• Category Archives Faith and Spirituality
  • Consider the Aspen

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon among the Lodgepoles in the back

    Thursday gratefuls: Winter Solstice Moon. Great Sol making Black Mountain visible. The Lodgepole out my window, its gentle, steady, stable presence. Shadow Mountain beneath me, a strong support for my house and my life. The Winds that blow from the west. The Snow that reveals Wild Neighbor treks across my driveway. The Rocky Mountains. The Sangre De Cristo. The San Juans. Creed, Colorado site of the long ago largest Volcanic eruption ever.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: This sacred Place

    One brief shining: Consider the Aspens, naked now to endure the cold of Winter and wait for the warmth of Spring, tall gray/white bark branches reaching skyward in fractal forming patterns, Escheresque if viewed with a fixed gaze, a sturdy trunk rising up from the rocky Soil of Shadow Mountain to create a strong pillar for its days and nights held in one place, its Roots below unseen holding the whole of it anchored while also reaching, reaching for nutrients, for other Aspens since they are communal, growing in tribes of individuals all bearing the same DNA, consider the Aspen.


    Kavanah. Intention. When I went on my mushroom pilgrimage, I set the intention of examining what it meant to live life fully. Now. I got the answer from deep in my Soul, from my Chayah*, my supra-rational self—the seat of will, desire, commitment and faith. Surrender. To live fully you must include Surrender.

    What does that mean, my friend Bill asked? I wrote this a few posts back:

    “To live fully I need to open up, accept what’s coming. Greet the new year with arms spread wide for what it brings rather than what I can make happen. Well, not rather than. I mean, I’ll still take up arms, of course I will, but I learned yesterday that I have another option. To embrace, to wait, to listen, to let the world and its wonders come to me.” from December 20 post, Surrender Charlie

    From that nugget the notion of faith began to vibrate in my mind, in my soul, my Chayah in a different way. What if that was the element I had missed all my life? Faith that included surrender. Not just faith as an outgrowth of intellectual work, of considering arguments, logic, but also of allowing my Self, my Soul to sink into a place of confidence, of knowing without knowledge, of commitment to a path because the path itself was the way. An almost Taoist thought, I just realized.

    Great Sol projects life giving energy 93 million miles through the vacuum of space where a bit of it lands on the Lodgepole I see out my window. That ohr, that light, both makes the Needles of this Pine Tree visible to my eye, but also starts the magic, the miracle and yes, both words fit of photosynthesis. All across Mother Earth this miracle happens. Blades of Grass, Leaves of Flowers and Vegetables, of Deciduous Trees, of Seaweed, of Moss and Wheat gather in this long traveled energy and convert Great Sol’s ohr into chemical energy, sugars, that provide the whole animal kingdom including humans with food.

    I see, have been seeing this miracle since that Spider wove its web over our kitchen window at 311 E. Monroe. The Garden Spider with her black and yellow abdomen ran up and down her web gathering her life energy from insects that gathered theirs from plant life. It has taken me decades to see this miracle all the time. Now though I look out my window and bang, there’s a revelation. The sacred interconnectedness of all things. Not found in a book or a sanctuary or a puja or on a meditation pillow but right in front of my sacred eyes! How marvelous is that.

    It is one, this vast blooming buzzing chaos I can see is not chaotic, rather it is a pulsing and living part of a vast, so vast, sacred whole in which we humans move and live and have our being. And we Jews say YHWH-I was/I am/I will be-is also one. I say it every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake up. The Shema. I say it when I leave my house and when I return. It’s written in the mezuzahs on my door frames. I say we are part of, not apart from this sacred whole that has no beginning and will have no end.

    And I became a Jew because I found others sacred to me who wanted to celebrate this, this wonder. And, yes, I’ll even say, I have faith in Jewish civilization as a path which unveils the sacred, which includes me, and will include me, will support me, will remember me.

    And which includes you, dear reader, and all that surrounds you. And all of us.


