Category Archives: Humility

Whatever is Needed of Me

a short story,  by Sha’Tara

[Private time is in short supply these days, so much going on in the “service” world! Tonight particularly, though not to wax melodramatic, my thoughts are cloudy, dark; senses dulled by certain terrible news. This is Earth, said the Teachers, and you will experience these dark times. Accept them, feel them, drink them to the dregs. There are priceless lessons in them. I know this is true from previous experience but with each new “attack” the bearing of the darkness grows heavier, not lighter, nor easier. This world has not evolved enough for any empath to find comfort here. And so the reason for the following story.  Not much of a story perhaps but an expression of a kind of hope through accepting change one would certainly rather avoid if at all possible.]

She knows the end has come.  Abandoning her crude, water-logged dugout canoe to float away with other logs down the muddy stream, she runs up a sandy and wet grass-covered bank to the willow line.  There she stands quietly, looking in the stagnant waters of a woodland pond, the rusty grasses now barely standing and at the raspy curling leaves from dying trees all around.  The breeze carries the smell of death, the stench of a dying god somewhere beyond the hills where lie the remains of a city.
 
Taking a deep breath she casts off the rest of her ragged clothing and raising her arms to the rust-colored skies she cries out, “Whatever is needed of me I am willing to give.”
 
At the sound of her voice, or at the power of her words, the waters of the pond stir and rise in a dirty waterspout.  Several of the dying trees twist and turn to each other and morph into a dark form.  The spout and the dark entity merge and there, in front of the naked young human stands an enormous man, or rather a nature-being morphed to resemble a human male.  He changes his size until he stands only some two feet taller than the trembling girl.  The ground shakes as he walks to her.
 
In a voice that echoes far away across the river and into the hills he says, “Who awakens the Woda entering the great sleep of the world?” 
 
The silence following his words is even more deafening to the girl.  Yet she replies boldly, “It is I who calls.  I wish to continue. I do not choose for this to be the end.”
 
The nature giant moves closer to her and he pierces her with his eyes.  She does not flinch but waits, lowering her arms but raising her head, bringing her firm breasts up for him to look upon.  He reaches for her and embraces her.  She gasps as he takes her and feels herself being filled with new life.  Instantly she knows she is carrying his child, their child.  She offered, she accepts, she waits for him to explain.
 
“You now possess the redeemer body and within you are two beings: a man and a woman.  To these twins you will give birth and you shall care for them until they are of age to look after themselves, after which you shall be free again.  During this time of gestation and rearing you belong to us, to this world and to them.  You must remember this.”
 
He touches her nipples and again she feels that current of new life coursing through her. 
 
He speaks again: “I have given you the power to bring forth the sacred milk of the goddess.  Your breasts will never run dry as long as you feed the twins.  To the boy-man you must give your left breast and to the girl-woman your right.  Know now and always remember that these beings are not as you would think, brother and sister, but the parents of a new species of Earth humans.  Now go.  Do not return to your kind for they will sense this new life in you and in fear they will kill you and your unborn.  Go into the mountains, into the west.  There you will find caves to live in.  Find water flowing from within the stones and it will be pure for you.  Food you will gather from the green things that grow around you.  Fear not.  You offered freely and without conditions.  This means you are a powerful woman of Earth.  We would not have listened to anyone else.  Now go.”
 
Though she senses it is hopeless to ask, she does anyway: “Will you not come with me and help me?  Shall I live alone in the mountains and among the rocks and give birth without help?  How can I possibly do this?  I am on the wrong side of the river.  How do I escape to the mountains?  And why can I not remember my name?”
 
“We are leaving; you chose to remain.  So we gave you the gift of continuing life in response to your offer.  Be thankful.  In your many lives here you learned how to do all the things now required of you.  Just remember.  The river you must swim as you have watched deer and coyote swim it for many years.  You know this.  Rocks you know how to climb.  Green things you understand.  Giving birth alone you have done.  You have no name because in accepting our gift to you, you became “Other.”  You are Mother and Redeemer.  Only when they give you a new name will you have a name.  Or when you are free of them you can return to your own names.
 
“Banish your fear as you cast off your ragged clothes, it is an old, useless shadow.  During this time do not seek company of anyone for any company that joins with you will die in your arms, adding to your burden and your sorrow.  You cannot help any of them except by completing this journey.
 
