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  • The Very Deep End of the Pool

    Imbolc and the 77 Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Valentine’s Day. Alan. Joanne making me a tallit. Marilyn and all the fire. And, candles. Irv. That Cow Elk on the side of the road between two firetrucks. The smashed SUV. Mussar yesterday. Closing in on a new way of understanding the sacred. Torah study. Amber. Tom. Ellory. Wild Neighbors. Rabbi Jamie. Luke. Leo. My dreams last night. The world of dreams. Sleep last night.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The injured Cow Elk

    One brief shining: I came up the slope from Evergreen Lake, past the Conoco Station on my left, saw flashing lights, and with the usual curiosity wondered what had happened, oh, two firetrucks angled out into the right hand lane, cars alongside none damaged, then in a flash of sorrow between the two firetrucks, a Cow Elk lying on her side, still alive, but down, and beyond the second firetruck an SUV with its hood angled up toward the windshield. Oh.

     

    At mussar Ginny started crying as she recounted seeing the injured elk. I was upset and sad, too. Rabbi Jamie offered a prayer for the Elk, for all those others involved. Wild Neighbors lives matter.

    Seeing this healthy animal struck down gutted me. Senseless death. Elk cross the road all the way from Evergreen Lake to about the turn for the Hiwan Golf Course, a distance of maybe three miles or so. Evergreen puts up road signs to watch for Elk. And often has an LED caution sign about where this accident occurred.

    We tend to speed along this stretch of highway, too. Yes, I do it. Gonna stop. The slower speeds are for the Elk. If I think about it that way…

    When I’m on my better behavior, I remind myself that it’s a privilege to need to take care for our Wild Neighbors. I recently slowed down my speed on the Mountain roads for the same reason. Complacency and familiarity breed carelessness. Can breed carelessness and has for me. We moved in on those Animals. Not the other way around. We’re responsible.

    When you consider the interconnectedness and oneness of all things, the sacred nature of all things, life becomes more and more precious. For desert Pigeons, for Camels, for Monitor Lizards and Pythons, for Elk and Mule Deer and Mountain Lions. For us, too.

     

    Here’s the new way of thinking about the sacred that’s beginning to surface for me. Whitehead’s advance into novelty puts creativity at the very core of reality and could suggest that God emerges from the becoming with each instance of creativity. I’ve always felt that a process metaphysics makes the most sense, that is a metaphysics that honors as primary the necessity of ongoing change and creation, nothing just “is”, everything is always becoming something new.

    What’s new for me about the notion of the sacred adds a filigree, well, maybe more than a filigree to the notion of creativity as the primary descriptor for the motor behind a process metaphysics. I’m thinking of adding a Jungian notion to the engine of creativity, an impulse toward individuation, a creativity that drives each instantation of its impulse toward its highest and best possibility. In this way of understanding creativity is the motor for process, yes, but the sacred adds a direction to the change, one toward the rock being as good and sound a rock as a rock can be. For a daisy to be the most functional flower for the continuation of daisies that it can be. For a Cow Elk to be the best Mother and Elk she can for the furtherance of Elks as a species. For all of the diverse realities created and decaying to work together to create the best possible Mother Earth. The best Solar System.

    No, this is not Voltaire’s Candid. This does not mean that best of all possible worlds will emerge. It does mean that even war and climate devastation could work to further the creation of the best of all possible worlds. But might not either.

     

     

     


  • The Fortress of Solitude

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Ackerman Furniture. My couch now back home with its William Morris designed fabric. The two guys who moved it out, then back in. A finished downstairs. Mostly. Rabbi Jamie. Leo. Luke. Moses and the burning bush. Fire. A mystery. Water.  Air. Earth. Elementals. Fountain Barbecue. Ribs. Mac and cheese. Baked beans with jalapenos. Bolognese Sauce. The Cold Moon.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Revelation

    One brief shining: Went into the synagogue, kippah in place, and there was Leo, wagging his tail and greeting me, I said hi to the other humans of course but Leo had my attention being my occasional buddy.

     

    Busy morning. Up a bit late, on with Diane, then a workout. After I waited on the Ackerman folks to return my couch. When it got here, I felt relief. It did go ok with the painting. If it hadn’t, well, I would have sucked it up and waited until it did. Not gonna repeat that journey. Too expensive.

