April 21, 2004


Working in the yard can be dangerous. Somehow I always knew that and it has been my dream to have a gardener. I would do well on a large English estate with a full time staff to take care of the grounds. But instead I do what I can in my yard.

Picking up sticks that the wind have blown down. It turns out that this is a hazardous activity for me. Somehow the continuous motion of bending over gave me vertigo

Vertigo can be nasty. The more you move, the worse you feel. It stopped me dead in my tracks. All the things that I had been doing in my life were suddenly on hold and I became depressed quickly.

Depression is not a new state for me, but I do not frequent it as often as I used to. This bout was a different experience in that I could see so clearly what was going on. The self hatred and self loathing appeared quickly with a depth that surprised me. A life that I loved had turned into a useless exercise overnight, at least in my eyes. And I felt the deep shame of being a depressed, worthless person. I was so ashamed of the state I was in that I did not want to be with anyone.

I did not want to face anyone and especially my wife. We have been through this many times in the past and it is so hurtful when I disconnect from her. She knows my patterns well. She let me do what I needed to do while offering to connect as much I would allow. I would not allow much, even though I knew it was helpful.

The day before I became sick I told a depressed friend that he needed to connect with others even though he was depressed. Later, in the midst of my depression I could hear myself mouthing the words about connection, but I could not bring myself to do it. I just could not do it.

When I get into this kind of space I know enough to continue to meet the obligations that I have made. Somewhere I learned that. After a scheduled lunch with a friend he said he would call me the next day and see how I was doing. Then he said, "Or you call me." I responded quickly, "I won't call you. I just won't." I knew that the shame was so big in me that I would not do the thing that I needed to do most: connect.

My friend did call me and other friends called to check on me. Conversations were short because I did not want to talk. But I know that they helped.

I went to the doctor yesterday and started some medicine which should help. I have some hope now that this vertigo state will end soon. Hope makes all the difference in the world. The depression is lifting.

In real estate they say that the three most important things about a property are location, location and location. Maybe in life the three most important things are connection, connection and connection.

This lesson is just starting to sink in with me. It is easy for me to connect when I am feeling good about myself. But it is during the bad times that I need connection the most. When I want connection the least, that is when I need it the most. That is a hard lesson to learn. I wonder how many more times I will have to learn it before I act on it.

April 2, 2004

May Day

Hear Yea, Here Yea! May Day is coming! How many times does May 1 fall on a Saturday? Twelve, in the average life, according to my rudimentary calculations learned in parochial school. So next month is one of the few times left in your lifetime that you will have a Saturday night to celebrate May Day! Shalom Seacoast is ready to party!

May Day is a grand day of celebration in Europe and particularly in England. The ancient Celts and Saxons celebrated May 1st as Beltane or the day of fire. Bel was the Celtic god of the Sun. It marked the beginning of summer, time to move with the flocks up to summer pastures.

The Saxons would have an evening of games celebrating the end of winter and the return of the sun and the fertility of the soil. The revelers, led by Diana, the Goddess of the hunt, and Herne, the Horned God, would travel up the hill shouting, chanting and singing, while blowing hunting horns. Many would wear animal masks and costumes.

As society became more agrarian, Diana became the Queen of May and Herne became Robin Goodfellow (a predecessor of Robin Hood) or the Green Man. The Green Man would become the Lord of Misrule for the day.

People would put up a maypole by taking a growing tree and bringing it into the village. People would go off into the woods to collect trees and boughs and get into all sorts of hanky panky. May Day used to be a day of great sexual license. One writer reported that a hundred youths had gone off into the woods overnight and “scarcely the third part returned home undefiled.”

The puritans banned May Day by an act of Parliament in 1644. No wonder the customs never made it to America. It was restored in 1660, but it never was quite the same. The sexual elements went underground. And later the Victorians overlaid a more moral tone on the festival, emphasizing innocence.

Like Halloween, this is a time when witches, fairies and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. The Queen of the Fairies rides out on a snow-white horse looking for mortals to lure away to Fairyland for seven years. The fairies, pagan spirits, would help Earth to clad herself once more in green. Green is the color of the fairies.

May Day could be the oldest religious festival in the Northern Hemisphere. Ritual human sacrifice to a death/fertility goddess was an early practice.

Here at Shalom Seacoast we are committed to reviving May Day in America. We think that the human sacrifice thing may be going a bit too far. But we need the fairies and spirits to be among us. Mostly, we need a reason for a party.