Remember this: at the end of this journey you shall find bliss.”

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Looking for, Searching, Seeking, Questing

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

When we go looking for something, either it’s something we want, need, or it could be something we misplaced, or lost. Either we find it, or we find a replacement and life goes on. Soon enough we forget we ever even went looking.

When we engage a search, whatever it is we may be searching for, there is the certainty that we will find something. Sometimes, that something will so surprise us it will eclipse whatever caused us to begin our search in the first place. Such a serendipitous happening we will tend to remember as some kind of magical intervention in our life.

Seeking is a deeper engagement, with the staunch and upholding hope, and faith, that whatever we are seeking for, we will find if we are diligent and do not get sidetracked to the point where we lose interest in the dream, for seeking must involve dreaming.

Questing is entirely different. Unlike looking for, searching, or seeking, questing does not entail fulfilment. A quest, by its very nature, can never be attained for it is a path; a way of life, not a goal to be reached. If it is completed; if the object of the quest is found, or reached, it wasn’t a quest but a seeking.

Deep down inside me, no matter where I’ve stood in my long years of turmoil trying to put “closed” to determining whether life is terminal or eternal, I worked out a philosophy that allowed me to know the answer to that vexing problem. It was quite simple, actually. All I had to do was find a life purpose that required eternity in order to make sense of it. To engage this purpose I had to completely switch my thinking regarding life. I needed to find that elusive “something” that even death could not put an end to. I didn’t want to cheat death, or conquer it, or end it, as in the John Donne’s cry, “Death, thou shalt die!”

I stopped asking “What is life?” and began asking, “What is my purpose within that which I call life?” I knew the first question could not be answered honestly though any number of guesses would fit the bill yet remain non-answers. But the second question brought it home to me. I made myself “life” and from that awareness I could but ask, “What is my purpose here?” I didn’t have to ask “Who am I” anymore because from here on I would be a different person moment after moment. What I believed today I might very well laugh at tomorrow. It no longer mattered “who” I was; it mattered what I was and what I would become as I travelled the omniverse and the cosmos.

I had passed the religious stage where some saviour divinity would determine my worth, or check my credentials at death’s door and give me a fail or pass. Childish and definitely superstitious. I had also passed the stage I describe as “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” – a common enough belief in today’s post-Christian world that would never keep my questing mind satisfied.

If I could find and define a purpose for myself that required an eternity to make sense of then I would have found the key to eternal life through self empowerment. That, however, had to remain securely beyond any fit accusation of hubris. Thus I had to reject the New Agey belief that “I am God” or that we are all gods. This is so obviously false, it’s laughable. Can I produce a miracle on demand? By miracle, I mean something that clearly defies all the laws and rules of nature as we understand them. Could I give an amputee a new arm, or leg? Could I bring someone who’d been in a coma for years back into the land of the normal living? Could I raise the dead? Make a blind person see? No. But neither can those who believe in Christ, for example, even though they have a scriptural promise that they would be able to do such things. I had to know that it was not a matter of being divine, or having faith in some divinity. It would have to be more!

This quest, or purpose as I call it, had to be totally reasonable, totally doable by absolutely anyone. It would have to be seen as relatively normal in an everyday kind of world. It would be a way of life that could be observed, even experienced by those “others” it touched yet would never call for hero worship, desire to be followed (as a guru or teacher for example) or freak anybody out by outlandish words or performance. It would remain non-threatening; it’s effectiveness hidden in simple self-effacing outworking. It wouldn’t ask, wouldn’t preach, wouldn’t proselytize and if some impressionable person became attracted to the one living this purpose, they would be told to seek their own way.

This purpose would not be the making of a path for others to follow upon. If, for some it had a way-shower quality, they would be reminded that it was based on self empowerment, never on believing or following. ‘If it seems good to you, emulate certainly, but do it of your own desires; of your own power; for your own reasons.’

