Humility must a…

Humility must accompany all our actions, must be with us everywhere; for as soon as we glory in our good works they are of no further value to our advancement in virtue.
St. Augustine

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The Octogenarians

I have referred to the SWMBO’s parents with humor in the past and hope to do so for a long time to come.

Today Marion, the octogenaria, called and asked to be taken to her Dr’s for a follow-up on an MRI done yesterday.  We were greeted by an ashen faced young doctor that’s lack of eye contact revealed his lack of preparation for this conversation.

John, the octogenaro, suffering from dementia, was for a moment able to grasp the gravity of the situation.  He was to be envied as that moment slipped away and he faced the world afresh.

New doctors were met.  Doctors with warm hand shakes, comforting smiles and caring eyes; they’d had many of these consultations and they cared in a distant sort of way.

Test were started, more scheduled and the process begins.

Cynthia, the SWMBO, the only child in residence, faces monumental tasks, beginning with waking each day and living.  There will be a time when she falls apart, shattered like a jig saw puzzle and that’s part of the process.  To find a little time in the day to put a piece in place, to understand the picture, the person, you are and each day you have a little more to offer.

I’ve been broken, damaged many times, lost most of , I asthe pieces of the this puzzle, I only seem to be strong…I only cry over happy endings.

For those that read this I ask for your prayers for Marion, John, Cynthia and all the people whose puzzles need attention.

peace out, mw

The Major and Darcy Weaver, Chapter 2

The Major walked to center stage and looking at his audience, more people than he would have imagined, his gaze fell on the eleven extraordinary people in the front row unconsciously bowing to them before he began.

In a voice with more bravado than uncertainty “Good afternoon all, I am Stephen P. Quickstep, simple teller of tales, at your service.” Well, I’m off to a start if not a good one, he thought.

Lowering his head he brought his right hand up to his chin, as if to stroke a beard or lost in thought.   Then in a wink, lifting his eyes to the gathering, “Do you believe Faeries, Pixies and Elves, you know the Dawn Folk?”  Before anyone could answer, with a wave of his hand as if brushing them aside, “No matter, most of the Dawn Folk that I have encountered don’t believe in people, they know we’re just tales they tell their children at night.”  Some of the audience chuckled.

“This story began with a knock on my door, a rather loud knock.  Expecting a person of considerable size to be calling, using the standard inverse ratio of sound to height…this sounded something like a battering ram) you can understand my surprise when before me was a very small man (with solid knuckles).  He stood about”…the Major stopped from indicating with his hand the height of his visitor; and drew on a more tangible reference.., “not much taller than the door knob.  The hair on his head and the hair of his beard were the color of flames and seemed to give off heat when you got too close to him.  His clothes seemed out of place, if not out of time.  But it was his smile that my eyes were drawn to first and in all the time that we would be together, that smile never faded, not for a moment.”

“It was in November that Charly (that was his I name I came to find out) came to visit.  Had it been December, I would have thought that Santa had sent a messenger, by way of an elf;  but this message wasn’t from Santa.”  The Major stood as if talking to someone on his right, he turned his head back to the listeners

“‘Stephen…’ Charly said.

“You know my name?’

…of course, Stephen P. (and I know about your grandfather’s quip) Quickstep.’

“How could you know about the P?  No one knows about the P?  I said in disbelief.

“‘Please, knowing names is easy…comes natural, but I know some things that you NEED to know…to set the record straight, as it were.  Histories…real ancient histories, histories that go so far back that they’re remembered only by the sun and the sea.’

“The sun and the sea you say…like in an adventure.  I was skeptical.

“‘Yup, you could say an adventure; but do you have the courage to go on that adventure?’  Charly waited a moment, ‘I got me a simple test of courage, right here.’  He reached into the outside right pocket of his forest green coat and pulled out a twig, a little twig with four small leaves clinging tightly to it.”  The Major squatted low and placed his hand in his pocket and slowly removed it holding a twig that was only seen in the mind’s eye.

“That’s your test, your test of courage?

‘Yup.’