    *”Our sages have said: “She is called by five names: Nefesh (breath), Ruach (wind/spirit), Neshamah (breath), Chayah (life) and Yechidah (singularity).”2 The Chassidic masters explain that the soul’s five “names” actually describe five levels or dimensions of the soul. Nefesh is the soul as the engine of physical life. Ruach is the emotional self and “personality.” Neshamah is the intellectual self. Chayah is the supra-rational self—the seat of will, desire, commitment and faith. Yechidah connotes the essence of the soul—its unity with its source, the singular essence of G‑d.” Chabad.org




  • A Mid-Morning Nota Bene

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon


    Out to the 280 Cafe for breakfast. A not so hot omelette and a wonderful pancake. Delivered by attentive Monique. The usual mix of rancher types with the big hats, tourists in hiking wear, and a few folks in camo.

    As I came in the restaurant, I saw a small boy with a big cowboy hat. I was going to say I liked it, but he saw me and said, “I’m a cowboy!” You sure are. “And I have cowboy boots.” He lifted his right leg, pulled up his jeans. Sure enough. “They’re for when I ride a horse.”


    After I’d finished my breakfast, Monique came by and said I could stay as long I wanted and read. I’ll take care of you.

    A bit after that I stopped reading, took a sip of good coffee, and looked outside. A big white pickup gleamed showing its chrome. In that moment I experienced a bit of double vision, seeing the truck and seeing beyond the truck. Surprised me since pick up trucks are not many-pointed Elk bulls looking at me from the rain.

    What if? My mind goes there. What if this is the Other World? What if this realm between the two gateways: birth and death is the dreamed of realm, the realm of legend and story. The Mexica imply this when they say life is a dream between a sleep and a sleep. What really got challenged for me was my sense of reality, of the thisness of this world I wander through each day. The pickup truck a fever dream of some wannabe cowboy, maybe the kid grown up, then dead. A Truman show moment of seeing into this realm from above or from the side.

    May have been occasioned by my wonderings about myeloma, about what comes next. If anything. I found it oddly comforting that this place I hold so dear might be only a way station, an ancientrail between being chosen for birth and finding our next path after leaving here.


    Final note: a company’s motto, seen on a truck: Secure destruction you can trust.






    boy, destruction, other world


  • How bout that

    Summer and the Summer Moon Above

    Saturday gratefuls: Pavilion L at Denver Health. Travel Clinic. Those two nurses. Typhoid vaccine. Immunocompromised. Joe Mama’s. Alan. Driving down the hill. A cool but clear day so far. Rain yesterday. Rabbi Jamie’s 18th anniversary. The potluck. Ice Cream from Liks. Seeing Sally, Ann, Ellen, Dick, Alan, Cheri, Helen, Rich, Kim, Rich’s mother, Irene, Elizabeth, Susan. A community. My community. An informal conversion. Me. Crossing the Threshold. A ritual. Herme, a one man show. Anemia. Weariness.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Alan and me

    One brief shining: Yesterday in a ten foot wide breakfast place Joe Mama’s Alan and I managed a feat worthy of an updated Buster Keaton sketch wherein I arrive early and take a seat at a two-topper right ear against the wall and back to the door order coffee looking at the menu until I decide to text Alan thinking he’s found the place as hard to locate as I did only to discover a text had come in from him saying the same huh so I turn around as Alan gets up from the table behind me where he’s been sitting for ten minutes having just read my text. Oh.


    Still laughing about that one. Once a month I drive down the hill and go to breakfast with Alan somewhere in the west Denver metro. This time it was Joe Mama’s. A clever name. I missed it twice. It’s situated between Celebrity Tattoos and The Glass Pipe Shop in a tiny strip mall on busy Colfax. My deaf left ear to noise, my right ear protected by a wall sound comes to me much more clearly, with or without hearing aids. So my back to the  door since the two-tops were only on the right side as you enter. Alan missed me when he came in and we sat like teenagers across the table from each other texting unaware of the other’s presence. Funny.


    Finished a session with Rabbi Jamie on Jewish prayer. Can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I am. I’m gonna convert. Or, join up. Or, whatever. It wasn’t so much about this session as it was a journey of the heart, a long one. A really long one.


