• Category Archives Great Wheel
  • Penultimate

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Friends. All of them. Near and far. Family. Ruth and Gabe. My son and Seoah and Murdoch. Mark. Mary. Diane. Tara’s help with some additional Hebrew I got for tomorrow. Tara. Irv. Tom. Paul. Marilyn. Heidi. Alan. Jamie. Veronica. Mindy. Kat. Lauren. Elizabeth. Kate and Mike. Kate’s Creek. Kate, always Kate. Great Sol. Exuberant this morning.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Completing a long journey

    One brief shining: The Shema in the morning, I cover my eyes: Listen, God-Wrestler. YHWH is our God. YHWH is one, touch the mezuzah, still sleepy I pick up my phone, take my morning pills, put in my hearing aid, check for dishes and empty cans of mineral Water, try to remember when I took my synthroid, then upstairs to see Herme still lit from the night and turn him off. A new life has begun.

     

    Bar Mitzvah day tomorrow. Today is penultimate, one of Kate’s favorite words. I’ve practiced. A lot. I’m as ready as I can be. Within one year I have converted, completed the studies necessary for conversion, learned my torah portion in Hebrew so I can read it with no vowels and no punctuation from the torah scroll, practiced leading portions of the morning service, gotten my tallit from Joanne and learned how to use it. Tomorrow the Hebrew meets the scroll as we say. Ha.

    It’s not been easy. At times I felt I might founder under the expectations, the constant study. Like learning a new language. The religious language of an ancient people. Yet each step has deepened my conviction about becoming a Jew. Even with the whole Israel/Gaza mess and the aborted trip to Israel.

    Each time I go in the synagogue, if I remember, I wear my kippah. I say we when discussing matters Jewish. My lev, my heart-mind, has shifted allegiances to this oddly rigorous, yet undogmatic spiritual path. My inner pagan remains intact, nurtured now by Rosh Chodesh, the Jewish lunar calendar, Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot, Tu Bishevat as well as the Great Wheel and the unitary metaphysic I claim every morning and evening when I say the Shema. Reconstructionist Rabbi’s like Jamie, Art Green, Toba Spitzer, Rami Shapiro, and Michael Strassfield continue the radical project of Mordecai Kaplan. In doing so they have, for me anyhow, opened my lev to the intimacy of teshuvah and the world-embracing power of tikkun.

    Yes. But that’s not where it started for me. First with Kate. The convert. A slumbering Judaism that got reignited when we moved to Shadow Mountain and found Congregation Beth Evergreen. Rabbi Jamie made it easy for us to be there, even pagan me. Friends that we made made it home.

    It was those friends who engendered the aha that decided me. Those who enter the sanctuary, the mah tovu implies, make the sanctuary sacred. Our friends. Now, after Kate’s death, my friends. My sacred community. Here in the Rocky Mountains. Among the Mountain Jews. Which now include me.

     


  • Taller than its neighbors at Elk Meadow Park, Tree #3

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Occurred to me today that I can honor any tree I want. Doesn’t have to be in my yard though I imagine the bulk of them will be.

    Today I had a blood draw in Evergreen so I drove up Stagecoach Road to one of the many trailheads for Elk Meadows Park. Got out of the car and walked over to the main path. On the left side of the main path was a stand of Lodgepole Pines. Though the elevation was only 7,700 feet they seemed to be doing fine.

    Probably influenced by reading Wild Trees I chose the tallest of those in the grove for my honoring.

    A sense of the Park
    The tallest in this shot

    This Tree grows in a small Grove on a slightly sloped area. A Colorado Forestry website says Lodgepoles prefer a slight slope and this Tree has found one. Like my Lodgepole Companion most of their Branches push out from the Trunk toward the Southeast. Also like my Companion this tall Lodgepole has almost no branches toward the Northwest.

