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  • Still buzzing

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: An added identity. A son of Abraham and Sarah. Still buzzing from yesterday. That full Choice Moon visible on the way to Evergreen yesterday morning. Great Sol painting the Lodgepoles with energy. A blue white Sky. A great sleep. Witnesses. Ritual. Blessings. Joan. Wild Neighbors. The Arapaho National Forest. Shadow Mountain. The Mikvah. Its Water.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Israel

    One brief shining: Exhale, Rabbi Jamie said, after in my first immersion I bobbed back to the surface and hit my head on the beautiful tiles that make up the mikvah-gently, oh I said, so the next time I did exhale, the second immersion, and I sank to the bottom proving why a good Jew should trust his Rabbi.

     

    May it last. This feeling of inner peace. I slept soundly. Woke up with no hurry, no rush to accomplish anything. To get anything going for the day. Felt good in my own skin. Not that I don’t usually, but this feels pervasive. And, a result of the ritual yesterday. Yes, I had already chosen. Yes, for me it was a confirmation of that choice. Yet the attentiveness, the kavanah, the intention of all parties involved, including those who raised the money for the mikvah, designed and built it. Yes. The drop of blood. Yes. The beit din. Yes. The Waters of the mikvah. Yes. Immersion. Yes. The new name. Yes. Changed.

    Joan said during my beit din that before WWII converts used to be looked down on in Judaism in America. Second class Jews. After the holocaust. Things changed. These were people who will stand with the other members of the tribe. By choice. The potential consequences of that choice driving the change.

    Rabbi Steve warned me with a story. A man he married had converted. Shortly after his conversion he was in an airport and talking with his sister, a Lutheran minister, about it. Loudly. His sister asked him where he was. He told her. She said stop this conversation right now and we’ll discuss why when you get home. This was shortly after October 7th. You’ve had, he said, until now, the cover of white male privilege. Your new identity comes with dangers.

    Yes, I said, I may be stupid about that. But I’m not going to give into those forces. Screw’em. I fight. I fight for those I love. But he’s right. There are real this world consequences to being Jewish. Perhaps perversely but probably not surprisingly to those who know me well, I embrace them.

    After the ritual, we all had lunch at a Middle Eastern place. Good gyros, generous portions. Alan came and celebrated with us. It was a nice and gentle way to end the morning.

    Joan invited me in for coffee when we made the long trek up her narrow driveway to take her home. I agreed. Rabbi Jamie said he’d be back for me after his staff meeting. Joan and I talked for two plus hours, ranging wide. She’s only participated in two other beit dins, long ago, and both for women. A real honor to have her there. She’s a friend.

     

     

     

     

     


  • Religion and Its Cultured Despisers

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: The Ancient Brothers. Tara. The Mikvah. Shema Yisrael. Adonai eloheynu. Adonai echad. Prayerful humility. Being a new Jew. The Sabbath. Jacob wrestling at the Jabbok Ford. Zornberg. Great Sol lighting up the Snow on the Lodgepole Branches. A crisp, clear and blue Sky. The Iliad. The Jacob cycle in Genesis. Israel. Me. Soon anyhow. In shallah. All the Dogs. And their human companions. Wild Neighbors.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Books

    One brief shining: Read an article yesterday about increasing nones, yes nones not nuns, in particular among Millennials and younger, which prodded me to remember Friedrich Schleiermacher and his book, Religion and Its Cultured Despisers, then to wonder why I, a man almost as far away generationally as possible from the new nones, chose to embrace a religion while others flee them.

     

    No. This is not a question of doubt about my choice. It’s firm and almost ritualized. Tuesday. It’s about those cycles of history when certain institutions get shunned, disbelieved, set aside as archaic, over with. It’s about me and my choices over a lifetime and why I’ve made them. Mostly though its about religion and those who would be nones. Not relevant to those who would be nuns.

