• Shabbat

    Shabbat post. Wrote one I decided to keep private, but I’ll be back later today with a new post.

    Imbolc and the 77 Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Snow. Cold. Winter Storms. Bringing Water we need. My own tiny Aquifer. A steel blue overcast Sky. Black Mountain gone. (I suspect it’s still there, though) Lodgepole Branches gathering Snow. The Supreme Court. Alan. Relationships. My life’s focus these days. Including with myself. Bereshit. Mishpatim. Parshas I’m studying now. That Shabbat feeling. Candles.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Eye

    One brief shining: The Lodgepole out my window has Branches focused toward the east, toward Great Sol’s return appearance after a Mountain night; on Their west side, where Their colleagues grow, the Branches never emerged, the same true for Others who face out toward the open air with an eager reach, why waste energy where it’s all shade anyhow?

     

    Shabbat once again. Interesting for me since the shabbat rules focus so much on not working, on relaxing from the daily grind, on staying home. Gee, sounds every day of the week for me. That does create an odd problem. How can I keep the spirit of shabbat if its traditional focus no longer seems appropriate. What does it mean to me to rest from my “regular” obligations? Or anyone retired, for that matter.

    So far I’ve focused on a few aspects of shabbat, like lighting the candles at the time indicated by Chabad. That does have an interesting grounding effect. The time, 18 minutes before sundown, gradually moves, during this season, later and later in the day. Yesterday it was 5:11 pm for the Denver area. Saying the prayer, reconstructing its meaning, and lighting the candles makes for a defined starting point for shabbat. Ritual.

    Reading the parsha for the week is another aspect. This week it’s mishpatim or Exodus 21:1–24:18 which contains many rules and regulations plus Moses’ ascent into the cloud on Mt. Sinai. My favorite commentator, Aviva Zornberg has a commentary, The Particulars of Rapture, which analyzes and interprets each parsha. In weeks past I’ve read her commentary after reading the parsha.

    This week though I’m also reading the very first parsha, bereshit, or beginning. Genesis 1 through the story of Cain and Abel and the lives of those who preceded Noah. Also reading Zornberg’s commentary, The Beginning of Desire.

    A nap has been part of most of my shabbat’s so far. For those of you who know me well, I’ve stopped taking naps for the most part. I also watch some TV. Eat breakfast and lunch. Workout.

    This week, yesterday, I also attended a torah study on reproductive rights online. Rabbi Jamie. The Jewish position is clear, a fetus does not become a person until the first breath or, according to some rabbi’s, when the head crowns. In most cases of pregnancy it is an obligation to save the mother’s life first if an emergency occurs.

    Shabbat has a different texture from the other days of my week. The priority on not doing worklike activity does color it for me. So does the candle lighting ritual and the emphasis on torah study. It is harder for a single person, retired and living alone, to fit into even a modest version of the traditional shabbat with its focus on family and nearby friends. Not my goal, though I appreciate the feel of that one.

     

     


  • A Man?

    Imbolc and the 77 Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Snow. Cold. Winter Storms. Bringing Water we need. My own tiny Aquifer. A steel blue overcast Sky. Black Mountain gone. (I suspect it’s still there, though) Lodgepole Branches gathering Snow. The Supreme Court. Alan. Relationships. My life’s focus these days. Including with myself. Bereshit. Mishpatim. Parshas I’m studying now. That Shabbat feeling. Candles.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Eye

    One brief shining: The Lodgepole out my window has Branches focused toward the east, toward Great Sol’s return appearance after a Mountain night; on Their west side, where Their colleagues grow, the Branches never emerged, the same true for Others who face out toward the open air with an eager reach, why waste energy where it’s all shade anyhow?

     

    Been thinking about sexuality and aging. Yes, I know about the rising instances of STD’s among those in their seventies, geez guys and gals. Come on. Not my point. Good for them except for the no protection part. No, I’ve been thinking about myself and others like me, not an insignificant sized group I imagine, who have had their genital sexuality compromised by surgery or drugs. Or, indifference. Yes, it happens as many of you know.

