• Dissonance and its troubles

    Spring and the Passover Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Steve, Cyndi, Hoosier woman. Heidi. Salaam. Kathy. Patrick. Gil. Seder at  the Saltzman’s. My permanent seat at Tara’s seder. And, Marilyn said, hers as well. Belonging, not believing. Judaism. An Ancientrail of debate, song, justice. The Passover Moon last night. Mountains. Forests. Wild Neighbors. Good food.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Palestinians. Israelis.

    One brief shining: When the chatter grows loud and the hearing aid fails, the world recedes and I sit there, an observer wishing I was elsewhere, sort of engaged, hearing the headline words, wanting to add something, get in there, talk, yet both functionally unable, too little signal, and emotionally unable, I need to get away from here, from these people.

     

    Passover last night at Marilyn and Irv’s. Wonderful. Frustrating. My first passover as a Jew. Now my story in a different way than metaphor, though it is too metaphor. My ancestors who stood up to Pharaoh. My ancestors fled into the Sinai, wandered there for forty years eating manna, grumbling, receiving the torah, making a golden calf. That’s the difference. The lineage. Whether Hebrews were slaves in Egypt or not, this origin story conveys how and who we are even now, thousands of years later. The we there is the difference.

    No longer do I sit at a seder table as an interested observer, rather now as one whose attention and person has direct links with the maror, the haroset, with the seder plate. Profound for me. And, oddly dissonant.

    As I sat through my first seder as a Jew, I was with people who waved “organized” religion away with a Buddhist shrug or a spirituality makes more sense wave from the back of a parade convertible. I wanted to say, well, ok, but for me I find wonder in the torah. In the blessings. In the community of Beth Evergreen. But my hearing issues and my sense of the chasm between me and religion’s cultured despisers kept me quiet. And in that quietness I judged. Judged.

    Shallow. Timid. Fearful. Seeking the pablum of the inner life. Baby food. The reason our politics are so screwed up. Bright but so caught up in their white privilege they can’t see the world as it is.

    Oh, I was superior. Better than them. And in that very feeling of course reduced myself and my own observations to a sideshow. I felt defensive, but not willing to talk about it. To challenge, to step in the water. I stewed. Wondering how I could extricate myself. I couldn’t.

    It was my first passover as a Jew. I wanted to be there. To hear the four questions, to sing Dayenu, to taste the bitter herb and the haroset. To listen to and participate in my story.

    Later, this morning, I found myself. Collected the Charlie from the table last night. Sat him down and said, “Look. These are people trying their best. Wanting to live well. To be loving and kind. As are you.” They don’t share your radical politics, very few do. They don’t share your fascination with the ancient ways of a desert people. And why should they? You are the one being judged when you judge. Lighten up and enjoy these folks.

    And here’s the thing. Outside celebration of a holiday focused on liberation I could have found each of these people to be interesting interlocutors. Good for a breakfast or lunch time heart to heart. Passover, and my first as a Jew, revved up my political and religious engines. I ran too hot for the evening.

    That is the other thing. I’m a man of religion and of politics. What are the two things folks agree not to discuss at Thanksgiving? Yep.


  • Passed Over

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Sunday gratefuls: Passover. The Saltzmans. Tara. Arjean. My permanent seat at their seder. Their willingness to sign so I can have a dog. Yesterday’s Snow melting off my Lodgepole Companion. Dripping toward the Aquifer that fills my well. Great Sol brimming over, gently warming the Needles, the clumps of Snow, an eternal cycle of Sun and Water, Plant Life and Soil. Observing it.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Gravity and Water

    One brief shining: Sat down this am to write three morning pages, picked up the yellow legal pad, the black pen, and feeling overwhelmed, too much to do, wrote myself into a calmer place, write now I wrote, hah, I liked that writing write now, then slowly penning my way toward blessings, the hundreds of blessings I’ve experienced just since getting up and the joy of them, oh, not so bad now, eh?

     

    Snow melted off my Lodgepole Companion. A lot of it still there at 7:30 am. Now three hours later. Great Sol convincing a man to take off his coat. A blue Sky. Ancient Brothers on favorite places finished. Morning pages written. Breakfast made and eaten.

