Category Archives: Christmas

What more could I say, Today?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  as expressed by Sha’Tara]

When I dare myself to write about the concept of compassion, what am I thinking?  What am I feeling?  What are my motives?

I thought I should enter into that monologue, it’s crucially important, I think.

Check: trying to impress?
I looked at that possibility, for pride is one of those vices adept at boldly walking through unlocked back doors or slinking through a partially open window, picking the most comfortable chair in the sitting room and saying, “Ah, this is home.”  I have had my days, long ago, when this was the case.  I have known popularity and experienced a degree of “fandom” which people smarter than I exploited.  Pride sustained me… and damn near killed me.  So today I can unequivocally say, “No, it is not pride that is driving my thoughts and desires now.”  I can’t work with pride.  It hurts me whenever it hovers near.

Check: the need to be believed?
There is no denying that “to be believed” is a powerful motivator.  I could easily change how I approach the subject of compassion in ways that bring individuals into my own created wake of thoughts, and locally, into my commitments and deeds.  I could start a group, a movement, register a “charitable” organization, raise money, etc.  Not difficult when you know how and you’ve been trained in it.  So I take a long and deep look at my motives and again I can say, I’ve been there; so many have been there, gained a following, and for what?  Did those followers benefit at all?  Did their lives change when they became followers?  Not at all.  A follower is just that.  A follower remains unempowered and worse, becomes more dis-empowered, filled with self-doubts.

Check: the hope that I can be the cause of palpable change?
That sounds quite altruistic, doesn’t it?  I could claim, “not for me, but for the good of (fill in the blanks)” and what comes next if I discover that yes, I did cause some change?  The unavoidable Siren call for more.  Success, however small, calls for more success.  It’s the System, how it works.  The Matrix doesn’t care if you do good or evil, it’s all the same when it becomes personal, and important.  Note that word: important.  Once we reach some level of importance, it becomes self-importance: there’s that hubris.  I may not acknowledge that I care, but everything in me, and around me, will demand that I produce more of this success.  Inevitable.  So, do I want to see palpable change from my own words or deeds?  No, not ever.  It is not for me to see it, or hear of it.

Check: the “need” to feel special, holy, superior?
Good question.  Why do I leave working for myself, eschew gainful work to go help a stranger in need who can’t afford to repay me?  What’s really behind that?  I have been a very religious person and I remember what was lurking behind my “good deeds” then.  There always was an agenda.  I wasn’t primarily helping, I was fishing for conversions.  There is only one word to describe that: hypocrisy.  The sin of the “Pharisees” in the gospels, but we were very good at hiding that from our own motivation.  So, do I want to feel those things?  I do feel them, sure, but I can state truthfully that I reject those feelings.  I am not special, “holy” or superior.  I am a servant with no other title.  I know this and I accept that this self-chosen path is the only way I will ever come to a blending of personality with compassion.

What has this changed life demonstrated to me over the last decades?  That every day can be “Christmas” in the giving sense.  I learned what giving is all about, and what it does to me.  So… I give, and give, and give and am I depleted, either of resources or personal energy?  Not at all.  I am like a tree planted at the edge of a great desert, growing tall and strong because every night an “angel” comes and pours water over my roots.  That “angel” is compassion and in time he and I will become as one and it is I who will carry the watering can that never empties.

There is no denying that I “want” something; that I have an agenda.  But what I have chosen to desire can in no way cause harm to anyone or anything else – while I am fully engaged in my quest.  Compassion is as superior to all other “virtues” as “heaven” would be from “hell.”  Many would, and will, deny this.  They will bring up “love” as another means of changing oneself, or the world.  Perhaps they will bring up other “virtues” to challenge my claim that only compassion can work without harming.  Only compassion.

How is compassion different from love which is considered the greatest of all virtues?  Only those who have made their purpose to literally become compassion can know the simple answer to that.  For others it must remain words, semantics, and their endless interpretations.  For all others, no explanation can ever satisfy, or be acceptable.