    Just sent this note to Jamie:
    Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I want to go through the conversion process. Not so much to convert, I believe I’ve already done that in my heart, but to get more of the shared language of Judaism. That way I can appreciate the opportunities at CBE much more.

    Been on my mind for a while, but the recent work with metaphor and this morning’s work with the prayers has opened a way in for me at the human, non-metaphysical level I hadn’t felt before.
    Said I was done with joining things. Well, I was. Now, I’m not.


    Let me give you a brief synopsis of the journey: As an anthropology student, I had an assignment to visit a synagogue and write it up from an anthropological perspective. It felt very foreign to me. Somewhat foreboding. At the same time I was dating a Jewish girl and met her parents. He was a jeweler, but very well read in philosophy which was also my major at the time. That really impressed me.

    After my first philosophy class at Wabash demolished Christian proofs for the existence of God, I exited the Christian faith and became an existentialist vis a vis Camus.

    You know already, most of you, about my seminary and ministry experience focused, I now know, on the God as judge metaphor. God judged our society and found it wanting when it came to caring for the poor, the other, the downtrodden. So did I. So do I.

    I was a Christian. Yes, I was. But the glue that held me there was weak from a theological perspective. Justice has other roots than the New Testament demands for loving the neighbor. So when I felt the need to leave, it was not a difficult change. Especially since I’d found Kate and she me.

    At the time I found Kate I was also dating Caroline Levy and had a connection, never acted on, with Ellen Sue Stern. All three Jews. I had also made a vow to myself during college that I would not seek spiritual guidance outside the Western tradition. Why? Because culture is so powerful I believed we could only reach profound understanding with Western inflected religious tradition.

    I mostly followed that. No Buddhism. No Hinduism. Well, almost none. Taoism however did exert a pull on me. And remains an integral part of my essentially animist approach to finding the sacred.

    Then Kate and I moved to Shadow Mountain and because of her earlier conversion found Congregation Beth Evergreen. I became an embedded pagan over the last eight years first as Kate’s husband and then on my own right. I was happy with that until this morning. Now I want to move all the way inside the miskhan, the sacred temple that is the Jewish people.

    I’ve probably known I would do this since Patty told me Have a nice Easter and unbidden rose within me no, I’m a Passover guy. That was my clue that I’d converted in my heart already.

    So I’m gonna do it. Yes, I surprised myself here. Happy to do so. Consistency as my evergreen buddy Ralph Emerson says is the hobgoblin of small minds.


  • Herme and Religion’s Institutional Decline in the U.S.

    Summer and the Summer Moon Above

    Wednesday gratefuls: Shirley Waste. Joan. Abby. Debbie. Alan. Marilyn. Tal. Rebecca. Cold Mountain. China. Chinese art and poetry. Asia. The arts of Asia. Song dynasty painting and ceramics. The Japanese tea ceremony. Ichi-go, ichi-e. Wabi-Sabi. Korean celadon. Ukiyo-e wood cuts. The temples of Angkor and Bangkok. Haiku. Zen. Chan Buddhism. Applause last night when I finished reading Cold Mountain poems. Keys on the Green. Beet salad and a Reuben. Coffee. With Rebecca Martin. Heated days. My fan, air purifier, oxygen concentrator, and mini-split on cool. All electric sleeping aids.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Spoken Word

    One brief shining: Last night I learned again how pleasant it is to have people clap for something I’ve done when all I did was read poetry by Cold Mountain out loud stopping between 10 poems for dramatic effect and interpreting his condensation of Mountain recluse scholar life.


    Herme, the character for my character study class, has begun to emerge. His first work has been identifying 8 to 10 poems of Cold Mountain to use as the core of his piece. I have at least two other components to add to the project. A way of introducing the Hooded Man of the Wildwood Tarot Deck as Herme himself. Then weaving into his major arcana characteristics the Celtic ways of the Old Grey Magician. I want Herme to blend the Hooded Man and the Old Grey Magician into one person. Following that I need to figure out a way for Herme to introduce himself and the poetry of Cold Mountain without becoming didactic. The obstacle I feel right now is the gulf between the world of the Celts and Tarot  and the somewhat hard edged, very Chinese world of Cold Mountain. The bridge is the reclusive nature focus. I know that much.

