• Category Archives Myth and Story
  • 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.

    *


  • Cabin Fever Trip

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Tuesday gratefuls: Great Sol. Brightening our day. Counting the Omer. Begins tonight. Traveling readiness day. Delayed, but happening today. Diane’s great work on setting up an itinerary. Museums, as Ode says, temples of creativity. The Artist’s Way. My Jewish immersion. The Three Body Problem trilogy. Fall Out on Prime Video. High quality television. Kindle.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Artists-painters, writers, playwrights, musicians, poets, actors, sculptors, architects, composers

    One brief shining: With awakening I’m in a new life, a multiverse reality based on the day before yet new as the dew on a spring ephemeral, in that day my many breaths each constitute life breathed out and back in, new lives each breath, how can I keep from singing?

     

    Feeling the welcoming breath of a travel day exhaling from the end of the week toward me. Inspiring my activities today. Finalize packing. Stop mail. Get a pedicure. Collect myself for a journey.

    This is mostly a cabin fever trip. A way of escaping a place I love because the snow and the cold stayed a bit too long. And for most folks I’ve talked to. A way to refresh the joys of home by vacating its presence for a bit. Enjoy the graces and beauties of San Francisco, see Diane. Live in a hotel for 7 nights, 2 nights in a sleeping car there and back. Write. Read. See the Rockies, the intermountain West, the Sierra Nevadas, canyons and deserts.

    I’ve missed seeing good art on a regular basis. I’ve not found the Denver art scene at all comparable to the Twin Cities and I’ve let that attitude, plus the drive, keep me from seeing much at all. That’s on me. This trip will allow me to visit at least three of the country’s great collections: The Legion of Honor, the De Young, and the Asian Art museum. I plan to see them slowly. Taking as much time as I need. Reenter the world of Zhou and Han, Song and Tang, Picasso and Hokusai, Rodin and Giacometti.

    Yes. You could say of me. Religion, politics, and art. The subjective, the debatable, the aesthetic, the aspects of culture not manageable by STEM. Sure I like a good scientific discovery as much as the next nerd, but to examine an ancient text for the message it carries down the millennia to this day, to stand in the street and face down an oppressive economy, to join the conversation of those for whom shape, color, and language create whole worlds and dizzying perspectives, yes. That’s my journey.

    That and one other thing. The wild spots outside my door, up the flank of Black Mountain. Here on Shadow Mountain I can integrate the seeker, the advocate, and the artist with the world around me. My Lodgepole Companion and I see each other each morning. I said hello yesterday to those Mule Deer Does munching grass along Black Mountain Drive. Within them lie the same message as the Torah portion I will read on June 12th, the same spirit of over against oppressive structures, and an equivalent beauty to the best of Monet.

     


  • 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.


  • 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


  • The Most Precious Treasure

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: How do I feel? A mood changer. Thanks, Tal. Joan, such a bright lady. Alan in his tie dyed t-shirt for the Beatles shabbat. Luke’s dvar torah. His playing and singing in the service. A testament to his courage and growth. Breakfast at Dandelions, reopened under new ownership. Ackerman’s pick up of the couch. Reupholstering. Fixing Rigel’s deep hole. My son and Seoah.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Breakfast with friends

    One brief shining: Got the new menu for Dandelions, three of them, one for Alan and Joan and me, went back to the table and took my time with it since I was still alone, noticed corned beef hash as an entree, two eggs, found a side of berries, and I had made my decision so I slid my menu away from me, picked up the cream and added it to the coffee, waiting.

     

    A quote from the Zen calendar gifted me by Tom. From the Upanishads:

    “God made the senses turn outwards, man (sic) therefore looks outward, not into himself. But occasionally a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.”

    Don’t know the context of this quote but by itself it tells a truth and a half-truth. The truth is this. Our physicality forces our attention out and away from ourselves. Oh, look! See that! Wow. Did you hear what she said? Hey, can you smell that? OMG. This is the best avocado toast ever. Yes, again. Right there.

    The half-truth is only occasionally is there a daring soul who turns to the inner cathedral, that alembic of memory and thought powered by the fiery heat of the emotions. And that when they do they seek immortality. Some may, of course, search for the secret to life beyond life. But most of us stumble through the doors of our inner cathedral when a shock like grief, major illness, addiction, rejection, or several days in a row of gloomy inner weather force us down the steps into our vast private universe. We all go there from time to time over the course of a life. And look back, in rather than out. Unknown how many find themselves.

    How can we learn from the experience? Socrates. The unexamined life is not worth living. I believed that the first time I encountered it and believe it now. That examen as the Jesuits call it is not for the timid; as any cartographer can tell you, here there be monsters. Yet it is those shadowy winged creatures of our soul who guard the real treasure.

    Which suggests to me that Gandalf might well be our guide. I think of him in his encounter with the Balrog in the mines of Moira. Gandalf could have turned and run or at least not advanced toward the menacing creature. Instead he walks onto the narrow bridge that will carry him straight into the Balrog’s path.

