Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Yes, Minister

A funny thing happened to me today shortly after starting my day.  But to back up a bit first.  

Shortly after arriving back in my old home town, after having been way from it for well over fifty years - ever since leaving my home base in life1 to go into the Army for my two-year obligatory 'tour of duty,' of military service in the Draft of the day,2  and then moving on from there into other pastures - and taking up residence in the close-to-the-beach apartment that I have been living in to this day, just over a year now, I happened to be engaged in a short conversation by a fellow who lives a few doors down from me.  I say 'to be engaged in,' rather than 'to engage in,' because I didn't initiate it.  I am being rather reclusive in my life now; with intent.  Not to be 'standoffish'.  Just - private.  With my thoughts.  And wonder, as to what to do next.  On my mission, in life.  To further my reason for being here at this time.  This propitious - this Grand Round-climaxing - time.  

And further to the brief conversation I had with my neighbor:3 I didn't realize that it would be prologue to my being hit up for a fiver, 'until (his) retirement check pay day'.  And then a tenner.  And then it got up to about twenty dollars, before I began to balk.  I found myself having to tell him straight out that I didn't want anybody being dependent on me, in their lives.  That it was against my 'religion', so to speak.  I couched it in socio-political terms - that I was very much a conservative, in that sort of regard; definitely not a 'liberal', with other people's money.  And he got the message; and promised to pay me the twenty dollars when he got his Disability check.4  And in the event, paid me back only half of what he owed me.  

Which should have been the end of my career as a short-term, interest-free loan agent.  But he gave me such a sob story - about overdraft surcharges, and so forth - that I relented; and he has gone into hock with me again, periodically, though with firm, and communicated, awareness on his part that I will brook no more 'halfsies' in the repayments, come his government-check day.

(Geez.  How did I ever get involved in all this sort of thing?  I am so against the welfare state mentality.  Don't want to encourage it, don't want to have anything to do with it.  It is downright immoral...etc. etc.)

I am saying, and sharing, all this for two reasons.  One is that I have become aware that in (somewhat) overlooking 'what is right in front of' me, in order to concentrate on my 'spirituality', I am acting out an old mystery-school lesson, that I should have learned by now.  It came to us at the 'New Age spiritual community'  where, just before returning to my old hometown, I had spent nearly half of my adult life,5 in the form of a lecture by one Paul Solomon, an American ordained minister (Baptist) who had a 'mental' experience - somewhat like Edgar Cayce - that caused him to take a different tack in his life, and do such things as give lectures on interesting spiritual, rather than religious, subjects.  One was this one: the story of a young mystery-school acolyte who was on his way one day to the daily lecture by the spiritual abbot of the school when he noticed a mop and bucket that had been left in the hallway through which he was making his way to his lecture, and spiritual message.  He clucked to himself about the messiness, and the poor quality of the hired help, and went on his way.  Only to see, the next day, the same mop and bucket, left out in the same place…you get the picture, as to what it took the mystery-school acolyte to hear directly from his teacher to get: that our lessons are right in front of us, in our daily lives. 

Mop up the mess that is right in front of you.  Time enough for 'the details' to be ironed out later.6  

The other reason is because of something that he said today when he knocked on my (mid-day) door.7  He had come to clarify that he would be paying me back the nineteen dollars that he owes me on Saturday at 1pm - since he will be getting his monthly bleed from 'the government'  by then - and could he borrow another fiver, just until then, when he will pay me back twenty-five dollars??  "If you will," I said; to which he assented.  But it was what he said then that caught my attention.  (Not so much the interest that he had unilaterally tacked on to his repayment figure.)  "By the way, Stan," he said, as I was handing over the object of his visit; "I understand from (our landlady) that you are a minister." 

No, I  replied; curious.  

"Oh.  She said you were a minister."

I replied - having quickly thought about the matter - that I must have told her that I had been living in a spiritual community in Scotland before I came back here "to retire in my old hometown", and perhaps had even added that I had led workshops there.  Satisfied - with everything to do with having knocked on my door8 -  he left.  But it set me to thinking.  

Am I a minister??