    Its lower Branches contained fewer male sex organs than my Companion, but shared this characteristic with its neighbors. Further up they began to proliferate. About two thirds of the way up a row of Branches had female Strobilus that were taller and fuzzier than the others. Don’t know what that means, but some of Tree #3’s neighbors had the same pattern.

    The softer, yellowish pine cones are the male organs. The more erect one in the middle is female which will transform over time into serotinous cones. Serotinous cones have heavy pitch sealing the precious seeds inside. Only the heat of a Forest Fire will cause the pitch to melt and allow the seeds to disperse onto the scorched earth.

    When you live in the Mountains, it is so easy to drive past the Trees, seeing them only as a barrier to accessing the slope of the Mountainside. Or, to see them and think they’re all alike. If you’ve seen one Lodgepole, you’ve seen them all. They do share many characteristics. Altitude and soil preferences. Monoecious reproduction. A thin bark. A susceptibility to Fire, especially Fires that advance from Crown to Crown. The hardest for smoke jumpers and hotshots to control.

    Yet they are all different. All unique individuals expressing their full potential in that one spot where they grow, adapting their Branching strategies to the microclimate of other Trees, position on a Mountain, shelter or not from Storms, the nutrient value of the Soil.

    The bark of Tree #3

     


  • I’m Into Something Good. Oh, yeah…

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Cool night. Elk. Mule Deer. Fox. Great Sol. The Great Wheel. The Great Work. The Jewish Year. Wild Trees. Ancient Forests. Sequoias. Coastal Redwoods. Bristlecone Pines. Kabbalah. Shekinah. The Sabbath Bride. Emergence. Lodgepoles. Aspens. Jewitches. Love. Justice. Compassion. A direction, a purpose. A way to live.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Emergence

    One brief shining: Before the closing of the door and before I even open it, I stand hand over my eyes repeating the shema, declaring that I, god-wrestler, find the one to be all and the all to be one, which we might call god or not, but we can call it for sure the interdependent web of all things, all becoming things, everywhere there is a where, stretching from me in front of my bedroom door to the other reaches of this universe, passing by the Crab Nebula and the Horse Head Nebula on its way to a boundary where there can be no boundary.

     

    I’m into something good.* Said this this morning during the Ancient Brothers. An exciting burst of serendipity, synchronicity, plain old enthusiasm. Heading toward eudaimonia. Wow. Sounds manic as I write it. Has some of that flavor. The shovel that uncovered this new path? A dream. And the Dreamers’ response to it.

    And… Here we go. I’m going back to Wabash College. At least that place I was when I was there. Serendipity note: the Herman’s Hermits song below was released in 1964, the summer before my last year of high school, and before my mother’s death in October. Another serendipity note: Herman’s Hermits.

    When I went to Wabash, I had competing emotions, both so very strong. The first. Grief. Unresolved, not understood, in no way dealt with. Mom was dead. I left home to go to this school, at the time highly competitive, and bare my small town intellect to so many others so much smarter than me. Grief and uncertainty. Toxic at best.

    The second. Finally! A liberal arts education. A chance to get into the cultural deposit of the West. (It would be many, many years before Asia showed up in my life.) Philosophy. History. English Literature. Languages. A chance to grow beyond my autodidact years, guided by professors and stimulated by fellow students. Hard to convey the excitement, even relief, I felt at starting college.

    Then German happened. I wanted to read Hegel, Nietzsche, Kant in the original. So I signed up. And floundered. Bad. Got c’s and d’s on quizzes and tests. Where this headed was clear. Abject failure. I did not do the brave and movie worthy thing. Face up to it and overcome. No. I dropped German like a hot potato masher hand grenade.

    At the end of the year summer jobs were hard to find and Wabash was expensive. I decided to go further. Leave Wabash altogether. I’m not big on regret, but this is one of them for me.

    The dream. Said. Go back. Be who you intended to be. The one that got lost along the way. So who was I going to be, the 18 year old version of this 77 year old. I wasn’t sure of anything but my desire to dive headlong into the deep waters of the liberal arts. Where would I come out? No idea. Didn’t want to know. I only wanted the journey. No destination.

