Sunday, March 06, 2005

Gloria en Excelsis Shasta!

Home again in an exalted state of being. I've seen Mt. Shasta! Is there anything anywhere on the planet to compare? I do not believe for one minute that I could have lived in the shadow of that wondrous mountain and remained a lifelong atheist. To see it and have it follow you for several miles as you travel along Highway 5 is to give up all claim to any rational intellectual capacity. For the sake of my sanity and to not be pushed off the edge of the earth by the crazies of the world, I'd long ago given up all notions of religious belief or practices. I'd satisfied my spiritual needs in unorthodox ways and insisted upon the right to define meaning for myself. In the shadow of that mountain one can easily believe in fairies, Sasquatch, magic potions that bring love or damnation to one's enemies; all within the realm of real possibility. To say that I was awed was to understate the obvious. How else does one explain the fact that this 14,183 ft. natural monument stands completely snow-covered from top to bottom when no other site within range has any more than a dusting at the crest? We were almost blinded by the brilliance of the pure alabaster whiteness under an almost cloudless blue sky. It seemed almost translucent. For miles and miles it appeared to us from left then right then straight ahead as the road bent and ribboned as if made of serpentine -- as if built to purposely provide the illusion of being surrounded by this wonder. I will read now the myths and Indian tales that must abound in the literature of the sacred mountains. How have I missed all that?

On the drive north earlier in the week we ran into a soft rain all the way from Redding, California, into Oregon. That meant that we experienced a low cloud covering that completely obscured Shasta. It wasn't until we drove south yesterday in the warmth of early spring that suddenly there it was in all its glory! It was probably just as well. I'm not sure that anything offered by mere mortals would have been more than an anti-climax.

But I'd say that mere mortals did pretty well. Ashland lived up to expectations. It fueled my determination to find some way to work with others to enrich my city through the performing arts -- and by any means necessary.

And, yes, we did get to Ashland and Richard III, Shaw's Philanderer, the world premier piece -- By the Waters of Babylon, and the hilarious early thirties romp called Room Service, plus a two-hour backstage guided tour of the wonderful world of the theater as created by the Ashland Shakespeare Festival Theaters. We were accompanied on the tour by two of the actors we'd seen in Room Service -- and would see later that evening in Richard III. There was a minor disappointment in that Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is scheduled to open on March 30th so we missed the August Wilson play. Knowing that this magical world is a mere 5-6 hours drive north (and past Mt. Shasta!) helps to remind me that one day I'll go back at a different time of year and that the trip will be timed to catch Wilson's work.

Not sure who was holding the world together until I got back, but I can't say that it mattered a great deal at the time.

Today I will attend the memorial service for Michael Finney, the son of my dear friend, Joan, and my godson. He died in Cuba where he lived his entire adult life. There is the tragedy and the genius that was Michael -- who could never come home again... . A story for another time.

I need now to get out of my paper hat and back into my mourning clothes ... .

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