    Three times I have rejected institutional religion. The first. After studying philosophy and finding Christianity’s arguments dissolved in the acids of logic. The second. After finding Christianity’s claims dissolved through love of my son. The third. After finding liberal religion, Unitarian-Universalism, had no there there for me. At that point I turned to the Soil, to the Bees, to heirloom Tomatoes, to Rhizomes and Bulbs, to Kate, to Dogs, to Great Sol and the Great Wheel. Became a pagan.

    On Tuesday I’ll make my fourth teshuva, return, to an organized old religious tradition. You could look at this and say why can’t he make up his mind? I mean, geez. Really? Fair enough. Although as I look at this pattern, I see something different. I see a man who could not let go of a search for the sacred, the holy. Who was not satisfied. But also one who kept his heart and mind and soul open, willing to learn, to see what he was looking at.

    Could I have gone on to my death as a pagan, devoted to the Soil and my Wild Neighbors, to the Great Mother who birthed us all and to whom we return? Yes. I could have. That’s why my pagan heart will still guide much of my search for the sacred and the holy. I will not stop listening to the Mule Deer, the Elk Bull, the crashing Waters of a Spring Maxwell Creek. I will not stop seeing the holiness in Black Mountain or in the wide Pacific or in Great Sol.

    Yet my heart, which guides me now more than my mind, could not escape this. I find the sacred, the holy, the divine, in other humans too. And so many of those humans: Alan, Tara, Susan, Joan, Jamie, Ellen, Dick, Ron, Rich, Cheri, Marilyn, Irv, Veronica, Mark, Lauren, Karen, Sally, Nancy, Ruth, Gabe, Kate of blessed memory, Leslie, Rebecca, Anne, Luke, Tal, Iris, Jamie Bernstein, Stephen, yes all of these and more I know but not well, are all Jewish. When I walk into the sanctuary for a service, it is my friends who make it holy. And my heart, this insistent and stubborn heart/mind-my lev said follow them further.

    Not only that. But, thanks to Kate, eight years of holidays, learnings, immersion in the Jewish world. Of seeing how dogma simply does not exist in a Reconstructionist Jewish frame. That these folks are seekers, searchers too. And willing to investigate, rethink, reimagine. Everything. Yet to still celebrate that search in a three-thousand year old vessel which carries great wisdom about how to be human. In other words, how to be sacred.

    I know. I admit I’m drawn to the prayers, to the rituals, to the careful and unusual hermeneutic of Torah study. That I find comfort and even solace in them. That’s the monk in me. Yet the pagan, the pilgrim still on the path finds food here, too. I am not alone in my insistence on finding the sacred and the holy in the Mountains, the Streams, the Black Bears and Mountains Lions. I am also not alone in finding the wisdom of the Rabbi’s, of the authors whoever they were of the Torah, of the whole Tanakh, a living stream, one way of seeing not only what I’m looking at but what I’m looking for.


  • The Monk Comes Alive

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Mezuzah’s hung. Rabbi Jamie. A nice evening. Dead battery brought back to life. These newfangled autos. Cold night. Sesame Tomato salad. Ham with Ruth and Gabe. Jen and Barb. New windshield! Finally. Reading more in the Tanakh. Jacob’s story. His ladder. His wrestling with the angel. His deceit and cunning. His name change. My Hebrew name: Israel. Shaddai. A feminine word for the sacred. New US plant hardiness zone map. Climate change.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Sacred Thresholds

    One brief shining: Jamie took out his drill, widening the holes in the mezuzahs so they would fit the nails, we said the blessing for affixing them and I snapped the front door mezuzah in place, the back door mezuzah took a bit longer, but snap and crossing my own thresholds had an affordance for the sacred journeys of going out and coming in.

     

    Odd. Finding that the more practices of Judaism I adopt, the more I find comfort and resonance in them. The Sabbath. Services on a more regular basis. Hanging the mezuzahs and having them there when I go in and out of the house. Studying mussar. Reading the parshas, studying them.

    A part of me, a not insignificant part, yearned for a long time to be a monk. To have nothing else to do but study, pray, do some manual labor. I loved women so that was never a true option for me, but the secluded life of the monk, the hermit spoke to something important in my soul.