    I’ve made a journey, but got off the path of liberal arts, shunted aside by politics and religion. By alcohol and women. By travel and jobs. All ok, all good. Yet not where I wanted to be.

    Now. The tarot card, the Hermit, hangs rendered in neon over my breakfast table. Herman’s Hermits remind me of the year before college, feelings accelerating, ground speed increasing. I’m also reminded of my first response to Kate’s death. I’m going to be a hermit. Hence, the neon. Last year I wrote a one-act play introducing Herme, the Hermit, and Cold Mountain’s poetry. And the dream says, go. Teshuvah. Return to the highest and best you.

    A semi-hermit, a sometime recluse, a happy loner. But one with the permission to study, to write. To go back into the liberal arts and see if, as Israel: God-Wrestler, I can add to the world my own learnings.  About the Great Wheel, the Jewish liturgical year, trees and plants, about process metaphysics, about religion, about poetry and literature, about transformation and metamorphosis. These are the lenses through which I have learned to see the world.

    Next. Organizing my days, weeks, months, years around this Fool’s Journey. After that. On to the diving board, spring up and down. Out into thin air.

    *


  • A Summer Evening. Dreams

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: A summer night. My Lodgepole Companion swaying gently, soaking up Great Sol’s singular gift. A Light Eater. (just got this book) Dreams. Dreams suppressed but not forgotten. The dream group with Irene: Irv, Sandy, Jane, Clara, Susan. Zoom. Chinese food. Evergreen. Its evolution. Changing demographics. Felonious guilty, guilty, guilty.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Hush Money Jurors

    One brief shining: Like you, I imagine, I looked at the headlines, typefaces bold and big, pressing up from the mast head, yes, yes, yes, at last a verdict, a consequence for this man, one venal, shallow, desperate man, who has been my President but never my President, and yet, and yet, a man nonetheless, one with the same generous gift granted us from the long arc of evolution, this body and mind, this ensouled flesh.

     

    OK. As much fun as it is to chart the long voyage of Felonious Sinsbad, I’m gonna stop. For now.

     

    Most of all I want to acknowledge a summer night. Last night. I drove over to Evergreen for a meal at the Coal Mine Dragon restaurant with Joanne, Rebecca, and Terry. A good time was had by all. Around 8 pm we finished and I drove home in the uneven light of a Mountain evening. The temperature hovered in the mid-60’s, gradually declining as I went up in altitude from Evergreen on Brook Forest, then Black Mountain Drive.

    Green Grass, Aspens lit up with chartreuse leaves not yet mature, Willow’s golden with new branches, Red Osier Dogwood bright against them both. The various Creeks and Streams flowed peacefully, calmer now following the powerful runs from last week’s rain. The Lodgepoles of course as backdrop for them all, climbing each Mountain I drove past. The trees of the Arapaho National Forest all well-watered and ready for a season of growth.

    Dusk finds Mule Deer and Elk out for a late meal though I saw neither on the way home.They were enjoying the evening, too, somewhere else in the Mountains.

    Driver’s side window down I drove my usual speed, slower now than in the past, what I consider a speed safe for my Wild Neighbors. The muted light, Great Sol already obscured by the Mountains, but not gone, the comfortable temperature, the Mountains climbing above me, the Creeks and Streams flowing beside the road.

     

    Earlier. Another session with those Irene calls The Dreamers. A collection of folks spread out: Santa Fe, England, Half Moon Bay, Evergreen, Conifer. This time only Sandy and I had dreams. Irene put them in a bowl and drew my name so I started. This one was old, May of 2021, but one that has never left my consciousness. I had never discussed it before yesterday.*

    Not gonna say a lot about it here except to note that the conversation about it has, I think, pushed me much further along the trail. Feeling the latter day purpose of my life growing clearer. I have been trying to give myself permission to lean into study, serious study. And more writing. Perhaps in an Ancientrails style, perhaps fiction. Both? Yes, lifting the veil. Seeing a rich and powerful next chapter emerging.