     

    Ancientrails, then a shower and a nap. Passover seders take a while and it’s often quite a while until the food. So, a nap. And a snack before hand. This is the day before the actual day because Salaam may have a track meet tomorrow.

    The Moon of Liberation carries us into this ancient story of slavery, plagues, a recalcitrant Pharaoh, and a stuttering advocate. The journey which leads me to the Saltzman’s began on the day in the far past when Azrael, the angel of death, passed over the homes of Hebrew slaves if they had lamb’s blood smeared on their lintel.

    The passover liberation of Hebrew slaves underlies de minimus this holiday, but also that Egyptian night of deliverance underlies all of Jewish history since then. The story told and retold among diaspora Jews in Babylon, in Russia, in Poland, in Hungary and Austria and yes Germany. Later in many places in U.S. cities. And in any other spot where enough Jews have immigrated.

    When we dip the parsely in the salt water, and the haroset in the bitter herb, we show the paradoxical nature of this holy day. It is of spring and growth, yet also tainted by the waters of the Reed Sea. The mortar of the former slave’s work has transformed to haroset: apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey, and sweet wine, yet we dip the matzah covered with haroset into the bitter herb, often horseradish, to remind us that wandering the Sinai was also a time of affliction, affliction in spite or or as a direct result of liberation.

    We embrace our history, knowing we all have our own Egypt’s, our own shackles. Knowing, too, that the shackles of others, as long as racism and sexism and homophobia create contemporary ghettos, are our shackles as well. This is not just a holiday, it’s a promise to ourselves, to each other, and to the world that we will share the burden of the other.


  • A person of…

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Shabbat gratefuls: The Morning Service. Bar Mitzvah. Snow. Cold. Moisture. Water. Air. Fire. Earth. Old physics. Physics. String theory. Twine theory. Thread theory. Quilts and quilting. Sewing. Matilda, Kate’s dress dummy. Kate in my dreams. Ancientrails. Diane. Art. In person. Judaism. My year of living Jewishlly. Outside my comfort zone. A lot.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Trains

    One brief shining: I looked out my window today, oh my, and there on the ground lay Snow, on the Branches of the Lodgepoles Snow, on the driveway Snow, and my Snow and Cold loving self looked at it and sighed, the calendar showing in less than two weeks, the fire holiday of Beltane, start of the growing season.

     

    Looking at myself. Some people. A man of money. Of power. Of racing. A woman of medicine. Of writing. Of the 100 meter dash. Of acting. Of music. Of whatever occupies prime location in an individual’s life story. I have to look at my story and be honest. I am a man of religion. Both small r and Big R. Individual and institutional. Can’t say I would have predicted this for me. Nor much of the time been aware of it.

    Yet. The deep questions of our species. Our search for meaning. For how to position ourselves in this, this whatever all this is. The folks and traditions who have explored these questions. My turf. Where I’ve lived much of my life. Oh, yes, their have been other enthusiasms: politics, art, writing, gardening, But somehow I always bounce back to the prayers, the songs, the sacred books. Not as a supplicant but always as a lover, one who presses his hand to the heart of it. Leans his head in and enjoys a quiet afternoon learning of the Greek Orthodox theological framework of reception. The Taoist wu wei. The Jewish Morning Service. Why Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. The Potawatomi writing habit of capitalizing the names of living things.

    One who rides through the Mountains looking for signs. Who walks down Mountain Valleys hearing the voices of the Creek, the Magpies, the wild Strawberries. Seeing in the gentle run of a Mountain Stream swollen by Spring Snows the path of all living things carried by this mystery, vitality. A man who cannot absent himself from the quest for what and why and where.

    Perhaps you, too? Do you read the sacred books and know their definite humanity, yet find within them the human desire to grasp the interconnectedness of things? Feel inspired to have your own moments of revelation? Perhaps, eh? That splash of color. That child’s laugh. The sudden sense that an injustice needs redress. The kisses of a small furry puppy or a three-year old child. A wondering about Buddha nature? About chi? About teshuvah? About Ramadan?