    In my case a prostatectomy and subsequent radiation, drugs, and two years of chemo have left me nonfunctional sexually. Been the case since 2018 or so. Kate’s illness made this less of a problem than it could have been. I know. TMI. Maybe. Nobody’s gonna hold you down and make you read this. However I know I’m not alone and I feel like this lacunae in our common conversation needs fixing. I mean, we’re all adults here, right?

    In the case of those us who have had androgen deprivation therapy (adt), a usual treatment in the case of prostate cancer, the goal is to push testosterone, which feeds the cancer, as low as possible. The standard is the level of testosterone in a man who has been castrated. Testosterone goes low, so does the sex drive. My T score has been around zero for the last 9 years.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t have desire. It’s rare, but it does happen. Yet even so the combination of low testosterone and other chemical insults mean I can no longer get an erection. Factor in fatigue from a funky thyroid, now remedied, and fatigue from the adt drugs and the chemo. Not a lot of energy of any kind, let alone sexual energy.

    However, all this is prolegomena to the main thought. That is, what does gender mean in such a situation? I’m a man, a cisgender male. Heteronormative in my desire. All my life. And happily so. Yet what am I now? In effect I have been chemically castrated. My sexual drive gone. And even were it not, a real inability to function as I had for my adult life until cancer.

    Who am I now? Am I a eunuch? Am I still a man in the strict biological sense? What do these losses mean for me as a man? I’m not sure. I feel the same in most ways. Yet I also know I’m changed. Not the same as I was fifteen years ago. Am I now a solitary, a hermit not only by emotional inclination but also by biological reality?

     

     


  • 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.

     

     

     


  • Movement forward

    Imbolc and the 9% crescent of the Cold Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Brother Mark. Great Sol spotlighting the Lodgepole who is my companion each morning. Snow and Cold on the way. North America. Canada. Mexico. USA. South America. Colombia. Ecuador. Peru. Chile. Argentina. Uruguay. Brazil. That cruise in 2011 with my sweetheart. Kate, always Kate. Of blessed memory. February birthdays. Aquarius. Harmony and understanding. Hair.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Long hair

    One brief shining: In 1969 the draft lottery tumbled and my number came up 4 in the very year I graduated from college, losing my draft deferment and necessitating that trip to Indianapolis to the site for my physical where I took off my clothes down to underwear and t-shirt, walked from station to station, hoping for the magic of 4F, never in ever, but had to settle for a 1Y due to psoriasis which gets aggravated by wool and humid climates.

     

    Not sure why that memory popped up this morning. The further I ride the wave of time, especially in this oh so twisted electoral year, the more distant and surreal become the 60’s. I loved it then, but would not go back. Too much contingency. Every day a shift a turn a new idea a new drug a new woman a new threat from the government a new way of ordering the mind. I don’t have the energy for that sort of maelstrom. I did then. Barely. But what a time. As the Dead said, a long strange trip.

     

    Been thinking about religions, the religious life. A dominant thread for me. Somehow I need to have a religious idea as core to my day to day. Not sure why about that either. But it’s undeniable. Even in those times when I have been outside of a religious institution the questions of deep meaning, of the nature of existence, of my relationship to it all have remained. A resolute pagan for well over twenty years. A Christian until 17. A UU for 7 or so, longer in some ways. An existentialist always. A sort of Christian for another twenty, but more a radical political activist.

    Now a Jew for a few months or for my whole life thanks to the magic of the mikveh. I’m inclined, btw, to believe in the magic of the mikveh. That the seed of a Jewish identity came with me when the obstetrician pulled me from my mother’s womb.

    I realized the other day I’ve always wanted to be in a religious tradition, but one that allows me to think freely. Come to my own conclusions. Judaism is such a tradition.

    I want the thousands of years of history, the longue durée of revelation and tradition, it feeds something in my soul. Perhaps a need for order which I reject if imposed but embrace if allowed to consider its meaning on my own. Perhaps a need to belong. Perhaps a desire for community, but community based on wrestling the angels of human nature and destiny without a certain conclusion.

    We want to know the mystery, to tunnel into the darkness for the richness there; yet we fear the path. Unknown. Uncertain.

