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26 August 2010

Why I HATE "if you can afford alcohol and cigarettes than you don't need food stamps"

Let's say it is mid-December in Austin, Texas. At two in the morning, it is 37 degress and just starting to rain, and this little camp site out in the woods off South 1st Street near Slaughter Lane is "home" and it has been for the last six months.  You have no television, no books, no light to read by anyway. 

You have no internet connection to read that several people you know have posted and "liked" a popular new facebook page entitled.
If you can afford alcohol and cigarettes than you don't need food stamps
It would have only made you cry-- half for them and half for yourself.  You really never did believe people were so brutal, but it seems that they are.

Tonight, it is just your own thoughts and most of those are agonzing-- especially at this time of year when you see Christamas Trees on top of the cars going by, and most of the college students have left to be home with family. 

You don't have family-- not really.  You don't have friends-- not really.  When you lost your job and your spouse left with the kids, and your neighbors, and your priest, and your family, and your friends-- all just watched you fall, out of control.  No one reached out and you knew the fall would probably break you.  No one offered a hand, no one even tried to break your fall.  So there you are, in the woods, and you will be there the next night, and the night after that.

You have learned the hard truth that you do not matter-- not even to family, not even to friends.

You hate carrying your sleeping bag and backpack with you every where you go, but there is no place to secure your things except to take them with you.  All of your worldly posesions are attached to or inside your backpack.  The library lets you stay inside and will watch your backpack for you , but you are not allowed to take it inside, and security watches you ever time you go into the bathroom to make sure you are not bathing in the sink.  But it is warm there and dry, and you can charge your cell phone if you have one-- maybe sleep a little before security catches you.  You think you'll go there tomorrow.

Cell phone, what a joke-- like anyone is going to call you for an interview?   Like you have anyone to call?

You do not plan more than that-- there is no point in it.

You carried a plastic bag with you when you left downtown.  Inside is a pack of cheap cigarettes that taste like cardboard and are labled "cigars" and because of the brown paper and the label those cost half of what a pack labled "cigarettes" and in white paper would cost.  You also have a six pack of pint-sized cans of cheap beer.  Ice cold beer is not exacty what you want, but it maye help you sleep, and might even make the haunting memories slip away for a few minutes.

You pop the top on one can and guzzle several ounces of the beer.  It rained last week and was nearly as cold, you remember as you light one of the little "cigars."  At least there is no lightning tonight.  Last week, during the thunderstorm, you wedged yourself up on the little mound of roots under this very tree with your back against the trunk to stay dry-- or as dry as possible.  You worried about the tree being struck by lightning for a moment, but then decided that it didn't matter.  Being struck by lightning would be some end to the pain.

On your third beer, you remember that you have a pack of cookies you had saved from the bag of food you received from the Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck that had been at the downtown bus stop that evening.  You fish that out of your pack and gobble them down before they get wet.  A few minutes later the shivering stops, and you drift off for a few minutes. 

You wake, unaware that is now past three, and the rain is continuing, but survival forces you to make a decision.  You unroll your sleeping bag which is not waterproof, and get inside.  The weight of the water on your legs and chest is dreadful-- the bag is absorbing the water and you know it will soon feel wet in the bag and on your clothes.  You sit up and open a fourth beer and chug it-- hoping that the dose of alcohol will knock you out and allow you to sleep.

The last thing you remember before sleep sets in was hoping it will be sunny and that you can dry the bag out before bedtime tomorrow.  Yo can't do that at the library, so you will have to go get food from the truck downtown while carrying the wet bag.  It is humiliating.  There is no hiding that you sleep in the woods-- you smell like and look like it and all of the office workers-- of which you once were one-- look at you as if diseased, or as if crazy.  Looking like that, smelling like that, carrying the soggy load on your back, how many times a day does someone drive by yelling, "Get a job?"

Do they not see?   Except for those instances, you declare to yourself, Tomorrow, I will be invisible.  The comfort of that thought allows you to sleep.

Let's say it is August in Austin, Texas.  It is two in the morning and still 90 degrees outside.  You are sitting under the overpass above the red gravel under 183 near Burnett Road.... 

But you don't want me to tell you this story. 

Do you?

