• Category Archives Holidays
  • The Longest Days

    Summer and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Orgovyx support. Alan. Joan. Irv. Marilyn. Jamie. Luke and Leo. Covid. Paul. Tom. The life of June 20, 2024. Summer. Solstice. The growing dark. Dogs. Toby. Findlay. Gracie. Leo. Licks and Lila. Zeus. Boo. Thor. The Soil. Cancer. Growing season. The Full Bar Mitzvah Moon tomorrow. The asteroid belt. Mars. Io. Europa. Callisto. Ganymede. The Galilean Moons.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Yin and Yang

    One brief shining: After learning that my insurance company would charge me seven-hundred and fifty three dollars a month copay for the drug Orgovyx, which stops my cancer while the plan and execution of the new radiation take place, I ceased to live in the moment, in the life of each new day, and projected out a depleting bank account, old old age with limited resources; as Jack Benny said when the robber put a gun in his back, “Your money or your life!”. And after a pause from Jack Benny, “I’m thinking about it!” (thanks to Tom for this bit of comedic history)

     

    Learned yesterday that Orgovyx support looked upon my credit report and pronounced it adequately inadequate to pay for the drug. Yay! So, I’ll get the drug for free. Hot flashes here we come.

    As I’ve written here, this has been a harder encounter with cancer news. Again, I’ve been projecting more metastases, more radiation, more hassles with insurance. And, at the same time trying to stay in this day, this new life, the moments of it as they come and go, talking of Michelangelo. Will I wear my trousers rolled?

    That may be the real learning. The wrestling back and forth with cancer has brought me to a new appreciation for the rabbinic ideas of each morning a resurrection, each day a new life. The more I live into them, with them, the better I am at isolating this day as the only life I have. Each moment in this new day as an ichi-go, ichi-e moment.

    What about tomorrow? There is no tomorrow, only a new life on the day you rise up from the grave, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and start life over. A day fresh with possibility and time and precious experience.

     

    Just a moment: The Summer Solstice. The holyday polar opposite on the Great Wheel from the Winter Solstice. Light and dark. Heat and cold. Growing season and fallow season. Summer and Winter. T-shirts and down vests. Working and resting.

    I’ve long rejected the Summer Solstice as an overly exuberant presentation of Great Sol. This year I’ve begun to, are you ready for this, see the Light. Sorry. Anyhow, I emphasized the Winter Solstice in my heart and diminished Summer. Perhaps necessary to rebalance what I see as a too strong embrace of Summer days and too little appreciation for the joys of a Winter night. Yet the gardener in me always celebrated Summer, the season of vegetables, of bees hard at work, of evenings with Kate by our Fire pit.

    So today. In this June 20th, 2024 life I dance around the bonfires, too, joyful about chlorophyll and photosynthesis, about the growth in all the Lodgepoles and Aspens, about Elk Calves and Mule Deer fawns, about the Light which streams down on us, Great Sol’s beneficence granted to us all, the just and the unjust.


  • 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.

    *


  • Memorial Day

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Cool night. Memorial Day. Decoration Day. Parades. School’s over and summer starts. The World. Its many Wild Neighbors. Mountains. Lakes. Ponds. Tides. Tidal Pools. Forests. Trees. Plains. Rivers. Streams. Creeks. Meadows. Valleys. Cultures. Long evolution. Its oneness. Its holiness. Its sacred nature. Our Hullian needs. Our need for fulfillment and satisfaction.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Warriors

    One brief shining: Those parades when heat softened the asphalt on Harrison Street so it could accept treads laid down by the tank from the National Guard Armory, when the guys carrying the colors insisted on wearing their old uniforms, pale stretched skin showing where the buttons held, only just, when last year’s homecoming queen sat prim and straight on the folded convertible top of an impeccably restored 1957 Chevy, when we would stand along the parade route enthralled.

     

    Memorial day. Mom and Dad. Veterans of WWII. Uncle Riley, too. That generation that gave so much. War. A human horror engaged too often for too little reason. Though WWII was not one of those. To have had that great world spasm followed by the never finished Korean War and the unnecessary Vietnam War, then Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya has sullied the warrior class, making them too often pawns of geopolitical maneuvering by oligarchs, dictators, and short sighted politicians.

    Yet. They persist. Often frustrated and hemmed in by those who misunderstand their role. As I once did. Warriors and priests. Old, old roles in human cultures around the globe. Both often abused. Both in my immediate family.

    Easy to forget the purpose of the Lt. Col. who is my son. The USAF. Defense. Not offense. Oaths taken to defend the U.S. against all enemies domestic and foreign. Obedience to civilian authority delivered through the Commander in Chief, the President.

    The military does not define who the enemies are. That’s a civilian responsibility. Often lacking in both reason and ethical justification, yes. But it is the civilian authority who aims and then empowers our military. Only then can they engage.