    Gandalf walked toward the bomb, toward the fight, toward the pillar of smoke and in so doing earned the opportunity to face a great obstacle rather than force it back down and away from consciousness. In the ensuing battle Gandalf the Grey dies but only after killing the Balrog. Later, he reemerges as Gandalf the White.

    Whether Gandalf or Virgil or Moses or Tiresias or even Ignatius of Loyola, we need a guide, a companion as we wander the labyrinths of our heart/mind. I found John Desteian who walked with me through the tunnels and traps of my 28 years. I’ve found Ira Progroff and his journal workshops. Now Moses and the Torah. I’ve found Gandalf and Virgil, too. But the key companion all along has been the then existing version of myself.

    I invite you to find the entrance to your mines of Moira. I invite you to take a deep breath and set your foot on the steps that lead down and in to your inner cathedral. Yes, there be monsters there, but they’re your monsters and they guard the most precious treasure of all: self-knowledge.

     

     

     


  • Surrender Charlie

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Heidi. The Dragonfly Sign. Colorado Supreme Court. Psilocybin. Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphics. Surrender. Irv. Rider. Mt. Logan. Crooked Top Mountain. The Grandfather Tree. Park County 43. Buggy Whip Road. Hangman’s Road. Washington County Maine. Climate change. Shadow Mountain. The Rockies. The Front Range. Alan. Bastien’s Steak House. The Winter Solstice. Holimonth.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Colorado Supreme Court

    One brief shining: A cloth with Native American colors marking the four directions, circular, laid on it cut white Roses, small Pine Tree Branches, red Roses, Cinnamon, Coffee beans, Star Anise, Aspen Leaves arranged for a Peruvian gratitude ceremony in which I picked up a small Branch of Pine Needles, inhaled its essence three times and exhaled my love and gratitude before placing the needles gently in the center.

     

    OK, nation! See Colorado go. I loved living in Minnesota and in the Twin Cities for forty years. The North Woods. Wolves. Lake Superior. So many Lakes. Liberal to radical politics. Not perfect, no. Witness George Floyd. But no place is. And Minnesota seemed as close as they come while I lived there. Then Kate and I moved to Shadow Mountain.

    As the Dead said: What a long, strange trip it’s been. Many of you know my story over the now 9 years exactly since my buddy Tom and I drove straight through from the Twin Cities with Kepler, Vega, and Rigel in the back. And, yes, that story has its definite peaks and valleys. But that’s not my reference here.

    No where else in the country, this divided and often pitiful land of ours, could I have had a legal psychedelic journey on Crooked Top Mountain then come home to Shadow Mountain and read the wonderful news that the Colorado Supreme Court had called a crook a crook, an insurrectionist an insurrectionist and kicked Trump off our ballot. I mean, whoa! What a day.

    I shifted my inner identification a few years back from Minnesotan to Coloradan, my Mountain home become just that. Home. Yes, we elected a gay Governor. How bout that. And of course the wild Neighbors and the Mountain Streams and the Black Bears. The Snow and the spectacular Autumns with gold and green. Over the time I’ve lived here Colorado has shifted from red to blue. Not without some Western weirdness along the way, but that makes it interesting. All that’s true.

    But in one day to take a psilocybin journey with a good friend on property so evocative of a sixties commune and then learn we Coloradans had taken a firm stand, saying what all clear eyed non Trump bedazzled folks already know but somehow cannot communicate, that insurrectionists should not, in fact,cannot hold office. Well, I’m busting with state pride right now. Colorado is the California of the new Millennia. OK. Enough local chauvinism. Still, pretty damned cool. Gives this aging radical a boost.

     

    Short note on the psilocybin journey about which more later. Ate the mushroom after the gratitude ceremony. Mixed with a little lemon juice supposed to make it come on quicker and go sooner. Sat outside in the glass enclosed shelter where we held the gratitude ceremony, the others going inside. Watched the curved Snowy Bowl of Mt. Logan as my inner weather shifted under the power of the mushroom.

    Went inside and lay down on a heated pad. Soon Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphics began to move across the ceiling. Sometimes two dimensional sometimes three almost down to my face. I love hallucinations. So fun. I told my guide I might be under utilizing the experience; it was so entertaining.

    Turned out no. I hadn’t. I had two intentions going in, the one I wrote about yesterday, how to live fully, and the second to continue my exploration of the sacred.

    During some brief conversation after being asked if we had any insights I said, yes, I had one. In living more fully I’ve pushed, thought about things to do, about acting in my life to live more fully. Answering Shakespeare, I have always chosen to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Now I need to learn surrender.

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

     

     


  • Neverending Story

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Good friends. Tom, always a good conversation. My son and compartment syndrome, the bloody treatment. Seoah shooting a 90 at screen golf. My son an 85. Two athletes. Plus Murdoch. Hamas. Israel. Palestine. The diaspora. The Joseph story. The Jacob/Israel story. The Abraham story. Bereshit, Genesis. Beginnings. Ganesha. Krishna. Vishnu. Shiva. Snow plows and their drivers. My mail carrier, Mark.