No one could ever follow, buy or believe their way here. There is no path given to anyone that requires abdicating one’s own selfhood. Anything that makes such a claim is a deadly error, hence, in conclusion, all organized religions and their imitators, are deadly impositions upon this mind-darkened world.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
(John Donne)

Update: Words by which to make a World

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~     Sha’Tara]

The particular phase of our volunteer rebuilding project came to an early end today. How this came about was through great cooperation and coordination of volunteers and home owners. More importantly perhaps, was the dedication along with supportive words and kindness expressed by all to all. The owners’ children, between home schooling and chores, brought us coffee and home baked “goodies” and always, without fail, with broad smiles on their faces. Elizabeth, the oldest child still residing at home, commented on how beautiful their future home looked after we had completed the “Hardie” type siding work. It was wonderful to see her face light up when I emphasized that the house was to be her home. “Yes! Yes, my home, yes!” She kept staring at it as she backed away to take in more of the scene. I think at that moment I came closer to understand what it would mean to have your home burned to the ground knowing that all the work that had gone into building the original was irretrievably gone. In these remote areas there is no fire insurance available.

More, longer term volunteer service is being planned or in the works in and around this area as last years’ wild fires swept over hundred of miles of forests, farms, homesteads, homes and villages in that central part of B.C., Canada. I’ve already put my offer in to be on one of the rebuilding crews.

On the way home my partner and I stopped at a road side hotel and restaurant in Cache Creek. On the walls above us many signs were hanging, carved or painted. While some of their messages did not interest me nor could I have afforded any of the signs based on their price tags, one said: “Always remember to be humble and kind.”

Coming from one entire week of such experience, I couldn’t help but ask myself, ‘Indeed, why not? Why not? Why can we not all be humble and kind as the most natural expression of our claimed humanity? Why not?

Consider the following quotes, no author given (nor needed!) in keeping with words and acts by which we make a world.

 

~~^j^~~

“Being rude is easy.
It does not take any effort
and is a sign of weakness and insecurity.
Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem.
Being kind is not always easy when dealing with rude people.
Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of personal work
and has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom.
Choose to be kind over being right
and you’ll be right every time
because kindness is a sign of strength.”

~~^j^~~

We don’t know
what someone is going through.
We don’t wear signs
that illustrate our personal struggles.
You don’t see
signs taped to people’s shirts that say
“Going through a divorce”
or
“Lost a child”
or
“Feeling depressed”
or
“Diagnosed with cancer.”

If we could read visually
what those around us are going through
we would definitely be nicer.
But we shouldn’t have to see signs
and have reasons to treat strangers with kindness.
We should do it anyway,
whether we know what is going on or not.
Whether they deserve it or not.
Let’s give everyone an extra dose
of patience, kindness and love.”

I find these sentiments appropriate and inspirational.

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

Something that puzzles me this morning. There are so many things that actually do puzzle me but this one, this one, takes the cake.

Balance. There is even an old Chinese symbol for it: the yin-yang.

 Yin-yang symb2
 As a general rule, at least for people who take a couple of minutes a day to actually think about something, balance is thought of as a good thing. Necessary.

Imagine a world not in balance we say, or a universe. We naturally assume we live within some kind of great see-saw which guarantees that we won’t get thrown off.

We assume that when ‘this’ happens over here, ‘that’ (being its opposite) happens over there and all’s well with the world.

Where did we ever get that idea from? Well, it has to do with belief systems and of course, brainwashing, a method of indoctrination that simply has no equal. Once brainwashed: addicted for life. Exceptions noted: they prove the rule.

Do we live in a balanced universe? Oh, never mind the universe, what do we know about that apart from nothing. What about this world? Is this an example of a balanced world?

Apart from the fact that through some freak of biology there is approximately the same ratio of males to females among the Earthian species, and if we don’t look too closely on how that little miracle is accomplished, what about the rest?

Balance in nature is achieved through a madness called predation. We call it that, what it calls itself is another story. Another approach dear to the heart is survival of the fittest. Through ripping apart, destroying, killing, murdering, we, or our world and us, achieve, so we are forced to believe, the wonderful state of balance.

Is there as much “good” as there is “evil” on this world, fact-wise? Could it be proven either way? No. So we look at whatever evidence is thrown our way and we see depending on the evidence we have access to and how we’re trained to believe.

While we’re focused on this see-saw, we do not see because we never saw. That’s the problem.

We don’t realize that we don’t have to believe in the see-saw.

