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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Burning Man renews sense of intimacy with the divine

This is the final article in a three-part series on Young’s experiences as a Christian pastor at Burning Man, the annual art festival and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

At times, one could not help but wonder why we chose to go to Burning Man. We left loved ones behind only to be stuck in two of the worst traffic jams of our lives, waiting five hours to move one mile on our way in and out of Black Rock City.

The elevation, dust storms and extreme daytime heat wore everyone down. The wild colors and scenes overstimulated us. The action and the beat of the electronic music never stopped. Without enough water to bathe, 68,000 people lived practically on top of each other in a harsh desert of extremes.

Still, one could not help but feel a sense of elation on arriving. Signs along the roadside prepared us for the society we were entering. One said, “Finance is your religion.” Another quoted Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Together we were getting free from our shared religion of finance with a social technology that seemed like magic. For an entire week, no one tried to sell me anything, and no one talked about jobs or the economy. There were no phones, schedules, email messages, advertisements, brands or logos. The only things one could buy were coffee and ice. The pace of Silicon Valley makes it difficult for us to be generous with our time. Out there, it seemed we had infinite reservoirs of time and attention to share even with strangers.

What did I learn? Mystical experiences in the desert renewed my sense of intimacy with the divine. In the solitude of early morning, red slivers of cloud intersecting the rising sun made me feel like God was baptizing me in dust. Bicycling at sunset with the wind at my back flying past extraordinary artistic creations into the gray-water sky, this vast, mysterious universe seemed like a home for our peace, gratitude and love.

Most of the people I met were younger and helped me to see the world in a different way. I realized how sheltered and naive I am. Usually when I talk to people in their 20s, it is on my terms, in my world – and this constrains our conversation. At Burning Man, I got out of my suburban church box and met people who do not even really know what Christianity is, people whose motivations and most basic assumptions differ from my own. They deeply blessed me and helped me to appreciate our shared humanity.

Finally, perhaps it took getting out of my church sphere to discover what I have to offer to the world. The people I met showed me the value of being so deeply immersed in an ancient spiritual and intellectual tradition.

On one of my last nights, in the middle of a dust storm, I met a woman named Susan. She had sought God when she was young and had given up. We wondered whether everyone might know something about God, even if we use different religions and language to describe the source of meaning. Perhaps truth is the collection of ways that God is speaking to all of us.

In that conversation, I realized that churches offer ancient practices (prayer, service to others, the study of holy writings, music, various rituals, a calendar, aesthetic experiences, etc.) that help us to be drawn more deeply into the divine. At its best, church functions as a community and a technology for recognizing our place in the universe, for loving other people in the confidence and intimacy with God exemplified by Jesus.

Burning Man helped me to see that spiritual practices from the past have no value unless they can be connected to the concerns and aspirations of the present. Of any group in society, the churches I know should be speaking to exactly the people drawn to Burning Man. Their openness to the future, their divinely inspired creativity, their idealism in seeking to transform society so that it is fair and accepting and their spirit of generosity and concern for others is exactly what churches need.

The Rev. Malcolm C. Young, author of “The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau” (Mercer University Press, 2009), is on sabbatical from Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos. For more information, visit ccla.us.

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