    Warriors place themselves in harms way to defend their tribe, their people, their nation. This is an ancient and honorable role. Indigenous people in the U.S., in spite of their history, sign up in disproportionate numbers because the warrior class holds such high esteem in their cultures.

    Yes, war is terrible and often, perhaps most often, wrong. That is, engaged not for defense but for seizing land, control of another people, for vengeance. For reasons of profit and misguided fears. For this last think the domino effect.

    The warriors themselves continue on. Learning, training, readying themselves for what might be, for what even they hope may never be. Yet when called they will respond and respond with all that they have.

    I’m not thrilled to have a warrior son. Though I recognize the selflessness of his choice. And the values which led him to choose service to country. I wish he could have become a social worker, a lawyer, a physician. He was pre-med before turning to the Air Force after 9/11.

    Yet over the years I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifice in life-style, income, and personal freedom. I’ve met many of his colleagues and to a person they are warriors, too. Global politics are anarchic and still ruled by might makes right in the minds of many. We need a military, citizens willing to defend us.

    They are who we honor today. Especially those who died as a result of their service.

    All year after the parade we would drive over those tank treads, hardened into a feature of our main street. The slight rumble would remind us.


  • Mary Jane Hits Number One

    Beltane and the Moon of Shadow Mountain

    Friday gratefuls: Ginny. Marilyn. Rick. Luke. Sally. Carol. Fran. Mussar Thursday. Mediguard. My phone/handheld computer. Mark in Bangkok. Mary in K.L. Me on Shadow Mountain. Distributed siblings. A new laptop. Bonobos. USA cleaners. Shirts. Breakfast. Fountain Barbecue. Chicken. Mac and cheese. Barbecue beans. New tires. Big O.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: These two

    One brief shining: The snow has melted in the back, on the ski runs of Black Mountain, the Streams carry Water from the melt, from the Rains of this week; the Grass turned green, inviting Mule Deer adults and young ones over for a quick bite, loving too the dandelion delights all yellow and waiting.

     

    Cannabis is now number one, passing even sturdy alcohol as America’s drug of choice. See this NYT article for more. I recall being in Colorado in 2012 when dispensaries first opened. I went into one, a strange transgressive thrill passed over me. Marijuana! Legal? Nah. Now, a short twelve years later, this news. I suppose all us old folks, each who bought his or her or their share of oregano no doubt, were already primed. Lots of articles too about seniors-neither high school nor college, but demographic-adopting cannabis for regular use.

    Folks who visit me still want to go to the dispensaries. Colorado figured out to how make this transition first and did it pretty well. I used edibles for sleep for a year or two, but no longer. Though I am finding that after a day when my back pounds at me, 5 milligrams of a chill pill (indica) calms me. Of course, that’s not much use when I travel.

    Amtrak reminded us several different times that its trains and stations were Federal property on which Federal law enforcement would snag riders who got off the train at a stop and lit up a joint. Since state law and federal law are in an odd balance, one ignoring the other, manifesting mostly in the now obviously silly Federal ban on banking for dispensaries, it leaves those of us in the many states where cannabis is now legal: 38 for medicinal, 24 for medicinal and recreational, in an odd patchwork of jurisdictions when leaving our home states.

     

    Just a moment: three weeks to my bar mitzvah. Learning goes well. Torah portion learned. Readings for leading the morning service getting there. Need to work on my prayer shawl moves, bending the knee.

     

    Memorial day weekend. The Indianapolis 500. The 108th running. Used to be in the Formula 1 circuit way back. Basketball and the Indy 500, Hoosier sports. Hard to credit how completely the 500 (as we called it) takes over life and news in an Indiana May. Race car trivia, time trails, practice runs. Gossip about the drivers. About the probable size of the crowd. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Capped at the end with the chugging of milk from a glass bottle. A nod to Indiana’s dairy farms and the wholesomeness of the Midwest. (spare me on this last one)


  • Dissonance and its troubles

    Spring and the Passover Moon

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

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Palestinians. Israelis.

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Passed Over

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

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

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Gravity and Water

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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


  • Hongbau

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

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

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Red envelopes

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

     

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

     

     

    *Billing from the Wheatridge Theater Company:

    FuenteOvejuna

    May 31 to June 16

    By Lope de Vega

    Directed by Maru Garcia

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

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


  • Matters Astronomical

    Spring and the waning crescent of the Purim Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Joanne. My blue silk tallit that she made. With the shema on it. Lunch at Nana with her. Parsha Shimini. Kate’s Creek. High Winds today. My Lodgepole companion dancing. New workout. Going well. Zornberg on the Golden Calf. The Navajo. The Beauty Way. Joanne among the Navajo. Cernunnos. Candle lighting for shabbat, for writing.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mountain Winds

    One brief shining: Joanne handed me a blue silk bag with a drawstring, opening it I found neatly folded a tallit, a prayer shawl with tzitzit, knotted fringes, which I removed and unfolded, the shema hand-embroidered on its collar, but I did not know how to put it on and she showed me, a quick pull with the right hand crossing over the left shoulder so the shema turned inward against my neck.

