In my late 20’s I began to formulate a life plan. I would become a man with the makings of power and buy five acres and achieve independence. I would find a pulsating, resonating Earth Mother for a wife, build a cabin, plant a sustainable organic garden and Live the Good Life. Scott and Helen Nearing were my avatars. Bucky Fuller was my Crown Prince. Somewhere along the way that plan began to compete with other needs and wishes that, in retrospect and with newly acquired brain knowledge, lay buried in a tangle of disorganized trauma patches deep in my right brain. As soon as they could, in their desire for opening, integrating and healing they began to make their way inexorably up to the top of the list on my Ordo Amorum.
An Ordo Amorum, loosely translated from the Latin, means: the order of our loves. I’ve drawn it from St. Augustine’s observation that the good life consists largely in a well-balanced, harmonious ordering of one’s passions and priorities. In the common vernacular it means that as we begin to age and become Baby Crones and Apprentice Wizards, the profound, embodied realization that life has a beginning, middle and an end begins to take deep root. Out of that realization is born the knowledge that we must now begin to make the often difficult choices of spending time and devoting energy to the people, places and things we love … or to those we love most. And the process of making these difficult choices often works in concert with attempting to integrate the human shadow.
Down Home with Wonder Woman
In the late 1970s I was living in the country on a farm called The Country Place. It also functioned as a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed teens. I had a girlfriend living there as well who wonderfully fit the bill described above. Not only was she a resonating, pulsating Earth Mother, but she was an Anthroposophist and a Biodynamic Farmer. In addition to being a Nearing-Fullerite, she was also a Steiner-Waldorfian, as well. She truly rocked my world! There was only one little problem, which I didn’t have even the slightest inkling of at the time: she wasn’t Jewish.
Slouching Toward Jerusalem
Neither was I, as far as I knew, but I long ago converted to Judiasm and I have come to strongly suspect that when my grandparents immigrated to America from Germany, fear of Antisemitism shortened their surname from Finkelstein to Finkle (The man whom my mother’s mother married). I would not be the least bit surprised to discover that my mother’s lineage has deep, strong roots in Jerusalem.
Growing up however, I was supposedly the lone gentile in a cohort full of Jewish kids all through middle school. I was also the lone kid living fatherless in the housing projects on welfare, emotionally frozen and deeply traumatized (which I’ve previously written about) by the shame and insecurity that trifecta inaugurated. How does all this connect to my Ordo Amorum?
The Heart’s Dark Reasons
One day while hanging out in the country with Joye, my Biodynamic Earth Mother, I decided to expand my intellectual horizons by taking a graduate psychology class in Family Systems. It would help me, I reasoned quite logically, in my work with the challenging kids at The Country Place. On the first day of the first class a woman stood up and gave a demonstration of what it was like to live in a Jewish family filled with great drama and untold suffering. Without me even having the slightest clue, Zuza profoundly filled the bill for being able to help me heal early developmental wounds I didn’t even know I had.
A Formal Invitation
I left that Family Systems class in a complete daze, drove back to the workshop at the Country Place and carved a block of maple with the words: “A FORMAL INVITATION.” I mailed it to Zuza, inviting her to picnic with me at the famous White Flower Farm. When she accepted, I made the very painful decision to move Joye way down the list on my Ordo Amorum.
The healing deal was sealed for me after Zuza introduced me to her family, in particular to her father. Big Dad was a former Navy captain and six-foot-eight college basketball star and football tight end. In an instant he became the father I never had and never even knew I was looking for.
Zuza and I married less than a year later, moved to the Bay Area and completed our graduate degrees. We both helped each other stretch and work towards fulfilling lifelong dreams; we provided great healing for one another in any number of areas, and lived a very good life together for more than 15 years. And it all sprang out of recognizing the deep need – the yearning call of Shadow-healing, and honoring the very difficult decisions demanded by my Ordo Amorum. Not work recommended for the frail of heart.