Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Morning and Meditation

I survived my day, as difficult as it was.  I understand better the fears of St. Patrick living among the Irish pagans, himself a Christian. There are people who attach themselves to others like leeches and mosquitoes.  Their solution to living is to find a good host. St. Patrick in contrast lost to Jesus, the unseen advocate of all true believers.
This morningI woke and read the morning prayer aloud from the Book of Common Prayer.  I felt comforted, reminded too of the many many times I’d read this prayer in years of waiting and wanting.  This is the time before the return of the Messiah. This is when we wonder what to do but know that we are to carry his name to all lands.  So we say Jesus. To those who know, it means ‘god within’.  There is something more than the external dance of tragedy and comedy, electrons and neutrons.  Positive and negative. Left and right. It’s all a duality and dichotomy.  A manifestation or should we say womanfestation.  Language is so difficult in that other place of knowing.  Out here we divide, in there we join.
I’ve made coffee. Let me just pour a cup and I’ll return here. There, that is good. I’ve poured myself the first cup of morning coffee. I know there will be more. I often have another at work and sometimes one or two more in the afternoon.  This one is the best. I make it in a stove top expresso machine.  My stove has pretty blue gas flames.  I have a big tin of Kirkland coffee which I’ve added some Starbucks beans I ground in the little electric grinder. It’s my own ritual.  A ritual of moderate wealth and well being.  I know that near where I work there are poor and discouraged who will be tapping their inner arms with their fingers to raise a vein. They’ve put their powder in a spoon and cooked it with the blue flame from their dime store lighters.  They’ll draw this fluid into a syringe and inject that material into their arms. Their morning ritual done. There morning has begun. Only they’ll not be going out to play but rather going in.  Each in their own way.
When my dark black liquid boils on the stove and the rich aroma fills my little galley I take my machine and pour the magical richness into a special cup. It’s an orange Harley Davidson Motorcycle cup inscribed with the famous slogan “Live to Ride”.  Just reading that I fondly remember this last weekend’s ride to Sturgis North in Merritt BC where I heard Burton Cummings sing “These Eyes’.  But my mind drifts. There’s Creamo in a green and white container in the refrigerator. I open the door, take out the Creamo and pour it into the cup, topping it up, turning the black to a soft light brown. To this I add honey squeezed from a little plastic bear whose head sports a spout.  I take the first sip. Ah.  This drink will help me get out.  I have been within in the dreams of night returning to this place where adventures lie without.  The coffee opens me up, brightens my outlook, comforts me.  The monks drank tea.  Meditating in mountains, they turned to their little rituals with tea.  And through time, ships captains and pilots and surgeons have all joined together in these rituals of alertness.  Whereas downtown near where I work another man has slumped over returning to his dreams.  Clouds they call it.  There but for the Grace of God go I.
I meditated too, after reading the Morning Prayer aloud I sat cross-legged as I learned to do years ago as a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.  I reflected on my breathing.  In my mind I repeated the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 then the Dessert Father’s Prayers and rested my mind on my breathing. St. Augustine did just this very thing nearly two thousand years ago.  Some say Jesus taught yoga himself. They didn’t call it yoga then.  Just meditation.  But they used an Arameic word.  The breath has always been fascinating to the saints.  The common people think little of it.  Money is what they want.  We all like money but it’s useless without breath.  So why focus so much on little exchangeable people poop bits of money when the real breath of life is within.  I like people poop,  coins and paper and promises from banks which can’t be trusted any more than anything else in the impermanent world of exteriors.
But here within there is a sense of permanence. I don’t even think of breathing and it happens.  Over and over again like my Harley Motorcycle engine that thrums when I turn on the ignition.  But I don’t even turn the ignition. It’s always running. A perpetual motion machine as far as I and my life are concerned.  My parents certainly ignited this engine but surely with the help of Jesus. Not to say there was a threesome though the Trinity wouldn’t exclude the possibility.  Life occurred when they imagined it. The idea of me preceded my presence or perhaps my presence was only later attached to an idea.  It always astonishes me to know I’ve met those who didn’t know how they became pregnant.  There was no connection to the sexual act and their own being.  They came from villages, ignorant as humans all were before agriculture and herding.  Back in the day when we ate what greens we found and killed animals as animals killed each other.
And here I am sitting at this MacAir lap top computer typing at a keyboard. This machine is attached to a cord, much like an umbilical cord that runs to a plug that goes to wires that go out the wall and attach to a central maze of wires that collect energy from the rushing water in a damned up stream somewhere around here.  I know there are no nuclear power plants and we’re not burning coal so this magical thing called electricity must be coming from the flow of rushing water controlled by a damn with just the right amount siphoned off to power turbines which “generate’ electron flow from water flow. It’s alchemical physics, something the wonder of which is only a few hundred years old.