     

     

    Shabbat has changed with Great Sol. When I began observing it, the candle lighting ceremony, which happens eighteen minutes before sundown, took place around 4 pm. Yesterday it was 7:11 pm. Shabbat then extends until 8:11 pm on Saturday. Shabbat lasts 25 hours. I had not expected shabbat observance to ground me in seasonal change, but now I see that’s an inevitable and welcome part of it. Rosh Chodesh likewise. This is a monthly ritual which observes the coming of a new moon and with it a new Jewish month.

    The three pilgrimage holidays of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot also have seasonal significance. Pesach, which celebrates the Exodus, the liberation of the Hebrew slaves, corresponds to planting season. Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, is a first fruits holiday with loaves baked from new grains offered for sacrifice. Sukkot, the festival of booths, is a harvest celebration. Pilgrimage festivals were the high points of the Jewish year during the Temple periods when all Jews came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the temple.

    There is a profound resonance in Jewish festivals and our lunar calendar with the Great Wheel. One this pagan appreciates as a Jew.

     

    Just a moment: Hawkeyes win! In a nail biter. Two close games in a row for Iowa. Now on to the championship.

    On August 20th of 2017 Kate, Ruth, Gabe and I drove north to Driggs, Idaho in a motorhome. Kate’s favorite mode of travel. On the 21st we sat on BJ’s porch eyes covered with Great Sol strength dark lenses and experienced the last total eclipse in the U.S. One arrives again on Monday, almost seven years after our wonderment in Driggs.

    Last one I can see here in the U.S. Unless I live another 21 years and make it to 98. Not impossible, but not at all probable. Glad I got to the one in Driggs. Good friends Tom and Bill will have a chance to see it in Dripping Springs, Texas at Bill’s daughter Moira’s home. Weather forecast does not look friendly.

    I checked it out, but the local Holiday Inn wanted $859 for room rates on and around the eclipse. Nope. If I hadn’t been to Driggs, maybe. But I had.

     

     


  • The Day After

    Spring and the Purim Moon

    Monday gratefuls: And yet more Snow today. Sigh. Yay! The day after Easter. Incarnation. Another big religious idea. April Fool’s day. The Fool in the Tarot deck. April. The cruelest month. Dawn. Spring. Choice points. Choice points that build community. Talking Story. Clan Keaton. San Francisco. Amtrak. Defeating inertia. Lucille’s New Orleans cafe. Alan.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ruth turning 18

    One brief shining: The day after Easter has a dawn, too, can you imagine that day when the disciples and others gathered around the resurrected Jesus, wanting to touch him, to deny, to embrace, to wonder, to laugh, you’re back, and we thought, well, we thought…

     

    No. Again. Does not have to be a historical event anymore than the story of Persephone and Hades, or the Bremen Town Musicians, or Hansel and Gretel. We can still lean into the story, imagine what it might have been like. Use that imagining to flesh out our own response to the idea, in this case, of resurrection.

    Wouldn’t you want to test resurrection? Kick a tire? Look under the hood? See if the idea could unwrap dead selves, dead gifts, dead hopes? I would. I did. Many years of Jungian analysis found me sifting through dreams, through active moments of my imagination, reexperiencing the traumas of Mom’s death. Of the strained and then withered relationship with Dad. Of that moment when I dropped German for fear of a low grade. Of fear itself trapping me in its silk web, bound and trussed, waiting only for the spider to finish its work.

    Then there came that dream, a big dream, as Jung called them. In front of a large crowd I held a sword, lifted it with both hands above my head. He has the power they whispered. He has the power. And I knew I did.

    Yet this use of resurrection is not one and done. No. Throughout our lives we continue to let fear or regret or guilt or shame wrap key moments in a soft protective shell, imagining it’s better that way. There, there. You don’t have to worry about that. We’ll just put a bow on it and place on the shelf here.

    The Easter story says, hey! Unwrap that box. Roll that stone. Take your shears and cut that web, let it drop away. Though your fear sought to protect you it’s time now to say its work is over.

    This is the work of the day after Easter. Work that can only be done in the light of a day when resurrection has become a settled reality for us.

     

    Just a moment: My Midwestern heart loves basketball of all sorts including the reigning NBA champs the Denver Nuggets and the plucky women of Iowa, especially Caitlin Clark, and it beats strong today as Iowa faces LSU, replaying the NCAAW championship game from last year. Go, Hawkeyes!

    My American heart grieves for the people of Baltimore, an already difficult urban area hit with a one hundred thousand ton body blow.

     


  • 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