What Now?

O.K. The world might be opening up, but are you? Am I? How comfortable are you going out? To a movie? A restaurant? A friend’s house? Do you find yourself edging back to normal, redefining  normal, or has sequestering simply become a quieter and preferred way of life?

My answers are all over the place and can change day to day. Now that the strictures are being loosened, I and nearly everyone I associate with has been vaccinated, opportunities (potentially) abound. I’m not ready. Yes, we’ve been to a few restaurants outdoors and even went inside for our anniversary.  We chose a restaurant that was enormous, high ceilinged and held to a limited number of patrons. It still felt odd.

I’ll be making my first airplane post-Corona flight next month. Determination and eagerness outweigh the weirdness of it. But the weirdness is still there. It’s a relief to decide for myself intead of fear of Covid being the deciding factor of every inch of my life. Yet I don’t want to lose the cocoon feeling of this past 15 months. Life slowed; time elongated; there was less to do and we enjoyed it more.

What about you? How are you moving forward?


photo credit: “crowded beach” by notarim is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Who Is Ted Grussing?

Martin and I met Ted in a roundabout way. Friends we knew in Sedona shared his photo site with us.  He is a phenomenal photographer. Ted and I got to be email pen pals and our next time in Sedona I invited him over for scones. That is our tradition now whenever we are back in Sedona: scones, great coffee and delightful conversations.

Renaissance man doesn’t even begin to describe where Ted has taken his life for eight plus decades.  Attorney, gemologist, writer, lecturer, inventor, pilot, photographer, devoted caregiver to the love of his life, his wife Corky. Corky developed MS when she was 28. Their daughters were one and two.  Ted is one of the most alive people I know, thankful for each breath, eager to meet each moment.

I’m grateful to Ted for his friendship, for welcoming Martin and me to his monthly photography reviews with his camera buddies (who are all incredible as well), and for modeling what it means to be engaged with life no matter what. And one more thing: I’ll never forget the afternoon Ted took me up in his two-seater plane. I didn’t know it at the time but Mariah would soon be sold to a new owner. I was Ted’s last passenger.

It was an incredible flight. Not till I was strapped in did Ted mention that some of his passengers threw up on their first flight. I didn’t. When Ted made that first turn over the valley,        I lost all sense of proportion. If my heart had had a jaw, it would have dropped in astonishment at the view. It was thrilling t to look down on the trails I’d hiked so many times. Ted pointed out extinct volcanoes, rock formations and valleys. From above, the area was so green. This is high desert and heavily treed. It was a relief to see that the madness of development down below was still dwarfed by junipers and pines.  Too soon, Ted began turning toward the airport. A perfect landing and we were back on earth. I understood why Ted went up every afternoon and I am eternally glad for the experience of riding shot-gun with him that late December afternoon.

Who is Ted Grussing? A really great guy who makes me smile whenever I think of him.

Visit Ted’s photo site and sign up to recieve his photos  (4x/week.)





What Will You Do When the Pandemic is Over?

The time will come. Day by day some of the binds are loosening. The CDC has announced that those who are vaccinated no longer need to wear masks for small outside gatherings. The end may not yet be in sight, but it feels reasonable to envision it around a not-too-distant corner.

I would love to go to the movies again, to sit in the dark with fellow movie-goers all of us experiencing together cinematic storytelling. I look forward to seeing my children and grandchildren, swooping them to me in great big  jubilant hugs, the pall of the pandemic a thing of the past. What will it be like to speak to someone full face? To see their smile and hear their laughter unmuffled by a mask?  I think of Alfred Eisenstadt’s iconic image of the sailor embracing and kissing the nurse on V-J Day in Times Square. Will there be such an image capturing Covid’s end? What do you imagine it to be? What is the first thing you intend to do?


What Comes First, The Answer or the Question?

In synagogue last week, we read a passage from Samuel that left us stunned by the unfairness it recounted. Uzzah and his brother Ahio were charged with transporting the Holy Ark of the Covenant from one place to another. When the ox pulling the cart in which the Ark was being transported stumbled, Uzzah reached out and touched the ark to steady it. Touching the Ark, to which was affixed the Divine Name, was a no-no of Leviathan proportions. Immediately, God struck Uzzah down “on the spot.”.

What? Why? How unjust! How unfair! Would it have been better to let the Ark fall? To wait a beat or two to see if the ox would steady itself thus putting the cart before the Ark? The more my friend and I kept at it, I realized that perhaps the finding of an answer was less important than the actual search for an answer.

How could God do that? has kept students and scholars discussing this and other impenetrable questions for millennia. Arrive at an answer and you move on, putting the question aside once and for all. But if you are returned to the struggle time and again, different insights can arise. A conversation with a different friend can shed new light and/or perspectives. Pat answers close a door; the search for answers props doors, and minds, open for as long as it takes. Sometimes it takes forever.

Then again, some questions are simply unanswerable. I no longer grapple with, Why the Shoah?* God is either all knowing and powerless or powerful and indifferent. Neither option invites relationship. My answer to that question is this: my puny human spirit-mind is beyond understanding such impenetrables. Think Jack Nicholson on the stand in A Few Good Men. The answer is a truth I cannot, and have not been created to, handle. Some may call mine the coward’s way out. I prefer to think of it as setting aside the impossible to leave energy for taking on the possible.

God’s first question to Adam, indeed the first question in the Hebrew Bible is Where are you? The Divine had caught wind of Adam and Eve’s encounter with the snake and their alfresco fruit sampling. Centuries of answers grapple with that question. Where are you? invites a lifetime of answering, discovering within hidden wells of strength and potential growth.

One year our answer to Where are you? might be, “snared in pain and resentment.” Then one day, Where are you? comes at us again and we have a new answer, one sourced from compassion and forgiveness. Another year and perhaps we might answer from a place of understanding and empathy.

Answers matter. For me, however, the questions matter more.


*Shoah is a Hebrew word meaning utter and complete destruction. Holocaust is derived from the Greek word holokauston meaning a sacrifice that is consumed by fire, as was done in Biblical times. The preference for using Shoah reinforces the truth that Hitler’s murder of six million Jews was not a sacrifice to a deity but an incomprehensible destruction of human life

What Does Liberation Mean to You?

As they often do, Passover and Easter will bookend the coming week. We’ll be revisiting our peoples’ founding story. For Jews, the theme is liberation. For Christians, resurrection.

The holidays arrive in tandem with the growing availbility of the Covid vaccine, and moving into a new phase of this pandemic.  Bit by bit, arm by arm, we are being liberated from a year of isolation. With the reappearing crocus and snowdrops we, too, find ourselves breaking through. We feel life returning to us. As we move into this holy time, I offer a few questions we might ask ourselves and one another at our holiday meals. whether in person or on Zoom.

1. What has this year of quarantine liberated you from?

2. What might you not choose to resume?

3. How do you feel you are coming alive once again?



photo credit: Debra Darvick © 2021