Posts Tagged ‘ …wow. ’

Seeing Her

2011.01.16
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ALL I REMEMBER NOW ARE images, and the intimate passion of an infinite love.

I remember the room of globes, of maps of worlds and wonders, soft with pillows and draped scarves. And She was there. And She knew me. And loved me. And told me I was Her own and always would be — “but it is not yet your time to be with Me.”

And She kissed me.

Her words, warm as her arms, were now cutting ice. I cried, I begged — I think I wailed. “No! Don’t leave me! Please! No!”

She told me she would see me again, one day. “I will not leave you. But you cannot be with me. Yet.”

I awoke sobbing, but comforted in Her absence — oh so small, and cold, next to Her presence! — by the knowledge that She loves me best of all Her lovers (although She loves all her lovers this way). And so I sit by the open window in springtime, listening for Her voice.

And still She walks the hidden retreats, where a ghost of love wraps me like a veil, like a scarf hung in a room full of globes where my Lady waits for me.

One day.

(They say every poet is slipped a glimpse of the Muse unadorned and transcendent, triumphant and radiant, loving, intimate and wise. I don’t know if this qualifies, but I dreamed this, as vividly as a sunset breeze, when I was 17 or 18. And I have never forgotten it.)

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David Feldman, Post-Modern Comic Genius

2011.01.13
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PAY ATTENTION, CLASS: TODAY WE learn from David Feldman, American, how to correctly structure a portable visual joke (in this case, a bumpersticker) for maximum satiric and comic effect.

First point: Understand the medium. The human eye travels a line of text, or what the brain immediately assesses as same, from left to right.

Second point: Camouflage. On a black background, the eye first registers a patriotic symbol — an American flag overlaying a proud bald eagle’s profile — followed by a line of white text.

Third point: Reinforcement. A sturdy sans-serif, all caps: “MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR … ”

Fourth point: Misdirection. The brain, conditioned by years of living within the Lower North American political ecosystem, anticipates a conditioned jingoism.

Fifth point: Gotcha. The text finishes: ” … RONG.” The brain is wrenched from its self-woven cocoon by the unexpected monosyllabic truncation, and explodes into laughter. Its owner reaches for a handkerchief or small towel.

REMEMBER THE MONOSYLLABIC TRUNCATION. THERE WILL BE A TEST.

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David Mamet’s Christmas Wishes

2011.01.04
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From our Wish-We’d-Found-This-Two-Weeks-Ago department: Over on Tablet, playwright David Mamet literally pens a Christmas card to the Jews from the Chinese “who do not completely understand your dietary customs.” To say more would sound horribly post-facto; let’s say instead we’re being early for next year.

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Two Hands Clapping

2010.12.31
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ONE OF ANN‘S & MY favorite gestures is to gently upfling the hands at about shoulder height and exclaim, “How did they do that?”

This phrase generally applies to dancers, actors, writers, musicians, singers, comedians, directors and others whose command of craft and muscle produces transcendence: something somehow bigger than the package it came in, and which makes us bigger too.

But the arts aren’t all that produce that effect. Birds munching spiders on the windowsills. Baby deer who know how to stand up and find mom. Tube worms. Great chains of galaxies distill wonder into every atom, every second. Don’t let this one pass uncelebrated — applaud a sunset today!

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And Now, Muppets With People Eyes

2010.12.29
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No, seriously: http://muppetswithpeopleeyes.tumblr.com/. WARNING: Kermit will give you nightmares.

(Thanks, BoingBoing!)

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“What do YOU like about being a spiritual leader?”

2010.12.29
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THIS QUESTION WAS POSED TO me by a friend who’s considering the path. Since I have some small experience with the subject, and some readers have some interest in it, I’m posting my reply here and will be absolutely unoffended if you skip it.

Wow. No one’s ever asked me that before, so I needed to take some serious time to think about it before replying. So first, thank you for an interesting think.

Before I reply, you need to know that I’m currently off the rabbi thing; partly because I made an unsuccessful bid earlier this year to serve my synagogue in this capacity, and since I now know I only wanted to “be a rabbi” for this community (and despite that everybody still treats me as a spiritual leader) it seems rather moot to continue my studies. But there are other reasons as well. That said, there were certainly aspects I “liked,” or more accurately, found rewarding.

The best thing to me about “being a spiritual leader” is making a difference for people in a direct, immediate way. People come to services for many reasons — duty, support, inspiration, help, grief, socializing and sometimes even to pray. To at least offer a moment of connection for those who need it is incredibly fulfilling; to have it accepted, even more so. (I always feel like I learned most about leading services by hawking for Greg; it’s important to be able to read the crowd and respond appropriately and immediately.)

But leading is not just services. Depending on the tradition you embrace, you may also be witness to (and help facilitate) some of the most powerful moments in someone’s life. What I like most about this, perhaps selfishly, is that there’s no room for yourself in these moments — you must be a pure conduit for those involved — and for a heavy egotist like me the experience is wonderfully freeing.

