The Clock is Ticking!

Women have a biological clock: menopause, the point beyond which they cannot have children.

This is my version:

For about a decade, whenever I entertain romantic aspirations, I gravitate toward a vision of lying on the couch with my head in her lap while she strokes my hair.

I’m 57 1/2, ladies! Will I have to settle for a scalp massage?

Live!

My friend Steve is fighting cancer. I won’t expand, but among his friends we’ve all been worried about financial resources. This came to a point tonight when he invited me down to his studio. He pulled out several pieces that he had been working on before his illness sidelined him, and offered me my pick at a bargain-basement discount.

Completely floored, I kept on digging. Painting after painting reflected the culmination the I extolled previously in Designed, Seen, Felt, Expressed. It wasn’t just the landscapes – it’s also showing up in his paintings of tribal women.

Steve had a fascination for Native American culture in his childhood, and recently traced it to a prior life. The tribal experience of immersion in the natural world goes beyond the sensory perceptions. It includes awareness of the powerful interconnectedness of things. From that root he also carries a deep sense of the injustice that European culture has wreaked upon the natural world.

The work I saw tonight threads the needle between representation and abstraction. Through color contrasts and plastic layering, he vitality and energy of the natural world seem to leap off the canvas – and yet delicate washes and luminous backgrounds preserve the sense of ecological harmony and balance.

Yin and Yang. Masculine and Feminine. Design and Expression.

The problem was evident when another friend showed up. She immediately pointed to a boat picture on the wall, the most concrete representation. I praised that work when Steve put it on display, but it’s a confrontation with nature, not an awed celebration. She didn’t seem to recognize that power in his recent work.

Will others? Can Steve explain it to them?

In the end, I couldn’t buy anything. The works need to be seen, and I don’t have a place for that appreciation to occur. Those that are incomplete need to be finished.

They bear witness to the relationships that our artificial reality has sundered. They prepare us to process the intensity of the natural world when it must be confronted. They celebrate its beauty and honor its power.

If we do not integrate those truths into the manner of our living, none of us will survive. Steve: we need your witness!

Abandoned

The leading residents of the camp call it “transitional housing.” Established on the site of an abandoned smelter, the concrete foundations of the demolished buildings are ideal for motor homes. A discard pile looms over the camp, an acre of tailings piled thirty feet high that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to remove in a couple of years. That’s going to involve heavy equipment, and many of vehicles are situated so as to interfere with the work.

The regulations for official motor home camps prohibit vehicles more than ten years old. As I walked amidst them, I say those rusted and lying low on deflated tires. I doubt that some of them can be moved, even if a place could be found to hook them up to services.

Cher, the first of the residents, parked her motor home ten years ago. At the time, the owners were still local residents, but unpaid property taxes have put the land into the hands of the EPA. Once the pile is removed – extending the salt marsh owned by the Nature Conservancy – the lot will revert to state and local ownership.

It seems an ideal site for a homeless camp. A corrugation plant sits just adjacent, and the sewage treatment plant is across the street. City officials find the inhabitants unpleasant, and of course many of them have criminal histories. They’ve found reasons to disallow garbage collection on site, and trash has piled up over the years, creating a serious public health hazard.

I’ve been going out there with the local churches, standing watch as residents are fed lunch and sift through the clothing and food. Unfortunately, the foremost of the organizers had concluded that the camp needed to be cleared. He also had some theological disputes with me, and asked me to stop attending.

But I went out two weeks ago looking for Cher. I had contacted the sociology department at the University, suggesting that her experience would be valuable to those seeking to provide alternatives for our growing homeless population. She wasn’t there that week, and I was busy with other matters last week.

Yesterday morning, my thoughts turned to her again, but I waited until after lunch to visit. When I arrived, she was standing out on the sidewalk talking with a man who had pitched his tent just outside the lot. I sat down with her, and she poured out her troubles to me.

She had gone up to meet her man when he came out of prison, but he acted as though he didn’t know her. They had planned to move into a shared living arrangement, but after his probation appointment on Monday, he disappeared. Cher contacted the office, and they said that he was fine, but wouldn’t be seeing her again.

I told her about the university contact, but it became clear that she had more pressing matters. She felt that God had abandoned the camp, and wanted to move her vehicle out to Las Vegas where her granddaughter lived. She needed to repair the lights. It seemed clear that she needed a phone, but the last time she had signed up for one, it never showed up in the mail. I offered to drive her out to find the free phone kiosk. We bounced from the 99-cent store to Wal-Mart, and were headed out to a third location when she spotted the pop-up tent outside the Goodwill.