    The Hermit. Herme. My neon major arcana. My introverted, scholarly, slow side now enforced by the loss of Kate. Alone. In the Mountains. Though I would have her back in a heartbeat, a strong part of me stood ready to blossom and has. She did not suppress it. No. We allowed each other the space to live our separate lives, coming together when we had matters in common, sewing and writing and working and logging when we did not.

    Yet now. Alone. Perhaps becoming a secular monk, a Jewish monk. Almost an oxymoron. But not quite.

    Judaism now encourages me to have the regular discipline offered in a monastery. Sabbath candles. Services. The sabbath itself. The shema on my doorposts. Reading the parshas, studying them. Holidays to lift up liberation, the harvest, the Torah, learning, memory of the Holocaust, to search deep into the soul and to mend relationships, for the trees, for Esther. Appointed times for nourishing, feeding the soul.

    Could I have done these on my own? Maybe. But. I haven’t in the decades this monk has lived inside of me. Today he feels nurtured and honored. A definite and realized part of my life. I needed the structure of tradition, of community, of friendships.

    In one sense you could say that becoming a Jew offers me the same rhythm I had with Kate. I live my separate life, but come together with CBE when we have common matters like worship, holiday observances, breakfast, or lunch.


  • A bit more on choosing Judaism

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Alan. Tara. Joann. Rabbi Jamie. Mezuzah hanging. Spiritual autobiography. Beit din. A drop of blood. Three immersions in the mikveh. Luke 4:18-19. The Devil. The crossroads. Robert Johnson. John Lee Hooker. BB King. Muddy Waters. Howlin’ Wolf. Etta James. Billie Holiday. Strange Fruit. Racial justice. The South. The West. The Midwest. The East. The United States of America. Democracy. Its enemies in our midst. Its champions. The old pale males.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Immersion in the mikveh

    One brief shining: Check your doorframes, are they wood or metal, I’ll need a hammer, nails or screws, we’ll talk about thresholds and liminal spaces, going out and coming in, there’s a prayer, we’ll get the mezuzah’s hung.

     

     

                                  On Tuesday morning the 28th of November. At Temple Emanuel in Denver. Its mikveh.

     

     

    A bit more on the ritual of becoming a Jew. The beit din, court of judgment, takes about 40 minutes. The three people involved Rabbi Jamie, Joan Greenberg, and a second rabbi read a spiritual autobiography I’m in the process of writing. At the court they ask questions of me based on it and on my awareness of matters Jewish. They confer, make a decision about admitting me to the tribe. After that a drop of blood from my private parts. Then, the mikveh.

    Three immersions. The first one, with all body parts in the water. Floating, feet off the bottom, fingers spread. Water needs to touch all exposed flesh. After the first immersion, I’m a Jew. The second immersion is one I have to do as a Jew because it is a commandment that I didn’t have to follow until the first immersion. A prayer is said. Then, the third immersion. I repeat the Shema. Dry off. Get dressed.

    A naming ceremony. I have chosen Israel for my Hebrew name. It means struggles with God which names my inner life. It is also the name Jacob gets after wrestling the angel at the Jabbok Ford, the parsha I chose. I will be given my Hebrew name which will be Israel ben Abraham and Sarah. All Jews by choice have Abraham and Sarah as their direct Jewish ancestors.

    Walk out with a new name and an old community now different for me. I will be a part of it forever and a day.

    A big morning.

    Appropriate to the Shema which starts with Listen, Israel, I have a 1 pm appointment with my audiologist that day, too.

    I’m excited and happy. Can’t say why but I feel I’m stepping into a civilization, a culture into which I fit and which fits me. Never intended to do anything like this again. Ever. Yet here I am.

    Veronica Grunig will go through the ritual the same morning. We’re sponsoring an oneg, an after service celebration on December 1st. We will also get called up during the service to hold the Torah for the first time and lead the congregation in prayer. This is an aliyah, an honor available only to Jews.