I know some of these people.  I didn't want to hear their stories, either.  They'll make you treasure the very rare human, and then hate the far more common part-humans among us.

Trust me, I softened the blow of the true horror of the stories of their lives.  Only the rare few dare to know such things-- if you are not human, it will probably make you much more human to hear the whole truth-- and becoming more human is too painful for most to bear.  I won't do that to you, and don't think I could-- I resist it, too. 

Hell.  If I was fully human, I would live in the woods with them.

"Maybe only one in two hundred are like that," a wise man once told me about the truly good persons in life.  I think he was foolishly optimistic.

24 August 2010

Critical Errors of the Modern Church (It Is Not a Creed, It Is a Prayer!)

I am not so much complaining as offering a solution.

Having a devout faith, I do not care for the visible Church.

There is an invisible one.  I love that one.

Someones conception of the mystical "New Jerusalem"
coming down from Heaven--
the Kingdom of God which we do not, yet, know.

It seems to be that the fundamental error of the modern Christian can be shown in the most famous, most rehearsed, and most prayed part of the Bible, known as the "Lord's Prayer."

It is not a Creed! It is a prayer!

We are not taught by Christ to state and avow that God's Kingdom is on earth and that God's will is done on earth just as it is in Heaven.  These things are not true-- we are taught to pray that they will become true!

From the false belief that the visible Church exists in the Kingdom of God falls all other major errors of the modern church.  The outward pointing finger of accusation as "evangelism;" the self-assured holiness of the faithful; the presumption of damnation of anyone and sometimes even everyone else; and worst of all, the abandonment of the invisible, spiritual, and mystical life of the faithful.

Modern Churches hold virtually no expectation of the spiritual life of its members.  Not surprisingly, it then busies itself with worldly matters such as politics and social agendas.  These are nothing more than civic organizations using God to justify their worldly desires.

I am thinking of a not-so-well-known part of the Bible just before the part where Jesus teaches his disciples, at their request of Him to do so, how to pray and gives them the words of what is known as the "Lord's Prayer."

Just before that, Christ has been teaching many and He selects seventy-two of His students to accept an assignment.  He commands them to go out in 36 teams of two, and simply do two things in each town into which they walk.
1) Find one, and only one, household which which welcome them.
2) Heal the sick.

That is it!  They are not told to yell warnings of Hell and calls for repentance, they do not quote the Bible to them (at them) and they do not do anything more than have a meal and heal any sick.

Those teams return some time later amazed at their experiences.  People were healed!  The seventy-two students were joyous.  To their surprise, the found that not only did they heal the sick, but were even able to cast out demons.

The seventy-two

Now, if you do not believe in real but invisible entities which have malevolent intent-- demons-- then I fear that nothing I write can be of use.  I live in the visible world but have glimpsed with spiritual eyes the invisible.  It is what humans do-- we are body and spirit and the soul can see what is invisible to the body.  For some reason, I seem to have have more frequent experience with "seeing" the spiritual world than some people, but I believe we all do it-- simply a part of being human.

It is not merely that there are invisible beings, but a whole invisible world.  That invisible world is not entirely unlike the physical one we all perceive.  Our minds are amazing in that what we see spiritually can be given a physical description.

Consider the popularity of TV shows investigating the paranormal: Ghosts and Aliens being the most obvious examples.  The mind is processing and then projecting the "language" of what is perceived by the soul-- with spiritual eyes-- into a reasonable and physical facsimile. As psychology becomes increasingly a scientific study (although still largely tied to statistics) there is an increasing correlation developing between the rise of new psychological symptoms and the fall of the spiritual component of the societies in which these symptoms develop.

Ghosts and Aliens!
A poignant psychological model concerns the similarity between clinical psychosis and religious experiences.  In short, the only difference is that the former is malevolent and the later is benevolent.

I am not alone in suspecting that the interest in the paranormal images of our literature and folklore is more than merely wondering "Is there something more?"  Rather, the question is driven by the soul's experiences which have not yet been articulated in the mind and which then nags the mind to process.  That is to say, that all humans have spiritual experiences and only some come to accept them as a necessary component of human life.

