told over and over because it is so profound that many refuse to believe it. It has nothing to do with lights and presents and carols. No, it has to do with the awareness that each child born deserves angels and mages and shepherds. It has to do with the truth we block with our bigotry, our violence, our indifference, our casual disregard for the wonder within even our own selves. We each carry not only the sacred spark, but are the actual manifestation of the sacred.

The universe, in each of us, has an observer of itself, by itself. Our birth, mine and yours, continues the amazing story of life in all its glory and messiness. We are part of the unfolding, the becoming. Each. One. Of. Us. That’s what we celebrate tonight and tomorrow.


p.s. from long time friend, Bill Schmidt

Yes, the universe is part of the story.  Here’s a bit of a Christmas carol that expresses the universe’s participation:

Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy!

A Holiweek

Winter and the Gratitude Moon

Saturday gratefuls: For this spinning, traveling planet. For ways to get from one spot to another: cars, trains, planes, bicycles, feet. For the new Woolly Calendar, produced again by Mark Odegard. Over 30 years. For cities like Minneapolis, San Francisco, Denver. And for those of us who live outside of them.

The long dark Solstice night still wraps Shadow Mountain, quiet and black. For those lovers of the summer this marks a key moment as the night begins, gradually, to give way to the day. Six months from now the Summer Solstice will celebrate the longest day, which marks the moment when the day gradually begins to give way to the night. A cycle that will last as long as mother earth does.

A cycle that can remind us, if we let it, of the way of life. That darkness comes, fecund and still. That light comes, spurring growth and movement. That we need both the darkness and the light, both are essential. When dark periods enter our life, they are usual, normal and will pass. When light periods enter our life, they are usual, normal and will pass.

Our time with Seoah ends today. She heads off to Singapore for a year, leaving Denver this evening. We’ll head out to the airport early. It’s Christmas travel weekend and the airport will be buzzing.

Her English is much better and she studies hard. She hopes that her time in Singapore will push her all the way to fluency. Mary has a Korean friend who will help Seoah hook up with the Korean community there and English language tutors.

Hanukah starts tomorrow night. The first candle. Tuesday is Christmas Eve, then Wednesday, Christmas Day. Festivals of light. Showing our human preference for the day, for the growing season. Showing our confidence in the long ago, when the Maccabees revolted, kicking the Seleucids out, entering Jerusalem, and rededicating the Second Temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes. And, when the miracle baby, Jesus, entered this world, like the Shekinah.

A holiweek. Filled with candles, presents, songs, family. The most sacred part of this holiweek is the coming together of friends and family.