Unfortunately, the system said that she already had a phone, and would only allow her a SIM card. Hoping either that we could buy a cheap T-Mobile device at Wal-Mart or find a spare at the camp, she accepted their offer. Wal-Mart didn’t have any T-Mobile devices, so I dropped her off, promising that I would try to find something and drop it off to her Thanksgiving morning.

During our wanderings, we talked about Revelation. She had never read the book, so I summarized it for her. Regarding her situation, what seemed important is this: love came to Adam and Eve 7000 years ago, and the selfish personalities that had dominion over the earth for the prior billions of years know that they have lost the battle. That means that they have nothing to lose, and they have set out to make the end as painful as possible. It’s upon the poor that the burden falls most heavily.

As she gathered her purse, Cher thanked me, sharing that she was in a much better place than before I came by. It was almost alarming, being told that she refused to get out of bed when her daughter reported that I wasn’t with the service crew. But she needed to eat, and found herself pulled to the curb just before I showed up.

She is shifting her hopes to me, and I know that I can’t respond. It appears that a phone will run at least $200, and who knows how much it will take to get her vehicle road-worthy. Her social security check arrives on the 3rd, but even now she’s eating noodles.

And through her I see millions more.

Last time I saw her, I told her that I just wanted her to see herself as God sees her – as a bright light shining in the darkness. She shared that she had meditated on that yesterday morning. I shared the story of Peter on the water, and she admitted that she didn’t have much faith in herself, either – time and again she had sabotaged herself.

I don’t know that she can be rescued in this life, but as I drove away, a passage from Revelation came to me. It comes in the chapters that describe the suffering brought to humanity by tyrannical government, and the loving response of the Lamb. Chapter 14 ends:

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

Would that have any meaning to her, this abandoned American citizen, hoping that someone from among God’s saints will provide for her? When the body is abandoned, what strength is there in a promise of salvation for the soul? I have confronted that recently, I was moved to reject spiritual compromise. But while not rich, I have physical security and comfort. She has been without for ten years. What does that do to a soul? Can she still feel God’s hand reaching down to her?

Exhaustion

So, here I am again, woken at 3 AM in the morning by the narcissists that run the company that employs me. They’ve tied my compensation to acquiescence to their industrial ambitions, and won’t take “no” for an answer.

When my boss told me two months ago that he wanted me out of the company, I memorialized the conversation, and ended up in a scrum that included the owner and the HR manager. Offered control of the agenda, I chose compensation as the topic. At one point, I asked the owner whether he could characterize the value that I brought to the company. He stammered, and then admitted, “Well, perhaps I know more about other parts of the company that I know about your area.”

He has no idea what my contribution is worth, and interprets his ability over nine years to avoid that understanding not as a testament to my value and virtue, but as a reason to ignore them. In fact, my boss is his fair-haired child, a man that the owner sees as driven and strong enough to ensure success in the competitive world of commerce.

To clarify the emotional context that drove my concerns, I shared that my father had passed two years ago, and that I had been living in proximity to my mother in Westlake Village until rent increases had forced me to move away. The owner interrupted me, stating that others had come to him with family issues to demand higher pay, and he had the same response for me: my family issues were my problem. He had a “family” of more than a hundred employees to consider.

To demonstrate his sacrifice, he tendered a letter of offer for his business. He said that he didn’t really need it any more, and I was tempted to tear the envelope in two. My family is eight billion people. The mind that I occupy took three billion years to create, and will survive long after the sun has annihilated the earth and with it all material evidence of human accomplishment.

Our mind is worth more than his company. It is worth more than all the businesses in the world. There is no price sufficient to purchase a billet of entry. The qualifications for entry are the compassion, tenderness, and awe that guide those responsible enough to walk in the temple of the Most High without corrupting his Creation.

Those aren’t typical in those unable to recognize and honor virtue when they see it. I shouldn’t have to think twice about being close enough to support my mother. I shouldn’t have to think twice about flying out to Texas to support the survivors of our most recent mass shooting. If they recognized that, the executive team at my company would be bending over backwards to garner the benefits of awareness among those that receive my love that “I work at Advanced Motion Controls in Camarillo, California.”

Healing Touch

After Dance Tribe on Sunday, I stopped in to sit with a sick friend.

Reclining against the arm of his sofa, he motioned for me to take the armchair. I took the last pillow on the couch and put a hand on his shoulder. He got up to take a pain pill and we watched football, interrupted by two calls from ladies that love him.

Again I put my hand on his shoulder, then worked my way around to his neck on the side where the cancer was eating at his jaw. He sat up, giving me another twenty seconds to feel his spirit, then arose abruptly to set up a massage table. As he placed a sheet and pillow, I rolled a stool out from under the counter. He climbed onto the table, draping a blanket over his legs, and laced his fingers across his breastbone, waiting.

