Home again

I will try to describe this week somehow...


I did not, as I'd hoped, leave for Lama at dawn, but in early afternoon.  It is a l-o-n-g drive, and a beautiful one.  They housed me in one of their "huts":  a lovely, tiny, efficient dwelling with room for a bed, a brilliant drop-down desk one can write at while sitting on the bed, and windows that bring both light and air, and a view of the stars, of sunrise, of sunset; and the sound of birds.

IT IS QUIET---that is, we hear a machine now and then; but mostly, it's people, and kids playing, and a dog or two, and the birds.  They observe silence until breakfast, a lovely practice.  

There are more stars in the night sky than I have seen anywhere but Australia and New Zealand.

I heard no news, saw no TV, had no phone and did not bring this laptop.


The group that gathered to celebrate the Solstice and Lama's 50th anniversary was a wild, wonderful mixture of folk---many aging hippies; others who look "normal" until you begin to talk to them, and find they are wonderfully wild as well...

Memories.  Nostalgia.  Disbelief when facing the present.

Great kindness and generosity and memories of their teacher, Sufi Sam Lewis, buried farther up the hill.  A ceremony of blessing their spring of water.  No waste.  Outhouses.  Sharing food prep and cleanup, in shifts.  Chop vegetables; wash dishes.


Some people I had wanted to visit with for years.

A stunning, brilliant performance by Zuleika, dancer/musician/storyteller.

Reminiscences:  stories of Lama from the old-timers.  One was remembering Zalman's retreat there, up in the Hermitage.  Only he was such an extravert, she said, that he couldn't stay up in the hermitage, and kept coming down to the kitchen, joining everybody else.  At some point he was getting them to make tsimmes...How we laughed.

An evening of zikr.

Also an afternoon of zikr with Zuleika, in a marvelous outdoor structure with no roof, but an intensely blue sky above us...


Then:  an amazing visit between the whole bunch of us with Ram Das in Hawaii, by zoom.


Two other things stood out for me, amidst all this richness:  one was the great generosity of the community; the other was the unique and rich quality of some of the people that I met.  One or two will surely become lasting friends.  One of these, a fine and rare person, took me to the labyrinth that had been beautifully crafted with sticks, stones, shells...We walked it silently on shabbos:  into one's center/heart; out once more into the world, bringing inner riches.  

We walked it once more today:  an opening, a gathering of riches, and a goodbye.



I am home now, and deeply grateful to have shared this remarkable few days with these profoundly beautiful people.  Also encouraged, in the original sense of the word, to find that the spirit of seeking, of sharing, of great generosity and sharp inquiry have been kept alive.


Already after midnight

NOTE:  I may not have internet access from Tuesday through Sunday.   I promise to keep notes and catch you up when I return home.


Oh my.

And I thought I had broken the habit of the-late-night-before-travel...but obviously, I haven't.

My practice---not consciously adopted---has been to write and mail the tzedakah checks before going on a trip.  I somehow register the pile of charities-intended-but-not-fulfilled on my desk as even more embarrassing than being found by the police after (cholilah) an auto accident with torn underwear.  (What our mothers all warned us against.)  Here it is again, the pile of pleas for tzedakah.  I'll do them in the morning before leaving.  


Not that I'm prepared and packed---I haven't, entirely.

Nor actually chosen what I will take.

But I did pick up itty-bitty-mini toiletries, and nuts and seeds that I toasted and seasoned for snacks on the road.  And I stocked up on the cats' favorite food, and litter.  And showed the friend who is housesitting how to dismantle and clean the cats' water fountain.  

And I've gathered what I would like to give when I arrive.  And water for the trip.  And a thermos for coffee.  And in the course of the errands this afternoon, I bumped into five different women I'd not seen in a long time, and each one of them required a visit---a pleasure.


So now it's one a.m. and I am still awake and still not packed and the tzedakah checks are still not written and my mind is quietly reciting a litany ("simplify, simplify") and I hear the memory-echo of my beloved's voice floating down the stairs: "Hartzeleh, come to bed already..."  and since it has somehow gotten to be one a.m., I will.

Even though he will not be there to throw back the covers, welcome me into his arms and the warm spot on the bed, and softly snuffle and snore me to sleep.

After the ball is over...

It's always a challenge to come down off the adrenalin that accompanies a performance, even if it's minor.

Tonight was the "Jews Do Dylan" concert at the new Boulder JCC.  I didn't think I'd be able to do it at all, because at first I misremembered the dates of the Lama celebration.  When I got that straight, Sheldon suggested "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", which is a delight to sing, especially if someone's doing harmonies.  (Mind you, I have never figured out what that song was about nor how Ghengis Khan got into it.  If any of you know, please do enlighten us all.)  Such a multi-talented, skilled and generous bunch of musicians!  Many just dropped into another performer's song to fill out the sound and support the performer...With just a cursory rehearsal there today before the performance, I had backup not only from Sheldon's piano, but also Rabbi Joe Black's banjo.  Lots of the musicians simply dropped in to fill out the sound on their colleagues' songs.  It felt like the grownup version of the "kumsitz" of my youth.

That was so satisfying and fulfilling---but also so stimulating---that I still can't figure out how I will go to sleep.  I am, as they say,"tired but wired."  The cats are trying to teach me what to do by pointedly falling fast asleep on either side of me, Bracha in her basket on the little salmon sofa, Mazal on Zalman's recliner.  I am being lulled by the tiniest of cat-snoring noises; they are trying to show me what I should be doing now.

It worked: I fell asleep at the keyboard.Good night...