Rather, using our own brains, or mind if we really are the daring sort, we can say, to hell with the see-saw. Balance is a joke, a lie. How can there be balance in any finite environment? Balance is an absolute, like love. You can’t have it, or do it, incrementally.

You can’t begin in unbalanced chaos, reach a state of balance, then lose it again in terminal chaos. That’s a fairy tale of gargantuan proportions. It’s a lie.

When we reach that elementary stage of reasoning we see it all crashing down, the yin-yang symbol becomes push-pull and tears apart, blood, guts and gore gushing everywhere.

We were lied to about balance? Oh surely no more than we were lied to about God, about politics, about economics. No more than we’re being lied to right now about everything.

Do we need balance? Should we be seeking balance? What are the benefits of balance, or who benefits from balance? I’m not going to dignify those questions with an answer because if you can’t see it, my answer would only cause anger. To a brainwashed person nothing is more insulting or threatening than a fact, or a truth, that exposes cherished beliefs as being carefully fabricated lies.

Imagine you’ve spent all of your born-again life dutifully paying for your favourite televangelist’s private jets and turning on the TV one Sunday morning he comes on and says, “Thanks a lot folks, but I’ve made enough money now and I regret to say I’m quitting: God is dead.” How could you possibly accept the fact that for once in his life your preacher was telling the truth?

The problem with balance is this: if I do good in the world, balance will demand… a balancing. The more good some people do, the more evil other people ‘must’ do. The conclusion is, do no good at all and no one else will have to do any evil at all. No good=no evil. That’s your perfect state of balance. That’s your wonderful *Brave New World.

I like to wake up in the morning with a great thought, a powerfully motivating thought, more important even than breakfast. This morning I had this thought. Knowing what I know now, if I were starting a family again, had my two sweet little daughters again, this is what I would tell them, each and every morning before they went to school:

“I want you to be nothing but kind, gentle, caring, accepting, loving, generous in praise and in offering help to all this day. Nothing else you do, or are told to do, is as important as this.”

When they came home and we had our time in the evening, I would ask them about their day, and how it all went. I’m sure they would have much to say about their experiences trying to live an alternative lifestyle! They might have even been subjected to mocking or to other indignities – all of which would prove my point about Earthians and their chuildren, but would go a long way to educate my own two children in the things that really matter.

But it does not end there. I would say to them, I have to be your example of the things I ask you to do, and to be. So when you see me failing, don’t let me get away with it. Call me up on it. Point it out. I am asking you to live the most dangerous life so you can be my teachers.

Forget balance, it’s a chimera.

(*Reference is to Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel)

 

Walking Barefoot on the Underside of Life

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

When I was a child I wanted to walk barefoot but my parents, particularly my mother, forbade it. I believe she thought it would make us look poor in the eyes of other villagers, as if we were anything but poor and our poverty was any different than anyone else living in that forgotten place. Perhaps there were deeper reasons she would never share.

It was to be much later in life that I would find or create my own personal type of freedom.  That was when  I rediscovered the joy of walking barefoot upon the earth, a joy I am constantly rediscovering even now at 71 years of age. I walk barefoot as much as my life allows, mostly in my own yard, in sunshine, rain, snow, mud, crush, mulch among the shrubs, in the garden, and I love to kick off my sandals and drive barefoot.

It’s not just the freedom of it, or the life-long rebellion against societal mores, so many of which are not just ridiculous but downright insane and unhealthy. There is much more.

When I walk barefoot, I can feel the earth reaching through my feet all the way up to my brain. I become aware of my body touching the rest of life. I care what I step on, and how I step on it; how I stand or where I put pressure on the earth. I feel a throbbing that is blocked by the wearing of artificial soles. I can feel the earth’s joy and also her sorrow.

In unfamiliar territory, bare feet become inquisitive and protective of themselves. This brings me to look down at what is around me. I will explain why that is important but before, I must say that I wish, oh I so wish, that I had had parents and teachers who had known about the powerful healing effects of the barefoot walk and had not only encouraged me (us children) to walk thus, but had explained why we should do so. But such knowing people do not exist, certainly not in Western societies.

Now I must do the explaining, although I know quite well that it is much, much too late for this society to learn how to walk barefoot by renouncing its societal mores.