That, then, is a requirement of the Church-- to facilitate the complete humanity of its members, marrying the divided person, joining the invisible with the visible as equally real and accepting the intangible experiences as deeply meaningful, hopeful, expectant, and above all, normal for a healthy life.

Falling like lightning

Now, write yourself into that Bible story.  Imagine that you and a friend walk into a strange town, and a stranger comes up and invites you in to share a mid-day meal.  While you are there, you pray that any sick will become well, and in your short visit, that is exactly what happens. 

All you want to do is to heal sick strangers-- it is all you were asked to do.

When you come back, amazed and joyous that it actually worked-- that strangers were healed by your showing up with the desire to do just that, your Teacher responds to your report with these words:

"I was seeing Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.1"


Rephrasing that question: What does the climax of a battle between Angels which took place in a previous age and which began the present age have to do with students returning to report to their teacher that they have healed the sick and even cast out demons?

Well, obviously, the last part is the easiest connection to make-- that mere men had cast demons out of sick persons.

In my previous post, I stated that war is a part of the spiritual world.  This is an example.  Before humans existed, or at least very early in the existence of man, a battle was fought between angels.  In the statement of the Teacher to the students reporting their surprised success in the assignment they had undertaken, we find an implicit connection to the invisible with the visible.

That the Teacher sent them out only with instructions to heal, they report that, beyond healing, they had unexpectedly found that they even had the ability to cause invisible spirits to do as they commanded.  No willing creature easily accepts being controlled by another.

It may be worth pointing out that it is a rare person who, finding that they can control another, will use that only against malevolent creatures.

Consider the concept of, "If you could, at will, become invisible, what would you do?"

Give yourself some time to go through the obvious fantasies, for good, ill, or simply fun.

Now, put those ideas aside and consider what if your invisible soul has real power?  What would your invisible soul do, knowing that it both has power and is unseen?

I submit that our souls exist, even though we do not see them.  I further submit that our souls have real power.  I submit that prayer is the work of the soul and the soul, not bound by the physical world, is able to do that which it prays.  As a Christian, I believe that a powerful and willful soul will act according to its nature-- its character.

The great mystic Saint Paul writes that the spirit intercedes for us in sighs (or groans) too deep for words.2  I believe he writes of our own spirits-- our souls-- the invisible component of our human person which perceives and exists in the invisible spiritual world.  A practical application of the acknowledgment of our own souls is to seek to reconcile both realities our human nature does perceive.


One example (and their are countless ways to accept and integrate one's own soul) is to pray for spiritual and not worldly matters.  Are we praying for riches, power and success, or are we praying for healing, peace, and understanding?

I want to write much more, but I will end with just this:

What if?  What if you soul has real spiritual power to battle and win against malevolence and even sickness?  What if your invisible soul, doing invisible work, can have visible effect in this world?  What would you do?  In this case, it is not merely a rhetorical question.  Is it?

1 The odd verb tense and mode, "I was seeing" is in the actual original Greek text. It is usually softened to the more common "I saw." The form used, even in Greek, is unusual, and perhaps rightly thought-provoking.

2 The Letter of Paul to the Romans in Chapter 8.  I have translations which capitalizes the word "Spirit" and other translation which do not.  When capitalized, the translator believes that Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit, which in Christian doctrine is part of the Godhead-- one of the "three persons in one God" (known as the "Doctrine of the Trinity").  When the word, "spirit" is not capitalized, the translator either believes or leaves open for the possibility that Paul writes of the spirit (soul) of the person praying.  Note, Paul uses the full term, "Holy Spirit" five times in his letter to the Romans, but he does not use the term here, but merely "spirit."

23 August 2010

If I Can't Make It, Maybe I Can Find It.

I can't fix what is broken, and recently I rarely even try.  It was not always so.

One of my favorite stories to tell is about my beloved son, when he was just a year old.  I loved being a father-- no one told me how wonderful it would be-- instead, well-meaning (I would like to think) friends would warn me that romance with my wife was over, that private time and personal time were a thing of the past and so on.   Anyway...

I spent a lot of time on the floor after my son was born-- especially when he began to crawl and started walking.  We would play with blocks, Legos and stuff like that for hours every day.  Whenever a wheel came off a toy car or a Lego design we had built together broke, he would hand it to me or, if I was in the next room, bring it to me to fix.

