Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just the facts, Yosemite, an ancient forest, illness, twilight, the way it is

Above the fog, above Golden Gate
There is zero embellishment, exaggeration, or anything else other than reporting the facts here. Driving across GG Bridge in the fog and then up into the Marin Headlands and when we were close to the end of the Headlands, parking and walking a short trail to where we sat/lay on a sarong in the scent of chaparral, in the place where fog and sun meet, at the edge of the world, around the bend from Shangri-La, and across the bridge from paradise – going home in paradise with the moon floating in misty beauty above. Paradise, where yesterday we lay naked and beautiful in the warm afternoon sun streaming through the temple door.

At the edge of the world
Yosemite: Beneath the Royal Arches, Washington Column, and Half Dome we lay cozy and comfortable beneath the trees, by the river and then walked quietly on soft pine needles in ancient forest with mossy rocks in faery circles and playgrounds in soft mist in these sacred groves, this “Sanctum Sanctorum” (John Muir).
She said, “I honor you.”
Three basic questions about serious illness:
What is it?
What does it mean to me (e.g., treatment, suffering, disability, dying)?
Can I do this?

Things that add up in the time of dying: First and always, good control of symptoms such as pain. Sharing heart space, all. Sacred meals shared, even if less than a bite. Drinking from a sacred vessel. Sleeping together. Opening a window. Music. Reading the old prayers. Whatever is possible…
Mystic forest
From a slow train Moulmein to Rangoon, 2007
Mountains above,
Padi fields below,
Andaman Sea in the distance!
In mystic light.

Through a village in a forest,
A beautiful, graceful girl,
With thanaka on her cheeks,
And a basket on her head,
Walks out of a dark path among the trees.
Then another!
Yosemite Valley, rainy day. Left to right:
Royal Arches, North Dome, Washington Column, and Half Dome
The night before I left Berkeley we had dinner on the deck – the Turkish entry in our ongoing ‘round the world salad challenge – and watched the sun go down behind Mount Tamalpais across the Bay and The City beginning to sparkle and we can still see GG Bridge and Alcatraz. Then Indian Rock at twilight – twilight, the mystic time of day in the mystic days we share. There were maybe 20 other people on the rock, their murmuring voices around, behind us and we’re sharing the cherry cherry wine, drinking from the bottle. These are the days!
El Capitan
“It’s getting dark – maybe we should go down.” We laughed at the unintended double entendre. Awhile later we decided to go down and whoa, it was really dark! We got down fine (slow) and sat close and warm on a park bench in the darkness…
More facts (the bottom line):
Walking down by the river over the bridge through the trees and meadows and mountains and the soft forest floor with faery rings mossy boulders everything felt so right and so good walking along the street in markets in coffee shops in stores a cafĂ© and a band playing dancing in a meadow so high in the sunrise in the eternal moment on the beach in the sand saying all the ways of loving and being talking of myth of art of mourning of euphoria of dancing of our generation of truth laughing in the golden light in the mist in the wind sea breeze in the fog in the sunlight making love in the forest in the temple fixing coffee breakfast dinner listening to WorldOneRadio wine on Indian Rock in the park in the dark on the San Francisco Bay kites flying dogs a man performing ritual a man playing a trombone on the highway telling the stories of our lives I feel ancient beautiful reborn prayer ceremony bliss love living a blessing crying dancing laughing serious happy sexy goofy singing loving …
Jean - Washington Column to left, Half Dome on right

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sacred space, sacred dance

We danced in the meadow with all the shiny happy people at Flagging in the Park in the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. We danced and danced and danced – in the flow – sacred space, sacred dance. David, Charles, Jean, me in the grove in the grass in the flowers in the people on the soft grass dance floor. Jean and I walking into the quiet and majestic redwood grove where faeries watch from the underbrush, to the side of the hill to dance in the sun on rocks, in love, in beauty.

As the party wound down, slow-walking up and out of the grove, past the greens, and as Hippie Hill comes into view we hear, as a hymn, Attics of My Life, the choir singing slow, no instruments, just voices in reverent joy. 