    One response to that uncertainty, to the mystery, is to foreclose it with dogma, with conclusions. Another response enfolds mystery and darkness and uncertainty, knows them as essential to the religious journey, the ancientrail of animal life, allows them to fertilize the imagination, the heart, the movement forward into…

     


  • Folks I know

    Imbolc and the waning Cold Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Chamber music. Marina Harris. Ana. A clean  house. A gift. Jazz. Coltrane. Brubeck. Mingus. Monk. Davis. Mozart. Haydn. Telemann. Pachebel. CD’s. Music. Books. Lamb by Christopher Moore. Biff. Mitch Rapp. Marilyn and Irv. Breakfast today. Tara watching Whales off Costa Rica. My son. Seoah. Murdoch. Missing them. Jackie and Ronda. Aspen Roots. Aspen Perks. Primo’s.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Irv out of the hospital and rehab

    One brief shining: Hit power on the treadmill, 15 minutes of cardio, off to the kettlebell for goblet squats, the TRX for lunges and rows, dips, dumbbells: chest fly, bench press, skull crushers, bicep curl with shoulder press, body weight: marches, ab crunch, crossovers, ab crunch on ball, and dead bug, then some balance work. repeat three times, another 15 minutes of cardio and one day’s worth done.

     

    Got a surprise Valentine’s gift from Marina Harris who owns Furball Cleaning. She likes me as a customer, as she says often. Kate found her and I’ve used her since Kate died. Ana and sometimes Lita come to clean every two weeks. They do a good job. They’re dependable and no fuss. Same with Marina. Could see having someone clean as a luxury, a good place to save money. Nope. A clean house gives me a good feeling. Self-care.

     

    My Hebrew lesson today got canceled since Tara, my teacher and friend, found an available Whale watch excursion, and headed off into the Ocean. What a great reason to cancel. Whales! Made myself sick on a similar excursion off Maui. I had binoculars. Neglected to give my stomach a rest from the magnified messages the lenses sent to my eyes. Ooof.

     

    Brother Mark, whom some of you know, has had a glitch in his current Saudi gig. His company has apparently lost their contract and will have to suspend operations in mid-March. Beware the ides of March, eh? Although. The new company has to recruit 115 teachers in the next two weeks. May not happen. If they can’t, then Mark and his colleagues would stay on until August. Saudi ESL companies come and go as do their contracts and the teachers. Mark’s done well this last year and a half so I imagine he’ll land on his feet. If not, he’s resilient.

     

    Meanwhile sister Mary and Guru live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the same country where she started her expat life now so many years ago. I’ve not been there but based on Mary’s reports it must have a close relationship with the jungle. Lots of Wild Neighbors like the Elk and the Mule Deer, the Black Bear and the Mountain Lion. And they come to visit. Lizards. Pythons. Monkeys. I’m sure there are others. IMO nice to have them in a large urban area though I’m not sure that’s how Kuala Lumpurites feel about them.

     

    And one more. Cousin Diane and her adopted home state of California. Atmospheric rivers. Too. Much. Rain. Not as bad in the Bay area as in L.A., southern California. But bad enough. Especially when you consider this is climate change driven. In other words, not going to diminish, rather more likely to increase.

     


  • Shadow Mountain. Home.

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Monday gratefuls: The hostages. The empty chairs. Rabbi Jamie. Alan. Cheri. This moment. This keyboard. These fingers. The lev that motivates them. My neshama. Yours. Shards of ohr. Tikkun olam. Home. Eclipse 2024. Aurora, Great Sol lighting the morning. A blue white Sky above Black Mountain. Ruth. Gabe. Mark, leaving Hafir in March. Mary, may the forest and the pythons and the monitor lizards and the monkeys be with you.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Change, our only constant

    One brief shining: The way Black Mountain emerges from the night, slowly with only a dark bulk visible, as Great Sol throws more ohr toward it the Lodgepoles become distinct, Snow on Rock outcroppings bounces the ohr back toward Great Sol white and brilliant, a shade of red orange rests for a moment over it all, then the blue white Sky lights up and Black Mountain stands dominant against my western horizon.