     

     

     

     


  • Some Exercise, Some News, Some Celebrating

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon (1% crescent)

    Sunday gratefuls: The Wizard of Oz. The Seventh Seal. Wild Strawberries. Casablanca. Dracula. The Wolfman. Horror of Dracula. Seven Samurai. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Time the way it comes. Not by fiat. Wendell Berry. Rilke. Cold Mountain. Hokusai. Giotto. Tolstoy. Nabokov. Whitman. Frost. Wordsworth. Coleridge. Cezanne. Monet. Van Gogh. Rodin. 1001 Arabian Nights. The Odyssey. The Iliad. the Divine Comedy. Shadow Mountain. Downtown condos.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe:  Feeling stronger

    One brief shining: The treadmill comes to life, its broad rubber belt whirring on its neverending round, my tennis shoes hit it, again and again, my leg gets a hitch, muscles warmup and the morning’s workout has begun.

     

    I’m beginning to dig myself out of the deconditioned hole I dug for myself over a long period of avoiding resistance work. I no longer feel weak, unable to do things. I’m stronger and less achy. Even my dingy left elbow seems to have improved. Three workouts a week, starting with resistance after a brief warmup on the treadmill. Then cardio afterwards. About 50 minutes total. This week I plan to go to three sets of resistance and one additional day of cardio only. My mantra has become, it’s worth it. And boy is it ever for me.

    My mood also improves because moving sends those endorphins to the brain. Yeah. That’s part of it. Another bigger part is the tangible improvement in my day to day. Another significant contributor to an elevated mood? Knowing I’m taking care of myself. Put those three together and working out becomes worth it.

     

    A week filled with news from folks I know. Paul’s brother, Joe Strickland, got removed from his episcopate. A long time acquaintance decided late in life to transition from male to female. Kate’s sister Anne had a brain bleed requiring a couple of holes in her head to reduce the swelling. Jerry had foot surgery. A friend had the first signals of getting old. Should he keep his keys? My boy and Seoah spent three days in Okgwa over a long Veteran’s day weekend. Diane mentioned San Francisco’s preparations for the APEC summit there this next week.

    Life pulses, throws changes at us daily. We have a chance to be new each morning because the world is no longer the same as it was when we went to sleep. And, neither are we. That river Heraclitus mentioned. Ya know?

     

    We’re getting close to my favorite period. Holimonth. When the temperate climates show the world what it takes ritually to survive four seasons. Thanksgiving. Advent. The Winter Solstice. Christmas. Yule. Kwanza. Divali. Hanukah. Gregorian New Year’s Day. The Posada. The Epiphany. It’s the best time of the year. For me at least.

    We take a deep bath in the mythic world of God’s born in humble places, light driving out darkness, darkness triumphing over light, family, long pilgrimages and sudden awareness. Great music. Food. Entertainment. Seeing family and friends in a festive setting. When Holimonth’s over we can move into the next year reminded well and often of the amazing, the wonderful, the loving.

     

     

     


  • Aural Prompts

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Val. Who I think may have been hitting on me. Bless her heart. Zojirushi rice cooker and its first brown rice. Equanimity. Silence. Faith. Middot. Mussar. Emunah and Clouds. Hearing the Voice of the Wind, of the Snow, of the Wild Neighbors, of the Storm. Life in its immediacy. Life as a temporary gift. To cherish. Renaissance music. Cool nights. Gregorian chants. Chiropractors. Ellen and Dick. Heidi. Mountain Jews, my community

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Right now

    One brief shining: The crucifix, bronze and distressed, hung high above the five singers dressed in white tops and black bottoms, two good friends, Irv and Joan, both Jews, joined I learned later by at least one other Jew, as they sang, paradoxically, a high mass from the time of Queen Elizabeth the First, the haunting medieval music somehow transcending time and faith to place us all outside the Episcopal Church in which they performed and in that pure realm of music’s ethereal and ephemeral reality.