I loved that time.  Both my children would play on the floor with me or merely beside me.  How fine it is when, say, your not-yet-walking child crawls away from playing with Duplo Blocks and crawls back a minute later and hands you a book to read to them!  A smile through a binky should be able to melt the heart of anyone-- and it did mine.
 As he closed in on his first birthday, I heard him making noises of frustration just out of sight as I sat working on the computer.  He was near tears, so something had really upset him.  I jumped up from my desk and hurried to see.  It was the axle to this cheap plastic fire engine he loved to play with at the time.  It was wearing out and more frequently coming off and he could not get it to snap back in place.

"I can't do it!  I tried!"  He said.  I eventually snapped it back in place for him, intentionally struggling with it to try and help ease his frustration by seeing me struggle, and while I did so, I said, "I am glad you tried to fix it yourself-- you are getting really close to being able to and it is not so easy.
"There is one thing that you did not try to do that I want you to remember."

He moved around to look at what I was doing and put a hand on my shoulder, waiting for me to show him the secret.  I snapped it in place just then and handed him the truck saying, "You are a lot like me, and so this is going to be hard for you to learn because it is hard for me.  When you have tried to do something and tried everything you know to do and it still doesn't work..."

My son sat down, not looking at the repaired fire engine, but looking at me, and I continued, "...then all that is left to do is to ask me to help."  He smiled, and then came over and hugged me.

A few weeks later, a few days after his first birthday, he was in the next room playing with a balloon left over from the party.  I was keeping a close eye on him through the door way (my desk in my home office was right next to a permanently open door into the living room) , and our dogs were enjoying the balloon as well.  I wasn't getting any work done, but didn't care-- the balloon, dog and boy thing was more wonderful to watch than anything else I could possible be doing.   As I knew it would, the balloon eventually popped.  My son came tottering into the room and set the balloon on my leg-- just as he always did with a broken toy he needed me to fix.

All at once I realized that, to him, I could fix anything

"Oh, son.  Some things cannot be fixed."
He took it well, merely as information being acquired.  I did, too-- take disappointing him, that is; not knowing that it was foreshadowing-- the brokenness to come that I could not fix.

That brokenness to come and my not fixing it-- my son doesn't talk to me anymore.


After the brutal divorce to which court hearing I was not even invited, I was awarded standard daddy rights-- weekends.  Their mother was restrained from moving out of the county without first obtaining court permission.  She did it anyway, and left me no address- not even a city or county.  I had telephone contact for a few months and she agreed to meet me "half-way," telling me she lived in Galveston but did not want me having her address.

I'm not a violent person, although since then, I have found that violence is both an effective and satisfying response to being attacked by violent others-- something I never tried against one of her countless violent attacks.  Therefore, not wanting me to know where my kids lived was certainly about her fear that she and her lawyer were in jeopardy of "paying the price" for going too far.

The thought of tracking down her divorce lawyer had crossed my mind (and still does).  Knowingly destroying an innocent man for a fee-- destroying a family for a fee...  Well, not even a mother could love such a person and the world would be served by such a person's agonizingly torturous demise.  It is a fantasy of mine and it helps sometimes to entertain it, but while I can be pushed to violence, I simply do not have the ability to plot violence-- it isn't in me.

So, when I finally was able to see my children again and spend a long weekend with them-- in a hotel because I was living in my car due to the child support being 55% of my gross income-- I felt hopeful again.  I had spent over half of my then annual take-home pay in legal fees, filing for enforcement of my visitation rights, and adjustment of my child support to the State maximum of 25% of net income-- about a third to a quarter of what was being withheld from my pay.

I did not tell my children any of this that weekend.  I simply enjoyed the time we spent together, and told them that I was taking steps to reunite us.  I told them that courts and judges were involved, and that when my son turned twelve, the judge might ask him if he wanted to live with his Dad or his mom-- and that I expected him to tell the truth-- not worry about what his mother or I might think.

My daughter started crying and I didn't understand, and asking her, she sobbed, "I don't want to live alone with Mommy!  I don't want [him] to go!"
"Oh No!  Sweety!  The judge would never separate the two of you-- if your brother lives with me, so will you, and if he lives with your mother, so will you."
The two whispered together for a moment, my daughter dried her eyes, they giggled together and then began a chant, "Dad-dy!  Dad-dy!  Dad-dy!"