“How does that work, this test, the twig will shiver and point at me if I’m worthy?

“‘Nope.’  He said as he bent over and placed the twig on the threshold of my front door, with his hand still on the twig, he looked up at me and said, ‘You’ll have to jump over the twig.  With your eyes closed.  Hands behind your back!  If you’ve the courage.’

“I quickly calculated my chance for serious bodily injury, they were close to nil.  I closed my eyes put my hands behind my back and jumped.”

The Major and Darcy Weaver, Chapter One

Every self help group in the world would have you list all of your accomplishments.  I have limited myself to: being able to fold a fitted sheet.

When time and tides swept me in to the mire of madness and depression and a string (a small string) of hospitals and treatments; I left behind my young son.  He didn’t and doesn’t understand doesn’t know me.

That was forty years ago.  Forty years ago I penned a series of fairy tales.  In those very simple, crude tales I told him about all the things that I, truly, believed in, what I valued and what I hoped to leave him.  He never received them, but I’ve carried them in my head and my heart for forty years; and oh how they have grown.  I hope that for you, they will have a life of their own.  I do know that they were always intended to be shared.

The Major and Darcy Weaver

“Miss Weaver,” the Major spoke to the young woman’s back.  Expecting a more immediate response to his address, he raised his voice to a more commanding tone, a more comfortable tone, for a Marine Corp officer, “Miss Weaver!”

“I answer to ‘Darcy’, Major, my mother was ‘Miss Weaver’ “, Darcy continued her walk to the VW bus.

“Miss…Darcy, what the hell are we doing here?”

With her head in the back seat of the bus her response seemed to echo, “You’re here to lose a Storytelling competition and I’m here to help you write about the experience.  Ah…here they are.”  Darcy threw several pieces of clothing at the Major, dug further through a collection of what appeared to be last week’s laundry.  “Yes, the hat…needs feathers, big, dumb feathers.  Feathers, where are the feathers…here? no…no…yes, yes…no, break one?…YES.”

The Major had no idea what was happening, or whatever was going through her mind.

The bus seemed to be swallowing Darcy up as less and less of her was visible and the pile of last week’s laundry seemed to be growing.

The bus, a poly-chrome green, well it was more like Jackson Pollack discovering every shade of green while designing a mobile Rorschach test, green.  It blended nicely with the trees that framed the parking area and yet not camouflaged; the Major, Darcy and the bus were alone in the early morning hours.  But those hours of solitude were swiftly passing as more vehicles arrived.

The cars, trucks and RVs filled the parking area.  The Major couldn’t see an exit, his pulse quickened; all the voices around began to blend into a maddening cacophony.  What were they saying?  What language?  He heard the scream again, who screamed?

No one else responded…The Major couldn’t breathe, in the cool of this mountain morning sweat was rolling down his brow, burning his eyes.

A small, gentle hand rested on his shoulder, “Major, in the bus, you’ve got to change.”

“Change?”  The word didn’t register.

“Yeah, change, take off the khakis and put on someone else, like the costume, the one you’re holding, become a storyteller…and don’t forget the hat…the hat sells it…and oh those feathers, love the feathers.”  Darcy almost swooned at the thought of the feathers.  The Major wondered which of the two of them had problems.

The Major climbed in the bus and noticed for the first time the garments he held; a forest green velvet coat, Edwardian style, brown wool trousers that resembled tree bark, with purple paisley braces, an off-white ruffled front shirt with lace cuffs, a tattered brown ascot, olive green sneakers with, international distress orange laces and The hat…a scarlet colored felt beef eater style, oversized…with feathers.  There were peacock tail feathers, one bent up, like a thin, colorful check mark and bright yellow-orange flight feathers pointing…down.

Just before emerging from the Rorschach test of a bus, he opened the door and asked, “What’s the bus’ name?”  Why did I do that, she’s going to tell me…it’s going to have a name, I know it’s going to have a name.

“Donnenel.”  Came the answer.

“What’s a ‘Donnenel’?” Why am I doing this to myself? The Major thought.

“A very lazy elf, he was a mess.  Let me see what you look like, let me see.”

The Major began to make his way through the pile of last week’s laundry that was the back seat of the, ever so green, VW bus when a scream stopped him.  “What are those, WHAT ARE THOSE, THOSE THINGS?”

As only his left foot had managed to make itself visible at that time, “You mean my socks? These ARE your shoes.”  He didn’t remember Darcy having size 11 feet so they really might not be ‘her’ shoes.

Not willing to face that yell again, he removed the olive green sneakers and then the regulation military issue khaki socks and replaced the shoes, sans socks.

“Better, they ruin the look.”  She tugged at the tail of his coat, pulled a sleeve down just a hair and stepped back to admire her handy work, “Much much better.”  The Major just raised one eye brow, the left, just enough to be discernable as he gave her a look.

“How has your prep been going, what have you done?”  She asked as she stepped back a pace to view him again.

“I’ve been reading all of Anderson’s, spent a weekend in B&N in their children’s section looking at contemporary things, I think I was being taken for a pedophile, and I don’t know…I don’t really get it.  Storytelling.”

Darcy slowly lifted her violet eyes from a speck of lint on his lapel, her back straightened, her hands in fists, rested squarely on her hips as she spoke and from the tone of her voice, he had no doubt who was in command.  “Most people will tell you that there are five elements of storytelling.  The setting: where the story’s taking place.  The character:  This is whom the story is about.  Plot: what’s happening.  Backstory: what happened before and how did it contribute to the current situation.  Detail:  which specific things should your audience notice.

“That’s all well and good, but when you are telling a story, not reading it aloud, not reciting a thing you’ve rehearsed over and over ’til it’s perfect.  Storytelling is about taking your audience someplace else.  Your biggest problem is figuring how you’re going to get them there, Major.

“We’re here to write an article about you losing a competition, a competition that no one has won in 37 years, because no member of the judging panel has ever been taken left this field, no one has gone ‘somewhere else’ .  You’re going to tell a story…you may lose, BUT, know this; you’ll walk back to Mountain View if you just quit.

“There are your judges, four very ill tweens, six vets; who like you are wounded, their scars are on the outside and that smiling little girl, blind since birth.  So…show me what you got soldier and it better be your best.”

What have I got?  You want a story that has hope, courage and paints pictures in the mind, he thought to himself.

“That’s what storytellers do.  And you forgot heart, gotta have heart.”  The Major never noticed Darcy was responding to just his thoughts.

“Darcy”, speaking softly, almost a whisper, “Darcy I don’t know that I have any of that…not any.”

“You forget, Major you’re someone else, you’re the storyteller.  You’ve got every story that you’ve ever heard, every dream you’ve ever dreamed to draw on.  Wasn’t there a time that you wanted to, had to, tell someone something, something important, and a story was the best of all possible ways, the only way, to say it.  A story for a child, an elder, someone you loved, for someone who was loved?”

The Major knew that in his life there were only the five letters, letters to the families of the men that were with him, with him then, and their responses.  Those responses he had never opened.  Afraid to accept that his letters failed to tell the story well, tell who their sons and daughter were; to him, to each other, to so much more than their country.  Not knowing that without those replies, the story would never be complete.

“No, no never.”  His head turned to the side, looking off in the distance at…nothing.

“Well, you’re going to today.”

The lighthearted lilt returning to her voice, “You might think that Major Quickstep doesn’t have enough of that, but today, today you are Shaman, and that is your stock and trade.  I mean would the Major ever dress like that?  What’s your first name, and if you say ‘Major’ I will slap you.”

“Stephen, its Stephen P. Quickstep.”  Sounding like a boy in grade school responding to an inquiry from a teacher, head hung down and scuffling his feet.

“What’s the ‘P’ stand for?” she was back to adjusting his costume.

“Oh, nothing, just my grandfather’s idea of a joke.”

“Stephen, I am in journalism, or at least a journalism class, and neither ‘Nothing’ nor ‘Joke’ starts with a ‘P’.  Never mind.  Let me fix that hat.”

“It doesn’t fit, it keeps falling down over one ear, and the feathers tickle.”