     

    Increasing. My stay on Shadow Mountain tendency. Only the very occasional night out. MVP. Dinner with Ruth and Gabe. Not even services, maybe once a month. Yesterday a solidarity walk with Denver relatives of the hostages in Gaza. Big Snow Saturday and I found myself not wanting to brave the Mountain roads. So I didn’t. Felt a bit of guilt. Ah, Jewish guilt! Hey, I’m really in now.

    Not sure how I feel about this. There are a number of drivers. At night my reaction time is slower. And even with cataract surgery I still get halos and spikes around car headlights. I go to bed early, though I’ve recently discovered not so early for my chronotype, the Lion. Inertia plays a role, perhaps too big a role. Though. This began long ago when Kate and I first started missing St. Paul Chamber Orchestra nights. A long drive and a late night when going from Andover. At some point the negatives begin to push out the positives. This may be that point for me.

    During the day. Still getting out. Breakfasts. Lunch. Thursday mussar. Getting groceries, medical appointments. That sort of thing. Yet I have not gone into Denver to the Art museums and galleries which I can visit during the day. Traffic. Parking. An hour in and an hour back. I’m grateful for Alan and Cheri’s concerts because they’re on Sunday mornings. That way I can still experience live music.

    Not slowing down physically, still exercising regularly, now up to three sets of resistance work plus cardio. My back though continues to push at me. Noticing now if I turn too quickly to my right with my foot planted my hip tends to drop.

    Guess I’m trying to parse out the real limits of my daily and weekly life. Seasons make a difference of course. When winter is over and Great Sol agrees to light more of the evening, it’s easier for me. I love winter. Snow. Cold. But not ice. And not Mountain roads after a storm.

    Whenever I have these thoughts, I think about RJ Devick, my financial advisor, who once told Kate and me that his clients who hit their eighties tend to do much less traveling and their expenses go down. Could be what’s going on with me.


  • Bullfights.

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Snow. Big Snow. Cold night. 13 this morning. A fine Shabbat. My reupholstered couch. Ackerman’s. Reorganizing, again, those books that have infiltrated the living room. Feels so good. Getting facile with my bar mitzvah Torah portion. Wild Mountain Ranch. Regenerative farming in Boulder County. Bullfighting and its cultured despisers. Great Sol. Dependable.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: El Toro

    One brief shining: In 1995 I bought a ticket at the Plaza del Toros in Mexico City, sombra, and went into the largest bullfighting arena in the world, most notable initially were the steeply sloped stairs leading up and up, the entrance to each row of seats marked with tin Corona cerveza buckets loaded with ice awaiting thirsty patrons, blue and white emblems on them, I sat down, only four rows from the arena itself, unsure what to expect.

    Found my notes from the bullfight. It was 1993, not 95. And the cerveza buckets were more toward the bottom of the arena, fewer toward the nose bleed seats.

    The Plaza del Toros is circular with a large ring in the center where the bull’s lives play out. The concrete rows of seats go up steeply from a wooden fence that separates the first row from the ring. Inside the ring itself wooden fence like structures provide protection for bandilleros and even toreadors. A gate on the side of the arena furthest from my seat opened for the march of the toreadors.

    Writing about this because an article in the New York Times announced that the Plaza del Toros reopened last week on January 28th after a two-year hiatus. Animal rights groups succeeded in a temporary ban and have cases before the Mexican courts now to ban bullfighting all together. Until those suits play out the largest bull ring in the world will continue offering bull fights.

    This dovetails with a book I started reading yesterday, The Rights of Nature: a Legal Revolution That Could Save the World. I’m in a bookclub out of the Rocky Mountain Land Library that will discuss this book in March. In the first chapter I read the author, David R. Boyd, writes about how it takes time for cultural change to occur. His references reminded me of Thomas Khun’s Theories of Scientific Revolution. Slowly. Slowly. Then all of a sudden Great Sol replaces Earth as the center of the Solar System.

    Boyd believes that the animal rights movement, a Mexican contingent of which shut down Plaza del Toros for two years, will occasion such a cultural shift about animals and that that could undergird the movement to finally give the rest of the Natural World legal rights. Ecuador has already done this as has New Zealand and 22 other countries to varying extents. May it be so.