I began writing with a crayon, then a pencil then a fountain pen. I still love the fountain pens I used to use with their little levers that drew ink from a bottle into their encased bladder reserves which like a syringe allowed me to inject the page with ideas that would remain not unlike stone tablets carved with chisel and hammer.  I have notebooks where the ink remains upon the page, the edges of the letters showing a multitude of peninsulas and fjords where the ink has seeped out from the line to plant it’s roots in the page ready to hold on for hundreds of years like the writing in the books I saw in Rome and Jerusalem.  Old treasure. Archeological hoards. And even as I write new barbarians in Syria and Afghanistan are destroying masterpieces wrought by human hands, the art of creation, sometimes having taken life times to achieve, with a fart like synaptic experience translated to a trigger press and a rocket launch.  Barbarians.
Driving to work later this morning I’ll listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news and learn of how my fellow man continues to kill and rape. There are those still cannibalizing but it’s considered faux pas to talk about that, like the enemy soldiers who sodomize the dead.  Never our soldiers, only theirs. Genital mutilation is all the rage in some places but one mustn’t speak of home fried liver of ones enemy. I’m here on the west coast of Canada where the aboriginals were eating each other a scant generation back as part of the norm of that society.  My Scottish forebears still wear dresses but save their best frocks for only special killing occasions.  No doubt haggish was served with English sweetmeats at some time in the past.
I made porridge when I made the coffee.  I have a plastic electric kettle.  These plastic electric kettles that sit on a plastic pad with an electrical burner that reaches up into the bowels of the kettle are quite a wonder themselves. I press a button on the moulded black handle and a little red light glows.  In  minutes there’s a rumbling and steam emerges happily from under the lid and the whole thing shuts off when the water is boiled safe and free of all germs and pathogens, and hot and ready for adding to some other food source.
I remember my mother in her 80’s liking just to have a cup of boiled water.  I didn’t see what I do now.  There is more I love about my parents each milestone I close on them, catching up as I do now that they are resting.
I have these little packets of instant oats.  Quaker Oats.  The Quakers are that peace loving Christian group that fill the ambulance ranks and medic ranks of any war happy to help the wounded but thoroughly unwilling to engage in the killing of humans.  When they congregate in their churches they love to sit together in silence.  They are thought strange by their neighbours.  What can life be without at least the possibility of killing one ’s neighbour in a rage, a mob or sanctioned by a government decree.  How could one possibly go through life prepared to die rather than defend oneself to the death.  What an odd interpretation of the life of Jesus whose apostles surely carried knives and wore swords and were they here today would definitely favour Glock 9mm.
Come to think of it, I don’t have a Glock 9 mm.  To own a handgun in Canada I must have a residence on land, leased or rented but one with a secure safe which I can lock the weapon away in.  As it is I’m living in boats, trailers and hotels like a gypsy or cowboy, my office doubling as my home, a living room with down the hall washroom. The couch is not for sleeping or isn’t meant to be. Not that I’ve not napped on it.
I was talking about oats. Grains, The Quakers and farming.  I have a stoneware bowl. White, one I bought as a set at Canadian tire.  It’s a steal really. A four piece setting of plate stoneware that I was able to by for maybe $50 dollars.  50 dollars is what any man can make in wages in a day doing just untrained labour and I can today buy the thing that once only royalty could own.  It’s a very fine bowl. Despite the chip I can’t yet let go of it.  The rest of the plates are without blemish but this one bowl has seen much more use. Even today I fill it with the Instant Quaker Oats and pour the boiling water into the bunch of white and grey flakes and consider trucks travelling daily cross continents to bring  us these boxes of Quaker Oats. Sometimes it travels on great container ships to be dispersed around the world.  And here in my tiny abode I have a bowl full of not just oats but ‘instant’ oats.  Where once I had to soak and boil these to perfection. Now almost magically the combination of water and oats gives me a warm bowl of highly nutritious cereal. Personally I think some Quaker might very well have prayed over these very oats.   You can’t stop a Quaker from praying for world peace.  They are the original Peaceniks.  Worse than Mennonites.  The Hippies were Johnny Come Latelies to a long line of Christian sacrificial lambs.
I think I’ll get up and add some evaporated milk from another can , I rarely have milk, forgetting to buy it whereas these cans come in handy and I can keep them in the cupboard for occasions just like this.  The steel can opener, an amazing tool, that rotates a wheel and pops off a lid or just punctures a can of evaporated milk so that I can pour the wholesome white wonder all over my Quaker Oats before I squeeze some honey onto of the whole stuff.  Life is good.