“Yeah…and it is sooo cute.  Just work it into the story.”

“What…?”

The Major was called to the stage and walking up those two steps to the small platform, he was thinking; Hope… Courage… light and dark… how do I get them there? Heart…He glanced up…thirty seconds…crap.

Is he really writing a sermon?

I should never clean my attic; found another notebook.  It would seem that in the early 90’s, a collection of confused individuals took me seriously; enough so that they invited me to offer a homily (or three).  The strangest part of this is that they invited me back after the first time.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…” and although my dear Mom Moore would never approve, I’ve always gone with laughter as THE most joyful of noises.

I found my early notes for that first sermon…ready or not here it goes.

 

There once was a bright young turkey by the name of George.  George was raised on a ranch with about five hundred other turkeys (it was a turkey ranch).

Now the owners of this turkey ranch were good, I mean the very best Christian folk; they said grace over every meal, not just the “God is good, God is great, yeah God, let’s eat”, grace, they meant it.

There was a bible reading and discussion among the family every night and the children listened and asked questions and the adults listened to the children.  They held church each and every day.

And every day, George, the turkey, listened and he hoped that someone would ask the question he wanted to ask; sometimes they did and sometimes he just had to wait, and listen.

It was a Tuesday afternoon, just after the blessing of the meal that George let out a joyful AMEN (it sounded like ‘gobble gobble’ to the family); but, George knew, he knew what it was to believe, he was a Christian turkey.

He went back to the flock to share his new found faith; “Guys, guys…listen, we can fly!”  Bold opening.

“Uh, George, have you looked around, I mean looked real close…we’re turkeys you dumby.”

“I know, but if we believe, really believe, He will give us wings like eagles.”  George went on to tell them about love and grace and all the wonderful promises.  The flock walked away, laughing.  George that Christian turkey just smiled and kept on talking.

After a few days, two or three of the younger toms moved in George’s direction and asked a couple of questions, George answered and what he said made sense.  George invited them to church, hanging outside the kitchen window during Bible study.  Soon there were several ‘gobble gobbles’ as everything came together for a growing number of the flock.

Those birds close to George went out into the flock and shared all they had come to know.

The day had come, George stood before the flock and said, “Let us take up wings like eagles.”  Each and every turkey lifted their head and in a solemn tone, “Gobble gobble” rose up across the yard and five hundred turkeys began to fly.

It was a wonderment, all those butterballs soaring up into the clouds, darting about, laughing…until they got tired; then they landed and all walked home.

My questions to you are:  What kind of Christian turkey are you?  How soon are you going to quit and just walk home? Do you or do you not belong in the clouds, that truly is the way ‘home’.

Remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Pray without ceasing and when all else fails, use words”

Pax

Birthday Songs

Reviewing notes left over the decades in moleskins tucked away in boxes here and there.

Turning 60

I never thought much about life,

Spent many long hours, dwelling on death

Never saw a contribution as possible

Tomorrow, yes it is tomorrow

I’ll own 6 decades…

And now, now

There are things I want, need to do

Lord help me…I have goals

Where do I find any help

To reach those ends?

I discovered a story

It must be told.

In a new language

Foreign

A language

Of hope

Don’t know

Where to begin

But can’t stop movin’

Or I’ve died already.

Wise men have said;

Know but on tounge

You are ignorant

Know but one faith

You’re a fool

Stop laughing at yourself

And you’ve

Lost

Your sense of humor

Monday

Monday, the first day of my week.

Have you ever loved someone strongly/deeply and just as strongly really looked forward to their going to work/visit/vacaion…away.

Backstory.

When, 19 years ago (the SWMBO, 39 and me, 50) I married the SWMBO we were different people.

She had grown up with, and over the years closer to, her family (mom, dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neices and Great-Grandpa/Grandma built a house, when Greandpa married, GGPa and GGMa, built him a house, next door (GGP and GGM could watch kids, train new wife) and everyone was happy.

When the time came, her Dad and Mom married, GP and GM built them a house, two blocks away (GGP and GGM had several children as did GGP and GGM’s brothers) and we had a village, a cohesive clan (an anthropologist’s dream).

