Circling up in Cherokee, NC

23 09 2014

IMG_5541What a privilege to visit the Eastern Band reservation in North Carolina for the Full Circle Meeting convened by Cherokee Elder J.T. Garrett.  The group is celebrating its 20th anniversary; I joined for the third time.

Members of the Full Circle are an inspiring group of people: chaplains, counselors, social workers, hospice directors, nurses and elder-care givers.  Members have diverse ethnic and spiritual or religious backgrounds, but all share the world view that everything is connected.  There is a deep respect for the unique role and contribution of every living being and natural element to the interconnected web of all existence.

Some Full Circle members work in Native communities from New Mexico to Michigan to Cherokee.  Others bring the sensibility of interdependent living to their work in with Western institutions.  These gatherings offer the opportunity to reflect, to learn and to recharge.

Cherokee homeland at Kituah

Cherokee homeland at Kituah



The beautiful Smokey Mountains of Western North Carolina

The beautiful Smokey Mountains of Western North Carolina


With JT Garrett

With J.T. Garrett



17 09 2014

IMG_2178I love life.

I am saddened to have learned of another death in the MIT community.

I don’t understand but will not judge those who choose to see their last sunset.

My heart is with those left behind — sad, angry, confused.

For us, the sun rises tomorrow.


My dad’s dorm at MIT


Night falls in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

Night falls in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA


2014 Supermoon #2: Vermont

10 08 2014

Tonight is the second of the three supermoons of 2014.

I’m in Vermont, celebrating my sister Tamara’s birthday for the second night in a row.  The first time was so good, we had to do it again.



Kilauea introduces a friend to Ecopsychology

29 07 2014

I spent some time this summer driving a friend from the mainland around the Big Island of Hawaii.

She was profoundly affected by a visit to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  “This is terrifying,” she said shakily, staring wide-eyed at the Halema’um’au crater from the overlook by the steam vents near the Visitor Center.  “People shouldn’t be allowed to bring children here.”  She was clearly experiencing a panic reaction.

We drove out of the park, and went the the Thai restaurant in Volcano Village.  Over an early dinner, I explained that the Hawaiians regard the volcano two ways, as spirit and as matter.   There is no separation between spirit and matter in their world view.  But the distinction exists in the mind of Westerners, so I stuck with the material line of explanation.

In the material world, Hawaiians see Kilauea for what it is, visible evidence of the natural forces that created their island home.  Volcanos are good things! So Hawaiians experience emotions of awed gratitude, not terror, contemplating Kilauea, which has been erupting continuously since 1983.  Sure, it’s necessary to moving out of the way from time to time when the volcano is creating more land.  This is part of the deal when you’re living right on top of volcanic activity.

After the meal, blood sugar stabililzed, we drove back to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.   Night was falling.

As I watched the tears roll down my friend’s face, I saw that the volcano had unleashed some powerful emotions.  “What are you feeling,” I asked her, “What is it really about?” My friend was experiencing an acknowledgement that nothing in life is permanent or stable, not even the ground beneath our feet.

We as humans control nothing, really, except our attitudes and choices.   People raised in the Hawaiian culture take this as a given.  Those raised in the Western culture do not.  So we Westerners are culturally primed for a life of fear of change and frustrated attempts to control the world around us.


When I first came to Hawaii in 2007, I had no idea that nature itself would come to be my most powerful teacher.  After years studying with native teachers, I realize I’m fluent in what the Western world calls Ecopsychology.

In The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology, Theodore Rozak sketches out the The Principles of Ecospychology in the Epilogue.  Ecopsychology is rooted in the assertion that “the person is anchored within a greater, universal identity” than that which has been presented in earlier psychologies. The goal is to “awaken the sense of environmental reciprocity that lies within the ecological unconscious. Other therapies seek to heal the alienation between person and person, person and family, person and society. Ecopsycholgy seeks to heal the more fundamental alienation between the person and the natural environment.”


Ignoring the sunset moment on the Big Island of Hawaii, a car speeds by the volcanic plume of Kilauea




Sunset Meditation

28 07 2014

I’m sitting on Glenn the Astronomer’s lanai, my mind still and quiet.  At sunset, in Hawaii, the sky is enough.

Gazing toward the pacific over Glenn's iconic plastic owl

Gazing past Glenn’s iconic plastic owl toward the Pacific Ocean

See the bird-shaped cloud hovering over the bird?  All natural, no Photoshop!

See the bird-shaped cloud hovering over the bird? All natural, no Photoshop!


Another view of that cloud.

Another view of that cloud.  I love Hawaii.



2014 Supermoon #1: Boston

12 07 2014

IMG_4856Tonight is the first of three consecutive “supermoons” this summer — when the perigee moon coincides with the full moon.

I got to the traffic island in Charles Circle just in time.  I stood rapt in the warm wind of a beautiful summer night, deaf to the traffic around me, watching the moon float clear of the skyscrapers of Boston.

As the light changed, swarms of people passed me — lovers holding hands, MGH staff going to work the hospital night shift, teenagers texting with the hand not clutching an ice cream cone.  I iterated through all the settings on my new(ish) camera.  Finally, the “manual” setting produced this image.

IMG_4852Not bad for a city street, in the wind, with a Costo Canon, with my tripod 5,000 miles away.


June Berries Explode Just in Time for July 4 in Boston

4 07 2014

I love the 4th of July in Boston.  This year I had a very unusual botanical explosion right out back.  After the hard winter we had in the Northeast, the fruiting trees are just exploding with vigor.  Just look at the Amalanchier, or June Berry tree in the back garden.  This tree is also called the Shad Bush because it blooms in the spring when the shad fish are running.


In all the years I’ve lived with my June Berry tree, I’ve never gotten more than a handful of fruit.  The birds usually get it all.  This year, the branches were loaded with berries, and there was plenty for everybody.


Native Americans used the fruit in pemmican.  Settlers used the fruit to make pies.  After using the fruit in cooking the first time this year, I understand why.  It is just loaded with pectin, which must have made the dry meat in pemmican much easier to digest and the pies set up nicely.   Puzzles me how the settlers made wine with the June Berry fruit.  I tried crushing it to infuse vodka, and the whole thing gelled.

2014 was a bumper year for urban June Berries in Boston

2014 was a bumper year for urban June Berries in Boston





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