    I toyed on the way home last night from acting class-driving up the hill between Shadow Mountain and Black Mountain-with doing the whole project as a one act play. My aim would be introduce the not well known in the U.S. Chinese tradition of Rivers and Mountains poetry to Mountain audiences. The reception of Cold Mountain’s work the two times I’ve read them has been wonderful. Part of it is Cold Mountain’s rendering of life in the Mountains away from the dust of urban life delivered to an audience of Mountain dwellers. Might be fun. A playwright? Why not?

    Acting calls on different aspects of my person than my usual reading and writing. Emotions. Body. Alertness to an audience. Ability to read the words of others in a manner that conveys meaning using all of those tools. I find the challenge energizing. Not looking forward to the memory work however. I have to get better at that. Somehow.


    How bout those Southern Baptists? Doubling down on, well, stupidity. Closing doors left slightly ajar that allowed women, oh the shame of it, to mount pulpits and lead congregations. This article in today’s NYT, The Largest and Fastest Religious Shift in America is Well Underway, is the most recent of four articles focused on the secularization of American life. A phenomenon already well played out in Europe. In the article they argue that those institutions with high barriers to entrance also have high barriers for leaving and have suffered less attrition than those like my previous religious home, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. which were more liberal in their theologies. Yet they too have begun to decline, a long slow ride to virtual irrelevance as far as the broader culture is concerned.

    Many years ago in the 1980’s I got my Doctor of Minister degree. My thesis way back then was on the decline of the Presbyterian church and other liberal Christian denominations. I don’t even remember my arguments. I’ll have to get the thesis out and read it again. I used to be pretty knowledgeable about all this.

    Oddly I still believe in religious institutions but not ones with high barriers to entry and leaving. I believe in them as small communities where friendships can develop, where life’s big questions can be explored, where life’s transitions can receive ritual expression, and where the knowledge of the past can inform and leaven the present. Reconstructionist Judaism does it for me, at least in its CBE expression. But any religion could open itself in the same way. And I hope they do because religious life is an ur part of human life, one developed long before academics and politics and cell phones, and one with a vital human contribution to make.




  • Paradise, bad. Tempter, good.

    Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Feeling almost whole. Paradise. Rental agents. Kep’s legs. The trash. Cooking for myself. That chicken from Rich. French toast. Whipped cream. Ruby. My ride. Kailua. Looking better and better. Or, Kaneohe. Though, windward, tsunami side. Robert Martin. Express mail to Vanguard. Depositing my TABOR check. Healing. The wonder of the body.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Agency


    Paradise. A walled Garden in the original Persian, perhaps a hunting preserve. Paradise, a walled Garden for Creation, guarded by an angel with a flaming sword. Been thinking about walled gardens we humans create for ourselves. Gated communities. The Garden of Eden, the first gated community.

    Our versions of paradise: Religions and their variants. Political ideologies. Ethnic purity. Even our own homes. That castle of our own. Skin color.

    Inside these walled gardens we follow the same version of truth. The supremacy of white skinned humans. Submission to Allah. The Presbyterian version of the Christian story. Or, the Episcopal one. Or, the Pentecostal one. Or, the Roman Catholic one. I’m French. Swiss. American. Malawi. Aboriginal. I fly the Gadsen flag on my pickup. I’m a liberal. A libertarian. A Trumpist. A Nazi. An anarchist.

    We mold and shape our perceptions of reality to conform to the presuppositions and biases of our walled Garden. This is confirmation bias. Selective perception.

    Each of our walled Gardens also has its own Serpent, its own tempter, who hisses, “Eat of this Tree and you will know all.” This tempter might be biblical scholars who created the documentary hypothesis. Or, that little voice that whispers, “Other people with different skin colors don’t seem so bad.” Or, “What about traditions and heritages that give our lives richness?” Or…

    There are so many walled Gardens. So many. Each with their gatekeepers, each with their own tempter. Each with their own Tree and its Fruit. What purpose do they serve? Tamping down ambiguity. Making the inevitable choices of our lives simpler. Creating a matrix against which we can lay our life and determine its worth.

