Polygamy Now
The unfolding story of polygamy in the United States

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In Memoriam to Our Friend Deb

I was called home Wednesday afternoon with the tragic news of the sudden death of our friend and neighbor, Deb. For the past two days, our community has gathered to mourn her sudden passing with potluck, ceremony, sacred fire, and memorial service.

Deb was in training to be a unitarian universalist (UU) minister, and wanted eventually to counsel people nearing death in a hospice. She was expansive, open-hearted, and one-of-a-kind, the only kind we blog about. In short, Deb was a hoot!

She loved to sing and organize caroling, and sometimes asked Lisa to accompany her on the piano. I arranged for her to sing in a local jazz band. Deb was also a frequent visitor to poker night, serving apple martinis or fuzzy navels to everyone. We will sorely miss her.

At the last poker night, a week ago, Deb asked us to call her answering machine the next day and leave a birthday greeting. She shared that she recorded and counted the greetings every birthday. So we did, complete with accordion accompaniment.

You may remember Deb from earlier in the blog. She was the minister who married us last November. She wrote the vows herself, and they were truly both inspired and inspiring.

We just returned from Deb's memorial service at the local UU church. The minister there was the minister who was working with Deb during her training. He had just decided to turn his weddings over to her when he heard the news of her death. He came to our community that evening to help us through the shock and grieving.

At the end of the service, he read a healing poem by Mary Oliver to us. I've reprinted it for you below -- the last two lines touched me deeply.

When Death Comes

When death comes like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes like the measle-pox

when death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower,
as common as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

-- Mary Oliver

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thoughts on Living Out Loud

Each lunchtime at work, I walk a two-mile route to the nearest Starbucks and back (my reward for walking). Today, in the 90 degree heat, I saw an earnest young gentleman sitting outside alone at a table. He had a large rectangular birthday cake cut into pieces in front of him, none of them eaten. Two pieces of cake, and two glasses of water, were carefully placed on the table.

I asked inside if there was a birthday party going on. "Oh, he's been waiting for someone," they informed me. It looked like he'd been waiting quite a while. I suddenly felt a deep sadness for him. As I passed him again, I wished him "Happy birthday!" and he thanked me for it (but didn't offer me any cake :)

As I walked away, my sadness switched to admiration for someone willing to put his heart on the line, take chances, and be alive! Do you know people who are wholeheartedly themselves, seldom compromise, and are one-of-a-kind? The frequently annoying and sometimes interesting people who don't care what you think, and whom you either have to accept 100% or not at all? The cirque du soleil living among us? I know several folk like this, and think of them fondly as "living out loud".

Lisa hates this expression. "Sounds like psycho-babble," she says. I love it.

What would it be like to be fully myself, and not a dim reflection of what others want me to be? Would I walk down the streets singing in the nude? Would I be arrested? Would I lobby for a clothing-optional jail? Would I stand (clothed) in front of congress, a wife on each arm, asking them to either make polygamy legal or fornication illegal (as an early LDS legislator suggested)?

I'd like to think I'd be expansive, humorous, distinct, and larger than life. If I dared.

A question for you, fearless reader -- If someone ever did a movie about you, what would your character be like, and what would you do in the movie?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Our Community Work Day

Take Care of Our Community day is one of the more popular events in our intentional community. Everyone selects a task or two from a list. Signs need painting, road shoulders need clearing, weeds need pulling, and so forth.

The day begins with homemade rolls and coffee in the morning, and ends with a dessert potluck and a slideshow of ourselves doing the work of the community.

Lisa and I chose to prepare lunch for everyone. (Karen was exhausted from chemotherapy and slept through most of the event). We teamed up with our neighbors David and Jocelyn. Jocelyn had devised recipes for wraps with all kinds of good things in them, from turkey to goat cheese. We spent the night before and day of the event rolling wraps, hundreds of them. We also prepared fruit salad and other goodies, which you can see in the photos.

More than half of our community of 55 adults and 45 kids turned out for the event.