Check:  compassion is self-empowered.  It is a “stand alone” program that once fully integrated into the individual, becomes its sole operating system.  Compassion does not come surrounded by a bevy of other virtues.   Compassion is not reciprocal – those who talk about these things seem to completely miss, or ignore, this crucial point.  It means that compassion requires no support from anything or anyone.  It needs no confirmation.  It has absolutely no expectation of any positive or even negative, results.  A compassionate individual doesn’t care about results; doesn’t need affirmation or confirmation.   She just “does it” because that is her nature.   Will she be praised, ignored, reviled?  None of that matters.  Goddess-earth1

Let me quote from one of the Teachers, again:  “When none of it matters, it will all be yours.” (YLea of the WindWalkers)  They never explained this, and that was long before I decided I would be an avatar of compassion.  I simply did not know there was a connection but now I do.  None of “it” matters to me, and now I know what “it will all be yours” means.  It means taking responsibility for all of it.  It means to allow myself to be turned inside out and become an empath.  It means becoming a compassionate human and no turning back, whatever comes.

What more could I say, today?  Through a willingness to “serve” without asking questions I have become a gift unto myself.  A sobering thought, that.

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Another Gift of the Magi (part 3)

Near the end of that year her body finally gave out and she remained bedridden.  Ariana spent as much time as she could spare comforting her and listening to some of her experiences in the world of high class prostitution.  Sometimes they could be heard bursting out in laughter, followed by Sylvia’s terrible coughing fits.  Surprisingly, and perhaps not so surprisingly, during that year some of Sylvia’s clients who had helplessly fallen in love with her, traced her to the hospice and she was permitted to receive them.  There were strange tearful reunions and many a new anonymous donation appeared in the “Hope Fund”.

The week before Christmas was the hardest.  Sylvia labored for breath and could not eat.  Fed intravenously, she was slipping fast.  Christmas Eve came and she couldn’t hold any longer.  Ariana came in and saw that the battle was over.  She reached down and held the frail, wasted body of her sister and said: 

“Remember our vow – no matter what the circumstances, we would always spend Christmas day together?  You have to hold on tonight.  You have to celebrate the birth of our Lord with me tomorrow.  You can’t break your vow.  You can’t!”

Sylvia understood.  She held on and passed away in the evening of December 25.  Ariana looked out the window into the city night.  Snow had fallen all day and everything was covered in white.  Street lights reflected their pale luster upon store fronts decorated with various aspects of the kind of commercial Christmas the world has come to accept as normal.  For a brief moment the city, attired in a virgin’s white hid her ugliness.  Ariana thought it fitting that it would make an effort and put on a white mantle for the passage of her sister’s soul.  Above the city, between high-rise escarpments, Ariana saw a couple of stars twinkling in the cold night.  Only then did she allow the floodgates of sorrow from her heart to open and she cried silently, for a long time.

A year went by.  Things returned to their normal madness in the hospice.  Sister Celeste drove herself even more now, but learned to ease up on the younger postulant nuns and things ran smoothly.  On Christmas Eve she found herself alone in her small office in the old house that served as rooming house for nuns and postulants, and office for the hospice next door.  She had done her final rounds to ensure that all was under control there under the night shift. 

The old house felt terribly empty as those not serving in the hospice had gone home to their families to celebrate Midnight Mass and Christmas day.  She pulled out her rosary, thought of Mother Teresa doing the same thing and smiled to herself as she looked out her office window into the night sky filled with grey clouds that presaged more snow on Christmas day.  

The beads of the rosary slipped silently through her fingers from years of practice.  She thought of Sylvia and tried to imagine the kind of life she was now having.  Pangs of sorrow, regret and emptiness hit her.  Had her foolish dream, however well it had turned out, been the cause of her sister’s death?  She shook her head as she prayed through the rosary.  “I cannot entertain such thoughts.  It is wrong. Sylvia and I were as one and she made a choice that I would have made had our positions been reversed.  She chose her life of sacrifice, not just for me, but for the people here, for the city, for the world.  We both did, and found what we wanted most.”