    Left for mussar in Evergreen when they left. An hour and a half discussing fire, what it is, how it can be a metaphor, how it can be a metaphor for God. Or, as I prefer, a metaphor for the godliness in each of us. That is, how we each burn with the flame of sacred desire, of passion for truth and justice, of purity and cleansing. Of knowledge and insight. Of life itself.

    My solitude beckoned right after though. I needed to get home, back to Shadow Mountain. It was 55 in Evergreen, 46 here when I got home. Snow has melted back off the roads, off my driveway, cleared from my solar panels. In true Colorado fashion we may get 8 inches of new Snow tomorrow night and Saturday.

    Human interaction, deep and meaningful, grabs me, holds me while I’m in it. Afterward though. Whew. My every pore turns toward not only solitude, but solitude at home. That balance is a delicate one, one I can overshoot more on the interaction side than the solitude side. Oh, yes. Friends, classes. Oh, even more yes. This place. This Mountain. My home.

     

    Swifties. MAGA crazies. The NFL. The Kelce brothers. Travis and Taylor. Her Era tour. His Superbowl. Gosh.

    Not to mention. How about them Houthi’s? Screwing up shipping, playing the short, short game for their fans in Iran. What if the U.S. decided to land on you with both boots? Uh-oh.

    Course it wouldn’t be an election season in 2024 without the many trials of the Yellow-Haired Hercules. Can he clean out the Aegean stables of fraud uncovered in New York? Can he tame the Nemean Lion of a Supreme Court that could bounce him from the presidency? Will he destroy the many headed Hydra of prosecutors after him for meddling in elections? When will he pay his struck by Aphrodite in the dressing room price, $83 million dollars worth?

    The election, the most important election in our history, with two candidates nobody wants. Oh, it’s so good to be an American.


  • Expectations

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Alan and Cheri. Joanne. Denver. Downtown living. Down the hill living. Shadow Mountain home. Domo. Buckhorn. Sushi Den. Jerusalem. Ali Baba. The Bistro. The Fort. Bread Lounge. Angry Chicken. Katsu Ramen. Fountain Barbecue. Restaurants. Meals out with family and friends. Chamber music. Charlie Parker. Thelonius Monk. Herbie Mann. Dave Clark Five. Dazzle.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Shabbat

    One brief shining: Bought a weighted blanket last summer and in these now cold winter nights it’s part of the layered system that keeps me warm; some mornings of late I’ve taken to enjoying not sleeping in but lying in, wrapped in those layers and happy with my head in the cold, just right, wondering why it all felt so good and I realized the other day it was the embrace of that weighted blanket.

     

    One of the reasons I’ve taken to these occasional surrender moments, to being awake but staying in bed, is the time it gives me to think. To ponder without distraction. I can follow a thought down an ancientrail and back again. This morning the notion of expectations had me going.

    Over the last couple of weeks in mussar we’ve been discussing an example given by Rabbi Toba Spitzer in her book, God is Here. Which I highly recommend, btw. Her example comes from a silent retreat, an annual event for her. She sits down to lunch, imagining the taste of the food, enjoying the view, settling in for a pleasant lunch. A man sits down near her and begins to eat an Apple. Each bite explodes in her ear. She’s completely thrown off the wonderful lunch she’d imagined. She ends up with a ruined lunch. The obvious culprit here is her expectation of how her lunch would go. As long as she held onto the quiet, contemplative meal, she experienced torment from the Apple eater.

    Taking the learning here. Expectations can sabotage our experience. Bad expectations. Bad. Down expectations.

    Then I began to wonder. What are expectations? The shorthand we use so we can navigate our day. Cars will stop at stop signs. Eating two eggs, bacon, and home fries will not only taste good, but satisfy my hunger. Leo will make me happy when he comes to stay. The stove will turn on. Expectations help us by routinizing parts of our lives. So we’re not always thinking through what’s going to happen next.

    Then it hit me. Expectations are the mental habit behind curiosity. Not obvious, right? Why? Because when something happens that defies or upsets our expectations, we have two choices. Choice one. Do our best to return our experience to its anticipated path. Which makes sense if the stove won’t turn on or we decide to wait out the guy who just ran the stop sign.

    But even in those mundane instances we have to stop and consider the second choice. Why? Why won’t the stove turn on? Why did that guy run the stop sign? In these cases the answers will probably not rock our world.

