Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
This September is different.
I was born and raised in rural Wisconsin.
September was the month we went back to school and when autumn
began. September was about football and homework and raking leaves
and the first day we needed to wear a sweater.
During election years September was the
beginning of real campaigning.
Now I live where September is the middle of
summer. June is gloomy and summer does not really get going until
sometime in July. The endless summer of Southern California often
makes October the warmest month of the year. September is usually a
good time to go to the beach. We do not really need sweaters.
This September many of us are not going back
to school, or back to work. There is no football or leaf raking. It
is a challenge to remember a time before the campaign started.
Many of us have been much less mobile than
we would like to be. The two trips I had planned since March, to San
Francisco and to Big Sur, were both cancelled. One because of the
pandemic, the other because of the fires. We are staying home more,
trying to avoid the spread of the disease and the dangers of our
More and more of our lives are lived through
our phones and computers.
Some of us feel isolated, cut off from
everything and everyone around us. We keep ourselves to ourselves,
minding our own business, putting ourselves first. It is easy to
allow fear or anxiety to limit our imaginations. Many of us pay
attention to getting from one day, one week, to the next.
This September it can be challenging for us
to connect with other people.
It is particularly challenging when many of
the ways we were accustomed to connecting with people have been lost
to us, at least temporarily. Whether this is the new normal or a way
to survive the crisis of the pandemic, it feels like our communities
have been taken away.
Two of my own connections to community have
been difficult to sustain.
Spiritual life is becoming a personal,
individual aspect of my life. It is risky to get together in person
for spiritual life. Even my annual retreat to New
Camaldoli Hermitage was not
possible this summer because of the fires near Big Sur. I could not
spend silent time with other people.
Fortunately I have found ways to spend time
with other people focused on spiritual life over the computer. I
talk with people as a spiritual director and with groups of people
exploring spiritual life.
It has been even more of a challenge to
appreciate great craft beer on my own. Yes, it is possible to find
brews to explore and bring them home, but that is not the only
attraction for me. My love for craft beer and brewing is about
spending time with other people who love them almost as how they
I miss the days when friends and I made
“Craft Brewery Pilgrimages” to breweries and tasting rooms we wanted
to explore. Those visits were excellent ways to get to know new
people, taste new beers, and experience the places they were brewed.
We could always decide to wait until the
pandemic and the fires are over. Craft breweries, though, are having
hard times right now, this September. What can we do to help now?
Could we meet via Zoom each month to share a
new craft brewery or beer? Are there ways to rebuild the communities
which have been pulled apart by the pandemic?
What would be the best time for you?
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life
mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft
brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg has served as
an assistant district attorney and an associate university
professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com,
and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel