Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas.

It says "...freedom of...", not "...freedom from...".

Nolite te bastardes carburundorum!

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint." - Penn Jillette

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dreams of Falling

Once we had wings.

Once we had wings, and oh...

Once we had wings, and oh, how we soared!

Oh, how we soared, and swooped, and looped the loop, and oh how we roared and whistled and snapped and fluttered.

Once we had wings and we flew.

We remember.

We remember in our hidden minds.

We remember when we stand in high places and look out on the far horizons and lean...

We remember how free and easy we were, riding the wind like it was ours to command, to shape, to harness, to carve through.

We remember when we dream.

Dreams of flying.

Dreams of rising upward.

Dreams of our feet leaving the ground, of the sky tugging at us, of gravity relinquishing its grasp, of thrusting ourselves heavenward on stolen breathes of exquisite freedom.

We remember and we dream and we yearn.

Then we fall.

We fall back into ourselves.

The present mind, the knowing mind, the learned mind takes hold, reminds us that we have no wings.

So we fall.

Slapping back into ourselves, wondering why...

...why we dream of falling when we know we should be able to fly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hunger, Thirst

At dinner time, before we eat we hold hands and share a moment of silence.  Then one of us will say "May you never hunger" and one of us will respond "May you never thirst".  Usually Someone and I will also exchange "Thank you for sharing food" and "Thank you for sharing life".  I continue this little tradition while he is away.

I've been thinking about hunger, lately.  While there are plenty of reports on the news about how unemployment is lower than it has been, and that people are doing better, here in Redneck Central it's still hard times.  Food banks are overwhelmed, as are shelters and services for the indigent and the food-insecure.

Amid all the stories of struggle, I was slapped by a headline discussing how a certain shelter is refusing to help gays.  Another headline lead to a story about the Salvation Army and its refusal to assist homosexuals, even going so far as to spend money donated in those holiday buckets on lobbyists to support anti-gay legislation.  So...these supposedly Christian, supposedly charitable organizations are refusing to help certain people because...why?

When, exactly, did Jesus say "Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the poor, but only if you think I like them"?  When did he say "Oh, no, it's okay to let the fags shiver and starve because they don't have sex the way they should with whom they should"?  In any of his teachings, sermons, rants, whispers, prayers, or other communications, did he ever once mention lesbians?

Granted I'm pagan and have been for a very long time, and granted it's been a minute since I read the bible or studied Christianity as a whole, but even with my faulty and aging memory, I don't recall Jesus ever mentioning that compassion, charity, or kindness were reserved exclusively for those in his father's house or who followed himself.  He certainly never said anything to ME about that...

To the contrary, he seemed to go out of his way to be inclusive, to the point of often distressing the people who thought they knew him best and followed him around soaking in his teachings and trying to understand his radically different way of seeing and doing things.

I still wonder how anyone can call themselves "Christian", a follower of Jesus, when they seem to so readily set aside the teachings of the man they laud as their "Lord and Savior" even as they act entirely against his teachings.  Most of the alleged Christians I know aren't.  They're church people, and they follow the bits of the Bible that fit their world view, but actually Christian?  No...not even close.

A Christian?  Would ask "Are you hungry?" and then feed a person.  No strings.  No questioning the religion or politics.  Just...fill an empty belly.  A Christian?  Would ask "Are you cold?" and offer clothing, a jacket, a blanket, without judging how the person came to be so cold.  A Christian?  Would ask "Do you need a place?" and help find shelter from the elements.  No demands that the one in need first attend a church service.  A Christian?  Would ask 'Are you sick?" and then offer medicine without demanding that the person who is sick convert to one particular church before they can receive aid.

Plenty of pagans don't give freely of themselves or offer succor to those in need...but then, those same pagans don't claim to follow the teachings of a peaceful healer who DID offer help, hope, and boundless love to any who reached out to him.

I'm NOT Christian...but here's my deal - if you are hungry I will strive to help feed you.  If you need clothing, I will strive to help you dress.  If you need shelter, I will work to help you attain it.  That's it.  You don't have to be pagan, or Christian, or anti-Christian, or straight, or gay, or bi,or whatever.  It doesn't matter your age, nationality, skin tone, or what music you listen to.  As long as I don't feel you threaten my family's well being, I won't turn my back on you.  As long as you are not doing me harm, I will try to help when I can.

You are a living being.  You carry with you the seed of life.  You are imbued with the same energy, the same spirit, that I am steeped in.  You are worthy of compassion, of love, of kindness.  You and I and all other beings are made of light and matter and vibrations and illusions.  We are the sum of the Universe.  I greet the divine in you.  I honor the journey you are on.  The sun that shines on me, shines on you...