    Will require more thought, organization. Some decisions about focus. Yet I can feel all of that beginning to surface. At last.

     

    *”The Dream. This was at Wabash, my first college: Several women, including a dean, asked me to return, finish my studies. The men in the dream were rigid, angry. In general and at me. Following the lead of the dean, I said yes. I remember calculating in the dream, “Yes, even now after 56 years.” I can still study, write, learn.

    At a gateway out of the administrative offices a German Shepherd lunged at me from beneath a cloak and proceeded to lick my face. After passing through the gateway, I was put in a fiery chair with some other men. It burned them but was cool to me.

    I had a strong sense of longing, a keen desire to go back, be a scholar/student again. A writer.

    This dream feels important, more so than many of the others I’ve had recently. Not gonna conclude much about it right now. Any ideas, impressions: welcome.”

     


  • Sex and babies!

    Beltane and the Shadow Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Sarah. Healthy salad. BJ and Pamela. Ruth and Gabe. Pollen. Tree sex. Shadow Mountain. Working out. Staying strong. PSA. Testosterone. James Webb Telescope. Writing. Painting. Learning torah. Rabbi Rami  Shapiro. Rabbi Michael Strassfield. Rabbi Toba Spitzer. Breaking new ground.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Life, mystery and miracle, ordinary

    One brief shining: The season of rampant sex in the Plant kingdom has begun, trees leading the way up here Elm, Juniper, Maple of which we have few, but when it comes time for the yellow dust to settle all round the house, to line the puddles when it Rains, to coat the furniture and make housekeeping hard, then it will have well and truly begun for us above 8,000 feet, and my windows will have to close so I can sleep.

     

    This is also the time of birth. Wild Neighbor nurseries filled with Mule Deer Fawn, Elk Calves, Mountain Lion and Fox Kits, Black Bear Cubs. A lot of youngsters learning the way of things in the Mountains. Plenty of water for them right now with Streams still full and fast. Fresh young grass and new plant shoots. Prey, too, for the Predators as the cycle of life offers no free passes in the Arapaho National Forest.

    Easy. Too easy to drive down the hill toward Evergreen, passing Maxwell Creek Trailhead, Cub Creek, Black Mountain, Shadow Mountain, Kate’s Creek and Valley and forget the busy and wonderful community of Wild Creatures living, thriving just out of sight. Their lives as palpable and momentous to them as ours are to us, as wonderful and fraught.

    I found new grass! Good water! Let’s go back to the den. I want to play. Be careful. See, you hide here and wait. Where are my babies?

    In short or long lives the gathering of molecules and atoms into sentient beings brings to our Planet joy and diversity and playfulness. As we all move through this world with eyes, bodies, feathers, fur, wings, legs, we participate in a bacchanal of sensory stimulation. Gaia showing herself to herself. Gaia celebrating the multiple inventions, mutations, and transformations she can engender. What a show.

     

    Just a moment: Then of course there’s a helicopter crash in the foggy Elburz Mountains of northern Iran. There is, too, the International Criminal Court seeking warrants against Netanyahu and the Hamas leader Sinwar. Makes sense to me.

    Here in our benighted republic the election of 2024 grinds on in its caricature of a Presidential election year. The good President reviled and unloved; the bad President on trial in many courts, still the nasty racist son-of-a-bitch he’s always been, yet somehow leading in the polls. I can only shake my head, then stop and put that same head in my hands.

    That ship, the Dali, that took out the Francis Scott Key bridge has headed back to port.

    Meanwhile war continues in the Ukraine and in the Gaza Strip.

    I could go on, but you know, too. May you live in interesting times.