    You see my conviction is this. We are all people of religion. All born with wonder, imbued with awe, fascinated with the mysterious. Sure, some of us make a life of it, but all of us question. All of us see values and linkages. See them and need them. Yes, your path may be all of your own making, yet it can be informed by those who have chosen to retain the paths of their ancestors. As your path, your ancientrail, can inform theirs.


  • Soon to be on the road

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Friday gratefuls: Pesach. Counting the Omer. Tarot. Astrology. Luke and Leo. Rebecca. Marilyn. Irv. Ginny, Janice. Rabbi Jamie. Conversion. Bar Mitzvah. Hoarfrost again on my Lodgepole Companion. And as far as I can see on other Lodgepoles, too. My son. Seoah. Murdoch. The Ancient Brothers. Alan. Joanne. My tallit. The morning service. The Shema.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Lidocaine patches

    One brief shining: Using scissors, I cut open the thin pouch that contains the Lidocaine patch, pull it out of its airtight container, taking care to remove only half of the covering of its working side, place the open half on my lower back, then peel back the rest of the covering, letting it settle into place over the spot where my back hurts.

     

    The road so far. P.T. and sitting help my back. Acupuncture. Not feelin’ it. However, the lidocaine patch. It definitely helps. 12 hours off, 12 hours on. So can use for a day of touring, being out and about. Then take it off at night. If I need to, I can try the ibuprofen at night. Suppose I could use the ibuprofen and the patch. Don’t want to. Minimal treatment. Local if possible, not systemic. Beginning to see a path forward here. Most of the time I don’t need the patch or meds, but when I do. I have them. Comforting.

     

    This weekend. Travel planning in serious mode. Try packing my carry-on as my one bag. I.D. all the must take with me like meds and electronics. Clothes. Go over Diane’s comprehensive list of possible things to do and establish some priorities. Must does are easy: Asian Art, the de Young, and the Legion of Honor. The Japanese Tea Room. Chinatown. Muir Woods. Eating out fancy at least once. Other museums, tourist sites, maybe Japantown, I’ll have to sort through, put on a list of if we get to it. If not, another time.

    I’m no longer an I’ve got to tick off this sight and that one to feel like the trip was worth it. I prize much more these days quality time with a place. I also know that life is short and I’ll never see everything. Mostly in that stance anyhow, by nature and inclination. I’m the guy that reads the plaques in the museum. Listens to the audio. Stays in one place awhile.

    Getting excited for the trip. The journey will be an important part of it. I love traveling by rail, going slower and at ground level, being able to saunter up to the dining car, the snackbar car, the viewing car. Or, sitting in my roomette watching the terrain go by. (unintentional) Maybe reading, maybe writing. Doing nothing at all.

     

    Just a moment: Looks like Israel at least for now has not screwed the pooch in its response to Iran’s flight of the drones. Thank yod-heh-vav-heh. Maybe the calculus of the Middle East can change. Maybe Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Jordan, even Egypt can make a pact of some part. An anti-Iran coalition similar to NATO. One for all and all for one. Probably unlikely, but any joint presence that stiff arms Shia Muslims operating in the Middle East would be quite an advance over the current reality.

     


  • The Artist’s Way

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Thursday gratefuls: 25 degrees. Frost on my Lodgepole Companion’s needles. Rain on the driveway. Probably slick out. Coffee. Sardines. Salmon. Roasted vegetables. Mussar. Rabbi Jamie. Joanne. Marilyn. My tallit. With the Shema embroidered on it. Made by Joanne. Kate’s quilts and other gifts. Out in the world. Her presence with them. Blessed memory.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Travel

    One brief shining: Each morning now I sit down with a yellow legal pad and black pen, writing from the top of sheet one to the bottom of sheet three, cursive, the curse of the millennials, what Julie Cameron calls morning pages, expressing whatever is on my mind, complaints and thoughts and random ideas, some times I feel like I’m cheating on Ancientrails, but this writing serves a different angel, the one who writes fiction, imagines worlds, paints in imitation of Rothko and Buddhist monks.