    However. Imagine that you assumed the earth was the center of the universe and you expected the data from your telescope would confirm that. Or on a less exalted plain. Traffic had caused me to stop beside three large Willow Trees. I looked at them, all gnarly and twisted, thick, old. Then I thought. Wait a minute. These are Willows. There’s no creek here. What’s going on? I’ve never seen Willows up here except by a stream. I don’t know the answer. But I’d like to.

    Here’s the aha. Curiosity arises when something breaches our expectations. Why did she say that? What’s going on with my dog? Why is she limping? Why has the climate begun to change? What would happen if I put this and this together rather than that and that? Does the Apple eater have to ruin my lunch?

    What this suggests to me. Greet breaches of your expectations with wonder. With awe. Because the world and your experience has given you a chance to learn something new.


  • Choose

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Friday gratefuls: TGIF. Ha. No hump day, no Friday as the last day of work. Just life. Sleeping in. Perfect sleeping weather. A good and difficult day yesterday. Luke. Leo. Anne. Gracie. My Roger. Mindy. Rabbi Jamie. The classical texts of Judaism. Including the rabbinic codes. Those two Does in the road. Driving Mountain roads. Alan and Joan. Dandelion. My son and Seoah. Sick. Murdoch’s ok.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Korea

    One brief shining: There is an exquisite pain knowing your child has run a fever over a hundred for three days in a row yet lives 9000 miles from your front door, a squeezing of the lev that makes the body want to find cold wash clothes, advil, blankets, maybe even stuffed toys though you know he is long now a man, it is the pain of belonging and longing, one for which there is no pill, just that moment when you send your body, by astral projection, to his sickbed.

     

    Now Seoah, too. We miss and love you they write, explaining symptoms. My son’s fever has broken and he took Murdoch out for some fresh air. I asked Seoah to give him a hug for me. He wrote that he got it. Now I’ll have to send the same request to him for her. Family, close close family. Joy. Concern. Love.

     

    Meanwhile I’m over reading signals. Coloring my soul a pastel purple. Do those crossed arms mean he’s annoyed with me? Why does he want to wait until he sees how his next two month’s money does? I didn’t want to leave the house yesterday. Felt like ducking mussar and the Rabbi Jamie time.

    Two reasons. Monday was so cold that I chose not to go upstairs and workout before a one p.m. doctor’s appointment. That meant I had to workout on Wednesday and Thursday and Saturday to get my 150 minutes in. I felt bad about that choice. So I already had a one down feeling about myself. Not terrible, knew I could have chosen differently and I didn’t.

    Then on Thursday morning I pushed myself to get my workout in. Can’t miss because of Monday. I wanted to do thirty minutes. As I wrote yesterday though, my back nixed that plan. That meant I was not only behind on my minutes for the week, but that I had a possible barrier to my next workout in my back pain. It also meant that my back was not going to go gentle into that good night but would rage, rage, rage against the moving of the feet. Which in turn meant that my vain hope for a less restrictive travel barrier was that, a vain hope.

    The two together made me want to stay home and favor my psychic and physical upset. I chose not to. However, when I first got to the synagogue I carried that bruised, purple sense of self with me. I sought out and found further evidence that I was somehow doing it wrong. I spoke over someone. My comment landed flat. I felt distanced from the group like the Jews distanced themselves from the pillar of smoke. That was the day’s topic.

    Then I realized I was no longer concerned about my back. It was quiet. And, I had chosen to exercise. And, to come to mussar. The tint in my sense of self faded from purple to a dull yellow not far from the vibrant yellow of joy. Choices. Eh?


  • Faith

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Tara. The dark. Gradualism. Getting things done, slowly. Surrender. Emunah. Faith. The Jewish Way. Mussar. Torah. Shabbat. Holidays. Zen. Taoism. Easy Entrees. Kavanah for 2025. Choosing a way forward. Including surrender. On signs and portents. Trash day delay. Mark, mail carrier. Ana and Lita, housecleaners. Vince, handyman and Snow plower. Helping me live independently.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Surrender

    One brief shining: Opening my arms and leaning back, letting 2025 come at me with all its got while I smile and wait knowing this next year is the one I’ve been waiting for, the one when magical and miraculous things will happen, when love will be the only thing left, when I will once again live as I’m meant to with human and wild, life and death, intellect and ignorance.