    BTW*

     

     

    The Phrase Finder website says: “‘May you live in interesting times’ is widely reported as being of ancient Chinese origin but is neither Chinese nor ancient, being recent and western.”

    According to the site, the phrase was originally said by the American politician, Frederic R. Coudert, in 1939. He referred to a letter Sir Austen Chamberlain wrote to him in which he stated:

    . . . by return mail he wrote to me and concluded as follows: “Many years ago, I learned from one of our diplomats in China that one of the principal Chinese curses heaped upon an enemy is ‘May you live in an interesting age.’”

    Despite this, it does not appear to actually come from China and is not clear to have existed before Sir Austen Chamberlain allegedly said it.

    grammarpartyblog

     

     


  • 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.


  • A Great Wheel look at Easter

    Spring and the Purim Moon

    Friday gratefuls: That white Water Buffalo in Bangkok. The museums of San Francisco. Amtrak. Ruth and Gabe. Mussar. Ginny and Janice. A week of meals with friends. Upcoming. Warmer weather. Still plenty of Snow on Shadow Mountain. Korea. Birth rates. Climate change. Dawn. Bechira and Kehillah. Jesus. Good Friday. Easter. Pesach.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Resurrection

    One brief shining: Mussar yesterday with Ruth on my left and Gabe on my right both participating, Gabe read, Ruth said you had to choose among your expectations of yourself and the expectations of others, not let either one have authority over the other, out of the mouths of teenagers.

     

    Brother Mark asked if I had any reflections on Good Friday.* Made me wonder what was good about it. See below. Not sure why I didn’t know that already, but I didn’t. The crucifixion. No thoughts on the crucifixion make sense without consideration of the resurrection. Related by blood.

    Let me put this out there, then go on. Good Friday and the New Testament account of it has led to most of the anti-semitism experienced in history. Jews in these accounts, the High Priest in particular, not only participated in the crucifixion but caused it. The crowds want Barabbas. Jewish authorities ask Pilate to crucify Jesus for blasphemy. These stories have shaken Jewish communities throughout Europe and the West. Deicides. God killers. Unfortunately the history of Jews in the West has taken place in parallel with the history of Christianity, so Jews have always been considered over against the Christian story. Wonder what the cultural reception of Jews could have been without this.

    OK. Bracketing those thoughts. It’s a profound and important religious mythology, the story of the dying and rising God. Osiris. Inanna. Dionysus. Jesus. The vegetative cycle writ in mythological tales. The death of the fallow time. The rising to new life of Spring. The growing season and its devolution toward harvest and the next fallow time.

    In other words all those good Friday services with the sorrow, the black cloth over the crosses, the recollection of the crucifixion itself, can be read as a ritual reenactment of plant death as winter approaches. Then, like Persephone Jesus descends into the fallow time, into death, into the soil, only to have a glorious waking up morning in late March or early April just as Spring arrives in the temperate latitudes.

    I find it interesting to see these holy days for Christians through this lens. Why? Because it underscores the powerful hold the cycle of vegetative life has on both our bodily life and on our mythic imagination. This is “real” religion, of course, not the pagan Great Wheel. Right? But what if it is the same story told with different actors?

     

     

    *’Good Friday’ comes from the sense ‘pious, holy’ of the word “good”.[10] Less common examples of expressions based on this obsolete sense of “good” include “the good book” for the Bible, “good tide” for “Christmas”… wiki


  • A Bold Return to Giving a Damn

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Tara. Her new puppy. Cold. Snow. Sleep. Gabriella. A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm. Amazon. New Phone. Wallet. 2024 on the way. Poetry. Road Less Taken. Lines Written at Tintern Abbey. Kubla Kahn. Notes on a Supreme Fiction. Circles. Leaves of Grass. Ozymandias. The Raven. Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The Wasteland. Song of Myself. The Second Coming. And so much else.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Poetry

    One brief shining: The end of another year approaches, our penchant for deciding calendar dates as the always orbiting Earth’s journey around Great Sol continues, brings us to Pope Gregory XIII who chose in October of 1582 in his well known Papal bull: Inter gravissimas to change the rules for leap years to prevent the Julian calendar’s drift away from the solar holidays, oh you didn’t know, well neither did I but Wikipedia did.

