—by Stewart Dean, Kingston, NY

Stewart Dean shares his story in poetry form:

I grew up
in a family
illuminated
by the spirit
and courage
of my mother

who was paralyzed
in body
when I was one,
but lived a
passionately loving
life with us

I grew up in
the service
of that love
and life.

When I was grown
out of college
set free….

The freedom was
empty
without
a love and work.

So a bare acquaintance
asked a ride
to a spiritual community,
an ashram in the Catskills.

I had nothing else; I did.
He stayed three days.
I stayed three years.

Found service first
found Rudi then.

Elemental Lightning.
Rudra, the All-Devourer.
I was compelled utterly
yet cowered in that Light.

He could See me
to my bones, my idiocy
of a strong capable
dominating mind.
He saw us all, fools
and sinners against ourselves.
Saw us all,
like a master drill sergeant
of a Parris Island of souls

He loved us, yelled at us:
Schmuck!
kicked our spiritual butt
As the greatest Fool of Nature,
so he knew us
and treasured us
every one

giving each the tools
with which we might
as journeymen
set ourselves free:

The breath,
The work,
The road.

He left us.