Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Monday gratefuls: Gabe and Seo. Aspen Perks. Twist and Shout. Denver. My circuitous route to it courtesy of my GPS. Denver East. High school freshmen. Ruth. A senior in one week. Sounding good. Working two jobs, Starbucks and Rocketfizz. Mia. Leslie, may her memory be for a blessing. Regression? Organizing. Mark and Dennis in Aspen at the Psychedelic Symposium. Then coming here. Leo, quite a good boy. Israel. Korea. Ecuador. Seeing the world again. Mark teaching nurses in Saudi Arabia. Mary winding down the semester in Eau Claire. My son and his wife, their first days back in Korea.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ruth’s voice last night when we talked

One brief shining: A modern horror story in one long sentence would be my friend Leslie going into the hospital for a hepatitis workup, coming out with a diagnosis of liver cancer that had metastasized, returning home not to continue her interesting life as a docent at the Denver Art Museum and a retired city planner and a long time member of CBE but to hospice cared for by her daughter Megan and dying yesterday in her sleep, winking out of her world and our world with little more than a week gone by from her visit to the hospital.


The world is too much with us late and soon. Until suddenly it isn’t. Leslie’s death shocked our mussar group and CBE as a whole. So fast. And from a seemingly healthy state. Ye know not the day nor the hour. If she follows Jewish custom, the chevra kadisha committee from CBE will sit with her body around the clock for the three days before her burial. Jews believe the soul doesn’t leave the body for three days after death. A pine box and a grave follow. Shiva for the family. These days, as with Kate, often only one or two days rather than the traditional seven.

Don’t know Leslie’s age, but she was a rough contemporary.


Spent the morning and early afternoon with Seo and Gabe. Breakfast at Aspen Perks. A drive into Denver to go to the Twist and Shout vinyl record store. Gabe picked up Dark Side of the Moon. Dropped them off at their homes and went back to Shadow Mountain for a brief, thirty minute lie down, then over to CBE for the last of Dismantling Racism classes. At which we discussed next steps. An odd feeling came over me as this discussion went on. I found myself pulling back, listening to the ideas thrown back and forth, no one settling on a direction, a plan. My inner organizer winced, felt tired.

As I drove home, I wondered if this might be a regressive activity for me. I had one before when I tried to reenter the ministry as a UU clergy. Spent a long time getting through the process, then to an internship in Unity at St. Paul. Kate said it was a mistake. I couldn’t see it. Then I made the very stupid decision to say yes to a job there as their minister of development. Again Kate said it was a mistake. It was. About as far from what I’m good at as I can imagine. I resigned, finally, to everyone’s relief.

Regressions find us wanting to go back, pick up something we left behind, something that was unfinished. These feelings made me return to the Marginalian to pick up this paragraph, a summary of Karen Horney’s thoughts in her last book.* The organizer is one of those Russian nesting dolls that lives now deep within me. Followed by the writer, Kate’s husband, the dog lover, the horticulturist, the cook, the docent, the Coloradan, the mourner and the griever, the Grandpa, the camp follower Jew, the Hermit on Shadow Mountain, the lover of deepening relationships, the traveler. He’s of the past, still loved and appreciated, held in a position of honor among my past selves, but really not me anymore. He likes to feel he could still flex his muscles, stand in front of a group of strangers and call out from them a course of action that would give them at least a partial remedy to the pains of their lives.

He was good at what he did and his work satisfied the me of my thirties and early forties in a profound way. Making a substantial difference for at least a few people for a particular moment in time. Some differences still at work like the Jobs Now Coalition, The Minnesota Council on Non-Profits, The Metropolitan Interfaith Coalition for Affordable Housing, many businesses and affordable housing units on the West Bank in Minneapolis. And many others in fact.

But his time is past. Not sure where that leaves me now. More investigation required. Fortunately, the future of CBE’s antiracism efforts do not depend on me.



*The measure of growth is not how much we have changed, but how harmoniously we have integrated our changes with all the selves we have been — those vessels of personhood stacked within the current self like Russian nesting dolls, not to be outgrown but to be tenderly incorporated. True growth is immensely difficult precisely because it requires befriending the parts of ourselves we have rejected or forgotten — what James Baldwin so memorably called “the doom and glory of knowing who you are and what you are”; it requires shedding all the inauthentic personae we have put on in the course of life under the forces of convention and compulsion; it requires living amicably with who we have been in order to fully live into who we can be.