Can you imagine my relief?  Can you imagine the love?  Can you imagine the hope?

The courts have still never even held a hearing on my motions-- six years ago this November.  You want a reason?  Because the courts and life and the world are brutal, tyrannical, and vicious.  My failure to get the courts, at least, to be otherwise has my son not speaking to me.

You give me something to try-- I already did it.

I have been before a judge at least a dozen times to find the hearings are canceled at the request of the Office of the Attorney General-- because they do not want to get caught being the willing tool of a scheme to make a father live in his car while paying for a beach house for his ex-wife.

I don't know how to beat that system.  I tried everything that I heard and read could be tried.  All my son knows is that I failed, and he lost his Dad, and that his mother says it is because I don't care.  The fact is, some things cannot be fixed, and the system beat me.

I don't think I can be fixed, either.  I lay what remained of me on the leg of God seated at His throne, but some things cannot be fixed.


So since a child-- maybe since birth, I have the occasional spiritual vision-- a very real reality that I have found myself in and, too soon, back out of.  I am aware of the spiritual reality and of this, the ordinary and hollow, reality both and at once. Maybe a hundred or two hundred such religious experiences over my life-time-- some profound, some light and easy.

I want to live there-- in that spiritual reality-- and I want to stay.  It is not up to me.

Over the last seven years of this Hell on Earth, I have found myself in that spiritual reality more often-- maybe a total of an hour in the past year, rather than a few seconds worth of that each year.  It is not enough.  It sustains me, but only that.  I have no control-- I only get invited and then only for such a brief time.

It is not ecstasy in the sense that some mystics describe it.  Not in the way I think they mean, and I have read the mystics since young adulthood.  It is purpose, watchfulness, meaning, excitement, adventure and such, but not really anything like "bliss" if that is taken to mean a peaceful, content and quiet existence.

Last night I dreamt, only dreamed-- not a vision (even though I was not asleep) of being with this person I have learned to love.  I wish I was in love but, I think, I have not allowed/ will not allow myself that pain.  None the less, the spiritual connection attracts with a profundity that is hard to ignore-- especially since I said good-bye to her this past week.  Awake, letting my subconscious reign for a time:

In my dream, she was sitting on the floor in a yoga position, eyes closed and meditating.  I wanted to join her, but two things prevented me.  First, I knew that I could not make the spiritual world let me in by meditating-- I have no such control.  The irresistible invitation which takes me out of this existence into one of meaning and purpose will take place even if I am walking down the street when it wants to (when He wants).  Second, what I wanted was to say Mass-- the only intimacy that I can control even though I rarely feel the intimacy.  In saying Mass, in speaking the words and handling the Bread and Wine, the intimacy with God is assured.  It has the same effect as do the visions, but without the experience.

I started to go into another room to do just that, make the Body and Blood of Christ present with me and, by consuming them, in me.  But there was this pillow on the floor near her.  I sat down, and had just what I needed, as dreams allow us to do sometimes.  I had no wine and no chalice, but I had a single communion wafer on the pillow which I had set before me as I sat cross-legged on the floor behind the one I now think of as my friend-- another friend and loved one who I have lost.

For a moment, I hesitated because I had no Missal and no Prayer Book.  It had been a long time, and for a moment I wondered if I could remember the words.  My mind was so blank that I picked up the piece of pressed bread, and aware only that I had wondered if I could remember the words, found myself making the sign of the cross with my right hand over the bread in my left and speaking so softly that I could barely hear myself.

"On the night before He died, our Lord Jesus Christ took Bread, and giving thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, 'Take, eat, this is my Body.'"

Next, just as I was about to consume the Bread, my friend was standing before me, facing me as I sat on the floor.  I took the Host in my right hand, but instead of placing it in my mouth, held it out to her.  The dream reset itself (I don't know why) and I had several communion wafers in a pile on a Paten on the pillow.  It reset again and I had the one, broke it and held half up to her.  It reset again and it was only the one, but she wasn't there anymore, and then, neither was the Bread.