     

    As my year of living Jewishly heads towards a climax on Shavuot with the bar mitzvah, I’m beginning to look beyond it, to the point where I’m living as a Jew and not learning new things with such intensity. That guy, also living now, has decided to take the Artist’s Way challenge and focus twelve weeks on reengaging creativity. That is, in my case, writing novels and painting. Right now I’m at the very beginning and I may hold off on starting the course itself until I’m back from San Francisco.

    The two aspects of the process I am doing are writing the morning pages and having artist dates. An artist date is two  hours set aside for nothing but nurturing my artist self. My first one on Tuesday found me writing a thousand words on a Lycaon novel that I’ve been here and there on over the last couple of years. That was about an hour and a half. The last half hour I took out my large Phaidon book on Hokusai and read some of his life story, but mostly looked at his wonderful ukyio-e prints. He was the master of the wood-block prints of the Floating World.

    Engaging the creativity of master artists nourishes my own. Doesn’t have to be writing. Could be a play, a walk in the Forest, a jazz evening, taking the train to San Francisco, seeing art in its wonderful museums. All artist dates. Feels like time to come back around to writing and painting. Even though I’ve said this over and over, rather, because I’ve said this over and over, the Artist’s Way is a path I haven’t tried. Similar in some ways to the Ira Progoff work though I’ve tired of that.

     

    Just a moment: Gee, many jurors say they can’t be impartial. Imagine. You would have had to be in underground storage for the last seven years to not already have a strong opinion about 45. Granted he’s entitled to a jury of his peers, says so somewhere, but I’m not sure we have enough people that low on the morality scale to fill a twelve-person panel.


  • In the Weeds. Skip if not interested

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Wednesday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Spinal stenosis. Pain. Writing. Art date. Morning pages. Great Sol blasting us with fusion energy. Green Lodgepole Needles. Black Mountain. Blue Sky. Shadow Mountain strong. Our lives and the challenges we face, the moments that define us. Our favorite places. Earth. Our orbit around Great Sol.  Yod Heh Vav Heh. The ineffable. The unutterable. The necessary name. I was. I am. I will be. YHWH is one.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: the tetragrammaton

    One brief shining: There is a moment, an eternal moment, one still entrained in the vast sweep of eternity, when we find ourselves, know who we were, who we are, and who we will become, in that moment we instantiate the four letter name of God, we are godly, god corporeal, god within the world, god as hands and feet and heart for justice, mercy, and love, this moment is always and long, extending over your whole life.

     

    Feeling theological today. Here’s my torah portion in English:

    19:25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

    20:1 Then God spoke all these words:
    2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery

    I can now say this in Hebrew, pronouncing it from the Torah text which as I said a few days back has no vowels and no punctuation.

    Will also have to write a brief dvar Torah. An interpretation of these verses. Look forward to that. Going to concentrate on the word translated Lord here, the yod-heh-vav-heh name, YHWH, and which by long custom is usually pronounced in Jewish readings as either Adonai, Lord, or Hashem, the name.

    Plan to refer to Rabbi Arthur Green, Rabbi Jamie’s mentor and former President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He suggested a version of the Shema in which the word Adonai is said aloud while picturing YHWH in the mind. Jamie told me about this. This is now and has been my practice since I learned about it. Not sure what Green’s notion is, but here’s what I get from doing it over and over.

     Adonai and Hashem are sort like cover bands for the tetragrammaton. They show a certain level of respect for YHWH, but in fact obscure it and its power. The true name of God, in Jewish tradition, is unpronounceable and unwriteable. Therefore, as Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, or almost said, “Of it we cannot speak.” YHWH can be pronounced and written. Its meaning may be obscure. Rabbi Jamie teaches that it is a mashup of verbs, not a noun, and many agree with this reading. Including me.

    If we follow the verbal idea, the name means something like I was, I am, I will be. Sorta makes sense as a description of the one, the unity that is all things according to Jewish theology. How I view this “name” lies not in its identification purpose-this is God’s name-rather in its process and metaphysical claim. What was, what is, and what will be is in fact the source of Torah, the claim that an interconnected, interdependent whole best expresses the reality in which live, and move, and have our becoming.

