"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kind friends all gather 'round

This photo was taken a few years back (a few more than I think I want to calculate, perhaps) of my friends Lisa (left) and Denise (right). I believe this is Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.  One of the things I've always loved about this photo, besides the friends in the foreground, the clouds in the background, and the chipmunk poised to attack Lisa, is that for whatever reason it seems that Denise wasn't looking at the camera. Smiling and posed for the picture, but just a little bit in a different reality. The camera didn't lie.

Denise was a therapist and, from what I know and observed about her, spent much of her life studying traditions and practices of spiritual healing. I once watched her interact with people in a workshop she directed - she had an obvious gift, and I mean that in the best sense of our shared religious heritage - a spiritual gift of healing.  Sometimes a wounded healer, but one who persevered in the difficult work of self-understanding right down to the wire.

I didn't get to see her often enough but oh boy, did we all have some fun adventures - canoeing down the Green River, music festivals, great meals, "camping" in comfort and style (generally holed up in a well-stocked trailer), biking, singing...I got the feeling that Denise wasn't halfway about anything. She had a pretty much full-tilt approach to life. I am deeply grateful she was my friend, and I'll miss her.  Next week I'll get to sing some songs she requested at her memorial celebration. Kate Wolf and k.d. lang.

I also learned during my last visit that Denise had for the last few(?) years been practicing Tibetan Buddhism. We talked about the refuge of our respective sanghas. So I'll send something from the Bardo Thötröl into the ether.  If she doesn't need it I'm sure she'll pass it on to somebody who does.

O daughter of noble family, listen without distraction.
Now when the bardo of dharmata dawns upon me,
I will abandon all thoughts of fear and terror,
I will recognize whatever appears as my projection 
and know it to be a vision of the bardo;
now that I have reached this crucial point,
I will not fear the peaceful and wrathful ones, my own projections.
May I know all the sounds as my own sound,
may I know all the lights as my own light,
may I know all the rays as my own ray.
May I spontaneously know the bardo as myself,
may I attain the realms of the three kayas.
[Homage to the Three Treasures]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

what's going on?

A lot. I moved, partially. I said goodbye to some wonderful coworkers & friends at LSNC, who sent me off with lots of warm wishes and cake, and started a new job with the State of California. And what a State it is. I learned that my visit to an ailing friend at Christmastime was the last time I would get to see her, at least in this go 'round, but I had the honor of taking her song requests first.

I have a dog at my feet and a cat nibbling his kibble, and tomorrow is Furlough Friday, and I have a long interesting to-do list that includes tax return preparation and a long-awaited fundraising appeal for this year's NorCal AIDS Challenge - which is going to be a record-breaking milestone event for lots of reasons, not least of which my PARENTS are coming! My dad is riding his BIKE for 300 MILES! He's 62 going on 40 though so it's okay. My mom is going to be my right-hand co-pilot in the crew truck I'll be driving. I'm thrilled they are coming and Team Fisher is going to kick butt, especially if you, dear reader, sponsor us. My parents are already way ahead on their fundraising though, so go ahead and just donate to my page, right here. :) It all supports Sacramento / North Valley HIV/AIDS services. In my last two years participating in this event my eyes have really been opened to crucial these community services are - lives are getting turned around for the better - hence my desire to drive a truck around the valley from 5 am to about 5 pm for three days in May (day four is a little shorter, thankfully).