When I walk barefoot I am both, mentally empowered and physically weakened. I want to focus on the benefits of such physical weakening because it is directly conducive to developing humility, probably one of the most maligned “virtues” in these societies built on entitlement.

In this hard and harsh materialistic society, feet are dangerously vulnerable to many dangers: stubbing of toes, cutting by broken glass, broken rocks and pieces of cement; slivers from chunks of metal or wood; crushing from falling crates, bottles, tools and various kinds of implements, burning from spilled chemicals, puncturing from rusty nails protruding from a fallen fence picket hidden in grass, or a number of such impediments.

In teaching myself the art of walking barefoot I have experienced all of the above. It’s inevitable really because people are incredibly careless, lacking the empathy needed to prevent them from being crass about leaving dangerous garbage about. This is a dirty, filthy, unhealthy society. How does the barefoot person approach such a condition?

One word describes it best: humility. Indeed. There is a park behind my house where I like to go and walk, or run, barefoot. I’ve had people tell me it was a stupid thing to do because there are those “horrible” homeless people that go there at night to shoot up and who leave needles on the ground. I don’t know, I’ve never seen “needles” in the park. More to the point, there are those who walk their dogs and can’t be bothered to pick up after their animals. I have stepped in dog poo with my bare feet many times. At first I was incensed. But it forced me to walk down to the river at the bottom of the park and walk in the water, rubbing my feet in its mud, or sand, or weeds, depending where I was and feel the washing and healing action of the water. That was an amazing realization.

After a few times in the dog poo, I learned to accept it as the consequences of barefooting. Whether people despoil their public or private spaces is really none of my business. I’m a walking observer, not really much of a participant. I don’t engage most of the things people around me seem to find pleasure in doing, certainly not in drugs, and I don’t have pets. I find my pleasure in things they know nothing about, or would not find pleasurable if they had to do them. I accept that now, as part of the change process.

When I speak of “barefoot humility” I’m not thinking of being poor, unable to afford shoes, sandals or flip-flops. I’m thinking of what it means to approach this hard/harsh world with my vulnerable bare feet. I’m thinking of having to bow my head and look down; look at the ground, the floor, the sidewalk, the road, the site, and guide my feet through obstacles that could prove painful or detrimental to them. There is no room for pride here.

In this barefoot exercise, I have the choice of cursing those who ignorantly leave dangerous or filthy things in the way of others, particularly on public streets, sidewalks, parking lots or parks. Or I can accept this aspect of society, refusing to react in anger, but rather with a sadness at the overt self-destructiveness of human nature. I allow my feet to do the talking, and I listen, very carefully.

Feet, in our materialistic society are jewels encased in hard boxes or crates called shoes, never to be exposed to what lies under them. We have no idea, until we remove our shoes and relearn how to walk on the earth, how much our protective equipment we call shoes and clothes, have taken away from our identity with our world.

Encased in our various types of armour; driving our polluting and destructive machines; locked in our equally unhealthy air-conditioned/centrally heated box homes, we storm and stomp through the earth as conquerors, rapists, violators and murderers. We do not feel because we cannot feel. We live in artificial exoskeletons that deny us our natural heritage which demands that we daily touch the earth with our natural nakedness. We are denied, and we deny ourselves and we become “more machine than man” as we progress towards the ringing bells of our earth’s death knell.

There is a movement under way called “Free the Nipple” by people who believe that women should have the same right to go topless in public as men do. Perhaps we need a movement called “Free the Feet” so we can once again walk barefoot wherever we choose, including in restaurants and all other type of stores or offices.

Beautiful feet are not found inside prisons called shoes. They are found naked and free.

Totally out of context perhaps but a truly fine expression: “As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” [Isaiah 52:7]”

 

 

Jeanine Winslow

[short story  by Sha’Tara]

Devon avenue is an old street with old trees, old houses and old people. This is where Jeanine Winslow lives, with her old cat. She is a widow now, her old husband died about two years ago, but no one remembers that except Jeanine and the Revenue Service. Jeanine’s house and home is one of the most decrepit small bungalow type houses on the street.

