We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Life Goes On, In Endless Song, Above Earth’s Lamentations.

Written By: Charles - May• 13•19

Beltane                                                                                  Cancer Moon

cancer songSpent yesterday and Saturday reorganizing the loft, continuing work in the Intensive Journal. Oh, and made a meatloaf. Better than my mom’s. I printed a copy of Jennie’s Dead as it is so far, about 50,000 words, found my third draft of Superior Wolf, and pulled out the Phantom Queen which I haven’t seen in years. Today and tomorrow I’m going to file the remaining documents from CBE religious school, mussar, First Sundays. Then, I’m going to take each book that is piled up near my chairs, give the top ten priority for reading, and shelve the rest.

In order to create the revised Superior Wolf I’m going to read books featuring werewolves, about wolves and the middle ages, about wolves. I want this draft to be more like The Historian or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel in its scope, perhaps with a bit of Moby Dick. I had this ambition for Superior Wolf to begin with, but let the task of finishing get in the way. This time, more patience, please.

Today is Kate’s appointment with Dr. Gupta. The lung diagnosis and the fitness for surgery assessment. A big deal, in other words. Later in the day is her coronation, four permanent crowns. Queen Kate.

cancer pet scanTomorrow the whole rising PSA matter gets lit up and scanned by the hospital’s p.e.t. machinery. Takes about 30 minutes, slowly moving from pelvis to head. This moves me from an indicator based concern, PSA, to the reality of where the cancer is now, in my body. I’m hopeful there are no metastases, of course, that whatever has returned is confined to the prostate fossa. I’m not ready for my expiration date, but, then, I suppose nobody ever really is. The best result in this case is a localized reemergence treatable with the Cyberknife.

Today I have to eat a high protein, low carb diet. No exercise 24 hours before. No caffeine 12 hours before. No food six hours before. Only water. Kate’s been going through these high stakes test for almost 8 months now. There’s a rule here. If you look, you’ll find something. Whether that something is important or not, well… It will be up to the radiation oncologists to define the significance of the pet scan. That comes on Friday at 2 pm. I feel fine, no symptoms.

 

 

Hey, Gram

Written By: Charles - May• 12•19

Beltane                                                                               Cancer Moon

mitochondrial-eve

Your great to some power Gram

Exhausted this weekend. Those six days of thinking, feeling, writing, probing, going down the holy well of the self. All good. But, tiring.

It’s Mother’s Day. Another Hallmark moment, I know. Yet. Mom’s. You don’t get here without one. Except maybe that kid in China. Unless you’re a wonder of high, high tech biology, you came out of a womb. Indian Hills, just down the road from us, has these funny signs. You may have seen them on Facebook. The one today reads, “Mom, thank you for the womb and board.”

mitchondrialI come from a long line of mothers. So do you. This thought always strikes me as strange. Think of how many things had to go right for you to exist. Sure, there’s that whole randomness of the sperm that crosses the finish line, but think historically, think evolutionarily, think all the way back to that first organism that took the lightning bolt or the warmth of the undersea vent. Whenever and however life first appeared. Your existence, and mine, means we exist in an UNBROKEN chain of reproduction from that first wiggler, that first animate entity. One after another after another after another, for billions of years. Maybe 4.1 billion years according to this article. From that beginning until now something protoplasmic has cheated death by producing one of your ancestors. Could be billions of ancestors, maybe even trillions.

To shorten the time frame a bit consider mitochondrial Eve. Who? From wiki: “…the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.” Between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago. How many mothers in her line running up to you? Not sure, but a lot. And each one had to survive all the rigors of the out-of-Africa migration, a turn either toward what is now Europe or what is now Asia, and whatever history your ancestors had once civilization began to direct the movement of human populations.

So, when you say happy Mother’s Day, you might consider saying happy Mothers’ Day. After all, no womb and board, no you.

 

Onward

Written By: Charles - May• 11•19

Beltane                                                                                 Cancer Moon

20190509_124939Go now, the workshop has ended. Paraphrasing the end of the Catholic mass. Appropriate in this case having just come Mother Cabrini’s shrine. The experience of being at Mother Cabrini was familiar in its physical surroundings. In college I would always retreat to Catholic sanctuaries to be still, to reflect. I always found them/find them, soothing.