Alone on the floor in a strange room, not my own, it no longer mattered.  I knew that all there was left to do was go back out into a world with the hostile and burning light-- a light which burns on the skin, but despite its brightness, shows that what it reflects upon is insubstantial, withering from it, oppressed by it, enduring damage from sunrise to sunset, and barely recovering over night.  I almost expect the world shown to evaporate in an instantaneous burst into smokeless dust and leave only the spiritual reality to be seen.

I wished it would.

It may be the light itself was Holy, but the world it shined upon was so ugly, so overwhelmed by its own malignancy, that the light seemed to be to blame.


I have friends and family who I suspect read my entries in this blog and that they worry that I am teetering on the edge of insanity.  Feels that way to me sometimes.

From what I have read of my published saviors (Jung, Grof, Washburn, Jesus, Paul, John,, John of the Cross, and so on) fear of going insane is just what it feels like when one steps most firmly into the spiritual world, and out of the temporal. 

Even so, and despite my experience in those dozens, if not hundreds, of little reconnoiter missions into the spiritual reality, I know I must step again and again into this ugly temporal one, expose my own flesh to the harsh light, force myself to believe that what I do, here and now, matters and try hard to hope that what I do when invited and drawn into that other realty has effect on what I want to believe matters in this one.

And the souls that matter go away, and the souls that don't will beat me down again.


I watched the movie, Gandhi, for the first time yesterday.  I then read several articles related to what I saw in the movie.  Passive-Resistance verses War seemed to be the theme.

I tend to agree that war ought not to be a part of human existence in this world.  What I fear Gandhi did not see is that war is a part of the spiritual world.  Humans know what is spiritual even when we deny the existence of the spiritual.  That is Carl Gustav Jung in a nutshell, by the way.

I cannot think of a religion that does not include war and warriors in its mythology.  My own religion... not very politically correct, but my God is described and even addressed as "Lord God of Hosts."  You know what "hosts" means, right?  It means Armies.  My God is a warrior.  He once gave me a sword-- an invitation.

Music is the most obvious part of the spiritual world which breaks through into this world, but war is no different, however much less pleasant it may be to contemplate.

So, again, I say, "I have this spiritual sword."

In a early entry to this blog-- years ago, I wrote about being confused with, and even (implicitly) accused of being, a spy.  Not a warrior, but a spy.  A real event comes to mind as indicative of this odd association:  The former CIA agent, closes the door to my office, hands me his card and says only something like, "Call me if you think you should" before opening the door and continuing his conversation with others in the hall.

The chief differences between being a spy and being a warrior, in my pallet of meaning, is that the spy works alone and in no uniform.

I don't mind being behind enemy lines, and I don't mind not having the uniform and the support and the provisions of a Marine or a soldier which the uniform implies.  I do not even mind not being able to rest back at base, between tours, and let my guard down if only when I sleep.  I mind being alone.  I mind knowing that I can trust no one-- that the few who can be trusted are also isolated and never around long enough.  I mind that they seem to never look back while I stand on a cold rainy foreign city street in hostile territory and watch the good ones walk away to set off again on their mission assignments and they do not look back.

17 August 2010

A Nicer Thought

I once had this apartment.

I had been through Hell once again, and when my father heard about it, he came and found me, and set me up in a nice apartment so I could complete my last three semesters in college.

It was a very healing place.

It took me a few months to do much more than study, sleep, eat and repeat.  By that time, my parents had assembled a few kitchen essentials for me which included this old "harvest gold" blender.   It was odd, really.  My Dad used to use that blender to make the occasional milk shake, but that was all I had ever seen one used for; and while I supposed it might have other uses, I really did not spend any time contemplating any.

But one day, I was in the grocery store and saw a display of Margarita mix.  I had a bottle of tequila back at the apartment someone had given me as a gift, but since I hated tequila, it remained unopened.  Ah, I thought, Here is a way to make use of the otherwise never-to-be-used blender and tequila!   I came home, finished my studies and assignments and instead of the beer I would usually take with me out on my patio (overlooking an old cemetery:  "New neighbors today?"  "Yes, but I know they'll be quiet"), I went into the kitchen and dumped in ice, mix, and tequila.