Today is a grey day. It’s raining, a cold, miserable rain that hits the skin as frozen needles. Jeanine’s arthritis is bad today, that being one reason she has been unable to go to the corner store. The other reason, of course, is that as usual the month outlasted the pension and there is not one red cent left in the house. The cat is the fortunate one, he can go outside and hunt mice. There are lots of nice fat mice in his neighbourhood. Yes, it’s his neighbourhood, he’s a cat.

There’s a steady tinkling sound in the small dining room, just behind where Jeanine is now standing and contemplating her situation.  There’s an old, rusty water can on the floor to catch a steady drip from the ceiling, a drip that keeps wandering as the drywall gradually sags lower from the water coming through the old worn out asphalt shingle roof.

A knock on the door takes Jeanine out of her circular thinking about a situation she has no control over. Wiping her tears, she goes and answers the door. On the rickety old porch, long without a roof, two very well dressed young men with briefcases smile at her. She smiles back and politely invites them in. They come in and begin their spiel.

They’re from the local “Tabernacle” they say, and they are collecting funds to finish the inside of their church, and inviting their neighbours to participate in the services.

The tinkling continues as Jeanine, sitting nervously on a small stool, the only two chairs taken by the young men, listens politely. One of the young men stares at the drip in the can, then follows it to the sagging ceiling. It impresses itself on his mind as his father is the owner of a local lumber yard and he’s done some construction himself. He understands this lady’s problem but says nothing, letting his partner do the talking.

Finally the spiel is over. They stand, realizing that this woman was certainly not made of money and perhaps they’d have better luck on another street. They make to leave when suddenly Jeanine finds her courage and her tongue to say something to these nice young men. She does not berate them or call down their religion, or their God. Far from that. Jeanine is a very kind lady. But there is something she needs to do.

She grabs the coat sleeve of one young man and say, “Please, don’t go yet. There is something here I need to show you. Please follow me?”

They follow as she leads them deeper into the old house, through a short, dark corridor. She opens the door to a tiny bedroom and in the bed, two small children, obviously a boy and girl and obviously siblings, sleep, the little girl sucking her thumb, the little boy having his arm over her in a protective way.

“I found them downtown five days ago, she says. They were crying and hungry, abandoned as so many are. What could I do but take them home, feed them, wash them and provide them with a bit of warmth and the comfort of a few sheets and blankets? I have nothing to dress them in and their own clothes were nothing but dirty rags. Now… I have nothing left to feed them. I just wanted you to know that it is not because I’m stingy that I didn’t give you anything, it’s that I don’t have anything… nothing. I’m sorry.”

The two very nice young men looked at each other and something flashed between them, some thoughts that found agreement. The oldest of the two, the one who had done the presentation, spoke then.

“We’re sorry too, very sorry. Look, here’s forty dollars that I have on me. Take that for now, and I promise we will be back.”

The younger searched his own pockets and came up with another fifteen dollars and some change. He also handed that over.

With a trembling hand, Jeanine took the money and the look on her face showed all the gratitude that words could never express. The young men left and Jeanine, knowing the children could be trusted to stay in the bed, got dressed for the cold and wet, painfully put her winter boots on and went shopping, slowly dragging her old two wheeled cart and counting her steps as was her habit.

Two days later, early morning, the storm having passed and the pale winter sun having made his appearance in a bright blue sky, a construction truck loaded with roofing materials and several cars pulled up along Devon avenue, close to Jeanine Winslow’s cottage. One man walked up to Jeanine’s front door while the rest, a crew of some seven men and three women, began to unload the truck and wheelbarrow the materials to the house. Ladders came next.

The “foreman” whose name is Jason Farnham and none other than the owner of the lumber yard, had gone to speak to Jeanine and got her shocked OK, for the work to proceed forthwith. The old roof was quickly peeled off and the happy pounding of air nailers and commands hurled back and forth filled the yard. Two women, one a strong teenager, the other, middle aged, went into the house and after moving the meagre furniture and spreading a tarp, pulled down the damp drywall. While finishing they explained to Jeanine,

“We’re sorry about the rush but the drywallers are only available tomorrow. They’ll start at 10:00 AM sharp and they’ll be done the hanging by noon. We’ll be back to finish the taping and mudding tomorrow afternoon. Any mess, we will clean up and we’ll paint next week. Is all this OK with you, Mrs. Winslow?”