     

     

    Gabriella. My adopted Axolotl. She’s swimming in the chinampas canals along with other wild Axolotls who will repopulate the ancient waterways of Xochimilco. I get excited about this project because it’s both the reintroduction of a wild species into its former habitat (see the five Timber Wolves released a week ago in western Colorado) and a project that supports indigenous farming methods healthy for the chinampas themselves. This kind of work will enable our grandchildren to have their best chance to adapt to a warming World.

    A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food relates the story of Will Harris and his disillusionment with Big Ag 30 years ago. The successful transition of his family’s farm to regenerative farming makes compelling reading if you care about the source of your food. This farm is in southwestern Georgia, but it’s an example, not singular.

    The USA Regenerative Agriculture Allliance, Inc trains farmers in regenerative practices. Yes, it’s about good food, food raised without pesticides, fertilizers and other “inputs” that defy the natural cycle and deplete the soil. But, it’s also about how to live in a warming World. Someday regenerative agriculture will use the perennial grains and other crops under development at the Land Institute.

    Want to volunteer in the work of Ecosystem restoration? Look at the Ecosystems Restoration Communities website. They do restoration projects all over the world. The expertise and practical knowledge developed as these organization go about their own individual missions will become the Seedstock for a World that can no longer afford any depletion of natural capital.

    What’s natural capital? An accounting method. That’s right. Accounting. The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University develops accounting methods that define the value of Ecosystems, Oceans, the Water cycle, Forests. Why is this important? Regenerative agriculture is a good example. Corporate farming, by far the dominant model in the U.S. and in most of the World, treats Soil, Crops, and Animals as so many widgets to be manipulated for increased profits. Their accounting methods do not have to take into account the value of the Soil, the Rain, the need for dna diversity in both food Crops and Animals. They don’t have to reckon with the future costs of ruined Soil, the dangers of monocultures in such critical crops as Corn, Wheat, Rice. Maybe they’re not as profitable as they think.

    OK. I’ll stop. For now. But I will return to these adaptive approaches that will help Ruth and Gabe survive in a much changed world.

     


  • A Bar Mitzvah Boy!

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: The brit of Mt. Sinai. Of Abraham. Of Noah. Torah. Midrash. Emunah. Clouds. Mussar. This Jewish journey. Wandering with the diaspora. Rabbi Jamie. Bar Mitzvah. June 12! Shavuot. The Winter Solstice. The Fire last night. Orion and the three quarter Winter Solstice Moon. Jupiter. Darkness. Immanence. Our journey as Earthlings. All my wild fellow Earthlings. And the Earth herself, the Shekinah to Great Sol’s power.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Gabriella, my adopted axolotl

    One brief shining: Put on my kippah and walked up the sidewalk to the synagogue where Rabbi Jamie let me in (everybody has to be let in thanks to anti-semitism), he looked at my kippah, pointed at his, “We have the same hat!”

     

    Yes indeed. A bar mitzvah boy! On June 12th, the holiday of Shavuot, I will read from the Torah with Veronica, Kat, and maybe Lauren. Finally coming of age. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, the making of the Sinai covenant with all Jews of all time. We stood at Mt. Sinai, we stand at Mt. Sinai, we will stand at Mt. Sinai. We will all honor that mystical moment and be honored in return as children/adults of the covenant.

    Moving sorta fast into the whole megillah. This is an adult Brit Mitzvah.* Often for those who did not have a bar/bat mitzvah when they were young, it’s also a way for converts to have the full experience of a Jewish life cycle. I’m excited to deepen my Jewish learning and to expand my circle of friends at Beth Evergreen.