The front door buzzer brought her out of her meditation.  She checked the monitor.  Two men, unshaven, poorly dressed and obviously hungry and cold, stood at the door.  Compassion moved her heart as she looked at them and in violation of an unbreakable rule she had made, against all common sense, got up and went to open the door.  She invited the men inside and as she turned to lead them out a side door to to the hospice cafeteria, they grabbed her, threw her to the floor and raped her at knife point.  Then the one with the knife plunged it in her heart several times.

As Ariana lay dying, her blood-soaked hands holding her punctured chest, she whispered, “I forgive you…!”  Her final thought from this side of the veil was, “As promised, I’ll be with you for Christmas, sister.”

It is not given to us to see beyond this point.  Death guards his territory with terrible jealousy.  His reasoning, often tragic to us, remains impenetrable.  We cannot investigate further; we can but speculate on the fate of those who “cross the bar” and never return.  Some will think, heaven, and some will think, there is no more to the story.  That is how it should be but regardless of our belief choices, it is given to us to have the mental means to contemplate the lives of people such as these two sisters; their motivation and the results from such sacrificial offerings to us and our world. 

The story is fictitious, certainly, but how many real lives provide the flesh and blood background for stories such as this one?  My question, as always, is: can we take ourselves beyond just admiration and perhaps temporary sadness?  Is there some food here for us? Something to move us to better ourselves and take new steps, however hesitant, towards becoming compassionate beings? Surely, anyone who has read the story to the end must realize such are not given to us simply to entertain, or bring out a few temporary tears, as beneficial as such may be to our eyes strained by the harsh glare of consumerism. 

 I do not easily give Christmas wishes for to the degree that I understand the concept I strive to live without hypocrisy.  However, I will do this: on behalf of Sylvia and Ariana, cast out any darkness from your hearts during this time and do give yourselves, one and all, a merry Christmas!

Another Gift of the Magi

(Short story from The Other Side  by Sha’Tara)

(According to my trusty old MS Word, this short story is five pages long.  Therefore, so as not to take up too much of your time, I’m posting it in three “installments.”  Some of the title is of course borrowed from the famous Christmas short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.  A simplistic short story written to demonstrate the spirit of Christmas; also the joys and real dangers inherent to self empowerment.)

Ariana and Sylvia were twins and they were inseparable.  They did most things together and were seldom found far from each other.  Even as they grew older, they shared their times and even their friends.  When their parents divorced, they were ten years old.  In their innocent wisdom, they decided to “share” themselves between the parents.  Sylvia went with her dad and Ariana remained with her mother.  So every time the girls wanted to be together one parent or the other had to bring her over.  Thus, over a period of time, and even after they were re-married, the parents developed a deep friendship as they watched their children playing or talking together.

After their parents separated, both girls, raised nominally Catholic, began to consider their faith and returned to the Church, attending and helping organize various functions.  They shared the same intense belief in what the Church stood for.

Both grew into beautiful young women and over-achievers.  They were heading to college when Ariana told her sister that she had decided to enter the convent and become a nun. 

“I want to try on Mother Teresa’s shoes Sylvia, see how they fit and how long I can walk in them before they kill me!”  Mother Teresa had been their childhood heroine.

Being Catholic, entering the convent was not an issue.  Men and women were both desperately needed by the Church.  Sylvia cried when her sister put on the veil and became Sister Celeste.  She accepted her sister’s choice as they had always accepted each other’s choices.  Sylvia went to college then on to university intent on getting a medical degree.

After a few years Ariana, now Sister Celeste, confided her passion to Sylvia as they spent a Christmas day afternoon together. 

“I want to open a hospice for the homeless downtown.  It’s my dream, Syl.  It’s my passion, my inspiration.” 

“And how does your Order and the Church feel about that?” 

“If I can get private funding to open it and keep it going and convince at least four other sisters to join me, they’ll bless it.  Problem is, I don’t have any contacts I could use to raise the money.” 

