Notes on Our Third Meeting — A SOLSTICE CELEBRATION!


(Three girls running arm-in-arm down a hill in the fog. Can anything be more beautiful?)

So — the report for those who couldn’t make it.We found one another in the dark and misty parking lot and headed out through fog-shrouded trees. We were quite a sizable group, but perhaps we were outnumbered by the huddle of  “new pagans” and Wiccans we passed along the way. Oddly, they were singing Christmas carols (and burning sage) while looking out in the direction of Mt. Diablo.

Up a muddy hill and we reached the top. The sky glowed ever brighter as kids and adults mingled. More and more boys acquired muddy palms as the minutes passed by.

A few minutes after the sunrise (undetectable except for the brightening in all directions), I announced that I had a “sermon” — to some (surely well-deserved) mockery from my wife, who was wearing a fetching pink wig.

I spoke of our human “triumph of scale” (as opposed to the usual phrase, the “problem of scale”). In other words it struck me, sleepless in the night, how wonderful it is that we can scale up or down almost at will (up, for example, to the orbit of our planet around the sun… or down to the smallest moments of pleasure while sliding in the mud). This capability allows us to keenly appreciate what are, after all, cosmically irrelevant events (she smiled at us just before she closed the car door — did you see that?!). Or, when needed, it allows us to recognize those little events to be trivial compared to the big things in life (we were born! We have air to breathe!).

I suggested that we should try to demonstrate our own “down here” triumph of scale by reproducing the orbit of the planet around the sun with our very bodies — the “solar system” that counts most for us. With this in mind, I asked the parents and grandparents to cluster in the center of a patch of grass, and the kids ran around us like so many planets…

Okay, it sort of worked… It was fun anyway to see the kids running in circles — which was, in a way, the point, right? Which was a more important orbit at that moment, Earth’s or Felix’s?

Then Nathalie improvised some simple and gorgeous songs to the four elements — wind, earth, water, fire. She swayed and sang in a flowing tie-dyed dress and opened our hearts a little more.

There was a lot of chaos, many cups of coffee and hot chocolate and a great deal of — what’s the word? — fellowship. Affection.

Then people begin peeling away, or rather, sliding, away. Vanishing into the fog.

It was memorable in its own way. Christopher biked from his boat in Emeryville, which I will always remember.  For a moment I thought he was wearing nothing but plaid boxers — which struck me as especially cool. But they were shorts.

Let the longer days begin to do their work on our vast oceans and bring us Spring. Let love flood our hearts with the brightening days.

Enjoy the holidays everybody. See you in January.



On Sunday morning, December 21, join our group as we celebrate the sunrise.

From this Sunday forward, as you surely know, our nights will shorten and our days will lengthen — well, at least until the Summer solstice in June.

For, as it happens every year, the axial tilt of our planet ensures that the Northern Hemisphere will begin to get increasing amounts of sunlight for the next six months. You can picture it this way: we are entering the part of our orbit in which the earth will be leaning in…

Go yellow dwarf star we call the “sun”! Go ball of iron and magma with a mantle and a crust we call the “earth”! Go repeating pattern of sunlight and shadow and all the carbon-based lifeforms dependent on it!

Including us. Wow it’s good to be alive.

Here’s the plan. Bundle your family in the brightest most rainbow-colored clothes you can find. Scarves, blankets, jackets, gloves, anything.

Get them in the car, while it’s still dark, and meet us at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park at 6:45 am. There is plenty of parking.

We will be walking out along the paved Nimitz Way at 6:50 SHARP. After about a 10-minute walk we will reach a rounded hill, where there is a small dirt/mud path leading to the crest. Bring shoes that can grip the earth, even when muddy. At the top we will have a view both to the East and the West.

At 7:21 will greet the rising sun, wonder at the clouds, watch the light catch the far-off waves of our dear Bay.

I plan on bringing a big Pete’s coffee, with milk and sugar, for grown-ups. I will also bring cups. (Or you can bring your own travel mug if you like.) Who can bring a big thermos of hot chocolate for kids? They will certainly deserve it. More than one may be needed.

See you on Sunday morn. Extra points for those who know why winter lasts another three months even though the days get longer… I

And Yet It Moves…

A recent media kerfuffle strikes me as an appropriate post for The Old New Way (particularly since at our next meeting we will be addressing the impact of the Scientific Revolution on our world).


So… in case you missed it.

A few weeks ago an ESPN baseball writer, Keith Law, found himself defending evolution against some silly talk spouted by another ESPN contributor, Curt Schilling.

Law pointed out, for example, that homo sapiens have not descended from any monkeys or apes now living (though we share a common ancestor).

In response, well, what did you think would happen in contemporary America? His Twitter account was promptly suspended by ESPN. Apparently, defending science is still a dicey career move in some corners.

When ESPN reinstated Law’s account a week later, his first Tweet was a beauty:

Eppur si muove.”

This is, according to legend, what Galileo Galilei muttered when he was sentenced to house arrest (for arguing that, based on the evidence, the Earth moves around the sun — and not vice versa).

“And yet it moves,” Galileo said, quietly.

A novel concept: humans don’t get to dictate to nature because we are part of it. Nature happens, whether we like it or not.

Click here for an article covering the great ESPN Twitter controversy of November, 2014.