    I’m white. A superior race. I deserve my place above the mud people. I’m a liberal. The best political perspective. Why can’t those conservatives understand that? I’m Swiss. Sorry, but you’re not.

    Easier to decide who to marry. What job to take. Where to live. Who to listen to. What flag to salute.

    Here’s the thing though. Paradise was always an illusion. Those walled Gardens keep you in, narrow your world, define it in ways that often are harmful both to you and to others. Those gatekeepers. That angel with the flaming sword? Keeping you in.

    That tempter. May be your guide out of Paradise. That Fruit. That Tree. Eat from it. Right now. It will taste good. Your eyes will open to the complicated, messy, never right or wrong world. Your life will become harder. You’ll have to choose without guard rails. There will be cliffs and sinkholes.

    Help enough friends to do the same and you can take out the gatekeeper, walk out of the garden, and into the world as it is. As you were meant to know it. Neither bad nor good. Neither right nor wrong. Filled with the riches of people with different skin colors, of other heritages and traditions, of other nationalities, of other political perspectives.

    This is the Field Rumi speaks of, the one beyond good and bad. Go out there, past the gatekeeper of your walled Garden, and I’ll meet you there.

  • The Lady and the Hermit

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon


    Saturday gratefuls: Bonnie. Sefer Yetzirah. Rebecca. The Guardian. The New York Times. The Washington Post. The Denver Post. The Alexandria Times-Tribune of blessed memory. Kate, always Kate. Alan. Judy. Joan Nathan. Rigel, the sweet girl. Kep, the independent thinker. Ruby. (even though she is an internal combustion anachronism.)

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: These Rocky Mountains

    Tarot: Four of Arrows, Rest. Wildwood


    The rhythms of our lives. A fascinating question posed by Ancient Brother Mario Odegard:

    “The topic comes from one of the opening lines that Robert Bly said at one of his retreats that has stayed with me for many years. He talked about the absence of an inner rhythm in many men. He referred to this as not paying attention or listening to your inner flow. He asked what kind of “music” are you making with your life: 

    What is the inner rhythm deep inside you, that guides you, that swings you, that keeps you dancing with life? Do you need to create a new rhythm?”


    Thinking about this sent me over an edge into the many rhythms that form the backbeat to our daily lives. Day and night. Heartbeat. Blood pressure’s rise and fall. Breathing in and out. Hunger and satiety. Thirst and refreshment. Weeks. Months. Years. Millennia. Birthdays. The Great Wheel’s seasonal changes. As it leaves, so it comes back.

    There’s another rhythm in and down, out and about. That curious dance between introspection and agency.

    Sleeping and waking. Punctuations. Semi-colons.

    Music, too. Of course. Paradiddles. When I took to the inner rhythm that guides you, swings you, I went somewhere else. To the percussive driving beat of a snare, a fast and steady kick to the big bass drum. Justice. Always. A pushing rhythm, one to thrust me out of my inner fuzziness, my inner doubt and fear. Get out there. Boom. Boom. Boom. Crash. Whish. Go. Go. Go.

    So here’s this archetype, the lady and the scales. The sword. Pillars of authority. A veil between her and the world. Let’s say she’s the one playing the drum set in my soul.

    At the barest hint of unfairness I hear a faint brush of wire on cymbal. Attenhut! Is there more to this? Example. Got my haircut on Tuesday. Jackie. I’ve mentioned her before. A very sweet lady. Kate’s friend first, now mine, too. Jefferson County instituted a mask mandate last week for inside businesses. Jackie had her mask on. I did, too.

    But. “Some of my clients just won’t wear a mask.” Puts her in the position of possibly alienating otherwise regular paying customers. And, does an omicron layoff lie just over the horizon? The combination of alienated customers and the financial cataclysm of a shutdown could ruin her financially.