“How much money do you need to start?” 

“I need at least one hundred thousand dollars to open.  I’ve got a tentative tender on a lease already.  After that, I don’t know.” 

Sylvia took her sister’s hands in hers and looking into her eyes, said: “Has God ever failed either of us, sister?”

“No, never.”  she replied, smiling.

“Then go ahead.  Do this and you will get the money… I promise!”

They talked some more.  That day they swore an oath to each other, that no matter what the circumstances, no matter the distance, they would always spend Christmas day together. 

Silvia sold her new car.  She broke her engagement and when he told her to keep the ring, she sold that.  She maxed her student loans and canvassed the campus and all her well-heeled friends.   A few weeks later, near the end of January, Sister Celeste received a call from the bank where she had opened her “hope account” for the hospice.  There was a one hundred thousand dollar anonymous donation in the account.

Ariana opened her hospice and from the very start it was a success.  A brilliant manager and tireless, she drove her staff and herself to meet the needs of the homeless.  Abandoned children were found temporary homes; pregnant girls were sheltered and placed here and there.  The sick and the dying found a place of refuge there — a warm place, not an institution.  She was often heard saying, “Unfortunately, our business is probably the busiest in town.  We’ll never go broke from lack of customers.”

(end part 1 of 3)

Christmas, Spare me your Good Wishes

                            [thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

I was born and raised in a very Christian environment.  It wasn’t American, even Canadian, it was European, actually, Breton.  That’s a conquered Celtic province in the northwest of France that was once an independent duchy with its own royalty.  The last royal was a queen, Anne de Bretagne.  Her husband, fearing for his life, deserted her.  Hoping for a male heir, she had several children, all of them girls.  Finally, in order to save her country from being destroyed in bloodshed by the French, she abdicated and let the French take over.  There was no choice, you see.  She then entered a convent, so the story goes.  That was, like 700 years ago. Thought I’d throw that in. It’s my history, in the genes, the DNA, the bones.  Another story of another conquered race by another empire.  How many of us understand this, know this, feel this?

Most of “my” people today don’t remember, don’t want to know don’t care.  Like so many, they just want to live, get the best they can from what’s left of “the empire” or “the corporation” and make it to the end with some sort of value attached: a house, an apartment, a car, a family, some retirement money, anything that says, I mean something, I’m worth something… or… I won’t be living on the street when I reach 70.  Like me.  I sort of own a house.  It’s mortgaged, of course, but I can cover the monthly “rental” from the bank, as long as there is enough money to cover all the other expenses of owning a house, and a vehicle, and… you know what?  It’s all shit.

We are slaves.  Face it, admit it, and stop long enough to really feel your feelings when you realize it: I’m a slave.  I’m not in iron chains, my owners wouldn’t spring for the cost of chains, plus they’d slow me down on the assembly line.  I’m a slave to the ATM, the debit card and the credit card.  I’m a slave because I was stupid enough to believe those who taught me to be a good citizen; to trust, to work hard, to berate myself if I lost a job or failed to secure a new one, or two, or three on permanent part-time minimum wage no benefits basis.

I left the church, of course, long ago.  I couldn’t afford it.  I can’t make ends meet now, why would I worry about eternal life insurance?  Screw that.  If God is that cheap, maybe I don’t want to ever meet him.  At least hell has warmth and when the power is cut off and the gas is turned off in the middle of winter, some time in hell with a drove of old friends doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.  I’m sure we’ll come up with ways to make the best of a tough situation.  Are you kidding?  We’re from earth, we can party in the middle of a bombing raid; fuck while the shooting in the streets rages; hold a sub-machine gun at the ready while burying our youngest child.  We can hold our tears for another, more convenient time; we can let someone else shed them for us while we busy ourselves with our necessary vengeance.

