Back from my third trip/event since 2017 began. Early morning thanks to jet lag means looking at my calendar, sorting what needs to be done, and preparing for my next trip, to Paganicon in March. Zigzag won’t leave visual contact, which means he’s not trusting me to stay home already. There are still 20-odd cartons of Ancient Egyptian Daybooks to be shipped, hundreds of emails to answer, paperwork to file for my dissertation proposal with its May deadlines, and ordinary errands like grocery shopping, laundry, and bills to pay. Despite the feeling of non-movement, I am dancing as fast as I can.
All this, and I’ve already canceled two trips for financial or time-related constraints. Part of me whispers “good, you need to sleep some time” and the rest is noting that had I not needed to cancel my latest trip, in a handful of hours I’d be headed to Cairo after a week in a Wadi Natrun monastery for a Coptic symposium, not to leave for home, but to pick up guests for an additional two weeks of pilgrimage across Egypt. I am sad not to be in Egypt right now, even if I understand the reasons and there are few things more restorative than petting a soft cat while listening to a persistent Portland winter rain fall outside the window. Here’s hoping the world holds itself together enough that we get to go on that pilgrimage later this year.
January’s lecture at the Curious Gallery was very well received and I’m looking forward to future involvement with them and perhaps other Pacific Northwest events. My trip three weeks later to Charlotte, NC for the annual meeting of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures was huge, not the least because I got to sit and listen to civil rights leaders and so many deep thinkers and teachers, but because it gave me an opportunity to consider my place in the world and my own contributions to it. The day I flew home from Charlotte, I spent in an airport surrounded by demonstrators protesting the executive order travel ban that trapped people from seven Muslim-majority countries in airports all over the world, including the relatives of two people I’d shared dinner with the previous night and also my morning taxi driver, who intended to park his taxi as soon as he dropped me off so he could join the protest. While waiting for my plane, I engaged in social media and discovered I had a Twitter critic, accusing me of treason for speaking out against the injustices of the new president’s actions, and suggesting that it was not a religious leader’s place to discuss political matters. I take it they hadn’t observed the demonstrations. Most were full of religious leaders of every type and political alignment, and speaking out on behalf of justice and human rights is part of our job.
This past weekend I spent with House of Netjer members going through the Tawy House temple, continuing the packing and cleaning that is part of preparing the building for sale. We’ve gotten enough done that the building is starting to look empty. It is the end of an era. Only one person present had been with us long enough to remember we’d already done this before, with another building, and so it is just another transition that comes naturally with more than two decades of work together. For most of them, it is the closing of the only location they’ve ever known. We tempered our sadness with excitement, about the new opportunities that open up as the temple returns to its earliest, multi-locational model. There are so many new members in far-flung locations, notably South America and Europe, that we have the ability to do good work in areas we’ve not worked with before. Increasing internet ministry capability means we don’t have a single congregation in one location anymore, but can gather multiple groups in dozens of areas worldwide. As we globalize, we gain more challenges, but also the encouragement to do new things. I’m excited about these possibilities, even as we close the location that enabled us to get to this place in our development. There are days where it’s still mind-boggling to me that I’ve been doing this work in one form or another since 1989. Sometimes, it feels like I just started.
Speaking of starting, it’s time to get going on today’s to-do list.