Interesting question.  At one stage I was going to become a minister; after my 'spiritual experience' at university - that set me on the 'alternative' path in life that I have taken - and come back to school for the last year of my undergraduate scholarship and study original source materials in earnest, to get to the bedrock truth of matters.  But something told me to leave formal education and go out and seek answers elsewhere.  So I did.  So, back to the question:

Am I a minister???    

Well; of sorts.  For example.  I don't smoke or drink;9 so I set 'an example' of 'clean living' there.  Oh, and I bless my food.  Yes; even as a scientifically-minded, well-educated10 adult. 

I remember 'it' well.  I was living in northern California at the time.  Well; the Bay Area.  (But 'northern'  to us if-not-born-at-least-bred Southern Californians.  A subject that I have already touched on herein.)  And I had just had it with living in the secular world, and decided to explore the world of renunciation; figuring that that would be closer to my soul's call, for - whatever.  Peace of mind.  Actually: Change; dammit…and I arranged to spend a Retreat weekend at a former Trappist monastery, further north.  It  was still nominally Trappist, but under the general liberalizing influence that the Catholic Church had been going through, since its Vatican Two Council, or whatever the name, the monastic order had dropped its vow of silence.  Anyway, it spoke to me, at the time; and off I went.  And while there, I started contemplating on bringing more awareness into my daily life; more consciousness, of my daily undertakings.  And the first thing that came to me was to acknowledge, and appreciate more, my 'daily bread'.  And it was there that I came up with a prayer blessing of my food - with my hands cupped over my meal; long story - that has stayed with me ever since.  Every meal, I acknowledge, and invoke:

'May the strength that I will derive from this food be used in serving Thee; and may I proceed in health and happiness and holiness.'11  And here I pause a bit - to let that invocation land - and then I continue (because it didn't/doesn't feel like 'enough' with which to engage the energy of the food): 'Now let the vibratory rate of this food be such as to draw me closer to Thee; and in all things, let not my will but Thine be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Even so.  Amen.'  Sometimes I vary the closure and, instead, invoke: 'So be it';  having discovered that 'Amen' relates to an Egyptian god; which gets into the whole messy research thing about the real roots of Christianity.  But, for whatever reason, I usually round my invocation off with the classic version of such things.

The point is: 

So yes, maybe I could be considered a sort of minister.  

Not ordained.

Except directly.  



1 Not 'born and bred' here.  We moved here - my mom, her newish husband, my (older) brother and I - the summer I had finished second grade.  Pearl Harbor had just happened the previous December, and - it turned out; I didn't know the reason at the time - our mother, who had lived in the area for a short while (just after having me, as it so happened to be), had talked her small-Idaho-town half-owner of a Ford-franchise husband to move where there would be really good money in the shipyards of Long Beach harbor.  But here is what I call home.  Having lived here in two different houses; pre-divorce and post-mistress, and with my brother being kicked out to go live with our father in northern California when he hit his teenage stride as a hotshot with 'the girls' and became too much for our mother to handle.  
     But that's all another story.  Just, here, to clarify that a lot of us Southern Californians didn't start out our lives here, rather, assumed the identity on the way.  And it is a real identity.  Hence the capitalizing of the 's'. 

2 most of which I spent, in South Korea, not exercising my training as a Medic, but exercising my interest in writing; in this case, writing Soldier Shows, and operating a desk as the Special Services Guy in the Seventh Division, organizing, for the troops in my (far-flung) area of responsibility, the touring entertainment acts from back home in the States (read the likes of Red Skelton and Bob Hope, and lesser mortals) and the homegrown shows put on by the Koreans themselves, to make some money off of the UN, mostly U.S., troops occupying their country in a friendly way.  My Medic training was due to my classification as a c.o., i.e., a conscientious objector; another, though related, story to this one.  

3 I also haven't had much to do with any of the other of my neighbors, in this 'one-street' complex; we all keep pretty much to ourselves.  Such is life, to a considerable extent, in post-nuclear-family America

4  For what, I haven't asked.  He has shared that he is on some sort of medication, so it is a mental thing.  Which fits, with his overall appearance.          

5 and another chunk of my adult life - nearly eight years - was spent overseas, in a relationship, living Down Under, on the ancient continent of what we Homo sapiens sapiens now call Australia.  But that's all another story.  Or two.  