Yes, I know all about heaven and hell, I was suckled on the concepts.  Hell, that terrible place of eternal burning torment designed by God for those who wouldn’t kiss his divine ass.  Heaven, that blissful place of eternal whiteness.  Ice and snow and winds blowing through taut harp strings from which moans of music flows.  Angels in white gowns and white wings frozen stiff as garden statues, standing on frozen white clouds and ghosts, billions of ghosts whom, after spending their life’s savings buying eternal life insurance got into heaven and remain there, bowed in frozen worship before the grimmest gargoyed deity, its grin carved in eternal green-hued ice.

Heaven, where nothing bad ever happens because nothing can ever happen.  Sick.

Being raised in Christian beliefs isn’t my problem.  My problem is that once upon a time I learned to read and I found a Bible and I read it.  I read the horror of it and the promises of it, the lies of it and the truths of it.  In my child’s heart, I only saw the truth, and I wanted that more than anything else.  Christmas and Easter were particularly poignant times, times of hope and times of utter despair.  Christmas didn’t tell me about a god being born to save my soul, it told me about man’s cruelty to man, particularly to the poor.  The ensuing story of a young man helping people and teaching them to love each other as best he knew how was my hope.  But the “church” caught up to the young man before he had a chance and they crucified him just as effectively as it crucified my child’s heart.  They had collusion and help of the government and the banks, as usual, and as now, just as my church had the help of the school and the village to crush my hopes of a just society.  Sick.

I thought, well, they just missed it and all I have to do is remind them that the Jesus they claim to love and follow actually would condemn them all in a heartbeat if he’d showed up in any of their fancy decorated churches with the fancy choirs and music and siren-song sermons purporting to be all about him.  Gag me, yes really.  I did tell them the truth of it, showed them the written words.  They did not repent, just made sure I paid for my effrontery.  Don’t… Ever… Question… the Status Quo.  There were punishments, that goes without saying.  Sick.

From his times on things didn’t get better, they got worse.  I watched it through my own eyes as they roamed the last two thousand years of history to culminate in today’s current events.  That land where the young man walked, taught and did his miracles is a land of oppression and bloodshed, the war crimes and genocide taking place there aided and abetted by those who claim to be that young man’s followers and disciples.  Depraved and sick.

Christmas, the absolute worst time of year.  Christmas, a time of extreme hedonism; of orgiastic pleasures, of blind self-indulgence and pathetic attempts at pretend love and charity with skinflint donations to charitable organizations whose bureaucracy eats up the lion’s share of donated funds to maintain themselves in luxury as tax-free business corporations.  Sick… sick… sick.

I’m glad that I found out some years ago that Earthians are not humans at all, they’ve just been conned into thinking they are.  Pseudo-humans the Teachers call them, with a slight chance of entering the human race in the distant future if they survive their own sickness, their greed, lust, hate, vanity, pride and egotism.  Survival, they said, remains in the very low percentile.  That should lighten my angst.  After all what’s dying and about to die is less worthy of care or concern than flora and fauna.  It’s nothing but a useless and life-sucking predatory species of artificial life.   Knowing the nature of Earthians should make it easier to bear my awareness of their current suffering and eventual demise.  It should, it does not.

What would drive me mad if I hadn’t entered into a different mindset than that of those who once were my peers?  The simple and obvious (to me) fact that being kind, gentle, caring, self-effacing, openly loving, open-handedly generous, self-sacrificing and ever compassionate is the greatest reward any Earthian can give her/himself.  There is no greater return on any kind of investment.  If only… if only they would get it.  If only they would just try it on for size and wait a bit for the amazement to cover them over like a mantle of blissful well-being.

But they won’t.  They will choose to consume themselves in consumerism and die of consuming consumption.  They will gorge themselves, laugh, make “love,” the richest giving each other redundant gifts that will be denigrated because more and better was expected.  Christmas, indeed, in deed.

There will be exceptions.  There always are.  They are necessary drops of oil on the cogs of the machine.  They will do some good, then they will give credit to their gods, their churches and their charitable organizations and whatever good they accomplished will pile up more propaganda (power) for the machine to create a greater circle of injustice.

Christmas: spare me your good wishes, they are a curse to the awakened mind.