Category Archives: Christmas

Why do we need to Define our Terms?

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

Sometimes, in trying to explain things, I know that I come across as annoying, or worse, dissing those wonderful time-honoured traditions and beliefs and “undefined” concepts that bring mental comfort in troubling times of discomfort. But why insist on well-worn concepts being defined, and re-defined, particularly at this time?

Which particular concepts? The standard “big” ones: faith, hope, love, miracles, peace, brotherhood, charity. There is never any lack of extolling of these “virtues” or events. Why can’t I go along with that?

Was it Plato who said, ‘The unexamined life isn’t worth living’? Why don’t we apply this to our great “positive” concepts we like so much to talk about, to bandy about, to shout from the streets in demonstrations, to paint on a sash or use as mission statements? How would that read? “The Unexamined Virtue isn’t worth Proclaiming!”

That to me is a truism. Why don’t we examine our virtues? Why don’t we demand of them that they function according to the claims we make of them, or for them? Take this time, somewhere between Christmas and New Year: peace is the leading contender in unexamined concepts. Peace, peace, peace, we write and say to one another.

Many years ago, I studied the Bible. As the world’s #1 best seller, I thought it deserved my time since so many people purportedly studied it. Here’s a passage guaranteed not to be called upon to illustrate any modern sermon. Harsh, more than harsh, but illustrative, oh yes! They call these “Jeremiads” remember? The ranting prophet, only problem is, he was right. Is the following truthful? Does it apply to us today?

Je. 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so that they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Je. 6:11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in. “Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years.

Je. 6:12 Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,” declares the LORD.

Je. 6:13 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practise deceit.

Je. 6:14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Je. 6:15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.

Whether it is “the LORD” or a corrupt and decadent system that brings “punishment” we know from history that said “punishment” is unavoidable, unless there is a collective 180 degree turn away from the current way of conducting “business” between people and the planet. Pay particular heed to Jeremiah’s complaint: “Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.” Isn’t that exactly the case right now? When someone wishes me “peace” in the tradition of this time, I feel sick at heart, knowing the greeting is not analyzed, not defined, not ground up in the crucible of awareness to be offered as a priceless and unblemished gem. In fact it comes in the opposite guise because it is unexamined in the light of current reality. To me, it is a curse.

For who are those so quick to offer ‘peace’ to each other or their neighbours? Those who would never define it for themselves. Those who use it as a feel good thing, a sort of dessert. A sort of magic formula. That traditional wave of the hand by the queen as she rattles by on the street in her fancy carriage and the exploited sheeple happily wave back in glowing subservience.

But there is another reality: that of wars of resources, exploitation, profit, extortion, lust; of racism and bigotry. From those wars come millions of refugees, and how easy it is to see how those who promote the wars, support the wars and do not suffer from the wars but rather profit from them, hardening themselves against the dispossessed. How easy it is to see how ‘the haves’ choose to make themselves comfortable with their world; to overlook the growing intensity of its evil agenda, perhaps hoping against hope that if they make deals with an evil system, the system in turn will leave them have their fake bit of peace.

Understand that when I use the term ‘the world’ I don’t mean this planet or its natural environment. What I mean (properly defined) is man’s global civilization. So, unless one has made a “public” statement of non-collusion with that civilization (I have, by the way, because I know what “the world” consists of) everyone is a bona fide member of ‘the world’ and functions as a representative, a promoter, a worshipper, an agent, a member, at the very least, an adjunct of said ‘world.’

Because they are unexamined in the light of today’s reality, all the great virtues bandied about become nothing but curses. What good does it do when passing by a starving child to wish her health and well-being; to say, “be fed and clothe and praise God for your life”? But when the relatively rich give each other wishes of health, happiness, peace and love, aren’t they in fact cursing the rest of the world that stares at a life they can never have; a life taken from them and that slips away from them in excruciating pain and sorrow? But not to worry, when it comes time to vote, it will always be “the rich” who will garner the majority votes and predictably in a fake system nothing will ever change except for the worse.  And predictably there will be a collective sigh of comfort when it is discovered it is the rich “Democrats” who won.  We can go back to ruling our Empire through hypocrisy and feel good about ourselves.

In closing, another very annoying biblical quote: Brother James, have at it!

Ja. 2:15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

Ja. 2:16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Ja. 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Here’s another from James:

“Ja. 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

Ja. 5:2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

Ja. 5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Ja. 5:4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Ja. 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. [Or yourselves as in a day of feasting]

Ja. 5:6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

Any truth in this yet? You see, it’s really all about definitions. The world creates illusions to suit every need and desire. Whatever you want, it will proffer. For a price, of course, but it will also offer the credit card if you don’t have the cash. Conversely, if you don’t play the game, it will find ways to punish, some subtle, like being unemployed and forced out of your home, and some kept hidden in Guantanamo. Which makes me want to define the word: torture – another time.

Definitions. A life lived without being defined (or examined); when its virtuous or feel-good notions aren’t constantly re-defined against the light of the day, is a life, I wouldn’t say ‘not worth living’ but rather carefully faked. A life lived in an entertainment centre surrounded by images on wide screens, on cathedral tapestries, or wandering through museums and mausoleums.

Definitions. I had a recurring dream a few nights ago, of two very large, obviously GMO designed fanged and slavering black dog-like beasts chasing after unarmed people who, in terror, tried to run away from them. Some got away but only at the cost of others being caught and torn to pieces. You have to hear the screams, see the blood, experience such a thing to understand.