“I… Yes, of course, yes…” She sat, small and quiet, with her big tomcat in her lap, her face in her hands. She didn’t know what to make of all that was happening. She thought, maybe she should just let it happen. And that’s what she did: let it happen. She went to the children’s bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed where they were occupied drawing and colouring. They looked up at her and smiled and her heart nearly burst with joy.

The small, basic roof was completed in record time and while the roof crew was cleaning up and running the magnet along the walls for stray nails, the foreman went back in the house, expressed his satisfaction on the removal of the old damp drywall then addressed Jeanine.

“Mrs. Winslow, I must apologize for our brisk performance but we just wanted to get this done in the shortest time while the sun was shining. We didn’t want to leave you as your situation was described to us so we put our emergency crew together, gathered the materials and soon I promise, your life will be back to normal, minus the roof worry. We will also put a new roof on your front porch. That, and new steps, comes later this week. I would have called you, and certainly we should have sent someone to warn you, but you don’t have a phone and we didn’t think there was any option either for you, or us so we decided to act instead of debate. My son Steve, whom you’ve met, was very persuasive and quite insistent.

“We will need to talk about the two children you are harbouring. The situation will have to be, shall we say, legalized? We have a couple of very compassionate people who we rely on to discuss these situations. Would you agree to meeting with them?”

“Yes I very much would. I know I can’t keep them but I need to know they will be sent to a good home. They really are wonderful kids, you know? I wish I could have them meet all of you but I’ve got them wrapped up in old clothes of mine and my husband. I haven’t been able to go shopping for children’s clothes, I’m sorry.”

“Did you get that, Leona? The kids need clothing. Could you leave the clean up to the rest of the crew and go get some children’s clothes from our good will box? If you can’t find anything there, please go and buy em.”

“OK, sure Jason. Be back shortly.”

“Leona’s my wife, we’re a team! I’ve got to go, Mrs. Winslow but there’s a couple of things to settle yet. First, here’s a check for $500 to help you get through this time. Second, and most importantly, everything we did, or will do, for you, is our choice. You owe us nothing and we certainly do not expect you to join or attend our church or any such thing. You will not be embarrassed by having to give any testimony. When we’re finished, we’re finished. Certainly, should you need further help you are welcome to get in touch with us – use the lumber yard – but that’s it. We are very happy to have the means to help you and others like yourself. Is that all OK with you then?”

“Yes Mr. Farnham. Yes it is. Thank you.”

 

 

I Am your Instrument, Play on!

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

Deep in the cold, silent snow-dropping night
when reason gives way to a dreamy wonder;
when it has no reason to be, to exist,
I hear your angelic music. I don’t know
where it comes from. I don’t need to know.
I just need to listen and to feel the feelings it stirs,
feelings I have never felt and how strange is that?

If I listen with my heart, surely it will tell me
what the music is all about. Will it not?
What it has to say?  If indeed it is for me;
played for me?  Such a selfish, unworthy thought:
for me?  Why?  Since when is such ethereal music
played for fools awake in the middle of the night?
Fools who will not let themselves slip into sleep
for fear of dreams and portents of doom?

Yet your music plays on, sadly, wistfully seductive
and I have to listen with my heart; to feel, to feel
what the music interprets; what it is saying
to the night; into the night.  Into my mind and brain.
I want to kneel down and pray though we both know
I never pray.  I find no solace or gain in it.
Perhaps there is a good reason, perhaps it’s but pride:
I don’t even know. Not while your music is playing.

I want to stand and dance a wild dance, someplace,
where a full moon shines upon a glistening sandy shore
and I can hear small waves wash and die upon that shore
and smell their sea-grown treasures as they’re spilled
upon the sands, a free-will offering to the morning sun.
But I don’t dance either.  I just don’t. Too flaunty
I told myself long ago.  Call it reverse pride, or:
there was a lot of religion back there, self-denial.

But I listen to your music. There’s mystery in it.
Like me, and I am your instrument, aren’t I?  You,
you play me so well, and who else makes me smile
like this, foolishly? You are an accomplished harpist!
You give me such tantalizing vibrations, I could
collapse at your feet now, and die so happily… If
I wasn’t your instrument; if I did not belong to you.
If I were free.  But you know I don’t want to be free,
not from you, not from this ecstasy you give me.