     

    I could explain it with cognitive bias. Or whatever it’s called when you have something front of mind and you keep seeing references to it in newspapers, books, hear it come into conversation, happen upon a magazine article that features it. But I won’t.  Let me give an example. Long ago I bought an Anne Rice book featuring angels. This maven of the vampire world decided to write a book about goodness instead of evil, I guess. I liked Lestat and the Mayfair witches so I’d give it a go. It was on my Kindle and I never got around to it.

    This week I picked it up. It has, in the beginning, a heavily Roman Catholic emphasis and if you know Anne Rice that won’t surprise you. What surprised me was the main story line about Jews in thirteenth century England. It would have been a curiosity to me when I bought the book, now it has existential meaning. This is not a great book by any means, though an offhand comment by Fluria, a bright and capable Jewish woman, struck me. She spoke about Jews in Oxford being harassed, their homes burned, “It spreads like a plague,” she said, worrying about her community in Norwich. Oh, just like Israel v. Hamas affects Jewish life in the U.S.

    My inner life has taken a new direction and my mind reinforces it whenever it can. Yes. But why did I pick up the book now? Why did my decision to convert coincide with the Israel Hamas tragedy? I chose emunah, faith, as my mussar evening long before I chose to convert. Now it challenges me, as I wanted it to, in a way much different to what I intended. How did it happen that I would have a bar mitzvah?

    I’m choosing to surrender to the notion that cognitive bias works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. That my new, dare I call it faith, in a Jewish life comforts and supports me, gives me confidence that my life will grow in purpose and love. That’s what my conversion meant. For me, Judaism evokes faith in a grounded experience, one rooted in the soil of Mother Earth and in the souls of my sacred community, nourished by compost from a rich and varied tradition.

     

     

     

     

     


  • Call Me When You Get It

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Good sleep. Laying around. Hanukah. Lighting my first candles as a Jew. Toba Spitzer. Mordecai Kaplan. Metaphor. God is Here. Mussar. Holimonth. Advent. Posada. The darkness. My inner Shadow Mountain. Tara’s cute new puppy. Kippur. Leo. Kepler of blessed memory. Rigel of blessed memory. Kate of blessed memory. A pinch of dysthymia. Oversleeping. Winds knocking over my trash can. Weather on the way. Cold and Snow. Rich. Diane. Tom. My son and Seoah and Murdoch.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Leo

    One brief shining: The cloud as metaphor sitting in Evergreen, Colorado, talking to Rabbi Toba Spitzer in Newton, Massachusetts, while others dotted the screen from Lakewood, Georgetown, Conifer who was the live audience, us around the table in Beth Evergreen or the individuals in the cloud, or were we all simply in the Cloud alive to ourselves but bits and bytes elsewhere? The multiparity?

     

    Not sure what’s going on with me right now, but I’ve slept in a lot this week. Over two hours this morning. Post-conversion dysthymia? That old melancholy coming up the chimney from its shack on my inner Shadow Mountain? Have felt slightly off for a few days. Negative thoughts showing up, not staying, not affecting my mood for long. Thanks to the how do I feel exercise Tal taught us. Yet they keep returning and oversleeping usually means a disturbance in the inner world.

     

    When I drove back from p.t. yesterday though. Mary discharged me. Good work on the back and I now have the exercise tools to manage it, know when to ask for help if it flares again. Prior to seeing Mary we had the Zoom which included Rabbi Toba Spitzer answering questions about her book, God is Here. Loved her. A great mind working at the frontiers of religious thought.

    Coming back up Brook Forest Drive I felt good. Reminded myself that people, people are good. I need people on line and in person regularly. Patted myself on the back for attending mussar, seeing Mary. Having meaningful connections in both places. Told Mary when she said something about her boyfriend that he was lucky, somebody out there needed her in their life, glad to know she’d found someone.

     

    Janet and I had an interesting post-mussar conversation. She said the only way to find God is through meditation. She’s a Jewbu. A Jewish Buddhist. And a very bright lady.

    Well, god is a universal idea so how can you be sure if the one you find in meditation is the One? Don’t we need each other for that sort of connection? She agreed we need the sangha, the synagogue.