Defined: these are the dogs of war. And they are currently running loose throughout the Greater Middle East, much of Africa and wherever drugs are being grown or manufactured. They are also active in refugee camps; in worker slave camps; in sweat shops and in countries the US Empire holds as “non conforming” and a threat to its claims of planetary hegemony. The bits and pieces of the torn bodies I saw in my dreams are being sold at a discount at Walmart and on Amazon. Where do you shop, and do business? Where it’s cheaper and most convenient?

The real world doesn’t have to fear forgetfulness.
It’s a tough customer.
It sits on our shoulders,
weighs on our hearts,
tumbles to our feet.
There’s no escaping it,
it tags along each time we flee.
And there’s no stop
along our escape route
where reality isn’t expecting us. — Wisława Szymborska, from “The Real World”

 

 

Advertisements

The Sadness of Things

 

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

Did you notice it? The Christmas hype is already on. Lights are going up. Commercial displays are popping up. I don’t know what’s on TV or radio, I don’t watch and don’t listen to commercial media but I’m sure it is already going strong. “Buy, buy, buy… buy, buy, buy, Buying all the way… Oh what fun it is to buy, and fill our cars with stuff!” (To the tune of Jingle Bells).

Personally I have always liked the so-called Christmas season. It began as a child when our very Catholic teachers inculcated the concept of self-sacrifice as the meaning of Christmas. I won’t bore you with the Christ born in a stable, a manger for a crib story, but it’s not such a bad myth, not if you have the background for it and are able to think for yourself.

As I grew up I was surprised to discover that Christmas, even among fellow believers, was really a time for permissible “debauchery” whether in drinking or in sexual promiscuity at parties that lasted through the night and certainly in ostentatious consumerism. Maybe I was a “tight ass” but I didn’t hold to that sort of behaviour. Oh, I didn’t say much about it, but inside, I felt cheated. It’s like I’d been lied to when I was a child. Christmas to me was the baby Jesus. He wasn’t so much the Son of God and the great to be Redemptor or Saviour. Jesus was, according to my version of the myth, the child of very poor people, people who essentially had nothing. Jesus represented all the poverty of all of humanity all across the globe. His presence didn’t mean a miraculous intervention in the ever-frustrating affairs of men. It meant a challenge to me to understand.

To compensate, then, for what I saw of the horror of materialism, I created a “proper” sense of Christmas for myself. It wasn’t something that could be shared with friends, the few I had that came and went, or associates in school, and later at work. It was a “me” that sought to flesh out the meaning of Christmas as I had been (I reasoned) properly instructed about. The challenge was to resist the temptation of commercialism and focus on its diametric opposite: self-sacrifice through selfless service to others. The challenge was for me to become what the mythological story of Jesus had depicted.

When we open ourselves up to the world as a compassionate and empathetic person, we are met with a literal heart-breaking tidal wave of sorrow. Whatever can be said of man’s world it remains only too true that it is a very sad place. So for me, the “spirit of Christmas” message is the sadness of things.

Having lived my life in a sort of voluntary service of one sort or another, I don’t feel any need to go looking for happiness. Happiness certainly has flirted with me many a time, and many a time I have reciprocated. What’s wrong with a little flirting if there is no intent to take it further? But happiness is a dangerous emotion. It doesn’t want you to stop at the flirtation, it wants you to become a believer. It wants you to dedicate your life to chasing your own tail.

Happiness in that sense, and it is mostly always in that sense, is a chimera; it’s a lie. If you have to go looking for it; if you have to make it happen, it’s a lie. If it just happens to you here and there as you live your life as impeccably as you know how, following a life goal you set for yourself and if you are not being dishonest towards your life goal then there is nothing wrong with feeling happy. It’s an unexpected bonus. But that’s all. Spend it and forget it. The poison activates while going to look for more of that emotion. That is called greed.

So back to the simple theme of this essay: sadness. Having a choice between happiness or sadness as my own expression of Christmas I choose sadness. Sadness is the foundation of wisdom. What good is wisdom to the selfish, the pleasure seekers? A bother at best. If however one seeks to truly understand “the condition” of the world, sadness is the path. Sadness, not to be confused with despair which is just pleasure-seeking turned inside out, leads to deep introspection where honesty and humility become the guides. Sadness, I have found, is a great gift, misunderstood and maligned by a world plummeting into gross materialism, spiritual degeneration, depravity, pornography and sodomy.

There is a tendency in this “western” post-Christian society to blame the leadership for its problems. Yes, the leadership is quasi-absolutely corrupt, no doubt about that. But we need to realize it is us who are the movers and shakers. We insist we live in these great democracies. What is a democracy? For one thing it’s government of the people, by the people, for the people. Is that true of any of our forms of government? No, of course not, but we insist on believing it is true, we insist on spreading the propaganda. Hence and therefore if there is a problem with government leadership, the problem belongs to all of us. No, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

If our leadership is corrupt it’s because we are just as equally corrupt, one and all. Put the “blame” where it belongs; be done with it; stop pretending and living in denial. We cannot say to ourselves, “There is nothing I can do about it” because there most certainly is! That however is an unpleasant fact. So, let’s just blame. Why not? It’s easy and there’s no personal responsibility involved.

This is the time of year when, by observation, everybody should feel a deep and intense sadness for this world. How can any self-respecting person chase after an emotion as ephemeral and evanescent as happiness? How can any intelligent person think they can buy it? I’ll tell you who does: every slave of the marketplace. The happiness of a slave does not last. It is always replaced by an intense time of loss and grief. Wait for them. If you listen quietly you can hear them goose-stepping down the street at midnight.

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.

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.