I have my Intensive Journal beside me as I write this. I left it at the workshop over the last week. It’s filled with thoughts, meditations, exercises. The tabs in the journal, some of them, have esoteric names like Peaks, Depths, and Explorations or Twilight Imagery. Others more ordinary. Daily Log. Dreams. Meditation. The workshop itself both teaches how to use the journal on an ongoing basis and creates a gestalt of life now, as considered as it can be. This latter, for the other three workshops I attended, has been enough for me. Not this time. Not sure what changed, but I’m feeling a need to keep using the journal outside the workshop.

20190511_082432Here are two examples of next steps that have me excited. The first is to do a dialogue with reading. In the dialogue section of the journal, orange tabs, there is a method for developing one to one conversations with people important to you, living or dead, fictional or actual. That seems to makes sense. But the other four tabs in the orange section: Works, Events, Society, and the Body perhaps not so much. It works though. The journal method posits that a dialogue can be had with work you’re doing. I wrote a dialogue with Superior Wolf and in it realized I needed to pull the novel apart and focus one story only on Lycaon. In the Body section I’m in the midst of a dialogue with cancer.

Back to reading. Here’s the method. Each discrete entity under these tabs has a conception, a period of growth, then a waning, perhaps even a death. I’ll write a focusing statement, a short introduction to whatever it is: cancer, my mom, alcoholism, reading. Then, I’ll do steppingstones that move my experience with reading from its conception, through its history in my life, and finally where reading is for me right now. (also in the focusing statement.) When those are done, I re-read them, make a comment about how it felt to write them, anything new that has occurred in the re-reading. At that point I’ll enter a meditative place, a twilight place, that will allow me to engage reading in a dialogue, not from my intellect, but from deeper within what Progoff calls my well. Then I write a conversation, a back and forth between me and reading. I’m eager to see what will come of that. Also, in completing the dialogue with cancer.

My Intensive Journal from 2014

My Intensive Journal from 2014

The second example is another dialogue, a dialogue with ancientrails that will both focus on where I want to go with this fourteen year old project and how it and the intensive journal can work together. Again, I’ll write a focusing statement, write steppingstones, re-read and comment, go into the twilight place, and write a dialogue between me and ancientrails as a work.

This week, the follow on week after the workshop is going to see a cleaning up in the loft, a tidying. After that I’ll develop a routine with the intensive journal and ancientrails, do some of the deep work that I left undone in the workshop like the dialogues with reading and ancientrails, but some more work in the dream log, twilight imagery log and in the section labeled testament. Probably others, too.

Mother Cabrinins confirmation

Mother Cabrini’s confirmation

I’ll need both ancientrails, the intensive journal, and caring bridge to weather the critical medical work that faces both of us next week. Kate’s lung disease. Her four crowns. My axumin scan. My glaucoma check. My visit with the radiation oncologists. This time a week from now we should both have a much clearer understanding of where our respective health challenges will take us.

Down for breakfast, then back up here to get some of that work begun.

In a room off the chapel there were several windows that recounted the life and work of Mother Cabrini. It just occurred to me that those windows are steppingstones in her life. All up there with beautiful stained glass for others to see.

Not yet

Written By: Charles - May• 10•19

Beltane                                                                             Cancer Moon

20190510_064922

from my computer, this morning

5 or so inches of snow over the night before and yesterday. Looks like winter again here. Solar panels covered. Black Mountain hidden in the clouds. The drive down the hill yesterday took some skill. Slick spots, long runs snow and ice covered while going down. Wouldn’t want to have to do that everyday for work. On occasion it’s interesting, different. Our workshop leader, Joanne, lives in Fresno where it gets hot, and in Hawai’i, where it never gets cold. This weather is not to her liking.

This is the last day of the workshop. Now considering how to continue this work on my own. Each other time, three before this one, I’ve come back and not continued the journal. This time it feels like I finally understand the method enough to do it unguided, or at least with the help of Progoff’s main book, At a Journal Workshop. The week long retreats have been sufficient for me to gain new insights, position myself in my life at the moment, and chart out a path forward. That’s why I’ve come to back to this experience.

One thing I’ve not touched on yet in this new journal is reading. I want to read more, more methodically. This desire comes over me from time to time, right now it’s coming in strength. I read a lot anyhow, you know that, but I want to take specific time for more difficult reading. Gotta figure out how to work that in.

There is, too, some overlap between ancientrails and the intensive journal. Sometimes they’re covering the same or similar ground. Will have to work out the relationship between them.

20190506_084930It’s a bit strange to be at May 10 and have the temperature at 24, snow covering the driveway, the roofs, the walkways. In Minnesota the safe time for planting was typically May 15. Don’t think it would work here, at least not every year. We warm back up next week. For now, though. Winter wonderland. Like, I wonder why it’s still winter?