    Not. Fair. Jackie’s in her sixties I imagine. She’s worked hard, on her own, for forty years. Yet she now has to enforce a sensible, but to some, very unwelcome government rule; or, go ahead and cut their hair. Which is what she chooses to do for business and personal reasons. Some of these folks, outside the anti-vax madness are her friends.

    Then my mind goes to other hair stylists, nail salons, barbers, mom and pop shops, shoe repair stores, anywhere one or two folks are both work force and proprietor. Lots of people. Especially in lower income communities, yes, but not only there.

    I play out in my head the steps it would take to organize enough of these folks to demand some simple JUSTICE. Why? Because this rhythm has ruled my life since I was young. I let most of the situations I discover like this, and they are legion, go. Can’t be all things. Too tired and old. Don’t want to anymore. But there’s always the chance, in the operetta that is my inner life, that one will snag me, draw me in past the oh, I wonder what would happen stage.


    It’s time for a new rhythm. One more to the tune of the Hermit. See what I did there? I’m thinking lutes and harps. Renaissance notes. Quiet. Seeking silence and contemplation like the drummer seeks justice. Justice has had at least 65 years to develop a presence, so I don’t imagine she’ll leave. But the Hermit has been around a long time, too. The guy on retreat. The guy who sought Christian mysticism, who studies Kabbalah and tarot. Astrology. The guy wanting to go in and down, not up and out.

    Herme may be the balance to Justice, which pushes me up and out. Into the world. Maybe a battle of the bands?




  • What a Beautiful Soul.

    Summer and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Mary in Texas. Diane making plans. 44 again this morning with Rain overnight. Paying bills yesterday. Chicken Saltimbocca from Easy Entrees. Jon, Ruth, and Gabe coming up Wednesday evening. Blue Sky. White Clouds. Bright Sun.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Touching conversation with Kate’s friend, Lauri Knox. Learning how Kate talked about loving me to her. Grief. Memories of Kate.


    Early 2015

    Much as I dislike it I spent time on the phone yesterday making sure our dental insurance got changed to one person, paying a bill dating from cataract surgery last fall. Changing credit card numbers for ongoing billing. Fun. Exciting. Domestic thrills.

    My goal right now is to clear out all the outstanding bills, medical and otherwise, then get started on the new, regular budget. Have to get Social Security survivor’s benefits. That will help. Today.

    Even though it’s nit picky and detail oriented (to this big picture guy) I find this work satisfying. I like paying people for services they have rendered. Makes the equation balance.

    Got the house cleaned yesterday. Marina Harris and Furball Cleaning. The place feels so much better afterwards. Smells better, too.

    Once the bills and budget stuff finish up working on Kate’s clothing, jewelry comes next. Pruning the walkout, that big closet next to the boiler. Various drawers and shelves. Kate’s chest of drawers.

    Long arm

    Lauri Knox came over yesterday to look at Kate’s long-arm quilter. She’s a friend of Kate’s from Bailey Patchworkers. As she left, she said, “What a beautiful soul she was.” We talked then about Kate, about how she was. About her spot on the bench, a place made holy by her presence there. On a bench made by Jon, designed by her.

    She also said Kate used to talk about how much she loved me. This brought tears to both of our eyes. Lauri couldn’t remember the words, but the feeling of unconditional love, she said, was always present. I find these moments so special, as if Kate has reached across the veil and touched me. The tears they produce are lacrimae, sacred and purifying.

    She also asked me if I was going to move. “A lot of people just can’t be in the house. So many memories.” No, I said, I plan to stay. I’m not that kind of person. I didn’t say that memories of Kate in this house make me smile. Feel good.

    Both Lauri and Jackie, our hairstylist, live in Bailey, a small mountain town further west from Conifer about 15 miles. Both of them, too, have a latter day spiritualist understanding about death. Lauri has a memory bench where she goes to talk to her mom and dad. “I’ve not sensed Kate, not yet anyway. She’s off on her own adventure.”