So tell me, fellow sojourner, how can I help?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Small Things

Whenever possible, Someone calls twice a day.  We write each other several times a week, and Sprout and I go visit him once a week.  We're lucky to have that contact that we do - plenty of people over at the jail have no family, or at least no one who keeps in touch.

I think it's awfully important to maintain contact as much as possible, to remind the person in that strange and horrible pocket reality that there is this world out here and people in it who love and value them.  Every time Someone calls or receives a letter or sees us, it helps him remember himself and his connection to us.  In the jail is it far too easy for people to lose...lose themselves, lose their families, lose hope, lose touch with anything but the walls, the windows, the fear, the anger the unhappiness...

I miss him here at the Casa.  It's chillier in the house, quieter, less...vital...

It's funny, there aren't any great big things I miss, but rather a collection of small details that mean he's with us.

I miss waking in the morning when Sprout crawls in the bed with us and wedges herself between us.  I miss hearing him get up, shower, shave, dress for work.  I miss the sound of coffee beans pouring into the grinder, and Sprout's excited egress from the bed as she scampers into the kitchen to help her Papa make coffee - she like to run the grinder and help him dump the grounds into the filter - and then the smell of the hot beverage wafting through the house.

I miss sleepy morning greetings, the kiss as he leaves for work, the occasional call telling me he'll be home for lunch, hunting for his coffee cup (my goodness, but the man can find all kinds of places to put it down and forget it!).

The sound of him breathing in his sleep, and the sound of his heart as I lie with my head on his chest, drifting.

How warm he is.

The smell of him.

Sharing funny stories or bits of news, moving about the house in tandem, watching a movie together.

Sprout's giggles and squeals when he grabs her and hugs her or tickles her with his beard, and her excited exclamations over going outside and riding bikes with him, or playing tee-ball or soccer, or raking leaves, or gardening.

Most relationships cannot survive incarceration.  We've every intention of bucking the trend.  I don't give up on people.  Jail...it changes things.  It's not just the one incarcerated who is held captive.

We'll be here when he gets out, ready to continue piecing together the mosaic of our lives one little detail at a time.  Meanwhile, I am doing my best to keep it together in the here and now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day*

If you served, or if you are serving, heartfelt thanks.

If your feet walk foreign soil, I wish you a swift and safe return home.

If you came home broken, I wish you swift and full mending.

If you suffered loss, I wish you the softening of grief, and abundance in your future days.

Thank you Dad, Big Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Basque A, Ed, Danny, and all of those who step/ped up and put on a uniform.

*For those who didn't know, Veteran's Day is for the living, Memorial Day is for the dead, which is why this post only mentions people still walking this Earth.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Growing in the Cracks

In the movie Jurassic Park, the chaotician Ian Malcom, played by Jeff Goldblum, warns that life will find a way.  What better example in our daily lives than the little bits of nature that thrust themselves upward through cracks in the pavement?  I adore them, these wee warriors.  I cheer them on, hearty growing things that surprise me in the midst of a parking lot, sidewalk, my driveway.  I know that as a human living in a quasi-urban setting, I should abhor them, yank, rake, chop, and poison them, but how can I?  I can't bring myself to remove these reminders of living entropy.

They put me in mind of compassion, taking root in places where it shouldn't thrive, but...somehow...it blooms.

Someone is currently in jail, serving his sentence for the drug related charges he was arrested for last winter.

Through him, I have had some opportunities to be compassionate, and I have taken them.  No one should be without contact with their family, so I make phone calls, let family and friends know that their person is in jail and how to remain in contact with them.  I have talked a few people through court proceedings so they'll have an idea what to expect.  I've given a ride or two to people who had no means of transportation.  I even, once or twice when I could, put a few dollars on an inmate's books so they could get soap or deodorant or envelopes and stamps from the commissary.  You see, when they enter the jail, men and women alike are given nothing but the inmate's jumpsuit and a pair of pseudo-Crocs.  They have to purchase underwear, paper, pencils, stamps, soap, shampoo, deodorant, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, and if it's cold they can either shiver or buy long underwear.  No money?  Too bad for you.


There's another well of compassion, one inside the jail.  It's an unexpected thing - we are taught that people in jail are a bad lot, the worst, that they fight and hate and steal and bully...and sometimes that does happen.

More often, though...

There's V.  He's in his fifties.  Never been in trouble with the law before.  Served in the military.  Got into an argument with his wife last March.  Reached for his keys so he could go for a drive, cool off.  She got them first, wouldn't give them to him.  He reached for them in her hand.  They bumped their heads together.  She called the police and he was charged with domestic violence.  Am I minimizing, sugar coating?  Nope.  Even the wife, now the future ex Mrs. V, says that's what happened, now that she's had time to cool off, realize what she's done and what she stands to lose.  She's sorry she ever called the cops and would love to recant...but here in Redneck Central, even if a partner/spouse withdraws their complaint, a person can still be prosecuted...because there are plenty of victims who will change their minds out of fear.  This is not such a case, but the DA doesn't much care...it looks good on their record, doesn't it?