     

    Went to St. Laurence Episcopal yesterday to hear the 27 minute performance of Irv’s Renaissance singers. One of its members referred to what they did as serious fun. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy medieval music, early music. Reminded as they sang evoking both a time long ago and yet a time relevant to the present moment. This music is, to my ear, sparer than most later music, focused on a spirituality, not only tonality. I could feel as I listened the voices of the thousands, millions perhaps, that had sung and will sing about the world we rarely see because we know not what to look for. Tibetan and Buddhist chants. Throat singing. Jewish services. Black choirs. Voices raised in cars and at home. We need these aural prompts to sharpen our sight, to encourage us to see what we are looking at.

    Afterward a wine and cheese reception at Marilyn and Irv’s. I got there a bit late because I went home to pick up a book for Joan, a contemporary Korean writer’s short story collection. When I walked in the crowd had already been hitting the wine, so the first hello Charlie got taken up by others, then everybody. Hi, Charlie! I felt well welcomed.

     

    And, no. No news on the testing front. Still “in progress.” I’m prepared to live into any result, continuing my life until it comes to an end, either soon or late. No, not resignation. The opposite. I’m not letting go of this gift until it decides to leave my body.

     

    Looking back a bit. Joan and Albert’s first yarhzeit. Seeing Lauren and Kat, the two bat mitzvah’s from Thursday. Their bat mitzvah service would have been on Masada, as my conversion would have been in Jerusalem. I missed it because of my appointment with Dr. Gonzalez. I gave them chocolate bars from Sugar Jones where I buy my weekly truffles. Ruth at the Blue Fin, smiling and laughing, caring. Irv and Joan singing. A buzzy happy crowd at the reception. A good weekend. A very good weekend. Not in spite of my lagging test results, but because of my life already under way.


  • Yikes

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Alan Greenberg’s yahrzeit. Joan. A salmon colored Cumulus Cloud over Black Mountain. Dr. Gonzalez. Her nurse. The phlebotomist. My heart and aorta. Considering the body as it decompensates. Shadow Mountain as a stable and supportive presence. Ruby. All Dogs, especially Kippur and Murdoch and Leo. My Wild Neighbors. Melancholy. Dawn. Evening. Liminal times, magical times. Doorways, thresholds. Mezuzahs.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The One

    One brief shining: Opened up the test results from Quest Diagnostics and read my latest battery of tests with red fields and green, discovering that my doc has ordered a test for multiple myeloma, not completed yet, sending my anxiety titer (a Kate phrase) up, not high but noticeable, wondering if there will be more than my heart involved in this latest visit.

     

    Oh, boy. Well. I freaked myself out back in July when I got low gamma globulin results. Hadn’t processed them or heard from my doctor, went straight to multiple myeloma. Kristin said I was fine. She sees these results all the time. I calmed down. Now I discover she’s running a test battery for just that. Yikes! The results are not in yet, though my other results are.

    The possibility of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, hit me hard because Dick Mestrich, a colleague of Kate’s at Allina, died of it after a long decline. She made him a friendship quilt which he wore often, may have been buried in it. My son and I played golf with him quite a bit when my son was in high school. I also learned recently that one of the Thursday mussar group also has it.

    The thought of a second kind of cancer to add to my already existing one? Again, yikes!

    All this is unknown right now and I’m pretty good at not getting excited before I know something for sure. Even then, I’m able to hold steady for the most part though melancholy can creep up on me. Understandable, too. Still. An uncomfortable moment for me. For sure.

     

    Just ordered two mezuzahs, one for the front door and one for the door leading to the garage. Will have Rabbi Jamie come out and hang them. There is a ritual for it. Inside each mezuzah is a scroll with the shema hand lettered by a scribe on the treated skin of a kosher animal. Not cheap. From the Jewish Museum store in New York City.

     

    At mussar yesterday afternoon another cancer survivor remarked about the love she experienced from her friends. They go to her appointments with her, help her in many ways. Nancy then mentioned Leslie who died of liver cancer two months ago saying, “Leslie had the same experience. What a wonderful way to die.” I said, “And, what a wonderful way to live. I’m experiencing that kind of love at CBE right now.” And from my longtime friends in the Ancient Brothers and my family. Knowing you are loved buoys the soul, helps it serve as the rock of your life. As long as you have it.