Next week will test the equanimity. Monday am. Kate’s appointment with Gupta. Lung disease diagnosis and fitness for j-tube surgery. Later in the day, her new crowns. Tuesday, axumin scan to determine the extent and location of my cancer. Wednesday, a visit with my ophthalmologist. Retinal photography. Thursday, mussar. Friday, all-season tires and dye into the air conditioning system. A visit to Anova Cancer care for a treatment plan. A jump shift from this quiet week.

One important thing the journal workshop has underlined for me is that I’m not ready to die. I have family I want to care for, see grow up, grow older. Friends I want to know better. I have books to write. Places to visit. Deep work still ahead of me. This is not new, of course, and the journal workshop hasn’t made me aware of it, no. But, it has put me in touch with the gestalt of these things and my desire to keep at them all. The feeling level.

Death will come, but as I heard someone else say, let it be tomorrow.

 

 

Jettison Some Shame

Written By: Charles - May• 09•19

Beltane                                                                          Cancer Moon

plowRead yesterday in the group. Iam asked me afterwards if I was a professional writer. Well, I write novels. But, I’ve not sold any so I don’t know if I’m a professional. Drina, who works for a website connected with the founders of Findhorn, said I was a “bright light.” Not sure what that meant, but it was a compliment. Nice to get feedback.

The intensive journal is a plow for the psyche. It turns over the soil, reaching well below the surface, often down into what Progoff called our well. Up pops things hidden, things repressed and suppressed. I worked yesterday with my one year at Wabash. I’ve always been proud of going to Wabash, ashamed of going to Ball State. Yes, even now 50 years later, still ashamed. Enough of that. Shame is not a big part of my inner world, but in this case it’s stuck around.

What I realized yesterday was that I went to Wabash because I believed in a liberal arts education, in studying what was important to me, not what was useful for a career. Its brick buildings, main quad, great library, and 150 year old traditions gave that sort of education a physical manifestation. It was liberal arts. When I transferred to Ball State, primarily a teacher’s college that got big and became a university, I kept up with the liberal arts. I continued my philosophy major from Wabash, picked up an Anthropology major and almost enough credits for a minor in African Studies. I got my liberal arts education. And am still getting it, yet today.

the_foolWe wrote spiritual steppingstones, what experiences in our life have led us to our current spirituality. Those of you who know me know that it’s been a long journey. An ongoing one, too. I would characterize my current spirituality as a tablespoon Taoist, two tablespoons existentialist, a teaspoon Christian, a teaspoon and a half Reconstructionist Jew, and a half cup of paganism (of the earth, the sun, the starting of the universe, aware of it and finding it enough). Mix together and bake until dead. Then, we’ll see.

We also wrote about ultimate concerns, those things which excite us, motivate us, about which we have passion. I had several: the Great Work, Economic Justice, Writing, Painting, Reimagining Faith, Horticulture. Each of these continue in my life, some more prominently than others, but they are the core. Economic justice work proceeded them all. Writing came next. Then, horticulture at Andover. The Great Work. Reimagining Faith. And, most recently oil painting.

The third day of creation

The third day of creation

We’ll work with these today and tomorrow in this last of the three segments, Life Integration. My experience with these workshops is that it’s often days, weeks later that the fruits of the work begin to manifest. I already know I’m going to revise Superior Wolf, separating out the two story lines I merged in it and giving them their own books. I’m going to focus as much as I need to on getting well, on the scan results and potential treatment options. And, obviously, continue taking care of Kate as long as she needs it. Beyond those things, tbd.

It’s been more exhausting than I imagined it would be, commuting. I’m tired, but glad I’m doing this, weariness a small cost.

 

 

Cycles of life, and death

Written By: Charles - May• 08•19

Beltane                                                                       Cancer Moon

green knight

The Green Knight

Cancer has come up in several of my exercises so far, as you might expect with depth work. This work has helped me put it in the perspective of my life as a whole. Here’s one odd way. Progoff saw that many aspects of our lives went through conception, growth, decline, then death or significant waning. Children. Jobs. Creative projects. Hobbies. Places we live. Even illnesses. Cancer can be a metaphor for a project or relationship or job that has taken over our life, growing and demanding more of us than we have to give.

