30 May 2015

Celebrating Life. Death As A Gift, Nothing But A Gift

Celebrating Life

Celebrating Life

Life goes on. And on. We fear death, hide from it, dread it, sometimes we get mired in it. But  there is nothing more affirming of life than death, nothing that makes us appreciate life or value it more, nothing that causes us to seek out love, friendship and hope more. At Blue Star yesterday, there was talk of loss and grief, but as much as that, there was talk of the future, of tomorrow, of the next thing, of commitment, of the next rising of people, the next stage of life, the next idea and passion.

We have to go on, my friend Pamela said, we can't be selfish. What a strong and wonderful person she is. We speak one another's mind, just as Paul and I did.  When I was 14, lost and struggling, I turned to a Quaker Meeting in Providence for refuge and support and I found it there. The Quakers taught me many things, and what a wonderful world this could be if we all followed their peaceful and gentle ways. One of the things they taught me was to celebrate life, not mourn the loss of it.

Grieving is important, essential to health and recovery, I know, but life is the greatest healer on the earth. Animals are spirit creatures, the angels and representatives of the spirits, they teach us always, in every way, if we can open ourselves to it. They come to us for a reason. Red came to me to mark the end of one passage of my life, he has come to stand with me in my rebirth, my partner in the joys and travails of life. I guess I know now that I am not a person easily drawn to other people, so the angels sent Maria, and then they sent Red. I'm covered.

Fate's purpose is becoming clear, she is a spirit dog as well, she comes to remind us to celebrate life, rebirth and promise. She opens our hearts to love and laughter. She reminds me to celebrate life, not mourn loss. She pulls us out of ourselves, she iis a heart dog, I think, she heals the heart, keeps it open, pumps blood into it, she helps us cherish the glory and beauty and connection in the world.

Yesterday, at Blue Star,  the shadow of death,  I never felt more love, I never felt more loved. There, around us, were all of these young people, waiting to come forward, to move into life and meaning, to do better than we have done, better than we can do. That is the thing about death and loss, it is so much a part of the nutrient of life, Pamela knows that, the horses know it, the Quakers know it, I know it. Death generates life and renewal, my heart is in celebration today as I return to Blue Star farm. A gift, nothing but a gift.

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Into The World. Training Me.

Into The World

Into The World

There are many things to love about getting a puppy, but one of the most precious to me is watching them discover the world, consider it, learn how to live in it. Dogs are one of the most adaptable species on the earth, they read humans well and they have learned how to manipulate them with looks, emotions, affections, and the great tonic of unconditional love.

Fate is a bright dog, she studies the world intensely, she watches her humans closely, I often get the sense she is putting it together, learning how to live in an alien world with human, not animal rules. She has a strong will, but she is a good learner. She has enriched our lives. We like to think we know what dogs are thinking, but I rarely know what dogs are thinking.

My guess is she is trying to figure me out, train me in a positive but efficient ways. She gets good food, rawhide treats, hugs and walks, she gets to look at sheep and chickens, barn cats and trucks. She is becoming a woods dog, a fiber dog.  It is a blessed thing to be Maria's dog.

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29 May 2015

Remembering Paul

Remembering Paul

Remembering Paul

We sat by the stream at Blue Star, sacred land, and remembered Paul. Much laughter many tears. I think that young people are the joy of the world, it's hope and faith, it's purity and promise. Blue Star is blessed to have drawn these extraordinary people so full of love and passion and idealism. Just to know them is to feel great hope for the world. They love people,and they love animals, and they treat both with dignity and compassion. They are a powerful army, they have new ways of thinking, they will change the world, maybe even save it from the angry and greedy old men who are despoiling it.

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Paul Moshimer: Chronicle Of A Hero’s Death

The Death Of A Very Good Man Paul's good friend Ariel Fintzi and the Blue Star dog Frida today.

