Retreat 2011 – Blue Cloud

This came to me in an email from Ode. He sent it shortly after the retreat. I made just a few edits.
Tom gave me a disc with pictures. Follow this link to see them in a slide presentation.

The first night we got there, we got familiar with the place again, and met upstairs in the back, after dinner and read some poems, and generally got grounded in being there. On Friday we did an all-day check in. It took that long, everyone had changes, stories, depressions, knees, events to share. The few things that stand out at Brother Frank is up for Big Brother of the Year for Minnesota and will be entered in the nationals too. Charles BE is moving forward on many fronts like writing a new book, Sierra Club and MIA, we asked him where he gets all his energy from. Scott brought his drums and played a piece of music he wrote, a rap, and later he had Warren play guitar and he sang us a lullaby, very sweet.

The next day, Jimmy made a presentation of his new art, and a new direction, a retrospective of his work, he brought a long one of his new pieces, and it is really good, maybe some of the best Jimmy stuff I have seen. Warren played us some new tunes he is working on. I shut down the lights, asked people to shut their eyes and meditate on this–then played Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue—the opening cut, 1959, considered the finest jazz ever recorded, largest selling jazz cd ever, and largest selling jazz album every year since 1959, this is an amazing piece of music. Then I played another piece, by John Coltrane called A Love Supreme, dedicated to God. Very moving. We took a long break for lunch, it was snowing like crazy –maybe 8 inches of snow fell—, many of the woollies went out snow shoeing.  Scott sent this picture from one of his snow shoeing journeys.

Charlie BE, then read the Jacob story from Genesis. Then asked us to pick a character from the reading and tell me how you feel. “I am Issac and I feel like my brother……: I am Jacob and I feel guilty and…….. I am Rebeca, or I am Sarah, or I am Abraham and I feel old and can’t see, and my wife is tricking me up…..”

Then asked us why is this 8000 year old story in the Bible and Torah, what is the point of the story. Interesting how the evening took off on this.

Brother Michael sat down wit us and taught us two chants and canons, worked with us on harmonies, we have never sounded so good. He is a fun guy to work with. Father Tom also came and sat in with us for awhile. The only Woolly presentations were Jimmies, me, Scott’s songs, and Charlies Jacob play. But that seemed to be okay. Our time with each other is always rich. Many of us went to 7am mass, and evening mass, I had communion there one afternoon.

The morning we left, after breakfast, we all got to the parking lot, and Charlie H locked his keys in his running car. So Stefan broke his back window to get in. We talked about changing the next retreat to early October, this winter things with blizzards, below zero is for younger cats.

One more thing Charles H suggested that we change the next 10 years and have one topic, ‘The Art of Aging.” I like it, not everyone agreed, but it certainly sounded right to me. I brought a long a picture of you and put on the table in front of us, so you could vote on the presidential matters.

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Retreat Thoughts

First, thanks Mark, for bringing up the topic!

I’d like to request/suggest that in addition to how we want to see the retreat structured (what we want to do), that we also share core values or, as it were, what the energy is that we would like to experience during and as a result of the retreat.

It seems to me that if there were considerable energy around some core values, or ethos, for the retreat, the activities might be a little more clearly visible as to how they support the ethos.

I will certainly develop a sense of my own values which I can glean to fit into this ethos and look forward to sharing them at Mark’s on the 20th.

Blessings for healing especially to Stefan and also Regina these days.


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A Love Supreme


The above painting is above the alter in a Black African church in San Francisco. They consider John Coltrane a saint. At this years retreat, I will be sharing a meditation and listening presentation of this phenomenal spiritual composition. Today I suggest you please go to:

There are many sites dedicated to this one album.

Read these notes on his music expressing a higher power. Then gather with me in our meeting room at Blue Cloud Abbey at 9:00PM on Saturday night.

The December meeting will be at my new house. Please come and be ready to talk about your expectations in this year’s, our 32nd annual retreat.

Brother Mario

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the Retreat-What Shall it Be?

Brother Woollys,

The December meeting is at my new home, just a few doors before Franks. The topic will be the retreat. What do you want out of your time at the monastery? The spectrum is wide open, from silence, mediation, creativity, to listening to music, or pure getaway.