Cancer begins as cells in the body get out of whack, seek immortality at the expense of those cells that go through the life cycle. It grows unchecked unless a medical intervention occurs. If things go well, the cancer weakens, slows down, then dies. If not, the body weakens, slows down, and dies. Either way the cancer ends. So, cancer is not an exception to this experience of conception and growth, though it tries to hard to avoid decline. In this case I’ll actively seek its death, as we sometimes actively seek the finish of a career, a marriage, a creative project.

Samuel Palmer, The Harvest Moon (c 1833)

Samuel Palmer, The Harvest Moon (c 1833)

This perspective helps me see cancer not as a violent exception, but as an organic process like others. Which does not mean I’m embracing it. I know some people prefer not to see cancer as an enemy, but that’s not me. I’d like the archangel Michael to come in with his sword and whack every last cell of it.

This is also a Great Wheel insight. The ancient Beltane began with literal conception, saw the greening of the fields as crops began to flourish, then transformed into the heat and frenzy of summer at the summer solstice. As the crops matured, the harvest began at Lughnasa and continued through Mabon, the fall equinox, coming to a close at Samain, Summer’s End. Then the long fallow season commenced.  It’s a cycle that repeats year after year with the coming of spring, the greening of the fields, harvest, then the fallow time.

Cancer is, then, normal. Usual. Part of a cycle, with its own cycle, too.

Baptized in the Underground Stream

Written By: Charles - May• 07•19

Beltane                                                                     Cancer Moon

20190506_131302Lots of Catholic kitsch in the Mother Cabrini giftshop. I mean, lots. In fact, that’s almost all they have. St. Expeditius here is my favorite, especially his arms.This is a refrigerator magnet and there are others. Including St. Gregory the Wonder Worker invoked in desperate situations.

But, there’s more, so much more. I may pick up an action figure of St. Michael since I find Michaelmas an important holiday. The springtime of the soul, September 29th.

Mother Cabrini action figures, too, some of them very well made. Crucifixes. Prayer cards for particular ills and problems. Mugs with www.anamazingparish on them. Mother Cabrini shrine mugs. Medallions. Jewelry. Lots.

Wandered through the gift shop on the way into the refectory. Good food. Fish, rice, vegetables and a wonderful cherry pie.

The first segment of the workshop is over. It’s called Life Context. The Progoff process plows up the unconscious, kicks up into consciousness both bits from your own unconscious and from what Progoff calls the underground stream. Progoff studied under Jung and the Jungian collective unconscious seems to have influenced him in a profound way.

Another exercise, I mentioned steppingstones yesterday, is inner wisdom dialogue. Progoff wondered, after his time in the army during WWII and the holocaust, what would happen if all the sacred texts disappeared. We would, he decided, write others. After all, we wrote the first ones and that knowledge has to be out there still. Or, better, in here.

Each intensive journal, Progoff believed, is a sacred scripture, a bible of the writer’s own creation. Why? Because it draws on the same source as the Koran, the Torah, the New Testament, the Tao Te Ching, the Diamond Sutra-the underground stream. This is a radical claim, but comports well with, say, Buber, the mystics, Emerson.

The inner wisdom dialogue predicates the underground stream. Each of us made our own list of as many wisdom figures as we could. These wisdom figures can be living or dead, mythological or literary, organic or inorganic. Among mine were Lao Tse, Emerson, Herman Hesse, Shadow Mountain, and the tree I used to visit at the Boot Lake Scientific and Natural Area. It abutted the Carlos Avery Wildlife Reserve in Anoka County.

After entering into a twilight state, a way of getting below the intellect to tap into the unconscious and the underground stream, I wrote my dialogue. I spoke with my tree. It’s a back and forth, leading wherever it goes. The pen follows the deeper you, not the rational mind. At least if the exercise is working well. Mine did.

That tree, with a curved, forked trunk, got passed by when the lumberjacks came because it was not straight enough for lumber; a tall white pine, it grows on an earthen island between two marshy areas. Boot Lake is largely marsh. I scattered Tully’s ashes, some of them, there. I snowshoed to this tree in the winter, walked to in the spring, summer, and fall. I often sat with my back up against its trunk, nestled between two thick roots.

It spoke to me of rootedness, of choosing your place, of reaching deep for what you need, of climbing high for the energy from above. I asked my tree about cancer and it answered. Trust your arborist. Follow through on your treatments. The tree knew of its kindred who have died due to the pine bark beetle. We know illness and death, the tree said.

We also did dialogues with persons important to us, our body, and our creative work.

Today we start the Depth Dimension segment.

