Building a Community

Building a community requires a very large stock pot, water, a two to three pound stone and a heat source.

You have all the ingredients of “Stone Soup” *.   Forgive me; there is another ingredient, an invitation to everyone (apartment complex, congregation, graduating/start class, etc.) with the assurance that they are welcome to bring others and their favorite ingredient for stone soup; pasta, salt, pepper, cilantro, a carrot, tomato, peas, cabbage, beef…; but just enough for them.

As the pot boils and the fifteen, thirty-one or fifty people laugh about the preposterous concept of stone soup and a few names are exchanged…the soup is ready (prepare for this by gathering as many and varied bowls you can find, thrift store, garage sales…no two alike).  Your soup may be enhanced with a few loaves of beer bread (three cups of self rising flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 can of the cheapest beer you can find; mix, put in a loaf pan, 325 for 20 min or so)

Enjoy the very tasty soup.  Its the variety, the individuality and total lack of expectation that opens the pallet to appreciate a wonderful dish. and everyone

And for dessert; gather up the pot, when all have had their fill, and all join in sharing the gallons remaining with those that have nothing, those you forgot to invite.

*”Stone Soup” a picture book by Marcia Brown

Weed Garden

 

I love my weed garden (there is not a single cannabis plant to be found).  I am the only human in the house that shares this sentiment.

Over the years I have planted trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials around the house and throughout the yard.  Digging here is much like anywhere in Georgia; there is red clay and there are rocks, rocks of every size, shape and mineral imaginable.  The rocks went into a pile; I called it, my pile of rocks.

On one particularly hot summer day, four years ago, I envisioned a rustic rock wall, along the culvert that made an eight foot deep cut into the little hill that is my back yard.  The culvert runs for about a hundred feet before sliding into the five foot diameter drainage pipe beneath the lane.

It was an ambitious plan and after careful thought and a chilled beverage, I scaled back my vision of a wall to about twelve feet.  Even so, it was still a lot of rocks to move.

As happens with many of my visions, things changed.  The wall I envisioned moved from the top of the hill; I carved instead into the bank and stacked the stones.

Just beyond the top of the wall was every imaginable natural, wild growth to be found in Georgia.  One year the rains carried blackberries, blackberries that grew in grand proliferation; to the delight of the neighbor’s children as they approached the brambles with buckets and visions of jams and pies.  The storms came and as storms are want to do, they brought change; the blackberries were soon replaced with fragrant honeysuckle (and poison oak, not the best year).

It was that year of the ‘fragrant itch’, in late spring the wall evolved, into a garden.  The pile of rocks all but disappeared and became three small, terraced sections, bordered by rough stone walls.  Taken as a whole, the garden was shaped like a leaf.

I turned the earth, that wonderful Georgia red clay, and added fresh soil and turned it again.  I planted… wild flowers. In a few short weeks, tall, gangly green plants had pushed through the soil and raised their heads of yellow, orange, blue and red to the summer sky; and then the fun started.  Bumble bees from three counties took up residence, along with a host of butterflies and by early July, the humming birds.

I took to having my morning coffee; sitting on the wet grass beside the garden, the new inhabitants took little or no notice of me even the feral gerbils that had burrowed their way in (chipmunks).

Today, once again, the SWMBO, informed me that the garden, like my unkempt hair was “unbecoming” and had to go.  One is going all too fast on its own, the other…not by my hand, if however she wished to disassemble it…

As it is every Spring Season, the garden is overrun with weeds and leaves from the old sycamore that had at last surrendered to the assaults of wind and lightening.  Vines of various types had worked their way up from the culvert and through the cracks in the wall; some moved the stone in sections and that part of the wall would be redone and others anchored the stones in place, like a living thing.

Familiar earth, rich and black, turning easily, as a familiar shovel blade cut into it, weeds give up their hold, for a season.  Soon I’ll sit quietly in the grass and listen to the sweet music from my little weed garden.  And I’ll smile, a lot.

Peace out, pilgrimsImageImageImage

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

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