    If you read this and want to come, I’ll post details here later about the day of. For insight into this rite of passage you might want to watch the Adam Sandler film, You’re So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah! on Netflix. It’s funny.

     

    We now have exhausted all the big holidays but two: Christmas and New Years. Holimonth has worked its magic on all of us whether we wanted it to or not. We’ve seen the lights. Lit the candles. Heard the songs. Tasted a cookie or two. Smiled at children excited. We’ve had a quiet moment or two wondering again whether all this bother is worth it, does it really mean anything?

    I come down on the side of yes, oh yes indeed. It’s worth it and it has deep meaning. Maybe not the ones visible on the surface of the Santa Claus gauze thrown over this family holiday called Christmas. Maybe not the story of the brave Maccabees recapturing the Second Temple. Maybe not the story of light returning triumphant on the darkest night of the year.

    Here are meanings I find in Holimonth. We ache for sweetness and love in our lives, for the light of others. We want to share ourselves with family and friends, have them share with us. Sometimes that’s hard to do without prompts. Like Jingle Bells. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. A Christmas tree. Services at the synagogue or church or living room or bar. Reasons to get together, clasp hands, hug. Be merry. Kwanza. New Year’s eve parties. We come together to see the sacred beings in our lives and to be seen as the sacred, unique being we are. These are learnings we can use later in the year during what the Catholics charmingly call Ordinary Time.

    No such thing to me. It’s all sacred time, but I get what they mean. We can’t be on this high all year. Too exhausting.

    So party like the climate is changing, like we’ll see each other next year in Jerusalem, like we’re all the only ones of our kind ever.

    *KAVANNAH [intention]

    The adult bar/bat mitzvah phenomenon is a recent and inspiring trend in American Jewish life.  Since every Jewish adult is regarded by halacha (traditional Jewish law) as a bar/bat mitzvah when they come of age (12 for girls, 13 for boys), the adult bar/bat mitzvah rite of passage is completely volitional.  Those who feel compelled to prepare for a Bat/Bat or Brit Mitzvah as an adult do it by choice, and for a great variety of reasons.  Given the diversity of kavannot (intentions), the program at CBE strives for enough structure to be both formal and flexible — formal enough to facilitate the invaluable dynamics of a group working together, towards shared goals while rooted in tradition, and flexible to accommodate different dispositions, intentions and expectations. Congregation Beth Evergreen


  • Note from the Long Night

    Winter and the Waxing Gibbous Winter Solstice Moon with Jupiter

    Solstice gratefuls: The Fire. The dark. The Night Sky. Elohim.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Jupiter dancing with the Winter Solstice Moon

     

    The Pine in my fireplace burns up so fast throwing heat, casting light, consuming wood. Such a passionate element. While the three quarter Winter Solstice Moon lights up my Lodgepoles and my Aspen, my driveway with a quiet secretive light. Makes her partner in the Solstice gavotte look small, mighty Jupiter giant of planets moves with the slow grace of one so, so distant.

    A Shadow Mountain night in late December throws off little sound. Except a star scraping by another galaxy that wants it to play. Or, a slight Mountain Wind moving the soft Needles of the Lodgepoles. A faint shushing sound. I stood in it, a temporary visitor. Glad to return to the heat of my living room. So soft at 76.

     

     

    God Speaks To Each Of Us

    Rainer Maria Rilke



    God speaks to each of us before we are,
    Before he’s formed us — then, in cloudy speech,
    But only then, he speaks these words to each
    And silently walks with us from the dark:

    Driven by your senses, dare
    To the edge of longing. Grow
    Like a fire’s shadowcasting glare
    Behind assembled things, so you can spread
    Their shapes on me as clothes.
    Don’t leave me bare.

    Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
    Simply go — no feeling is too much —
    And only this way can we stay in touch.

    Near here is the land
    That they call Life.
    You’ll know when you arrive
    By how real it is.

    Give me your hand.