 

33 foot Jesus

Written By: Charles - May• 06•19

Beltane                                                                            Cancer Moon

progoffMeet up in cyberspace. My old friends Paul, Mark, Tom, and Bill zoomed into the bits and bytes yesterday from the land of first light to my spot among the purple mountain majesties. We spoke of those things that matter now. Mark is done with his second book. Bill’s going to Tanzania next year as his long term project, U-Face Me, takes off. Paul’s about to join the joint replacement club with a new hip. Tom’s adjusting to life as an eminence grisé.

Woke up yesterday realizing I’d not prepared any food for Kate. After breakfast I made her a pound of sloppy joed hamburger and a couple of quarts of vermicelli soup, a favorite of hers from our Monastery Soups cookbook. Got ready to go to Progoff.

At noon I headed down the hill toward Evergreen, hopped on I-70 for a short run to the Genesee Exit. U.S. 40, the old cross country national highway which I-70 more or less parallels has a short run between that exit and Golden. Gonna stop this afternoon at the buffalo overlook, just off that same exit. An article in the Denver Post says there are buffalo calves. Makes sense. It’s spring/summer.

Progoff cabrini

Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at the Shrine

Down old 40 toward Denver you can access Lookout Mountain, Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave, museum plus giftshop, and the world famous, to Catholics, shrine of Mother Cabrini. The most prominent feature at the shrine is a 33 foot high statue of Jesus, set at the shrine’s highest point. When I left last night at 9, Denver’s lights twinkled below me and Cabrini Jesus stood lit up and proud above.

If you’ve ever been on a retreat at a Catholic retreat center, you’ve been to the Cabrini set up. Hallways with one bedroom rooms on either side, large kitchens, kitschy paintings, and furniture bought with comfort not fashion in mind. A chapel. And, since this is the Rocky Mountains, vacationland U.S.A., a big gift shop.

When I arrived yesterday, the large parking lot was about three quarters full and most of the visitors I saw were Latino. The retreat center cum chapel cum giftshop is at the end of a switchback road that climbs several hundred feet up a rounded peak, one of the first of the foothills. It overlooks Golden, then Denver, to the east and the continental divide to the west.

Joann Hackett, the workshop leader, flew in Saturday from Hawai’i. Quite a shift from humid, warm Hawai’i to the dry, 60 degrees Rocky Mountain foothills. She was the workshop leader in Tucson, my last Progoff workshop. She began this work when she went to a Journal workshop lead by Ira Progoff. She got to know him very well, found his intensive journal idea compelling.

progoff2There are seven of us, a small group by workshop standards. Two folks from Denver, one from Berthoud, another from Boulder, one from Ft. Collins, and one man from Santa Fe. One other commuter. This first segment, all the segments are two days in length, begins with identifying the current period of your life. Mine had an obvious starting point, the move to Colorado. You spend time fleshing out what makes this the current period of your life, then move on to an exercise called steppingstones. Steppingstones, in the Progoff work you get 12, are key moments in your life that led you to this period of your life.

As I wrote them this time, mine were roughly, polio, mom’s death, participating in the 60’s, adopting Joseph, marrying Kate and leaving the ministry to write, becoming a docent at the MIA, working on the Great Work, the move to Colorado, cancer, Jon’s divorce and Kate’s illnesses, cancer’s reemergence. The steppingstones, I’ve discovered, change according to the perspective you bring to the exercise, a perspective shaped by what you’ve defined as the current period. Over the course of the workshop you expand on each of these, writing about them, following the memories and the feelings they evoke.

Gotta get ready for today’s session. Talk to you later.

 

 

 

An Important Couple of Weeks Here

Written By: Charles - May• 05•19

Beltane                                                                   Cancer Moon

It’s another Colorado day. Blue sky, sun, a bit chilly. Mountains. Pines. Fresh air.

Mother Cabrini Shrine

Mother Cabrini Shrine

At 12:15 I head over to the Mother Cabrini Shrine where this Progoff workshop will take place. It’s about 40-50 minutes from here depending on the route. Close to Golden. Being a commuter will be a new experience for me.

Kate will be alone. My phone will be on vibrate and I enabled voice messaging. She asked me to. I actually prefer not to get voice messages. I like text or e-mail. Woke up this morning realizing I need to make a few things for her to have. Food.

Brother Mark has decided to head to Bangkok after his year in Arar, Saudi Arabia. Bangkok will be different. Humid. Also hot. But a society with a different past, a different religious inflection, Buddhist not Wahabi Muslim, a very different architectural heritage and cultural mores. I admire his having taught in Arar for the whole year. He’s going on vacation.