     

    I don’t think the only way to connect with the sacred is to go in. As most of you know. Though it’s a sound way. I find the sacred right out there on the surface of things. The Lodgepole. Janet. Black Mountain. Mary. Leo. Electricity. Computers. Darkness. Daytime.

    Rich and I had a disagreement about this on Wednesday night. He wanted to preserve the particularity of Judaism, that its holy places in Israel, for example, were special. I asked him what Judaism points to.

    I agree with his appreciation and love for the particularities of Judaism, its holy places, rituals, people. Otherwise I would not have converted. Yet. I also want to preserve the idea that we do not need the rock on which Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac, or the Western Wall, or Mt. Sinai, or even the Torah to find our way to the sacred, to recognize our inescapable linkage to and with it.

    Here’s a poem that Tom offered this morning that says what I’m saying. By David Budbill

     

    The Three Goals
    The first goal is to see the thing in itself
    in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
    for what it is.
    No symbolism, please.

    The second goal is to see each individual thing
    as unified, as one, with all the other
    ten thousand things.
    In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.

    The third goal is to grasp the first and the second goals,
    to see the universal in the particular,
    simultaneously.
    Regarding this one, call me when you get it.

     

     


  • Post Conversion Let Down

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Leo. Doggy presence. Luke in Florida. Tom in Atlanta. Paul’s birthday. 77. Whoa. He old. Great Sol brightening a Shadow Mountain morning. Last warm day for a while. Snow coming. Over spending on Snow tires. For safety. Giving myself the best odds. Living high. Colorado. The Rockies. The Himalayas. The Appalachians. The Smokies. The Atlas. The Alps. The Dolomites.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mountains

    One brief shining: Leo lies on my rug, legs sprawled out, head down, sleeping or resting, while I sit here typing, hitting key after key with the automatic movements learned first in typing at Alexandria-Monroe High School, perhaps the class I’ve used the most in terms of daily activity, odd to contemplate though paws on the keyboard, a million dogs would not produce the Britannica.

     

    I slept in this morning. On purpose. Because I liked the feel. An oddity for me, yes, but fun in a I don’t have to so I won’t sorta way. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. Ever hear that one? Don’t think I’ve felt that way since I hit 70. Awake and alert, ready to go about the day, yes, but bushy tailed? Can’t recall the day. Maybe a feeling reserved for the get up and go ages of the twenties and thirties?

     

    MVP tonight. Rabbi Jamie on trust/compassion with the metaphor of rock. This small group at CBE supercharges my month. We’ve been meeting for years now, lost two members to death: Judy and Kate, and have gotten as close as a group can get. Figuring what I can make since we always bring food.

     

    So. An odd, kind of silly deal with my Snow tires. Jesus told me two of my Blizzaks were at 4 mm tread. I knew it, too. I took them back last year when a tech said they could go a little further. Nope. So Jesus offered me a deal. Salvation for two Blizzaks. I don’t know how they get away with that name even in Latino circles. Too many jokes, I’d think. Anyhow. He would give me a deal on two new ones. But. I’d have to leave the car until 1:30 pm. This was at 9:30 am. Nope. Put’em on.

    Drove home, ordered two new Blizzaks from Tire Rack.com. About $20 more than what Jesus had offered. Shoot. Going to big O in Evergreen on Friday to have them put on. I know. But I brought this on myself. Having good tread and good winter tires for Mountain roads? Perhaps not necessary, but prudent. And damned if I don’t have a real strong prudent streak. Always surprises me, too.

     

    Post conversion let down. Had such a buzz going the last month or so. Getting ready, making schedules, preparing myself for transformation. A peak on Tuesday in the mikvah. Slowly. Like air going out of a balloon. Life deflates. Not depressing, but a daily normal state over against a time of heightened anticipation, excitement. Maybe like the time after opening presents on Christmas morning. Gathering energy for the long haul now, a Jewish life until death.

    Although. I do have an inner calmness now. As if some vibratory mechanism in my inner world got turned off. That is the opposite of an excited state and I’m still getting used to it. Feels like I have enough time now, as if the future has gone quiet, not clamoring for a piece of me right now.

    Changes.