Maria and I went to Blue Star Equiculture today to remember Paul Moshimer, to laugh and cry and wonder at his life and death, to be with Pamela and the very wonderful and passionately dedicated young people who surrounded them both and are the heart of the extraordinary experiment that is Blue Star.

A dream that Paul and Pamela shared and created together.

We spent the day remembering Paul, sitting by the water that he loved, visiting the horses that were his life, putting rose petals and flowers on the tree where he died.

Pamela and I talked for a long time today about how to deal with the death of Paul, and Pamela, as she and Paul always did, opted for the truth. They were both utterly without guile or deceit, their lives and work was and is open and true. I agreed to tell the story, I told her it is right to be open, I am honored that she trusts me with it.

The truth is this: Paul took his own life two days ago, he was found early in the morning hanging from a tree that sits in the heart of the farm, and is used to tie the big and beautiful draft horses. Some people say that suicide is a form of cowardice, that suicide is wrong and immoral, but I do not judge Paul in that way, and neither did anyone at the farm today. I believe that there is nothing more sacred to every man or woman in the world than to own their life.

As a fire chief and first responder in Maine, he risked his life again and again, he saved person after person, he covered himself in honor and glory. He had a dark and soul-searching time after his career ended in 2009 when he was charged and convicted with aggravated assault after an argument, he spent a month in a county jail in Maine. Paul was shattered by that experience, he talked of it many times to me, he felt great shame over it. I think he expected me to walk away from him in shock and horror when he told me about it, but I laughed. I have done much worse, I told him. This man, I thought, does not know how good he is.

The prophets say the smallest part of life is the trouble that confronts us, the biggest part is the way we handle our troubles.
Paul handles  his troubles well, but was afraid to defend the farm against the continuing and very cruel assaults of the people who believe it is wrong for working horses to work, he feared they would use his arrest against the farm.  I told him it was one very human mistake, for which he took responsibility, it was not an act of evil. I tried to persuade him to shed that shame, as did Pamela and others, but I failed. I wish he had believed in forgiveness, he surely offered it to others.
I am grateful to talk about this, to shed this specter here, to bring it out into the open for him. Paul, you have nothing to fear now, you are beyond hurt and judgment, dancing in the safe arms of the angels.
Paul Moshimer became a seeker after his troubles, he rode his motorcyle everywhere, searched for God,  he examined his life, met Pamela Rickenbach, fell in love with her, with the dream of Blue-Star, with the horses and their spirits, and was reborn. He said many times that meeting Pamela saved his life. The farm became his new home. He loved every day of it, took to the horses as if he had been doing it all of his life, shared every equine ache and pain and heartbreak.
His dear friend Ariel Fintzi, a beloved and gentle New York Carriage Driver, came to Blue Star Friday, stayed with Pamela, told all of us the beautiful story of the mystical and very  beautiful carriage ride he gave them in New York's Central Park to celebrate their wedding just a few months ago. I thought my heart would break as Ariel told that sweet story, the wind whistled through the pine trees, the stream rushed past us, Paul's presence very much felt. I did a lot of hugging for me, so did Paul's other friends. Ariel. Doug Anderson, we were so glad to see one another, we threw ourselves into one another's arms like long lost brothers.
We stood and sat by the tree, went to the stream that Paul loved.  I read my poem "Golden Fields." I wrote it the night before he died, but it seems I had him in mind.
We tried to comfort the young people who found him, the others who missed him, stunned and struggling to under it, we offered our wisdom and tips, the age-old dance of the old dispensing their knowledge to the young. I felt old doing it.  I doubt that they needed it.
They listened graciously. We celebrated Paul all day, threw sticks in the water for his dog, sat by the fire burning for four days for  him. His was a very human life, and I am not sure there can be a greater testament than that. It was not one thing, it was many things, almost all of them good and rich and brave and beautiful.
His life spoke of what it means to be a human being, good and bad, nothing more, nothing less.

I do know he saw too many hard things in his life as a fireman and rescuer, he was an extraordinarily sensitive man. I think I am beginning to comprehend it.

