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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tagged! 5 Weird Things/Habits

OK, I’ve been tagged by friend and fellow blogger Celeste in a cybergame that goes like this:

The first player of this game starts with “5 weird things/habits about yourself.” In the end you need to choose 5 people to be tagged and list their names. The people who get tagged need to write a blog about their 5 weird things/habits, as well as state this rule clearly, then tag 5 more victims. Don't forget to leave your victim a comment that says “you're tagged!” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

Here are my 5 weird things/habits about myself:

1. My altar to the Divine Feminine includes a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as an 8 x 10 autographed photo of Tammy Faye.

2. I sometimes download music for my cat. It has to be jazz from the 1950’s (no “smooth jazz”!) or Kato will turn up his nose and walk away. (At this moment Kato is out on the porch, loudly casting a spell on the neighbor cat.)

3. I’ve gotten hooked on the “reality TV” show Project Runway. I’m even thinking of buying the special issue of Elle magazine, when it comes out, featuring the winning designer. I’ve never bought Elle before, but I do enjoy the literary essays and blatantly-liberal political articles in Vanity Fair.

4. My bedroom is such a mess right now, with books piled up all over the place, that I’ve started shopping for a new bookcase. I’m not sure where I’ll put it, since every available space in my apartment already has a bookcase in it. Over the past two years I’ve bought enough translations of, and books about, the Gnostic Gospels that I have enough to fill a whole bookcase with nothing but “Lost Gospels.” I even have a Chinese translation of the Gospel of Thomas. (No, I can’t read Chinese. I also have a Latin translation of Winnie the Pooh.)

5. I am unable to say the word “jellybeans.” I can write it – I just did – but I have never said this word out loud in my life and I never will. This once upset my grandmother at a Thanksgiving dinner, when she tried to get me to say the word but I still refused. Back in the early 90’s, a friend wrote a column about this for Atlanta’s weekly newspaper, Creative Loafing (“Mental health counselor unable to say the word Jellybeans”).

There! Now that I’ve laid bare my weirdness for all to see, I hereby “tag” the following bloggers and hope they will remain my friends:


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Forest Crow

This past Sunday I attended an art show by my friend, Jon Whiddon, a folk artist who lives in the North Georgia Mountains. I bought two paintings, including the one pictured above. I’ll be hanging it in my counseling office in Canton, along with several other works by Jon.

This photo, from Jon’s website, does not do the painting justice. For one thing, the painting is huge – three and a half feet tall and over four and a half feet wide. And the frame is different, a larger, darker frame, itself a work of art, incorporating the colors and rich textures of the painting.

“Forest Crow” is, to me, a haunting, dream-like image. I have always felt an attraction to naked, autumnal trees, especially when seen against a grey sky. It’s an image that has appeared in my dreams ever since childhood, and to see it portrayed so vividly in a work of art – it truly spoke to something deep inside me.

The crow in flight adds to the earthiness of the scene, suggesting to me the flight of the soul against the stark existential realities of life. Not that I find such realities unpleasant. I find a deep beauty in such starkness, and to me this painting reflects that beauty.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Grateful Update

The other day I was alone in my new office in Canton, having just finished a counseling session. My office is on the second floor of an older building, above a jewelry store on Main Street. The office has an outdoor balcony overlooking downtown Canton, which still has a small-town, Mayberry feel to it – especially when the street is lined with American flags for the week of the 4th of July. The former tenant in this space was a church youth group, and the kids had painted the walls different colors – one brown, one orange, one sky-blue. It’s a funky little space that fits my personality well. It reminds me of the cluttered office of the psychiatrist in the movie Ordinary People. I saw that movie when it first came out, during my freshman year in college, and the character Judd Hirsch played, the psychiatrist, shaped my vision of what a therapist should be like. (That, along with Man’s Search for Meaning by the holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.) As I stood in my office overlooking Main Street I felt truly blessed. I’m grateful to have a career like this, a counseling practice of my own.

Above: The view from my office balcony. Yes, the street lights in Canton, Georgia, have flower baskets on them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Telepathic Cat

One morning last week I was awakened at 4 AM in a cold sweat, my heart racing. I just knew that there were two men at the front door, and the word “intruders” came into my mind. I got out of bed and went to the front door and looked out through the peephole. No one was there. Then I heard Kato, the mystical cat, making a low growling noise at the sliding glass door. On the porch, just on the other side of the door, were the objects of Kato’s curses – two cats. “Intruders” on Kato’s porch.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cat Chases Bear Up Tree

Photo and story at NationalGeographic.com