I, I came from a rather dissimilar background. Leaving home at sixteen seemed quite all right, for all (my single greatest accomplishment in this life; I graduated from High School with my starting class). Ileft home, I didn’t leave town.

I enlisted at eighteen, I was Honorably Discharged at twenty-four, a father at twenty-five and I left home at twenty-eight. My son (not my, singular, accomplishment…rather the greatest gift the world has received in a very long time) and his mother thought that I ran away to “become” a hippie.

(A touch more backstory) In my early youth, I could be found in many “underground” establishments, coffeehouses, home of the beatniks, full of smoke (take your pick), many percussion instruments and questionable poetry. They were the “non-conservatists”. I later discovered the definition of the enemy, the “conservatists”: A conservatist is any individual that refuses to conform to the present standards of non-conservatism.

I never sought ‘hippiedom’, it was a convienient title that was besowed upon me. I was hoping to practice a ‘counter-cultureal’ movement…it wasn’t there. Peace, Love and Brotherhood, sadly replaced with Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll.

I encountered kids persueing the dream, an ideal they would never find with their ‘establishment’ (conservative) family, they would never understand. They would never understand.

And like a man glancing in a window, capturing a snapshot of the life on the other side, I saw others, older, with longer hair, brighter shirts of many patterns, head bands and beads, extending theirs hands, not to embrace but for the gelt…always the gelt.

Titles change, decades pass, the definitions are the same.

The SWMBO is upset that I have choosen to grow my hair long, once more. “You want to look like a ‘hippie’ again, don’t you. I want you to get a hair cut.” It’s winter and the hair keeps my ears arm…and to be honest, I ike the way I look with long hair.

“I’m planning a fishing trip, Cyd, fly fishing near Daloneagha…a few days, in March.”

“Good, we can visit Steve and Pat then go down to Daytona for the flea market…we haven’t been there in years…down on Friday, back on Sunday morning…it’ll be fun”

“Steve lives in ST. Augustine, way South, not North…I want to go alone and I don’t want to ‘shop’.” That conversation was five days ago, she hasn’t spoken to me since.

I love to fish, the SWMBO hates water, standing still by a body of water I have found oh so many things…Peace…in comes in many forms; silence, the lapping of waves, great and small, life all around, solitude…I have to laugh, solitude; if I’m lucky that will last for the briefest of time, a nano second in contemporary speach.

When you fish you watch the tip of your pole, the epicenter of your world, feel the flow of the river, the ocean ‘s tides, the way water always moves; watch the way light catches your line before it is lost in the flow. Connected in this way to a stream, river, lake or ocean no two alike, color, reflections of sun, stars or moon…all different and you’re connected and connected to everything around, above and below it.

I don’t always fish to catch, fish that is, I fish to get connected, to belong; the fish are a bonus.

At age sixty I was told I had cancer (I’m good, in remission), I went fishing, I need some Peace and I found the Holy Trinity. Only from a place of Peace do some things make sense. I like definitions and the thing I most enjoy really defies definition: Peace, but there were components of that elusive Peace that allowed me to understand what Love and Brotherhood really are.

Peace was found in solitude, being;  but not alone. I had looked in the Bible, The Koran, The Torah the teachings of Lord Buddha, interpretations of Kafka, in my youth and didn’t know what I was really looking for. I found it…in every one of those literary treasures.

The eleventh commandment sums it up nicely: Luke 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you Love one another. (Jesus goes on to explain this further) Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” He broke bread with tax collecters and the one that would betray Him, He cured the deaf, the blind, the afflicted and the lame without checking their voter registraion or sexual orientation; He died for everyone.

Most people have access to a Bible and can check the reference, please do, please do. Then go fishing, or walk or watch the moon and the stars at night; do or go whatever or where ever you find Peace and just Love the brother or sister that’s holding the rod or filling the shoes that are walking as Jesus loved you, as Allah embraces you, El has taught you and all the teachings have lead you.

And smile.

Peace out. mw