    Jackie has offered twice to give me the number of a psychic who lives in Indiana and helps her communicate with the spirit world. When I was in last week to get a haircut, she said about Kate, “She’s up there channeling right now.”

    Christianity is a similar story. It’s not hard to see how it can produce offspring in secular religiosity. When I go to my class reunions in Alexandria, I stay at a Christian Spiritualist camp in nearby Chesterfield. Not a huge movement anymore, but one with roots well down in the soil of Victorian England. Check out what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought was his most important work. Hint: It wasn’t Sherlock Holmes.

    Not a lot different from the day of the Dead, Samain, All Saints. See the wonderful Pixar movie, Coco.

    What happens on the other side? Hell if I know. My best guess is extinction. But it’s just that, a guess, and no more well-informed than any other guess. In fact I hope I’m wrong. It would be delightful to think of finding Kate again, of finding Celt and Vega and Tully and all the others. Playing in the Fields of the Lord. Whatever that might mean.

    Not holding my breath though.

    Breakfast, then calling social security. Big fun.



  • Minding the Gap

    Fall and the RBG Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Two ayes for two eyes. Clearer, some fuzziness. Supposed to go away. Easy to read computer screen. No pain. Tony’s. The clerks at Tony’s. Kate’s wrist improving. This mythic sky. Fall. Courage. Sadness. Springtime for inner work. The days and nights of the year’s last half. The harvest. The rut.

    Come into me, spirit of Fall. As I drove down Shadow Mountain yesterday, the golden glory of autumn Aspens against the evergreen Lodgepoles, all on soaring Mountain sides, this prayer came, unbidden. Soon my hand moved in a waving motion, like the sageing rituals of the Lakota, wafting the vision of Fall I could see into my heart, into my soul.

    Judaism emphasizes kavanah in prayer. Intention. I wondered, what is the intention of this prayer? Why has it come to me?

    Minding the gap. That’s the intention, I understood this suddenly, too. The gap between my self-understanding as a distinct and separate living being and the World outside my car window. It is a false understanding, made to appear real by the mind we carry and the body that is its vehicle. I am part of the Fall, part of its courage and sadness. Part of its springtime for Soul work.

    The Great Wheel turns. We live through its Seasons. Its Seasons live through us. Invite the Season into your body, into your Soul. Live within it, not as an observer only.

    Then. The Mountains. What do they mean? Strong. Hard. Tall. Shansin make me strong, hard, and tall like Black Mountain, like Shadow Mountain, like Conifer Mountain. Raise the mountain in me, let it support and define me.

    Then. The Aspens. Make me aware of the living links I have with friends and family. Like the Aspen Grove. Interleaved. Sharing nutrients and knowledge and warnings. Then, no, not like the Aspen Grove, as the Aspen Grove. Help me feel the rootlets of these Aspen, these Lodgepole supporting me, feeding me, making me aware of what’s coming.

    Why these prayers, these meditations, came to me, I can’t say. They were powerful and sank into me, radiated back out of me. I was one with the Fall. One with the Mountains. One with the Aspen Groves.

    The Great Wheel has within it the learnings we need. And, apparently, will grace us with them when we need them. Blessed be.

  • Unanswerable Questions.

    Fall and the RBG Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Orion, clear and distinct, like Descartes wanted his ideas. The night sky, visible again! Meatloaf from Easy Entrees. Learning to sleep all night on my side. The lens in my left eye. Kate, waiting for relief. Ruth will watch Kiss the Ground. Groveland wanting to hear me again after all these years. It’s Beyond Me.

    Three days post-op now. Biggest surprise so far was Orion, there. No longer several bursting flares, but his own, distinct self. Rigel there, too, his left foot, bright and clear. Ah. It’s good to see an old friend looking well.

    I no longer need glasses for television. But, I did order three pair of 2.5 cheaters off Amazon. I can still read now with my right eye, but that goes away on the 8th of October. With the artificial lens I can’t focus anymore.

    This surgery is such a good metaphor I wonder why it’s not deployed more often. Our vision gradually becomes clouded, the world becomes less and less easy to see. What do we need to remove our political cataracts and gain a humane vision? Those cataracts that have developed over years of lesser evils and disappointing politicians. Do we all come with the cataracts of racism and classism or do we develop them over time? Who will be our surgeons?

