of what it means to be a Pagan is to try to live in right relationship
with the gods, the land, and the people, including the ancestors. My
gods are those that are comfortable in New England’s woods and hills.
My land is this rocky landscape of New England. And my people and my
ancestors–on Mom’s side, at least–are New Englanders: sea captains and
dairy farmers, teachers and laborers. Whatever granite is in this place
or in my ancestors lives on in me and in my Pagan practice.
And that granite is why I am so driven to speak out against racism.
To help me explain what I mean, I’m going to go ahead and borrow an ancestor: my friend Kirk White‘s father.
A Yankee like a Rock
ancestors, like mine, were among the first Englishmen to arrive in
North America. Like mine, this landscape was where they found their
home. And like me, my friend Kirk and his family before him has loved
New England–Vermont in his c…
For the last year, ever since my mom's health took a sharp downturn, I've been my dad's ride to Florence Congregational Church on Sundays. That community has been important for my dad and the weekly outing with me was something he always looked forward to and enjoyed, so I didn't mind taking him there. It meant giving up attending my own Quaker meeting for the duration, but I had already been questioning whether silent waiting worship was working for me. I was ready for a sabbatical.
A month ago, my dad was Section-Twelved into a geriatric psych hospital when his dementia started to make him emotionally volatile. I had been visiting him every day at his assisted living facility which was right on my way home from work, but the hospital was almost an hour away. I didn't see him at all for three weeks, and when I did visit him there, it actually took me a couple of seconds to recognize him. He was slumped forward in a wheel chair, looking v…
I love where I live; since moving to our new home four years ago, I've been able to build a relationship with a piece of land for the first time since I was a child. It's everything a dirt-worshipping Pagan could ask for. I have a garden, and I grow much of my own food, and that is as much a spiritual delight as a taste treat. And I have woods again as neighbors: glacial boulders, white pines and black birches, owls and white-tailed deer.
And the bears eat my lettuce.
I'm not kidding about that. Oh, it's winter now, and the bears are huddled up in their dens. But this past spring, I grew lettuce. Award winning, gorgeous lettuce: three different kinds! They were nourished to extraordinary size and succulence by the cool, wet weather we had, and each night, I would gather just a few outer leaves, knowing that careful tending would mean tasty salads for months.
And then, over the course of three days, the bears ate every single one of my lettuce plants…