    We are bound up in the pastness, the presentness, and the futureness of reality. Inextricable from it, contributing to it, having to interact with it. If we enter into a covenant with reality, saying that we will not separate ourselves from each other or from the world around us, then we act consciously and creatively to advance the whole, not pretending that certain people are different and therefore bad, not pretending that the world outside our homes and offices is not also our home, not pretending that we have a way to wall ourselves off from each other through towers of wealth or knowledge or power.

    Humility and awe. That’s the what all this suggests to me. Live with humility and awe.


  • Ouch. Judaism. Movies.

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Tuesday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Great Sol. My Lodgepole Companion. Black Mountain. Those gravel roads in Indiana. Corn fields. Holsteins. Angus. Brahma. Highland. Duroc. Hampshire. Milky Sky. 35 last night up here after Sunday evening’s 82 in Denver. Altitude. Shadow Mountain. My Rock. Shadow Mountain Home.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mountains

    One brief shining: Disrobed, crawled up on the massage table, covered my groin with a towel, and waited for Jill to come in with the needles, went to physical therapy for 10 sessions with Mary, do squats and lunges and dips, cardio, take the occasional acetaminophen, have not tried the lidocaine patches yet, and still my back hurts, more and more. Discouraged.

     

    So far none of the treatment modalities I’ve tried have succeeded in calming down my back. Seems to get worse. That is, more painful more often. Guess I’ve got to return to the doctor. See what else can be done. I said no surgery, but if this keeps up? Might have to consider it. Of course at 77 surgery, especially anesthesia, comes with its own risks independent of the purpose. Getting to one of those fulcrum moments. Where none of the decisions seem good.

    Not going to project an outcome or its sequelae. Too many variables. And, could produce anxiety. Going to stay in this eternal moment. Doing what I can. As I can.

    Worked out on Sunday. Just cardio. And my hip and leg didn’t like it. Hurt enough yesterday that I skipped working out. Gonna work out later today. Not working out is a slippery, self-fulfilling slope. Been there and don’t want to go back.

    This is not life-threatening, but it is life threatening. Meaning I may have to modify my life in ways I’d prefer not to. Age.

     

    I’ve chosen some parts of the morning service that I want to do. I can learn the Hebrew to lead the congregation in the morning blessings and I can lead the Shema. This in addition to my Torah portion. Which I have pretty much down now except for inflection.

    With learning my Torah portion, Rabbi Jamie’s conversion classes, two mussar classes and prepping for all of these, it’s been a Jewish immersion. Not only in the mikveh. I’ve also added shabbat to my week. No other classes right now. After the bar mitzvah, all this will quiet down. I’ll be done with Rabbi Jamie’s classes. The Hebrew learning will at least shift focus. I’ll still be doing Torah study with Gary as well.

     

    My next enthusiasm is cinema. I got a subscription to the Criterion Channel, and have access to Prime Video and Turner Classic Movies. I have to learn Chromecasting so I can use the Criterion Channel downstairs. I’m going to take my dvd player downstairs, too.

    Got pushed on this when I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I have it on DVD. It’s so much of a commentary on the 1950’s as well as on the subject of political manipulation and/or conforming to other’s expectations. A general practice doc is the main character, referred to as a man of science. His main squeeze wears cashmere sweaters and has very pointy bras. In the evening they have martinis, barbecue, and spend time in the outdoor room with friends. His office is quintessential g.p. from the 50’s. A nurse with a tabbed hat and a white uniform. A lot of deference from the town folk.

    In other words the non-horror aspects of this movie fascinated me as much as the pods. I want to be able to write, talk about it. But to do that I have to have a good way of watching. I’ve got several mediums that will work and I have so many classical movies to see. Many again. Many for the first time.

     

     


  • Hongbau

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Monday gratefuls: Ruth. Gabe. April birthdays. Mark and Dad, too. The Ancient Brothers on listening. Alan on the Fountain of Sheep, Fuenteovejuna. Spending time with friends and family. Morning pages. Exercise. Its limits. Snow in the forecast. After 82 in Denver yesterday! Shadow Mountain. Shabbat. The Morning Service. Anxiety. Writing.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Red envelopes

    One brief shining: Walked past concrete temporary ballards, through high chain link fences in a maze leading to the Cheesecake Factory, found the entrance, secured a table from the front desk, walked back with the hostess, waved hi to Ruth and Gabe when they came in, and they found the table so we could celebrate Gabe’s 16th.

