Mid-Summer Waning Garlic Moon
“Sometimes our flame goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.” – Albert Schweitzer
Out today to mound my leeks and potatoes. Got through the leeks ok, but lifting a bag of composted manure, my back suddenly went ouch. I mean bending over, omg, ouch. Well, I thought. Tough it out. But. Nope. Went to the doctor right away. She was in the bedroom hanging art from our various trips. She recommended heat, valium, alleve.
I did that. The valium kicked in over lunch and I began to get a bit goofy. Smiley, hazy. You know. A nap seemed indicated. This was around 11:30. I got up at 4. Still ouchy.
Gonna rest today because ouch or not I gotta do the bees tomorrow and I really want to get those potatoes mounded up, too. It helps the production of the plants if they’re mostly covered.
A while back a classmate from high school asked, on our Facebook group, who had been the most influential people in our lives. I answered, none. Ashamed to say it, but it’s true. I’ve not let others of influence close enough into my life.
Oh, I could point to plenty of teachers and the occasional boss who wanted, tried to influence me. Miss Hull, bless her heart, pulled all sorts of strings to put me in the moderator position for the Little United Nations General Assembly. Bill and Gloria Gaither, gospel music folks of legend now, got me into my first theatrical work with the lead role in Our Town. Dr. Scruton wanted me to be Ball State’s first anthropology Ph.D. Dr. Bishop secured a Danforth fellowship for me for graduate study. Phil Jackson tried to get me into Princeton’s Doctor of Ministry program. They didn’t want me. Go figure.
A combination of stubbornness, fear and a deep desire to follow my own lead made me forgo all this well-intended and substantial help. Instead, I ended up, in a backdoor way, in seminary, bored silly in Appelton, Wisconsin cutting rags in a paper mill for $2.45. In seminary I decided I needed a trade and ministry was a good one, since I could practice my real passion, politics. A decade plus of seminary and ministry had me embroiled in the Christian faith and one of its institutional expressions, the Presbyterian Church. Most of the time my faith was real, a bit stranger than that of the laity, but I took that as a price of knowing so much about the foundational documents of the religion.
In the end the strain of that knowledge plus my realization about Joseph and his distance from God had he remained in India eased me out of the church.
Once that process begin to move through me, or, better, me through it, I found myself adrift, again. In a study group for writers, where my focus was on my Doctor of Ministry thesis, I wrote 120 pages of a novel for a writing assignment. It excited and pleased me. So, after I finished the D. Min., I returned to that work and began writing fiction. After marrying Kate, I summoned up my courage and said I wanted out of the church. I wanted to write full time.
I did. For five or six years, pretty much full time. Five finished novels, three in different stages of incompleteness, and several short stories later, I moved away from the writing and into a life focused on my various passions. First it was Jungian psychology. Then, art. Art continues. I tried various political venues up here in Anoka County, working for various DFL legislative and Congressional races, but the politics up here were too conservative for me. A conference with Kate convinced me I should put my political skills to work for the environmental movement. I have, with the Sierra Club. Writing, gardening and bee-keeping are still important parts of my life.
But all this time, I’ve never had a mentor, an outside person who watched over me and my career. Maybe that possibility died in the flames of my relationship with my father. I don’t know.
This is all by way of saying that I’ve never met that person who rekindled my flame as a mentor, but I have met one who did, Kate.