     

     

     


  • A Philosophical Day

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Kippur, Rich’s new Dog. Leo. Kepler, my sweet boy. Kate, my sweetheart. Rich, a good friend. Joan. Ron. Marilyn. Tara. Jamie. Alan. Ruth. The solar Snow shovel. Dry needling. Mary. Spinal stenosis. Ruby. Dry roads. Mostly. Safeway. Ice cream. Shadow Mountain. Shadow Mountain Home. Starlink. Sushi. Crackers. Salmon. Sleep.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: My CBE family

    One brief shining: Went to Rich’s office yesterday to sign Powers of Attorney and met Kippur, the five-month old black and tan puppy Rich got as a foster and who bounced back as a rehome, Kippur came up as I sat on the couch, pawed me, licked my hand, looked me in the eyes, jumped up on the couch, put his head in my lap, then settled with his body snug against my left leg.

     

    First off. Buddy Tom and I got to talking yesterday. About weirdness. Quantum mechanics and agreeable electrons and photons. The lack of solidity in all things.   And how about that spooky action at a distance. The narrow sensory spectrum of human senses. Multiverses. Multiple dimensions. We didn’t wander over into time. But we did mention death. And the sacred. And how limited our grasp of things really is. How much we don’t know. How much is hidden from us. Could the sacred be the occasional glimpse into  quantum reality? Or, another dimension? Or, a multiverse? Sensory data beyond our capacity?

    And these are matters that have solid scientific data and theories behind them. Not some guy reading gold tablets on one side of a curtain. Or Mohammed listening to the angel. Yet they are all also as strange as salvation, heaven, a God. As strange as the Quran or the Tanakh or the New Testament. That was the morning.

    In the afternoon I went over to Rich Levine’s office to sign durable powers of attorney naming Joseph overall and Rich for Colorado. That’s when I met Kippur, the wonderful puppy. All puppies are wonderful, I should also say. Anyhow Rich and I got to talking about whether humans are hard wired for symbol making. A woman philosopher he learned about Tuesday night thinks so. She convinced Rich. Not sure at this remove what the implications of that were but Rich thought it was important.

    Rich teaches constitutional law at the Colorado School of Mines in, he said, “A country that no longer honors the constitution. We’re living in a post-constitutional time.” We also discussed Israel and Hamas. The sadness and dismay at being Jews given the way Israel is acting in Gaza. And yet…

    Also had a p.t. session with Mary in which she said, alarmed, “What’s that around your neck!” I thought I had a creature somewhere on me. Turns out she’d seen the flashing of my Medalert pendant. I usually turn it so the light flashes toward my chest, but apparently I hadn’t that time.

    Finished the day with MVP discussing the character trait, or middot, of silence. My practice for this month is to ask myself when am I? More on that at a later time.

     

     


  • Good

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Marilyn and Tara. MVP. Mary. Rich. My son and the durable power of attorney. Darkness. Winter Solstice. The fallow time. Melancholy. How do I feel. I’m amazing at. Luke and Tal. Leo. Kepler and Kate, my sweethearts. Black Mountain hiding in the night. The Shema. Conversion. Kat and Lauren’s bat mitzvah tomorrow. Daughters of the commandments. MVP tonight. On silence.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Power of Attorney

    One brief shining: Yesterday I read about death from the Jewish perspective, finished off a Jack Reacher novel, made myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner, watched some TV, got my new bright red tea kettle which looks great on my black stove and my new rice cooker,  finished the day feeling good.

     

    The reason I mention what I did yesterday. The feeling good part caught me by surprise. I’d planned to go out for breakfast and run a couple of errands, but writing Ancientrails and reading the news about Israel took a while so I made my breakfast instead. That took up some time, too, and I read The Measure of Our Age, an excellent book by a Minnesotan on the state of aging in America. Decided to finish the chapter in that after breakfast.

    Went downstairs to take a shower and while waiting for the room to warm up I picked up the Jack Reacher novel I’d been reading. I was toward the end and the pace of it picked up. An hour or so later I finally took my shower. Made lunch.