He was in great physical pain in recent months in his legs and hips, he had to turn over many of the physical tasks and chores of the farm to others, something he very much hated to do. I think it brought up more shame in him in a way, a hard thing for such a physical and active man. I think that is enough information, the rest is up to Pamela to keep and consider.
The day before he died, Paul send me a link to a You Tube video with Keith Richards, "Days Of Wonder." If features different versions and interpretations of Bob Marley's famous song "Get Up, Stand Up." I wondered why he might have sent me this the day  before he took his own life. Today, Pamela took me aside, made me sit down at Paul's computer and watch every word of the video. Pay attention to it, she said, take it seriously, don't blow it off.
Paul played this over and over again, said Pamela, and he said this was Jon Katz's song. It chewed up my heart to hear this and see this. I don't know what to say, without words for once. Maria called me tonight and asked me how I was. I said I was broken, I guess. It is not my tragedy to own, it just hurts in the way life sometimes does. It made me feel so lucky about my life, about Maria and my work. About having gotten to the stage in life where I could have a friend like Paul. I will try to live up to the faith he had in me.
Suicide is a very private and individual thing, it is both mysterious and mystical and, of course, controversial to some. The truth is that I will never really know why Paul, a man who loved so much in his life,  went to the tree a few days ago in the middle of the night and ended his life. Like everyone else, I will accept it and move on.  The people who found him said he looked peaceful, free of pain. Maria stayed behind, to spend the weekend helping Pamela and caring for the horses. I will go back tomorrow, after my short story class at Hubbard Hall.
It his business, and Pamela's business. It was brave of her, in all of her pain,  to want to share this very hard thing. And she is brave, and dedicated and strong. She says she will mourn Paul and sit by his fire for four days and after that, she said, mourning is selfish. She believes strongly in the horses,  in Blue Star,  and means to see their wonderful farm grow and thrive.
Every human being leaves a legacy behind, it is too soon to know Paul's. I think he and Pamela have created something quite extraordinary at Blue Star, a way of looking at people and animals, and treating both with dignity and respect. The place oozes love and commitment and promise. I think it is the answer, the Third Way, the future for animals, for people, for Mother Earth. That is a shining light unto the world, they both believed that the horses are calling us heal the world and to learn to live in harmony, while there is still time.
Bless you Paul, you have done a sacred thing, we will keep  your fire burning.
__
If you wish to honor the memory of this extraordinary person, you can support Blue Star Equiculture in several ways and  honor Paul's memory by going here. This would be a good time to reach inside of yourself, they could use the help.
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Lord Moshimer

Lord Moshimer

Lord Moshimer

I called Paul "Lord Moshimer." He was a big man, in his former life he was a fire chief and First Responder, he knew how to rescue things, it was perhaps natural that he and Pamela found one another and devoted themselves to the rescue and nurture of horses.

When I first met Paul, I could hardly believe his presence and charisma. Some days he looked like Moses coming down from the mount, on others he reminded me of Lord Nelson standing on the deck of his flagship, sailing off to challenge the Spanish Armada.

He filled whatever space he was in, he embodied the idea of the larger than life human being with his large frame and white hair and beard. But he was a gentle giant, he loved to laugh at himself and remind others not to take things too seriously. One day, a passerby saw a horse at Blue-Star taking a nap and he pulled into the driveway and demanded to know if the horse was being abused, and what was being done about it.

Pamela tried to explain that the horse was sleeping, but the man become more belligerent and obnoxious. Suddenly, Paul was hovering by the car, fixing the man with his steely blue eyes and asking softly "is there a problem here?" No, said the man, no problem, and he left.

Paul was a peacemaker, not a fighter, but he stood for many good things and would not easily back down from them. I liked his red bi-focals, always hanging from his shirt. He had a great dubious look when he put them on and stared at somebody.I think Paul had a good sense of who he was and how he wanted to be seen. He told me once that me and some of his other friends were going to do great things together.

I believe that is true, and I love him for saying it.

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