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March 18, 2008


Beth, I'm so glad you've started on this autobiographical journey. It adds beautifully made jigsaw pieces to the rest of your writing and I'm fascinated to see the picture developing. For instance, to know that it was J.'s father who performed your home-made marriage ceremony on a Vermont hilltop is such a wonderful image to put alongside those you've verbally painted about your father-in-law. Speaking of painting: could you post some photos of the work you were doing when you were a painter?
I also love the Duccio you've chosen here - in fact that whole period (pre-perspective and pre-Renaissance) is my favourite in all of Italian art history

My experience with the Church is very parallel to your own: childhood doubts and diligent choir attendance, leaving after inspiring sermons given by gifted clergy, a congregation full of homophobia. Still, last night as I lay in bed listening to Handel’s Messiah the thought occurred, “How can you reject that which inspired such music?”

I thought of your odyssey, which suddenly seemed another version of what Barack Obama had just addressed in his speech on racism. He cannot completely repudiate his former pastor anymore than he can deny his grandmother.

These issues – what we can and cannot deny in our selves and others - go much deeper than words and thoughts and even deeds. Seems to me, we are being invited, if not pushed, into discovering our deepest Love and our basic Unity.

Writing to a friend earlier today I typed out, “We are so lucky to have Obama. I hope we do not kill him.” Before I saw it coming the revelation had slipped out and shocked me.
“WE kill him?” I would never be a part of that!
But then, I understood that that was exactly Obama’s point: We are in this together.
It’s not “we and them.” It’s “us” … and this lesson is being offered now in many venues. Because we really have to learn it, learn it quickly.

I agree with Natalie in that these posts add texture to the incomplete fabric of your life-blog and are really interesting. I often wondered, given the type of person you seem to be, why you were involved with the church and the last post sheds light on this. This post is interesting as I feel as if I'm going through an extended 'lost' period trying to create a meaningful path for myself now in my early fifties. Thanks for your candour.


I see even more through these two posts how much we have in common, Beth - my relationship to the Episcopal Church and the life of spirit has been much the same. In the music, I found what I could not in the Nicene Creed; the rector of my church let me question and argue that all the way through, supportive of my pagan-Jewish-intellectual version of being Episcopalian; I turned to various incarnations of Buddhist meditation along the way; studied comparative religion and Classics lifelong; finally left my determination to remain part of the Episcopal tradition when the Church started behaving like The Inquisitor re: insurance paranoia and big business, harming good people badly along the way and posturing in ways I could not support; spent some time in UU contexts; let go of the practice of spirituality in community an just went back to the woods where it was always uncomplicated for me.

I haven't gone back, and my suspicion of People In Groups remains stiff, but there are things I miss that church provided as nothing else does - ritual, rites of passage in community, and oh, the music.

Even not longing for a successful relationship to a faith community anymore (at this stage, anyway), I love reading what you write about this lifelong relationship to questing and sacred story, the life of the spirit and mind both. You speak about it with deep sanity and compassion both. Thank you.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.