Anyway, there's V.  Arrested, sitting in the booking/processing area, he tried to call his ex/first wife, but she doesn't answer strange numbers, so he couldn't get through, and the jail phones don't allow one to leave a message.

He was dumped into the population with nothing but a tremendous sense of bewilderment and prison issue jumpsuit and shoes.

Within 24 hours, some thirty different men asked him if he was okay, made sure he got food, showed him the ropes, made sure he had a shirt, some socks, hygiene items, even coffee (prisoners can order instant coffee from the commissary...they prepare it with tap water, or, if they're lucky, warm water from the shower).  When Someone learned that V couldn't get through to his first/ex wife, he called me, gave me her number and V's information.  I called her, talked to her, explained what had happened and what she could do to let him call her, when his preliminary hearing was, what the charges were, and how to put money on his books, and how to arrange bail and what it would likely cost.  I gave her my contact information and told her to call or text any time she had a question and I'd do my best to help her.  Funny, at first she thought I was one of the deputies from the jail.  I set her straight - they don't do this kind of thing...helping the families is NOT in their job description.  The ex/first wife and I text back and forth all the time, now.  She and V came to see me when Someone was taken to serve his sentence...they were worried about me.

Neither V nor his ex/first wife could believe that Someone or I would reach out like that.  Neither one would ever have thought that there, in jail, where there is so little...strangers would offer whatever small comforts they could spare.  True, sometimes there's an expectation of repayment or of paying it forward, but more often, it's just people offering their fellows a hand.

V isn't an isolated incident.  Someone and I are not an isolated incident.  In one of the darkest, dirtiest, grittiest, ugliest places humanity can wedge itself, there are many spots of beauty, so easily missed...so often uprooted and torn up by the keepers of the jail...but they grow, regrow, refuse to give up, refuse to let go of that little spark of spirit, of kindness, compassion.  Thank the gods for that.

Despite they way the world seems to be turning of late, I believe in the good and loving heart in all people.  Funny that it's a bunch of inmates in the local jail who are helping me hold on to that belief, f
lowers poking through the cracks of the pavement.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Olive Trees

I recall reading once, a long time ago, of people who would plant olive trees knowing that the trees would not fruit in their lifetimes, but rather that their grandchildren would see the first harvests.  They were not looking only at their own lives, their own wants or needs, but at what future people would benefit from their present actions.

Oh, how I adore that.

I don't know if we will experience the positive social and legal changes I hope for in my lifetime.  Perhaps it will be my children, or grandchildren, who benefit from the writing and exhorting I do now.  I can live with that.  I can live with knowing that some future generation will pluck fruit from the trees I am planting now.

Change is inevitable.

Why are we humans so fearful of embracing it?  Especially when that change is towards compassion, kindness, caring?

Yesterday I voted.  I did so as a compassionate, kind, and caring being,  I did so thinking not of myself and what I want or need now, but of the people around me, the next generations, of how I could help make a stronger tomorrow.

Idealistic?  Yes.  Foolish?  Perhaps.  But you know what?  I felt better about voting than I have in years.

I think I will continue to buck the trend.  I think I will encourage my fellow humans to do the same.  Who knows, perhaps we may start a whole new trend?

Are you in?  Let's plant some trees...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Alright, Already!

Dear Republican Party,

Leave me alone.  Quit calling me a dozen times a day.  Quit mailing things to me.  Quit telling me how important it is that I am faithful to you and only you.  If you were a person, you would be guilty of stalking me and  would have a restraining order against you.
Dear Democratic Party,

Leave me alone.  Quit calling me a dozen times a day.  Quit mailing things to me.  Quit telling me how important it is that I am faithful to you and only you.  If you were a person, you would be guilty of stalking me and  would have a restraining order against you.
Dear Libertarian Party,

Thank you for not calling me a dozen times a day, mailing things to me, telling me how important it is that I am faithful to you and only you, and generally acting stalkerish.  Or was it simply that the Republicans and Democrats so stuffed my mailbox and clogged my phone line that you couldn't squeeze in?
Believe it or not, political parties, I do pay attention to what you are doing.  Your candidates actions are what help me decide how to vote, not some damn fool party line or loyalty.  Calling me at all hours and playing insincere recordings at me won't endear your party to me, most especially when you interrupt meals of time with my children and the recording say things that are decidedly contrary to your candidates' behavior.

Also, continuing the robo-calls on voting day, even after the polls have closed?  Irritates me.  You don't want to irritate me.  I'm already trying very hard not to go all Krakatoa on a minute-by-minute basis.  You're not helping.  

Don't make me got the chicken foot...