6 I have a little more sympathy for my neighbor, in recalling this 'lesson' from my many adult years in my latter-day mystery school; only to find the lessons 'arranged' in said school - of life itself - ongoing.

7 He has learned my life rhythm: that I don't answer my door until mid-day.  I stay up late, monitoring, and contributing to, the Internet - like this blog - and get up late.

8 He knew when became that he wasn't guaranteed a 'soft touch,' because once before he had come to my door and I had to tell him - leaving him looking terribly crestfallen, as though his last chance in life had fallen down on him - that I didn't have any money (I had first to go to the hole in the wall that magically produces twenty-dollar bills), but that I would give him a can of beans and a can of mackeral - my 'prep food' - if he was totally out of food.  He didn't take them; but he took away with him the hint, that I couldn't always be counted on.  
     Which is what I hoped he would get, through all our interactions.  And what I had in fact shared with him once, about my philosophy in life, as to why this business of him relying on me went against my grain: that I needed, for myself, to be self-reliant, and didn't want to be involved in seducing anybody else from maintaining that standard for themselves.  
     And thus he could well have thought - from my little homily for that day - that I was a minister.   And thus ended the lesson, on my front door stoop… 

9 I used to smoke.  Years ago.  As a habit that I had picked up whilst in the 'Service'.  More out of restlessness, and nervousness - over not doing what I was supposed to be doing in life, dammit; whatever that was precisely -  than anything else.  No real satisfaction in it.  And which addiction I had been able to kick overnight, when some entrepreneur came out on the market - with much full-page-ad fanfare - with little water-filled filters ('like the Turkish water filters'), which made my cigarettes taste so bad that it took only a couple of the filters for me to break my habit - and permanently.
     As for being 'a drinker', I was not much of one.  Again, I had had a little to drink in the Service - and a couple of blackout experiences had put a halt to that.  (I didn't like not being 'in charge' of myself.)  At my spiritual community, I would have the occasional glass of wine (red; for health purposes, doncha know) with the special Friday night dinner.  But even with being in the 'homeland' of whisky - Scotland; and 'the spirits' spelled their way - I never imbibed.  Perhaps my having been born in and grown up in the Mormon Church had a fair bit to do with it all; whose members don't even drink tea, as I recall.  But I was never a 'full-blown' Mormon - having difficulties with some of its teachings - and grew up in a household where my mom (my parents had divorced when I was still in diapers) had liquor in a kitchen cabinet, for entertaining purposes, and drank to some extent.  She even tried to get me interested in coffee, and I couldn't stand the taste of the stuff, and didn't even become a drinker of that.  Coming back to my old hometown (and I am aware of how many times I have used that expression.  I think not accidentally), in its hot spring and summer, I started having a beer with my evening meal.  But then health matters intervened.  Not so much over the alcohol factor (beer isn't all that terrible in that area).  But because I realized that, though I didn't drink the tap water, mostly because of the fluoride (don't get me started'), and even went to the trouble of finding - filially - a toothpaste that didn't have that poison in it, I was drinking beer that I didn't know whereof they sourced their water, and it was most probably fluoridated.  So I stopped even that limited version of being a drinker.
     I have toyed with the idea that perhaps drinking Heinekens would avoid the fluoride factor; with most of Europe being non-fluoridated.  But I haven't gotten around yet this summer to checking that matter out.  Perhaps because I don't really crave the stuff.  Am happy with my o.j., and my newly-discovered Naked veggie and fruit drinks, and the recent addition to my imbiber's repertoire, of V8 cocktail.  M-m good.  M-m good.  That's what V8 Juice is: M-m good.  (With apologies to Campbell's Soups.)

10 three years at Stanford University - 'the Harvard of the West', to which I had won a scholarship.  Pre-Med studies; studied hard - a B+ average for my first two years  - to make it into Medical School.  Until a funny thing happened to me on the way, in the middle of Junior year; and I ended up dropping out, of my formal education, to start a lifelong search for Truth.  Small 't' and capital 't'.
     Another story.  But part of this one, too.   

11 I tried for awhile varying that last word with 'wholeness'; trying to bring that concept into the equation.  But I found that, for some reason, my mind would prefer to kick up for me the word, and invocation, of 'holiness'.  And who am I to argue with these sorts of things.

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