     

    If you’ve never been to the Cheesecake Factory, good for you. Over priced and decorated, at least the downtown Denver location, in a faux Egyptian style that makes no sense at all. Not to mention: NOISY. The kids talked about school, about college, about music, five women you need to listen to, and things that happened when they were “young.” I picked up headline words while the details got lost in the clanking of silver ware, the bouncing of multiple conversations off the hard coffered ceiling and the tile floors, the shifting of plates. Could have stayed home for all the signal I got out of the noise. But if I had, who would have paid for dinner?

    Took Gabe and Ruth their hongbau with $10 for each year of their birthday age, my main gift for several years now. Took Gabe a miniature claymore and a new pocket knife. As a hemophiliac, he has a certain obsession with knives. Which I indulge. Ruth got all of Kate’s tassels from high school, college, and med school as well as Korean artist’s paper I purchased in the first Korean city to have paper making.

    Walking back to the car I was short of breath and my back hurt, but felt good. Love spending special time with Gabe and Ruth. Family and its sinews. Ruth has committed to CU Boulder. She doesn’t know her FAFSA results, financial aid, so she can’t sign up for housing yet. I’m glad she’ll be in Boulder. I’ll be able to go see her, take her out to dinner, to the planetarium, stay in touch.

    Meanwhile Gabe has two more years of high school left. What’s next for him? He doesn’t know. And isn’t particularly concerned. College figures in somehow.

     

    Alan is assistant director again for a play in Wheatridge at the Wheatridge Theater Company. The director is a Mexican woman who directed plays for many years in Mexico City, Maru Garcia. Which explains how Fuenteovejuna or, the Fountain of Sheep*, shows up on a Denver metro stage with a very Jewish assistant director.

    Keeping up with the theater world through Alan’s journey. Don’t think I’m going much further with my own journey. At least for now I’ll allow my one act and performance last year to be my capstone.

     

     

    *Billing from the Wheatridge Theater Company:

    FuenteOvejuna

    May 31 to June 16

    By Lope de Vega

    Directed by Maru Garcia

    First published in 1619, the play is based upon a historical incident that took place in the village of FuenteOvejuna in 1476. While under the command of the ruthless Commander Guzmán, the mistreated villagers band together and kill him. When a magistrate sent by the King arrives to investigate, the villagers, even under the pain of torture, respond only by saying “Fuenteovejuna did it” thus obtaining the pardon from the King and their freedom. A powerful play which depicts the triumph over the mistreatment from authorities.

    Rated: PG13 for descriptions & depictions of physical and sexual violence.


  • The pit

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Sunday gratefuls: Gabe, turning 16 soon. Ruth, already 18. Art. The Artist’s Way. Morning pages. Rabbi Jamie. Vulnerability. The Morning Service. It’s depth. Alan. Lunch today. My Lodgepole Companion. Friend of Great Sol. The Eternal Moment in which I write this. My breath, each one a new life. The morning of this new life almost finished. The lev.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Cheesecake Factory

    One brief shining: Sat there the red covered book with its pages facing left, turning them trying to follow Rabbi Jamie as he chanted prayers, moved from Blessings to the Shema, then on to the often silent prayers of the Amidah, worrying that I could not match his prayer shawled ease, kissing the tzitzit at the appropriate time, building up a wall of anxiety that held the world of this ancient liturgy at bay.

     

    Oh my. Went down into the pit of anxiety. One I don’t visit often these days. But I fell into it with a thump, a real downward spiral. Haven’t worked out the inner fragile self that grabbed hold of me and belying its thin arms and legs dragged me into a fog of I can’t, I won’t, I’m not able, I’m not competent. Beside me as Rabbi Jamie guided us through the Morning Service lay the color coded sheet with its yellow slots for Student. That’s me. Those slots needed names, either mine or Lauren’s or Kat’s or Veronica’s. Too many slots with Hebrew or singing attached to them. Too many.