  • Conversion on again

    Fall and the Samain Moon

    Friday gratefuls: BA canceled my flight. So, I can get a refund. Parking refunded. Tour group money held over for a trip next year. All resolved for now. With some money coming. Conversion. At Temple Emmanuel mikveh. Last week of November. Mussar. Evergreen Market. Sugar Jones. Rabbi Jamie. Zionism. Very good workout. 2 sets of resistance. Luke. Anne. Darkness my old friend. Sounds of Silence. The 60’s. Jackie. Her and Ronda’s sweetness. Her sauna. Growing my beard out.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ritual purity

    One brief shining: Ruth called yesterday wanting to know if she and her friends could have a Friendsgiving at my house, of course I said, and checked in with her about an evening out at Dazzle, the jazz club, next Saturday works for her so so good to talk with her, hear Mia on the phone saying hi Grandpa, and her other friends saying hi. Made this old man happy.

     

    I’ve taken Mia in as a granddaughter from another family. She was so helpful and kind when I had to euthanize Kep, helping the vet carry him up the stairs, staying with Ruth while Kep died. Mia grew up on Oahu, moving here when her father’s biochemical company needed better access to the U.S. as a whole. She even said she missed me. Aw.

     

    Yesterday was busy. Diane in the morning. Then an intense and good workout. Going up on weights on some exercises. Back exercises added in. After that a shower and over to Jackie’s Aspen Roots hair salon. Was gonna be a sprucing up before my trip. Both Jackie and Ronda were glad I’m not going to Israel. I’ve never had so many people happy about a trip I’m not taking. As I left Jackie turned to Ronda and said, we’re going to have to start looking for someone for Charlie. Uh-oh.

     

    From Jackie’s straight to CBE for Thursday mussar and my second conversion education session with Rabbi Jamie. In both the mussar setting and my session with him after the focus was Israel/Hamas. The topic for our session had been Zionism which can be seen as the proximate cause of the struggle Israel and its Arab neighbors have faced since its founding.  That is, it was the Zionist movement of the late 19th century which set off the chain of events creating a Jewish state in 1948. Immediately after Israeli nationhood Egypt, Syria, and Jordan attacked it with the stated goal of pushing the Jews into the ocean. The Arabs lost the war. But the conflicts signaled in that first military action may have changed actors from time to time, but not the goal of eliminating a Jewish presence in the Middle East.

     

    When we moved onto my conversion, I said I wanted to get it done as soon as practicable. A little cold for going to a flowing stream or lake for a naked plunge. Though I would have been up for that. We settled on a newer mikveh, a ritual bath that has to be connected to flowing water, built by Temple Emmanuel, a large Reform congregation in south Denver.

    Discovered that Joann Greenberg had asked to be a community representative in my beit din, house of judgement, or rabbinic court. That surprised and pleased me. I have about a half hour interview with her, Rabbi Jamie, and a third Rabbi yet to be named who will also be the one who draws a spot of blood from my penis. Then, naked immersion in the mikveh. And I’m part of the Jewish community for ever and a day.

    Rabbi Jamie also asked me which parsha I wanted for my conversion week. A parsha is the long weekly section of Torah that allows the entire five books of Moses to be read through in a year. At first I thought, wha? Then I got it. I want the parsha with Jacob at the Jabbok Ford wrestling an angel. That story I consider paradigmatic of my own spiritual journey. If you know the story, Jacob’s name changes that night to Israel, one who struggles with God. That story shows up this year in late November which is why the conversion will be then.

     


  • Old skills

    Lughnasa and the Herme Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Janet. Her name is Janet. Mussar. Leading a discussion. Metaphor and the sacred. Thinking. Feeling. Lev. Luke and Ann. Ian. Carol. Gracie and Leo. Sarah and Elizabeth. Judaism. Reconstructionist. Finding religion again with no reservations. Hallelujah. Conversion in Jerusalem. Prostate Cancer. Irv. Marilyn now home. Tara in Europe. The Trail to Cold Mountain. Final edits. Now it’s a script for me to learn.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Leading

    One brief shining: In a far away state at a time now long ago I used to sit down often at a table or stand in front of a room knowing my job was to take a conversation with those present through difficult terrain, perhaps deciding how to take on unemployment or a recalcitrant landlord or an obdurate city hall or one of the many corporations that wanted to reach into people’s lives and take away their agency, then make a turn from conversation to action. Oh how I loved it.

     

    Yesterday for an hour and a half. I led the mussar group through the most difficult terrain of all, those things that matter to our interior, to our souls. I’d forgotten how satisfying it is to do that. I avoid leadership roles these days. Saying no rather than yes. Saying been there. But as a substitute for the Rabbi. A one time thing. I said yes.