This next may be a specifically Jewish thing (on account of the heavy rabbinical teacher’s role), but there is also a particular joy in seeing people get excited about their really, really old heritage: that moment of “Ohhhh … THAT’S why we do this.” It’s fun to share the things which excite us. It’s also very scary to be the one passing along a tradition — you want to get it right, and you want to get it relevant — but I think a proper spiritual leader needs a certain amount of insecurity.

Seeing people smile when you enter a room is also a nice benefit. But be careful of being praised beyond your capacity to accept. Gracefully accepting gratitude is something I’m still trying to master; what I do comes naturally to me, partly perhaps because I /don’t/ see myself as being altogether worthy of doing it. I just allow it all to happen, that’s all. Like the old Grateful Dead lyric about the storyteller: “His job is to shed light, not to master.”

That’s all I can think of at the moment. I hope it helps you in some way.

Be well, good luck, and blessings.

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5 Thoughts: The Solstice Eclipse

2010.12.21
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1. A CORRECT USE OF FACEBOOK is evidenced by all the pictures my friends took of last night’s eclipse. (Also nice: Chanukah’s virtual latke banquet.)

2. The overhead wonder was no less wondrous for being swathed in translucifying cloud at 0145 local (PST).

3. A good many of my friends are pagans, poets, artists or other types of beautiphile whose inspiration at times like these is also wondrous. I am supremely thankful, at these seasons no less than others, to be surrounded by so many intelligent and creative people.

4. Speaking of which, solstice is a good time to ponder cycles and time in general: say, how life is lived by the big circle in the universe instead of the little one on the wall.

5. Winter solstice even more pondered: how the dark reaches its depth for one half of the world, even as the other experiences summer’s greatest light. Omnia vincit lux! and whatever you celebrate, celebrate the living daylights out of it.

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More Than A Game, Less Than A War

2010.12.15
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THERE ARE SPORTS WHICH CALL forth the most primal emotions in order to exorcise them for the good of the community — sports which make lesser men wonder and cringe, and old women pick up a frying pan — sports which proclaim a national character unchanged by time and politing circumstance — sports which sort of make me wish I was the sort of man who plays them. Forged among the Orkney Islands where men wrest their very living from the hoary North Sea …. Ba’.

(If you’re reading this on Christmas or New Year’s Day, watch it live at http://www.thelongpartnership.co.uk/profile/orkney_webcam.php or http://www.visitorkney.com/webcams.asp.)

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What Do You Say To A Partly Naked Woman?

2010.12.15
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SHE WAS WALKING UP THE hill toward us through the sea of sprawled bodies surrounding the stage at Laguna Seca Speedway, where some friends and I were enjoying three days of the Grateful Dead and Los Lobos in the summer of 1988.

My own life was at a crossroads. I was coming from a year aboard the Golden Hinde II (many stories there, oh yes) but hadn’t decided whether to hitchhike to Alaska and work on a fishing boat or return to the Northern California Renaissance Faire and eventually settle into landbound life. So I stayed for an indecisive interim with some Humboldt County friends who invited me to join them for the show.

(This was also the hitchhiking trip where I heard a sound from ‘midst the roadside bushes, stuck in my hand and pulled out a little black kitten. But that’s another story; or maybe just another part of the same old story.)

So there we were on the hillside between acts (Ralfh, Sputnik, a friend of Ralfh’s, and me), and here comes this partly naked woman. The event itself wasn’t strictly topless, although she was; straight red hair, green eyes, medium build, about my height, and the most striking expression: a mix of “I can’t believe I’m doing this” and “What’s the big deal?” She was angling up the hill, trailing headshakes and sympathetic laughter, perhaps to meet a friend or take in (or be) the all-encompassing view, and she was headed right at me.

As I am something of a magnet for strangeness, and because it was a Grateful Dead show, I would not have been surprised to know her. I didn’t, but as she passed she gave me a beatific and knowing smile.

“Don’t tell anyone I’m naked,” she said.

“I won’t,” I said.

And for 22 years, I didn’t. I hope that, at this late date, she forgives me.

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One Conversation

2010.11.30
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WE WERE DISCUSSING SYNAGOGUE FUNDRAISERS, and I suggested an egg toss.

E. G., who knows who he is but may not want you to, looked at me with the sad seriousness of the ex-military and first responder. “Eggs aren’t for tossing,” he said. “They’re for eating. It debases us to play with something that half the world is starving for.”

That was ten years ago. To this day, the sight of someone playing with or otherwise wasting their food still makes me itchy inside.

One conversation was all it took to change my mind about something I had never seriously thought through. What will it take to change yours?

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The Unexamined Light Is Not Worth Seeing By

2010.11.29
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WHY DO WE ASSUME THAT “God” is the one who wants or needs worship?

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Listen Up

2010.11.26
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TODAY IS THE NATIONAL DAY of Listening, which, if you hadn’t heard — and I hadn’t until about five minutes ago, which saddens me because it’s such a neat idea and it’s in its third year — is dedicated to exactly that: listening to each other’s stories, and recording (and uploading) them for the curious and unborn.

Our memories are a non-renewable resource: once they’re gone, so is a world. National Day of Listening lets us peek into these other worlds — and maybe better understand our own.

LINK (including a do-it-yourself listening kit): http://nationaldayoflistening.org/

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