    When I fessed up to my anxiety, I felt diminished by it. Less than. Unworthy. Of what I don’t know. But unworthy for sure. If I were not me, I’d want to talk about this. Find out the trigger. Give compensatory ballast by pointing out the stuff he can do. Has already done. And that this is a moment in time. Which will come and go. Yet this is me I’m talking about.

    So I find that conversation difficult. Perhaps self serving. Definitely not objective.

    Yet here we go. Oh, I’m sorry that happened to you. Must have felt awful.

    Yeah, it did. Pretty bad.

    What do you think caused it?

    Not sure. For sure it was putting myself in Rabbi Jamie’s place, trying to imagine myself doing any of what he was doing. Any of it. Yet facing a situation where I would yes in fact have to do just that.

    I get it. Could it be the old clergy in you?

    Hmm. Hadn’t considered that. Don’t think so, but…maybe? Some of it. Holding myself to a higher standard? That listens.

    Any other possibilities?

    Well, my Dad once said to me that knowing how to get along with people mattered more than my grades. True that, but he didn’t mean it in a kind way. He was demeaning my competency by saying well, so what, here’s this other thing that’s more important. I might have learned from that competency is my way of getting along with people. If I’m not competent, no one will like me.

    Ooff. That’s convoluted. But I get it.

    Could be a generalized fear of being foolish. Wanting to avoid that. I don’t want to foreclose on the Fool’s journey though. What if that’s where I need to be right now? Foolish and brave.

     


  • Eternal Life

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Shabbat gratefuls: Morning pages. The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron. The Socrates Cafe. The Morning Service. Bar Mitzvah prep today at CBE. Parsha Tazria. Lighting the candles. Saying the blessing. Learning my Torah portion. My son and Seoah’s 8th anniversary! Wowzer. Their meal yesterday. I have pictures. Murdoch at the Dog park. Honeybee rides. Scheduled for April 24th. Which, as it happens, is the wrong date. Sigh. I played with different dates. Didn’t check.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Torii

    One brief shining: I look through the Torii that is my back door, seeing the deck and garage beyond, my gaze goes up, to the left and sees the mezuzah placed there by Rabbi Jamie not long after the Hamas raid into Israel, but this day I remember the Shema, that most prayed of all Jewish prayers: Shema Israel, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad, Hear O Israel, Our God, Our God is one, tucked into the mezuzah on a kosher scroll and that the mezuzah blesses each going out and coming in as sacred acts so I can look through my own back door from the inside and see a sacred outside, and through it from the outside and see a sacred inside, knowing then that all is one and all is sacred in this moment and in all others.

     

    On this calendar Tom sent me. It is eternity now. Oh, well. That’s true. By definition. We don’t have to wait for our time in eternity. My Lodgepole companion and I exist in eternity, as do the brilliant rays of Great Sol shining on us both. As do all three mezuzahs here on Shadow Mountain. As does Shadow Mountain itself. And Black Mountain, too. All cohabiting in eternity.

    Eternal life is this life, these fingers, this heart beating right now. Will my life as I am go on further into eternity’s vast expanse? Hell if I know. Yet I’ve participated in, been part of eternal life. So, maybe? A little bit of head scratching definitional play here. Sure. But, hey! We created the words and the ideas which they express. We might know more than we think we do. In fact I’m confident we do. Hope this eternal idea is one of those things in which we intuit more than we can express.

     

    Just a moment: Biden creeping up on Trump. Oh be still my political heart. All we need to do is thump this orange tumor clothed in baggy blue with too long red ties. Thump him and his at the ballot box. Then we can get back to politics as forever changed, but perhaps not ushering in the American Empire quite yet.

    Trump is no Caesar. On the basis of competence alone. I doubt he measures up to even Mussolini and Hitler. An inferior autocrat. That’s what he is. And he’s come along when a certain demographic felt hopeless. When all would be dictators arise. Tell me a story, a story in which I’m better than those other guys. Or those other women. Or those others. And I’ll vote for you. Always.