    Will finish up about the bullfight but wanted to underscore here the Rights of Nature movement. It’s a really big deal and coming soon to a state or national constitution near you.


  • A day with texture

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: New candle holders. Memorizing the prayer. Alan. Joe Mama’s. Rocket Bar. Wild Mountain Ranch. A dozen eggs and two beef tenderloins. New blinds. John Ellis. Evergreen Shutter and Blind. Shabbat. Parsha Yitro. Snow. Maybe in feet! Good sleeping. Israel. Hamas. U.S. Iran. Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia. Korea: South and North. Japan. Taiwan. Ukraine. Russia. U.S.A.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Wild Mountain Ranch, regenerative farming in Conifer

    One brief shining: Wouldn’t have found Joe Mama’s, again, if I hadn’t seen Alan sitting at a table near the window, and wouldn’t have thought it was a breakfast place anyhow since it had a pool table, not to mention the bar where three Wheatridge stalwarts sat each with a drink in front of them, one a yellow mug of beer, the others I couldn’t tell, at 9 am.

     

    Don’t usually go to bars. At all. Certainly not at 9 in the morning. But Joe Mama’s had moved from its ten foot wide spot on west Colfax to a new place in Wheatridge. Alan and I liked it, the food was good. We decided to try the new spot.

    They’ve become, I think, the kitchen staff for the Rocket Bar. A no frills spot which looks like the owner took over a small building that maybe housed a barbershop and a small bodega like grocery store. Four separate rooms. Pool table room. The room where Alan and I sat, larger and with tables, the bar room, a narrow area that might have been a wide hallway, and a fourth room with tables. The latter two rooms seemed to constitute the main working spaces for the Rocket Bar.

    Alan and I will not be going back. For one thing the politics of the place had a certain MAGA like feel. For another this alcoholic doesn’t like to eat breakfast while old guys belly up for their first shots of the day. Their choice, not disputing that. But my choice is not to be with them when they do that.

    Always good though to spend time with Alan. We discussed his and Cheri’s first in-home concert. Cheri floated after the morning. She loves music, loves playing, and arranging for others to hear music. And this time, at home. We also dissected the current state of Israel, Hamas, Gaza, the West Bank. Way complicated. But perhaps with a solid solution if Biden stays in office.

     

    Came home to be here when John Ellis, no apparent relation, came with my new blinds. They’re double honeycombed and have a slight green tint. The ones in my office will allow me to work in the morning without Great Sol in my face. The new blinds on the living room/kitchen floor improve on the faded ones that were there before. The blinds downstairs will reduce glare in the afternoons and early evening. It took John less than hour to install all of them. I paid him the balance due.

     

    After John finished, I hopped in Ruby to go find Wild Mountain Ranch, a local regenerative farm I discovered a week or so ago. Not an easy find. Had to turn left on a downhill slope of 285 onto a narrow dirt road. I needed to find Red Hawk Trail. Found it but it didn’t look like it went very far. Just behind Tucker’s horse training and riding facility. Drove past it, then noticed that it took a sharp right that I hadn’t seen. Turned around and went back. Down a steep slope on a muddy narrow road to the right hand turn.

    Drove a long ways on a one lane dirt road muddy from thawed Snow. All the while going up, a gentle rise. No signs for Wild Mountain Ranch. I had an address but I hadn’t paid attention since I imagined there would be a sign. The road ended in the driveway of the last house on Redhawk Trail. A man roughly my age came outside to see what I was up to. We chatted and he said,”Oh, yeah. You’re buying beef?” I nodded. “Turn around and go back down. It’s on the right and you’ll see some cattle, some big ones. A radical right hand turn.” Thanks, dude.

    Sure enough maybe a half mile further back from his small orange home I saw some Highland Cattle lounging in mud. I took a radical right turn, maybe 240 degrees, and found the parking lot. Rang the bell. Nothing happened. Rang it again. Still nothing. I went back to the car, found my phone and called. No answer. As I wondered what to do next, Brittany came out. “Have you been out here long?” No, not that long. She got my name went back in the house, got my dozen eggs and two tenderloins.