Mary and Mark, Andover

Mary and Mark, Andover

My sister Mary has become an international figure in her field, speaking and teaching in Finland, the Philipines, Indonesia, Greece, other places I’ve forgotten. They both traverse our planet often, going from place to place.

I’d like to write here about my boy but he’s asked me not to for opsec reasons. Operational security. Geez.

In part due to caregiving and in part due to my own spiritual journey the cancer has not dominated my life. At least not yet. The Progoff workshop will give me a chance to explore it from within and should help with residual anxiety.

The week after the workshop Kate has an appointment with her pulmonologist and later gets her actual crowns. Cue God Save the Queen. I have the axumin scan, a glaucoma check, swapping out the snow tires for all seasons, and a visit with the radiation oncologist Dr. Gilroy. By the end of that week many things will be clearer.

The air conditioner in our Rav4 will get a diagnostic shot of a gas that glows under a black light when they change the tires. After a few hundred miles I go back to see if they can find a small leak. If not, we may need to replace the air conditioning unit. Much cheaper than a new car.

 

Illness and Legacy

Written By: Charles - May• 04•19

Beltane                                                                           Cancer Moon

Saguaro National Park, edited

Saguaro National Park, 2014

Struggled a bit with naming the moon for this new month. Didn’t want to put up my first idea. It seemed, dark. Yet when I went to other ideas, nothing came. Usually the new moon’s name comes easily. It’s a fun way to emphasize an important aspect of the upcoming lunar month. This time though. Not fun. I try to think of something that might dominate the next 30 days or an important (to us or the mountains) event. Recovery Moon. Rushing Waters. Valentine. So. Cancer.

But. Ewww. Debbie Downer. Even so. Axumin scan. Meeting with Dr. Gilroy, a radiation oncologist. Most probably treatment. In my world cancer will dominate. So. Cancer.

Jon, Ruth, and Gabe came up last night. Ruth brought a wonderful loaf of challah she’d made. Tasted like Irish soda bread. The braids were clear. I brought up the silver platter I bought for Kate a long time ago. A set, with a serrated knife. For the sabbath meal. I had my pastrami on chunks of challah. They’d stopped at the New York Deli on their way up, buying matzo ball soup as well as stuff for supper and eating it on the way.

Ruth and Gabe laugh easily now, tease each other. As happy now as they were angry and sullen a couple of years ago. Jon’s doing something right as a parent and it’s a pleasure to see. He’s been out of school for a week or so now. The Aurora school district chose Montview to renovate this year. His art room will have a patio and windows. His old room had no windows. Hard to imagine for an art classroom, eh?

The Great Kiva, Chaco Canyon

The Great Kiva, Chaco Canyon

The move. In 2014 my last Progoff workshop stirred something in me, made me realize if Kate and I were going to make a change in our lives right then was the time to do it. We were both still in good health. We had enough money. Kate had retired.

On the way up here from Tucson I saw the Mogollon Rim, Ship Rock, and stopped at Chaco Canyon. The Mogollon Rim is the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, the massive geological feature that underlies parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado west of the Rockies with its center roughly at the Four Corners. Ship Rock, if you’ve read any Tony Hillerman mysteries already familiar to you, has a sacred role in Diné culture. Chaco Canyon was the Vatican of the Anasazi, direct ancestors of the Pueblo people. As I drove the Mogollon Rim in the early hours of March 28th, 2014, the full moon rose.

Ruth, March 29, 2014

Ruth, March 29, 2014

Ruth, April 5, 2019

Ruth, April 5, 2019

I could feel, and wrote it about even then, a Colorado self forming. That same Colorado self that I chose to dress last summer. The one with the plaid flannel shirts and jeans. Unexpectedly a lot like my Minnesota self. Yet not. This is a self not with its roots in Lake Superior, North Woods country, but in the Colorado Plateau, in the Rocky Mountains, in the ancient history of human settlement here. And that Colorado self, forming as I drove, wanted that. More than I knew at the time.

I left the Colorado Plateau and drove north to Denver.

Jen wanted to surprise Ruth. Her 8th birthday was only days away when I got to Denver. This from a post on March 29th, “When I knocked on the door, Ruth, the birthday girl who did not know I was coming, fluttered her hands and got a shy look.  Taken aback and surprised.  Then, glad to see me.” In retrospect I think it was in that moment I took an internal turn away from my home of 40 years and turned to face the Rockies.