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets are all told
And the petals all unfold…
In the AIDS Memorial Grove

We played this song at Leslie’s service 18 months ago and I’m hearing it now, slow and stately, re-visioned. I shared this with Jean, as we’ve shared so much with one another – somehow in relation to my wife (whose ashes are in this grove) and in relation to Jean’s husband (today, Jean is wearing a talisman with some of his ashes in it). These days…

From Golden Gate, every bus and train back to Berkeley came with just moments of waiting. When we got home, the radio was playing Buffy Sainte Marie singing God is Alive, Magic is Afoot! How can things like this happen?

From the deck the sun sets behind Mount Tamalpais - an incredible thing when you think about it.

David Kemp, Jean Cacicedo, Charles Kemp, Charles Binkley -
Shiny Happy People

Here is a nice gift from me to you: - it’s a radio station that plays gamelan music, Buffy Sainte Marie, rock and roll, EDM, chamber, all sorts of things all carefully thought out.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

To David Bank

A little background music from Bob Seger (Roll Me Away):

After 20 years as a New York police officer, David hit the road across America on his big two-wheeler. New York, down south, across the southwest, up the coast of California. Twenty years in the streets (of a runaway American dream), and now seven weeks into the trip, stopping off in Berkeley to have dinner with Jean and me  – the fellowship and the trip elevated me. Yeah!
From Grizzly Peak in Berkeley. Golden Gate in the distance.

Sitting on a rock wall near the top of Grizzly Peak above Berkeley (photo) – Jean, David, me – and far across the bay, San Francisco in in the afternoon light. In the evening, dinner outside looking across the bay into the sunset. America!

Roll me away.

From the deck the sun sets behind Mount Tamalpais.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

San Fransisco to Berkeley

From the bedroom, through the temple door
Sitting in the front window above the Noe Street sidewalk listening to Van Morrison. I’ve been sorting and packing this morning (moving from San Francisco to Berkeley). It’s not easy – boxes of memories, of sadness, what to keep, what to discard (not much of the latter). Listening to The Healing Has Begun.
And we'll walk down the avenue again
And we'll sing all the songs from way back when
And we'll walk down the avenue again and the healing has begun
And we'll walk down the avenue in style
And we'll walk down the avenue and we'll smile
And we'll say baby ain't it all worthwhile when the healing has begun
I realize I’m sitting in the window, crying. Caught in the beautiful strands of the past. A few days ago, I told my friend Kristina that in the last months of Leslie’s life it was like there were shimmering falls of love and beauty coming down on us around us through us. Now, just short of 18 months later, I’m grateful I’m transfigured with love past and present.
At farmer's market in Berkeley
There went two Dads with a beautiful baby wearing a rainbow jacket. Now an old Asian man and woman holding hands, walking slow. A pretty Mom and pretty baby. Oh Oh Oh!
And now I see a future. I always knew there would be some kind of future, but had no idea it would be beautiful like this. How can it be that I’m loving two women? Mourning one, making love with one. The love's to love the love's to love the love's to love... Yes, I’m walking down the avenue again with a fine woman and a sense of wonder.
In the early morning with the doors open to the fog and cold and the bed so warm. Oh! So warm!
The sky, the hill in the small distance, Golden Gate Bridge hidden in the fog (how it sparkled last night), the BART train going and coming from/to the station half a mile below and a few birds flying by, and somewhere a bird singing, and we’re talking of the past, the future, sacred space, this sacred space we’re in right now… 
With my cherry cherry wine (at Indian Rock in Berkeley)
Yesterday morning before we left the San Francisco apartment where Leslie and I had lived we were in bed I cried and cried and we made love and cried and drank our morning coffee and talked and I will never, we will never grow so old again I am so naked.
Yesterday we walked to Indian Rock and climbed up 50 or 60 feet and sat in the sun and drank from the bottle of cherry cherry wine – the same brand that Van Morrison sang about (could there be more than one brand labeled “Cherry Cherry Wine”) in Cypress Avenue: 
I think I’ll go on by the river with my cherry cherry wine
I believe I’ll go walking by the railroad with my cherry cherry wine
And that’s exactly what we did.