I had told him that I had come to get his head out of the way of the parts that were working toward healing: his heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. As I felt around, touching him gently, my right hand eventually came to rest along the right side of his head, fingers behind the ear.

I saw then the scene he had described before: the noose choking him as he grieved for his people and land.

The evil eating still at him.

I had advised him that many sacred beings stood in attendance to aid him in his struggle, and I did nothing for those twenty minutes other than facilitate the introductions. They gathered under my palms and fingertips, secure as I felt around in the corruption until safe harbor was found.

He relaxed completely, patient with my intuitive explorations. It was only at the end that I hooked my fingertips under the choking circle and widened it, lifting it over his head twice. Remnants remained – the connection to those others that had suffered with him, a connection that he needed to strengthen to transmit the pattern of healing.

I admitted: “I think that I need to allow you to process what you’ve received. Is it OK if I leave now?”

Dear friend, what an honor it is to support your struggle to bring light into the world.

Relax into Peace

Tired of the politics of commercial software development, I’ve started looking for simpler options. The first thought was counseling or therapy, but I see five years of study before I can do that professionally, which leaves me only five years to pay off student loans.

So I went out to the Peace Corps site and found that they’re looking for physics instructors in Guinea. That’s seems really simple: nothing exchanged except knowledge and sustenance; no substantial compensation that seems to give people the idea that they should be allowed to tromp around in the garden of my mind.

The only catch is that the community is francophone. I took a year of French in college, thirty-five years ago, which is almost a loss. Happily, when my sons took French in high-school, I purchased a license to TellMeMore and began working through the lessons. I’ve picked it up with renewed enthusiasm now.

It will be a haul: ten courses of forty hours each. In the first week, I made it through half of the first course, which is material that I remember fairly well.

The effort is in the dictation. TellMeMore has voice recognition. Even English diction is a hazard for me: spending all day doing abstract reasoning has made my brain unbalanced, and that shows in my facial musculature. The left side is lazy.

I remember working hard in French during college, and I do mean physically. Jaws, lips and cheeks became tired from the contortions required to approximate the nasal vowels and the consonants. Again in that mode, TellMeMore kept complaining that it was having trouble with my audio equipment. On a scale of seven, I had trouble making even three, the minimum passing score.

The dictation sessions were the slowest part of the lessons.

I finally realized that French is all about vowels. This was gathered by comparing my sound profiles with the reference recordings. This improved my scores somewhat, but I still had trouble with the transitions between vowels and consonants. In particular, the consonants caused me to close my throat, which made it hard to get the vowels going again. Certain passages made me gag.

So: keep the throat open, which means dropping my tongue at the back of my palette, relaxing the jaw and letting the front half of my tongue form the consonants. And then this shift happened, with a frission that normally indicates that I’m working with other people: let the back of the throat roll from vowel to vowel, the consonants only interjecting rather than interrupting.

And I begin to sound like I’m speaking French.

It will be charming if this also improves my English diction. I’ll find out at work tomorrow.

What Happened in Vegas

I drove out to Vegas last night, getting in around midnight. After taking a room in the Mandalay Bay hotel, I walked down to the victim’s memorial on Las Vegas Blvd, finally turning in around 2 AM. I woke at 6 AM, unable to rest, and began the work that I was sent to do.

Touching the 58 crosses this morning, I was astonished by the number of young women. From some came peace and acceptance – from others the mourning of the family and communities from which they had been ripped.

That number was repeated at the Church of the Sacred Redeemer at noon. The celebrant mentioned the 58 several times.

But there weren’t only 58 dead. It’s just that one is dismissed as unworthy of concern.

Reading of Paddock’s writhing and moaning in bed, I understood his struggle. We used to talk about the “bad seed” or say the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Paddock’s father transmitted a spirit of violence to him. Today, many that suffer that initiation choose not to have children for fear that they will infect them as well. Paddock may have not had children for that very reason.

At Love Returns, I write of the Earth as a honey pot that trapped selfish personalities, enabled Micha-el and his cohorts to cast them out of heaven. Rejected, they rage against humanity here on earth, driving us into self-destructive behaviors.

What I realized, as I drove without rest for five hours on Sunday night, is that they are now trapped in our minds in the same way. If we focus our will carefully, we can blow them up.

In controlling their victims, one of the memes used by demons is that God has abandoned them. I went out to Las Vegas to love our enemy – to redeem the only soul that was in doubt. For those that can’t put the pieces together, that may be for the best.

But I will testify as to this: the grace and forgiveness of the Father is unlimited. Every spirit that falls and is redeemed blazes a trail through human nature. When we peer into their darkness, they see a light shining down on them. It’s important not to leave them there alone.