    Marketing and customer service are not Wild Mountain Ranch’s strong suit. At least not yet. I wanted to talk about their farm but Brittany seemed distracted. I’ll wait.

    Gonna go downstairs now and have a couple of their eggs before I workout.

     


  • Fire

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Alan. Snow incoming. Joanne. Marilyn and Irv. Rabbi Jamie. Leo and Luke. Mindy. Ginny. Janet. Ellen. Carol. Thursday mussar. A steel gray Sky. The yellowback running for President. Old Joe Biden. Democrats. Those who used to be Republicans. The Electoral College. To its demise. Mountain roads. Wild Neighbors. My Indiana home. The Sycamores.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: New Harmony, Indiana

    One brief shining: Luke asked me if I had gotten my extra ear back off the table from Thursday mussar, the Roger he meant, the small flying saucer like device that glows green when it’s on, taking in speech from my left or across a table in a noisy restaurant, cleaning it up and delivering it via Bluetooth to my fancy schmancy hearing aid; Amy my audiologist says it reduces fatigue from straining to hear and understand. Believe she’s right.

     

    I’ve written before about collecting my medical guardian, my hearing aid, my phone, my fitbit before I head out. Old age and technology add accessories to wallet and keys. Now I have to remember my Roger, too. The watch pocket on my jeans. Perfect fit. I also have to remember to pick it up, too, since I lost my first one at Gaetano’s with Alan. Getting more used to using it when I’m out. Especially since my ability to filter ambient noise has deteriorated.

     

    The metaphor we’re discussing in Thursday mussar is fire. We began with a general conversation about fire itself, how humans have, uniquely among all living creatures, learned to use it. How it requires destruction. How it takes three things: fuel, spark, oxygen.

    The most interesting aspect of Thursday’s session focused on the burning bush. This episode in Exodus occurs fifty years after Moses left Egypt, having killed an Egyptian overseer. Moses has become a shepherd and has herded his flock into the desert around Midian. He notices a fire burning off to the side of his path. Curious about it he turns from the path he was on to take a look. At some point he realizes the bush is on fire but not being consumed. God notices that he has turned aside to look and calls to him from the bush: Moses, Moses. Moses replies, “Here I am.”

    If you recall, I wrote earlier about the difference between the higher criticism I learned in seminary and the Jewish approach to the Torah. The conversation yesterday at Beth Evergreen highlighted that difference. The question was not where was Mount Horeb, near which the bush burned. Or what was the history of Midian, beyond what the Torah offers as the place where Moses met his wife Zipporah while in exile from his homeland, Egypt. We didn’t examine the form of the text or its history at the hands of redactors or in the various historic texts of the Book of Exodus.

    No. We discussed what was going on first. Moses turned and looked. He noticed the bush was not consumed. A messenger of God appeared to him, then God himself. In this episode Moses receives his call to return to Egypt and confront Pharaoh. To initiate the liberation of the Hebrew slaves.

    Here’s what fascinated me about our conversation. We went from Moses observing a burning bush to the burning bush as metaphor for Moses’ own enlightenment. Moses had been on fire since leaving Egypt with a passion for his enslaved people. But he didn’t know what to do, if anything. Suddenly, while in the desert alone, in a place of solitude, it comes to him that he has to return to Egypt and do what he can to liberate them. Even though he feels inadequate to the task.

    We then discussed the nature of revelation and how metaphor gives us a language to speak of our own experiences of revelation and the capacity to more deeply and personally understand the Torah as revelation. This is it. Emerson’s a religion of revelation to us in our time.

    With this twist and one with which I agree. That the Torah and the Upanishads and the Tao de Ching and the New Testament and the Quran are not the dry bones Emerson found them to be, but a history of others who have walked the path of openness to the vast and sacred reality in which we live. They are our spiritual ancestors who have much to teach us about how to recognize and integrate those mystical moments when our own Reed Sea parts, when we stop from herding the sheep of our life to look at our bush that burns but is not consumed.

     

     

     

     


  • 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.