It was a nice day, and I had my windows open, the sliding door to the little balcony wide, and the ugly apartment draperies were blowing in the wind.  As it turns out, my little discovery at the grocery store was far more well known among my unit's other dwellers.  Not only had they all made this discovery, but were so accustomed to it, that they knew the sound of margaritas being blended.

I have not done any scientific research on the subject (at the time, I was a business major, minoring in statistics), but my theory is that something in the combination of margarita mix and tequila causes a very subtle change in the density of the liquid so that with practice, one can aurally distinguish the presence of those items in the ice being crushed within a blender.

I poured the concoction into a tumbler and took it with me out on the patio.  I do not remember exactly, but I would venture a guess that at some point I took an ever-so-casual glance to my right to see if pretty Miss A__ was, perhaps, sunbathing on her patio again that afternoon.  She wasn't.  Oh well, that'll allow me to let my thoughts flow and roam so I can relax.

I didn't know it then, but Miss A__ was dating a guy whose grandfather invented the Margarita machine-- except I believe he invented the Icee machine sold to 7/11 stores, and then sold the patent, and someone else decided to make margaritas with them  Carl Jung would recognize that as a form of synchronicity, I think.  Anyway...

Miss A and her two roommates lived to my right, as I looked out on the IOOF cemetery, just across the breezeway.  Behind me, on my side, was a real-life "holy-roller" just like in the movies.  He kept to himself mostly and I only saw him coming and going from class and church.  Across from him were three young co-eds all related somehow-- like two sisters and a cousin or something like that.

Miss D, one of the familial co-eds, drove up, and said "Hi" as she came up the steps to the breezeway.  Then, in her black, east-Texas drawl, added, "Ooo!  A margarita!  That looks good!"  "I just made a pitcher, so help yourself."

She dropped her stuff inside her own apartment, and came right back over.  I handed her a tumbler full and before we could get out to the balcony, one of the girls across from me showed up, and before I had poured that glass, another, and then another arrived, were invited in, and stayed.

The blender ran every few minutes and all eight of the units second story dwellers were present, and getting louder by the glass.  My stereo was on and the little party spilled out onto the breezeway.  Beer, wine and probably a little weed showed up by the time it was dark, and the little harvest gold mixer purred and churned, ice trays and tequila bottles and even more mix showed up as if out of nowhere.  MTV was new back then, and that became easier than sifting through my rather vast album collection.

It had to have been after midnight when the steam ran out-- and the din descended to smiling and slightly slurred good nights.

After all had left, and I was alone in the quietness, sitting looking over the stillness, Morrison Corn-Kits glowing in neon from silos in the distance, I remember thinking what a precious and much needed happenstance that was-- meeting my neighbors for the first time, and drawing me out of my reclusiveness.

To my delight, the little impromptu gathering repeated a few days later, and then continued to repeat, sometimes without the little mixer being taken out of the cupboard.  Sometimes, one of my neighbors would simply show up with a case of beer and then go get the others.  They were never, ever-- not once-- planned.

I often think how much I would like to live out in the country, deeply hidden in the woods so that I can effectively abstain from the world as suits me.  If I ever do, I will first want to find an extra-load blender.

13 August 2010

If I Could Paint: Limestone Walls, Porch Chairs & Tamed Memories

As a child,

Sitting beside a surreal stream.
The Man in White, smiling,
promising to me.

As a man,

The brightness not so intrusive,
A spindly comfortable porch chair
against a tall limestone wall

Still a promise.

The broken memories not so sharp
as they once were,
The joy of them returned.


Three empty chairs,
beside the one,
and I smile, waiting.

Perseids, Freight Trains and Priestsong

Glass of sweet red Llano wine, a cigar,
sitting on the front porch looking up
at Cygnus and Vega, 

a train in the distance
lightly sounding its departure,
the six little flashes of light
would not have been worth the effort
if there had been any. 

A warm and gentle Texas night.
Snuff the cigar and stay, 

in the moment. 

Minutes pass, a brilliant
green and white streak
all the way across
my view through the pecan trees.  

Comes to mind,
Thou who hast made the Pleiades and Orion
and then I think of priestsong and standing alone
singing intimately to God on behalf of others
watching on. 
No one else sees me now. More time passes.
I head inside,
thinking I can sleep.