Monday, January 15, 2018

Who the hell was Sarah?

In my last post, I reported singing “We Are Dancing Sarah’s Circle.” I was moved by the context of the hymn – a service featuring the personal stories of nine people in different stages of their lives – “sisters, brothers all.”

But what did it mean to be “dancing Sarah’s circle”? And who the hell was Sarah?

Thank goodness for Google. It has been a long, long time since I checked out Biblical stories. I have just spent the better part of the morning reading about aspects of the convoluted story of this Jewish matriarch – and prophet. A respected woman!

One of the reasons I abandoned my childhood Sunday school beliefs was the perceived over-arching misogyny of our Judeo-Christian heritage. According to Google sources, Sarah probably lived about 2000 BCE (Before the Common Era). Her spouse, Abraham, was the progenitor of three patriarchal religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Why was my non-patriarchal congregation dancing to a song honoring (by implication) a woman of these persuasions?

What I decided was that Sarah’s circle represents the long thread of human history – “every round a generation … on and on the circle’s moving.” And our connections to each of its strands. Patriarchal or not. I’m okay with that but will have more to say about the stain of patriarchy. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tsunami of Circles

Over the past weekend I was flooded by a tsunami of powerful emotions. 

I was asked to participate in the wedding of two quite wonderful people . . . actually to write a poem for the ceremony. [I am not a poet.] What an honor. 

To get to the rehearsal and ceremony, I hitched a ride with my minister and her partner. What a pleasure. 

The rehearsal was held in the nursing home where the groom’s Alzheimer-stricken father is cared for. What compassion. 

Then we went to a family landmark restaurant and had pizza in a loud but delicious celebration of everyone. Fun. 

Before the wedding, the couple and the photographer drove to the Garden of the Gods to take pictures. I tagged along. Hooray. 

The ceremony, in an historic chapel in La Foret, was magical. When we left to drive back home, I felt as if I had acquired new family. 

Then the next day . . . a stunning service at church – our traditional ‘Decades Service’ in which nine people, each in different life decades, talked about who they are and what they hope to do with their lives (however much remains). 

People’s stories – when we take time to listen—are compelling. All people’s stories. 

To close the service, we sang ‘We Are Dancing Sarah’s Circle”. Verses included: ‘here we seek and find our history’, ‘we will all do our own naming’, ‘every round a generation’, ‘on and on the circle’s moving’. Each verse ends with the refrain: ‘sisters, brothers, all.’ 

In one weekend, multiple celebrations of the circle of life – still spinning in my heart. [In the photo: the bride, the groom, their dog]

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Counting the Days

I get it.

Twenty-nine organizations have sent me 2018 calendars. Twenty-nine! Some of these organizations are ones to which I contribute. The others would like me to contribute. Most are significantly worthy … but there has to be a limit.

I am used to getting too many calendars but 29 is a record. I use three – one by each of two desks in my study and a third on the pass-through wall. [The pass-through calendar covers an ugly fixture that I think once connected to a landline telephone.]

People who visit me this time of year can, if they wish, have one or more of their choosing, to take home and hang by their desks and/or cover their own ugly fixtures.

The rest will go to my congregation’s RE program, if they would be useful. Others will be recycled.

What am I to make of all this … all these… all these 29 calendars? Obviously, there are a lot of worthy organizations that need money. But I think it’s more than that.

This year, perhaps more than any other in my long existence, it is patently important that I pay attention to the days – all 365 of them. And make each of them count. To do that, I must pay attention to all that I do – write when I’m writing, walk when I’m walking, pet my cat when I pet my cat, etc. 
If we focus on each activity, each activity will become more significant.

And so will we. Anyway, that’s my theory. And I have the calendars to prove it.

Monday, January 1, 2018

crystal pigs

It's mysterious how some things lodge themselves in your imagination and personal traditions.

I've had Christmas trees since 1963. My first trees mirrored those I had known growing up. Eventually, I established my own traditions -- each year embellishing and amending according to circumstances and finances. After about 50 years, I realized that I had accumulated too many ornaments/traditions and began giving them away, getting (relatively) smaller trees. 

About five years ago the woman who published my first book, Tree Lines; A Memoir, came to my house for a holiday celebration. I'm pretty sure it was she who gave me the ornament saying, "Everyone should have a crystal pig."

I had not known that.

Still for me, Christmas is a time to accumulate and share all possible forms of light  . . and crystal pigs sparkle.

They also make the days sparkle. It's fun to challenge younger visitors to find the crystal pig. Sometimes they move the critter and challenge me to find her. 

And they do and I do. And every time we smile.

So that's what I wish for all of us. 
May we each find our individual crystal pigs.
And shine on.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Pictured here is a (not very good) photo of the Neal/Weedermann ensemble.

From the top: Bruce Neal, Harlan Neal Weedermann and Marion Weedermann. Marion and Harlan are holding what may look to you like a white plastic hanger, but it is really a trombone … also called a 'bone'. 

Harlan loves to play the 'bone'. He makes the sliding tone sound and also the 'TOOT' (always in all capital letters).  It’s hard to get a photo of him because Harlan tends to 'zoom'. In fact, 'ZOOM' is one of his favorite words.

Sometimes he slows down enough to create art. 

Or listen to a story (about ten books a day). And one of the greatest feelings in the universe, is holding Harlan on your lap while reading him a story. 

So here’s to Zoom, Toot, and Bone.
And Harlan Neal Weedermann.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where Do You Feel Things?

Where do you feel things? A glimpse of amazing beauty, whether in my front yard or some distant landscape, engenders an opening and warmth . . . sometimes behind my forehead, sometimes across my chest. 

Destruction of a once pristine landscape or a car wreck squeezes and contorts my innards. 

I almost always feel fear in my vagina. I guess there’s a reason for that – the fear thing. All you have to do is read the newspaper. Back when I was young and desirable, I too received unwanted fondling, even unwelcomed intimacy. 

There are other emotions – like sorrow or regret – that roll over me in deep blue waves. Like awareness of cruel deaths – refugees, homeless, transgender people and the hundreds ‘mowed down’ in mass shootings. 

And ignorant decisions about guns, or the climate, or elephants bring tears to my throat (and anger to my brain). 

And just plain sadness can encompass me when someone like Charlie Rose turns out to be just a fallible as the rest of his gender. 

How do I counter these things? By standing in a community working for the dignity of all people. Or petting my aged cat. Or holding the hand of a child. Or, sometimes, eating chocolate. Do others do this? Where is your pain? Where is your joy?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

All Hail Last Blooms

Poking up from the last fallen leaves – a snapdragon. 

In the porch pot now devoid of marigolds – a pansy. 

And even in the crusty remains of our first snow – more pansies. 

All hail, brave and stubborn flora! Thank you for sticking around and sticking up. I write this blog to honor your tenacity and color. You will not be forgotten.