Traditionally we each have been responsible for one hour to do what we wanted: to speak, to share, to inform, to confuse, to create illusions, to doing nothing-total free form. 2011 Retreat – What Shall it Be.

Please come to my home for dinner and be prepared to talk about what you want from the Retreat.

RSVP if you are not coming

Brother Ode

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So, what’s woolly

wool·ly also wool·y (wŏŏl’ē) Pronunciation Key adj. 1. Relating to, consisting of, or covered with wool. 2. Resembling wool. 3. Lacking sharp detail or clarity: woolly television reception. 4. Mentally or intellectually disorganized or unclear: woolly thinking.

An interesting definition for us to consider.  Are we as Woolly Mammoths, mentally disorganized or unclear.  I think NOT.  It may take us a while to get to clarity, yet our discussions generally take us further down the road on our journey to understand life.  Woolly Mammoth thinking is not woolly thinking.

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Reflections on Fathering

I’ll be the first to post notes about last night’s gathering at Charlie’s. 

Charlie created a good context for our meeting with a welcoming environment and heart felt greeting.  Conversation before the meal immediately led into “check in” spaces.  Mark and I visited about his knee challenges.  Chicken comb injections are the next phase of trying to reduce the pain/discomfort with a damaged knee that makes walking and working challenging.  He’s looking to re-invent himself again into a website creator/designer.

The thread of the evening’s conversations during the meal and afterward centered on Father’s Day.  We have explored this part of our lives before.  In fact, our very first retreat was a time for each of us to tell “Our Father’s Story.”  This time we talked about the more immediate Father’s Day and how we each experienced it.  Fathering is important for each of us.  It’s part of our definition of ourselves, even for Warren who has chosen not to have offspring.  He is fathering his parents and in-laws.  Nurturing, care-giving, encouraging, accepting them as they are. 

As I reflect on the evening, I see the twinkling in Scott’s eyes as he spoke of his grandchildren.  Going to the park and hearing them squeal with delight as he spun them on the playground mini merry go round.  Frank spoke of receiving cards from grandchildren and also about his delight in taking a recent trip to Ireland with Mary and their kids and spouses.  Charlie of spending time with father-in-law and granddaughter.  Appreciation for his kids and how they are leading their lives.  Mark talked of Christopher connections and how his step children are growing up.  Charlie E. talked of fathering being his most significant experience in life.  Of his connections, experiencies, and pride in his sons, Joseph and Jon.  I shared about my usual Father’s day conversations with each of our three daughters. 

Toward the end of the evening, I took a few minutes to show them this blog.  I showed them how to login and make their own contributions.

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We pass along a heritage in many ways.  Some do this in a biological sense.  Other ways are no less important.  I think of the thousands  of people that Warren has influenced in his writing about  seniors.  He has fathered thousands in helping them to understand the needs and desires of seniors.  In the movie, “Dances with Wolves”  one  party asks  how many white men are coming?  The white Lt. says as many as the stars.  This is part of  Warren’s  fathering effect into infinity.  Mark’s story of Christopher asking to spend father’s day with him over his bio-father was heart rending.  On the show, “What’s My Line”, when the call comes “will the real father please stand up”  the young man wants Mark to stand.  I hundreds of ways, we men are fathering ours and others all the time.

Blessings. I love you and I like you.


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Lackey report

The meeting was in high style with some tasty food. Charles always provides a great spread of delicious morsels. I am going to ask Charles how he made the Chicken pasta dish, really yummy. It always feels good to check in and get up to date about each other. William always takes me by storm, motorcycles, 160mph stories, a son in law first mate-captain who knows BP. Just when I have a handle on William he steps three miles outside my container.

by Mark

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Charlie’s meeting

The food was exceptional, by Charlie.  Service, by Mark.

Conversation about Father’s, and Father’s Day – checkin.  Each Woolly shared their day and thoughts about fathering.

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Charlie’s place – June, 2010

The gathering on June 21st will be at my home on the deck if possible. Arrive at 6:30 to eat at 7:00 as I won’t get home until about 5:30 and I don’t want you to beat me there.
The topic will be checking in as that was missed at the fabulous meeting at the temple. Let me know if you are not coming.

Looking forward to see everyone.

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