    I miss it. Reading the pulse of a group, guiding in a gentle way or a forceful way depending on the need of the moment, offering my own thoughts lightly or not at all or for the purpose of digging further into the topic. Yesterday’s topic was the purpose of metaphor and the application of that purpose to language we use about God. Also, strangely and powerfully, the question: What is God for? A lot to be said on this. We spent a fun hour and half doing just that.

    Perhaps I could find these moments a bit more often. I don’t want to chair a committee. Nope. But I sure did enjoy the time yesterday. Though. I did fuzz up Janet’s name. Conflated her with Marilyn who sat beside her. Because the group has three Marilyns and Janet’s name, for some reason, skipped my mind. Don’t you love that phrase, skipped my mind? Janet danced away from available attention, played hopscotch in another corner just out of reach.

    She came up to me afterwards and said, “My name is Janet, Charlie.” Oh. Oops. Ian, a visitor from California gave me a fist bump.  He’s my age. Luke came up and gave me a big hug. There was a buzz in the room, the conversation spilling over past the end of the meeting.

    On my way out to the car Ginny came up to me and asked if I was converting. Yes, I said. Could I talk to you about it sometime? Ginny’s an Arkansas farm girl turned opera singer then stage actor then nurse. I told her I’d love to. Maybe the Blackbird? Which is in Kittredge where she lives with her partner.


  • A Thursday with Friends

    Summer and the Summer Moon Above

    Friday gratefuls: Tom. Ellen and Dick. Hail. Again. Cool nights. Good sleeping. God is Here. Metaphor. Kathy. Luke. Vince. Gutters. Psilocybin. Flower. Weed. Red Rocks. The Bread Lounge. A Cuban. Evergreen. Gracie and Ann. CBE. High water on the fish ladder. Maxwell Creek running full.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friendship

    One brief shining: Life in its fullness comes running at you, with you like a Mountain Stream after a heavy Rain, crashing over barriers, not allowing any obstacles, where necessary spreading out, then calmly, gently flowing into the placid waters of a great River, headed to the World Ocean.

     

    Yesterday. A full day. Talking to Diane, always a pleasure. Catching up on family news. A favorite cousin for all of us moved into hospice. We’re all in the aging range. This group that used to play with each other at Thanksgiving, during family reunions at Riley Park, on the farm outside Morristown. Family in its longue dureé as Ginny, daughter of Diane’s sister, Kristen, gives birth to a new generation of the Keaton clan as have children of other cousins. We will wink out one by one, but the family will continue.

     

    Over to the Bread Lounge to read a bit before Tom got here from DIA. Instead ran into Tal and Alan talking to each other. Alan in his  usual I’m here to assist you mode trying to figure out how he can help Tal’s new company, All in Ensemble.

    Alan’s decided to let his beard grow back. I’m glad. It was odd seeing him clean shaven. He shaved for his art, as he says. A role in Zorro!, the musical.

    Together we talked about Tal’s character study class, about mutual friends and family. The Bread Lounge serves as the student union restaurant for Evergreen. Go there and you see folks you know.

    After Alan left, Tal and I discussed my character Herme. He liked my idea of a one-act play to introduce the Rivers and Mountains Poets of China to Mountain audiences. He offered to help me in any way he can. He’s bringing an outline from a playwrighting class to our next Tuesday class. Who knows? Perhaps the Hooded Man will play up and down the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Could happen.

     

    Tom got to the Bread Lounge after navigating an overly busy DIA filled with summer travelers. We ordered sandwiches, which came late so we had to pack them up and head over to mussar. Where we discussed the role of metaphor in our daily lives and the implications of metaphor for understanding what we might mean when we use the metaphor God. A good heart/mind conversation.

    Following mussar Tom and I were hosted by Ellen and Dick Arnold, Rabbi Jamie’s parents. A wide ranging conversation which had as its focus the upcoming trip to Israel. Dick will be my roommate for the group part of the trip.

     

    When we got back to Shadow Mountain, Vince was here mowing and weed whacking. In the rain. Vince is a good guy. Lucky to have him as my friend and property manager.

    Tom and I were tired. We talked, then went to bed. Getting ready now for our trip this afternoon on the Royal Gorge Rail Road.