    Shifting. It’s Beyond Me. I’ve had fun gathering answers to Groveland UU’s question: What are the origins of religious beliefs?

    Finding an anthropologist, Harvey Whitehouse, has worked on the subject pleased me. He’s a cognitive anthropologist, a specialty that had little footing when I studied anthropology back in the late 1960’s. They study the way our mind shapes our understanding, rather than the understandings themselves. Whitehouse’s work is bloodless, but it has high points.

    This presentation has to be a discussion. It asks an unanswerable question, my favorite kind. Each of us has an intuition about the answer. It will be interesting to learn what others have concluded. I have several notions to throw into the pot, but the answer is lost in the long ago, far away.

    Doing presentations is a delight. I get to do research. I get to think about a topic. My ideas and conclusions get an airing. Feedback comes. On occasion cash, too.

    It’s also unsettling. The research has to stop. The thinking must end. No matter how tentative, the ideas must be articulated. Exposed. Naked. And, in person.

    My work doesn’t include the realm of the certain. I cannot say what the origin of religion is. No one can. Then I here Wittgenstein, of that about which we cannot speak, we must be silent. I only speak about such matters. A challenge, for sure.

    So right now I’m anxious, teeth a bit clenched. Zoom adds another layer of uncertainty. Also a layer of experiment, of trying something new.

  • A Hard Place to Be

    Summer and the Moon of Justice

    Sunday gratefuls: My partner, Kate. Our sweet girl, Rigel. And, our good boy, Kepler. Kate’s stoma site looking better. The front yard, looking clean and foresty with the stumps gone. The backyard looking good, will look better before Labor Day. Window cleaners, gutter cleaners in August. Yeah. Rethinking our Covid life. Republican, Trumpian angst.

    Every limbo boy and girl
    All around the limbo world
    Gonna do the limborock
    All around the limbo clock
    Jack be limbo, Jack be quick Chubby Checker, 1962

    Remember the limbo? Wonder how we’d all do now? Those of us in the Boomer brigade. Would not be pretty, I imagine. Kate and I used this word today to name a source of sadness. Covid has put our lives in a limbo between then, PC, and, whenever, post-C dominance of life. Her illness puts our lives in limbo between our old life together and whatever happens next. In some ways the third phase is a limbo phase between the younger, active days of education, family, career, and that old scythe wielder in the black hoodie, death.

    Limbo was an abode near hell, a permanent eternal home for the just who died before the birth of Jesus and those who died unbaptized. Limbo is the ablative form of limbus, or border. Reminded me of liminal. Comes from a Latin word that means threshold. On the threshold of hell lies a well-bordered realm for those who couldn’t fit into a medieval Roman Catholic understanding of theodicy.

    Yes, that’ll do. We are, through no fault of our own, needing to stay at home, in limbo, our homes being the border between us and the hell of Covid. And the threshold, the liminal space, is a place now filled with danger and possibility.

    The ancient Celts believed the liminal times of dawn and twilight were magical, the optimal time to work spells, to conduct rituals. Many religious traditions have waking up and going to bed prayers, rituals. Jews, for example pray in the morning to open the literal eye and the metaphorical one. Episcopalians pray at night: “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.”

    Limbo is a tough place to be. Liminal spaces like dawn and twilight, or liminal places like an ocean beach or a lake’s shoreline, offer entrance to another world, one unlike the one we are currently in. At night, sleep. In day, wakefulness. On the beach land underneath us and oxygen in the air, in the water, water beneath us and oxygen trapped, for us, in its molecules.

    What’s beyond the threshold of limbo? A Biden presidency? A world made safer with vaccines, good testing, and contact tracing? A healthier Kate, able to get around more the world? We just don’t know. We are not, however, unbaptized souls trapped in a metaphysical realm, but flesh and blood trapped in a disastrous political situation compounded with a pall created by plague.

    We are souls in waiting. A hard, hard place to be.