Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One Of My Teachers Has Died

Yesterday I got a sense of melancholy and had no idea why. Things were good, Jessie and Vergil's offer was accepted on that house (with some stipulations so...nothing is certain...but), I made a beautiful salad with store-bought vegetables and some of our own. Mr. Moon got home safe and sound, all seemed well but I couldn't even rouse myself to write anything last night.

And this probably has nothing to do with it at all, that mood of melancholy, but Stephen Gaskin did indeed die yesterday morning up in Summertown, Tennessee, on the land where he has lived for forty-three years. 

I feel sad. I just do. He was a unique and amazing individual, curious and free-thinking, not only a believer in idealism and spirituality, of honesty and a life of responsibility towards others and the planet, he practiced those things. And of course he was the husband of Ina May Gaskin, whom many call the Mother of Authentic Midwifery.

It's odd. When I was in Publix yesterday I ran into a woman who was with me during my long, long labor with Hank, my not-quite-as-long labor and the birth of May. I was there when one of her sons was born, a breech baby and her husband delivered in the loft of their hippie home in the woods and their other children were all around and it was the middle of the night and sometimes, that's how it was in those days.
This woman was a huge influence on me and how I had my children. And she had been influenced by the women of the Yucatan and how they had their babies, which I find to be a beautiful circle of circumstance. And of course, there was Ina May and Spiritual Midwifery, guiding us along. Would Ina May have been able to do the work she has done with such authority and grace without Stephen? I don't know. Somehow I think they were an example of energies coming together to create more than the separate parts combined.

But we stood in Publix, the two of us, and talked and caught up a little bit on kids and grandkids. We both got a bit shiny-eyed, our hearts open as only hearts who have been through the big things together can be, neither of us knowing that Stephen had died but still, our little hippie reunion right there in front of the dairy case.

And as usual, I have meandered away from my original intent, which was to speak of Stephen Gaskin, but not really. Stephen was one of our teachers. He really was. And he used the word "teacher" and not "leader" because, as he said, "I'm a teacher, not a leader. If you lose your leader, you're leaderless and lost, but if you lose your teacher there's a chance that he taught you something and you can navigate on your own."

I love that.
Here's another thing he said which was, in light of the recent Supreme Court rulings, incredibly prescient:
 "I consider any attempt to take this country over in the name of any religion to be as repugnant and unconstitutional as a takeover by international communism or fascism."

Anyway, I feel sad, as I said, a bit bereft. The world seems a little less sure to me today, a little less colorful, a little less playful. Those sparkling blue eyes of his looked at the world with wonder and with humor and he saw things as they were and better yet, how things could be better. And he wasn't afraid to try to help that process along.

Rest in peace, Stephen Gaskin. 
You will be missed. You made a difference. 

Thanks for everything. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Thanks my dear teacher for teaching me about Mr. Gaskins. What a man he was.

    I love you SO.


  2. I meant Mr. Gaskin. Sorry for the damn typo.

  3. Very sad. A huge loss definitely.

    Jessie and Vergil are working quickly, eh? Good luck to them!

  4. I'm so happy to hear of Jessie and Virgil's house and hope that it all comes through. I'm so sorry to hear of the death of this great man -- and your own sorrow. I guess it's sort of a good sorrow, though, isn't it? A life well lived, lessons taught and so gracefully accepted by you.

  5. Wonderful about Jessie and Virgil's house. Will continue to imagine them already in it! So sorry to hear about your teacher. He was a great man. He is surely worth your tears. Love.

  6. As a follower of Ina May Gaskin, when I read Stephen's name in your post, I knew who you were talking about.

    What pearls of wisdom in his words that you quoted ""I'm a teacher, not a leader. If you lose your leader, you're leaderless and lost, but if you lose your teacher there's a chance that he taught you something and you can navigate on your own."

    Wow....powerful thoughts came to mind.

    The book Spiritual Midwifery was the best book that I read while pregnant with my 2nd child. I only wish I had known about it with the first. Made a huge and profound difference in how I gave birth with the next 3.

    Losing the earthy, gentle, caring people of the world seems to hit the hardest.

  7. I do believe you knew, and it caused your melancholy. I'm sorry for your grief. I've had times of mourning for people I've never met, and they still come and go, like any grief, don't they.

  8. that's how i felt a few months ago when our beloved pete seeger died. they have a similar look and both had true love partner wives who loved them long and well and had such a positive influence on so many

    so exciting for jesse and virgil. happy happy


  9. Ms. Bastard Beloved- My pleasure, darling woman!

    Jo- It is. And yes, they are!

    Elizabeth- Yes. I had a sort of arm's length relationship with all things Farm except for with Ina May. I'm not a commune person and I never felt like I needed a leader. But he was a good teacher and I took what I needed that he so graciously gave.

    Angella- It's pretty sweet to imagine them there. And pretty easy, too. I've already got my room there. Ha! Thanks for the words about Stephen.

    Ellen- You are EXACTLY right about the loss of the good, earthy ones. Yes. And why is that their deaths hit the hardest? They seem to be most real, perhaps.
    I'm so glad that all of us who needed it found Spiritual Midwifery.

    Ms. Vesuvius- Yes, they really do. And I do not discount the fact that in some way I may have "known." I think Stephen believed in magic and dirt, and I do too.

    Michelle- And both had the twinkling eyes, the joyful spirit.
    Thank you for being happy for my girl and her boy.

  10. I feel as though I've heard of Stephen Gaskin but I have no idea where. Maybe here on your blog. In any case, I'm sorry to hear of his departure, but I think he would be gratified to know that his teachings (and those of his wife) are living on in you and so many other people.

  11. Well now I see why I've heard of him!

  12. Steve Reed- He was a one-off, that one. Like no other. I am gratified to know that even the NYT recognized his life.

  13. What an amazing man. Thanks for sharing his life with us.

  14. His quote about religion being as repugnant as fascism is so true. Great quote! Sorry to hear that he is gone. I would not have known about him except for you.


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