    Watched TV while I ate my lunch, then went upstairs to my serious reading chair and picked up Michael Strassfield’s, A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice. My next session with Rabbi Jamie is on the Jewish life cycle and conversion. Strassfield’s book has a long section on those topics. I’d read most of it, but needed to finish the last chapter on death. Over the next two weeks I’ll read shorter sections in three other books on the same topic.

    The Jewish approach to death and mourning has had a significant impact on my life. In particular sitting shiva, Kate’s memorial service, yahrzeit remembrance, and enduring friendships. In sitting shiva the mourners stay at home and the congregation comes to them. Taking the community of the synagogue to the home of the mourner. This simple idea was very powerful for me as I had people come to the house and sit with me, talk, bring something to eat. Alan said at shiva that his role was going to be to get me out of the house. Two and a half years later we still meet most weeks for breakfast. And, he’s not the only one. Marilyn and Irv. Tara. Ron. Rich. All of whom I’ll see tonight at MVP also came, brought food, talked.

    After I finished that section in Strassfield’s book, I made supper. Watched some TV, then went to bed. An ordinary day. But, a good one.

    I let go of the need to accomplish things yesterday. Just leaned into reading, cooking. And it felt. Good.

     


  • “Pulvis et umbra sumus.”

    Fall and the Samain Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Standard Time. My favorite. DST. Boo. Black Mountain, hidden again in the mist. Fog. Frosted Lodgepole Needles. Big Snow on the way. 10-12 inches. Ruth and Dazzle Jazz. Sunday night, I hope. Cell phones. The time before cell phones. Desktop. Laptop. Computers of all sorts. Batteries. EVs. Climate change. Sea level rise. Greenland and Antarctica. Israel. Gaza. Palestinians. Public opinion. Fingers and toes. Skin and nose. Heart and lungs. The Body. Amazing and wonderful. Kepler and Kate, my sweethearts.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rigel

    One brief shining: The Lodgepoles have a flocked look as I drink my coffee, write, look up and gaze out the window toward Black Mountain, that ten-thousand footer obscured not so far away but invisible as the dew point matches the temperatures here on Shadow Mountain.

     

    We are but dust and shadow. “Pulvis et umbra sumus.” The Latin poet, Horace. Quoted in a poem sent out by buddy Tom Crane this morning. Brought to mind for me the Plaza del Toros in Mexico City where they sell tickets by sombra e sol. Shade or sun. I bought sombra. Worth it as the afternoon wore on and the dead bulls left the ring for donation to orphanages around the city.

    Spent some time a couple of weeks ago researching the ontological nature of shadows. Surprised that the consensus seemed to be that shadows have no ontological nature since they cannot interact with the world. So why then did I buy a ticket for sombra and not sol? Because sombra would be cooler! To me: Q.E.D.

     

    Here’s a sensation I forget each year only to have it delight me with its return. That feeling of expectation as the weather changes and big Snow is in the forecast. What will it be like, this Snow? How will it change the landscape? Of my yard? Of Shadow Mountain? of Black Mountain? How cold will it get? I can feel the Fire in my fireplace already. Perhaps some hot cocoa in my hand. Reading a book in one of my three favorite chairs. I suppose this is hygge, or the anticipation of hygge.

    What is hygge? Here’s an explanation:

    “Hygge is about cosiness and surrounding yourself with the things that make life good, like friendship, laughter and security, as well as more concrete things like warmth, light, seasonal food and drink.” scandinaviastandard

    How very Jewish of those Scandinavians. Joy as a religious obligation. Hygge as a facet of shabbat. Ah. The Snow has begun to fall. Crank up the hygge dial here on Shadow Mountain. My workout, then a fire and a book and a snack.

     

    Meanwhile the world flies Palestinians flags and students wear green bandanas in fealty to their notion of Hamas as a liberation front. While here at Shadow Mountain Home we fly the Stars and Strips and the blue and white flag of Israel. Which does NOT mean I do not care about Palestinian civilians. I do. The rules of war, remember? Proportionate response. Protect civilians. No justification with the why of war can erase these obligations.