    (N.B. I capitalize words associated with what I consider the living world, a practice of honor I picked up from the Potawatomi in Braiding Sweet Grass. [except for humans] Also, I include in my gratefuls the dark as well as the light since both make up our whole life and contain a seed of holiness. I learn this from the sacred nature of reality as One. It does not mean that I love, say, Hamas.)

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Breakfast with Marilyn and Irv

    One brief shining: At Primo’s Cafe I scooched between a diner’s chair and a giant Santa, right hand raised in what I imagine is a greeting gesture though it looks more like he’s waving to other outsized folks like Johnny Inkslinger, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, or perhaps very large Reindeer, a Rudolf with a nose the size of a softball.

     

    Conversations. Tom. Marilyn and Irv. Diane. Alan and Joan. Luke. My life requires time alone the most, yet it also requires conversation, connection, the intimacy of knowing and being known. Yours too I’ll bet. The second one, I mean. Most don’t need as much alone time as I do.

    I’m lucky enough to have regular folks to meet over eggs, potatoes, and bacon in the breakfast spots available here in the Mountains. And others I meet in the cloud, that mysterious realm just on the other side of my computer screen that contains people I know. Like Tom and my cousin Diane, my Ancient Brothers: Paul, Mark, Tom, Bill. The Thursday mussar group. A blend of the cloud and IRL.

    Judaism contains its own cloud. What Christians often called that great cloud of witnesses, referring to the dead. In Judaism the Rabbis speak over the ages through the Talmud, the Midrash, and the stories of their lives.  The rituals and traditions of Jewish life, the Torah, the Kabbalah, even the blood of the ancestors carry their own message. As well as the history of the Jewish people. That great cloud of witnesses places my temporary life in a broader and longer context. Comforting and challenging.

    Each book I pick up becomes a dialogue between the author and me, between the story and me. In this way my life might be said to be a constant conversation with interlocutors living and dead.

    Then there is the world of my wild neighbors and the planets, Great Sol, and other galaxies. A conversation exists between that very young Mule Deer Doe that comes to eat grass in my yard and me. She looks at me through the window with gentle, puzzled eyes. Among those three Mule Deer Bucks who welcomed me here. That Elk Bull watching from the side of the road in the rainy night. Black Mountain and its changes. The running Streams and the Arapaho National Forest. Crows, Ravens, Magpies. The Snow as it marches across Mt. Blue Sky to Shadow Mountain.

    A neverending story you might say.

     


  • Aural Prompts

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

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

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Right now

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

     

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

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

     

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

     

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


  • Embodiment

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Deep, vulnerable conversation. Healing. Colon back to on guard status and off active duty. Yay! Jet lag still dissipating. Blue day. Bright Sol. Green Lodgepoles. Scat in my driveway. Probably Fox. Olives. Simchat Torah. One of my favorite holidays. Dancing with the Torah. Friday: Forgot this yesterday. Mary, my physical therapist. Polio. Sister Kenny. Mary, my sister in Kuala Lumpur. Mark in Saudi. Seoah and my son in Korea. Diane in San Francisco. My close, yet so faraway family. Kepler. Kate, always Kate. Jon. Ruth, a young woman. Gabe. Rigel. My Star in the night Sky

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friends in Colorado, good friends

    One brief shining: A shiny blue Sky shone through the Bamboo mats on the Sukkah children’s hand prints on cloth decorating its slatted wooden sides, my Thursday mussar friends smiling as I came back after a six week absence.

     

    Interesting. Yesterday I sat in the Sukkah with the other mussar folks, Rabbi Jamie giving me a hug when I sat down next to him. We began the conversation with a meditation as we always do. And I got this feeling of sitting in one for thousands of years. As if this moment, the one I inhabited also, simultaneously, inhabited other moments in serial regression. A sensation of at-one-ment. Sukkot is an ancient harvest festival, the sukkah supposedly similar to the temporary dwellings farmers used during the hectic last days of the harvest before the winter rains. Probably not originally Jewish in origin.

    Jews, who incorporated this festival long ago-and Rabbi Jamie says it used to be the primary holiday, not Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Days of Awe-imagine these sukkah as also representing the temporary dwellings used by the Hebrew slaves during their forty years in the wilderness.

    I love Sukkot and the holiday that immediately follows it, Simchat Torah, rejoicing with the Torah. Simchat Torah is tonight. I’m going even though it’s a second night out for me this week. During this holiday the Torah Scroll is removed from the Tabernacle, completely unscrolled, and the congregation, using prayer shawls to grip it, dances with the Torah. It marks the completion of the reading of the entire Torah in the old year and the beginning of the new year’s reading in Bereshit, Genesis.

    Not sure why I find Sukkot and Simchat Torah so meaningful, but I have for several years. I love the physicality of them both. The sukkah and the unscrolled Torah. The dancing. Eating in the Sukkah. An embodied way of celebrating our connection to the holy, to the divine that manifests whenever we open ourselves.

    Perhaps that’s it. The embodiment. The whole of me involved. Not just my head. I find the High Holidays very heady and so not as meaningful. Odd for me to say, I know. But maybe I need not an out of body experience of the sacred but an out of mind one. Take me out of the theological and the ethical and the political and let me dance with the Torah. Hey!