Now let me eat my breakfast as the day progresses and soon I’ll have to rush off to that funnel of adventure and activity and demands and multitudes of chores and expectations called my normal day.  If I’d not woken early I’d not even be able to sit here and play with this extraordinary word processor that takes the ideas that pop into my mind and place them on a page where those can be linked to this global network of ideas called the internet. Last I looked a million or so souls on a planet of billions had read some of what I’d written or processed in just these last very few years since I began to do this thing called ‘blogging’ an activity brought to me by a group called “Google”.  There’s a baby sound to the world, like a creativity that doesn’t quite make it to the level of killing but instead gurgles and googles.  Somewhere in the world of education and libraries and people searching and sharing. And today of course, they’re using it to sell drugs, slaves, sex and everything else. But a million or so weren’t so much interested in anything more than I might be interested now in the Quaker Oats. I’m beginning the outward exploration of this day.
Breathing, aromas, coffee, taste, liquids, now solids.  The baby awakes and ……googles.
Mmmm that honey and cream and quaker oats tastes oh so good. There’s a touch of mother in this.  Comfort food.
After I read the Morning Prayers, I picked up a very special manuscript, “A Collection of Short Stories from the late Madame Therese Bourguignon” by Douglas Aikins.  It’s a real treat of a read.  Douglas is a strapping tall laughing lean French Canadian with an eye for the unusual and whimsical. As another member of the Canadian Authors Association I have enjoyed immensely each time he’s read from his latest writings. Now he’s honoured me by asking that I read his latest book presently in preparation for the publisher. Bernice Lever, an editor we are all so fond of, has the copy even as I write. She’s working on details.  Douglas wanted my opinion, mostly because one of the principal characters in his stories is a psychiatrist. That’s what I am too. So he wondered if it all rang true.  And hence I was honoured. I’m glad I’m a psychiatrist.  If I were only a lawyer or a plumber I might not get to read this book of Douglas’s but have to wait till he honoured lawyers and plumbers by giving his character their trade.  I am honoured as truly is my craft for Douglas is a writer of great talent  I am jealous of as I read his dancing whimsical expressions and hear his unique voice reveal the nuances of French and English cultures in that mythical world of rural Quebec.  I read the first chapter even before I had my coffee and knew that I would not want to rush this read.  It could have kept me in pyjamas all day if I wasn’t such a dutiful physician increasingly aware that even now I m lining up for the shower before literally jumping into clothing and with my little dog heading for my Miata sports car to join the scurrying masses in their various vehicles heading into the centre of the city to spend their days like I do in offices, constructing, building, doing, creating, networking, and celebrating something or other.  I love the way Douglas Aikins turns a phrase and spins a tale. He’s a raconteur of the old French kind, a story teller with folk lore and fantasy and characters who could well be Gods living as men or fairytale creatures.  I’m looking forward to reading this more. I opened it only because I’d taken it out of my bag and left it on the table.  Then it was what I read first after meditating.  I must learn to write as lightly as this master of words.  His sentences flows like music. There’s a symphony in his paragraphs. I could hear flute and kettle drum and worry that my own writing is too much like a bango playing in some movie like Deliverance.
My friend Nathan Pollock, another writer, definitely a fiddler of words and maybe even a banjo player,  gave me his book last month, "The Autobiography of Doctor Jack”. It’s a collection of stories and poems.  They came from conversations in a bar where Nathan wrote ideas out on napkins. I have done that as well, carrying these little scraps of writing in the pocket of my sports jacket, forgetting they are art and using them to blow my nose then trying later trying to read around the snot to learn what I'd written.
I am blessed to have such friends.  I truly am.
The Quaker Oats is gone.  My little cockapoo dog sleeping now at my feet will surely want to lick the bowl.  I’ll not let him lick the coffee cup. He’s already so full of energy he’s dropped a yellow tennis ball at my feet just in case I want to throw ball already.  His idea of Jesus is definitely a Yankee pitcher.
Not that anyone cares but if someone were wondering what Canadians do after coffee and quaker oats, I’ll tell them, that having already visited the head I’ll return there in a moment. I’ll also shave using a relatively new razor with foaming soap and hot water. Terrorists on the run have long beards mostly because they rarely have the luxury of hot water and foaming soap and Gillette razors or even electric razors.  Their women don’t shave their legs and armpits for the same reason.  When all your money goes to buy ammunition and survival equipment there is little left for luxury. The people in refugee camps are little better off. They’re all mourning losses.  I don’t have to be prepared for bombing today. I’m blessed to have lived in Canada where at best we throw expletives at politicians and complain that our damns and mines are interfering with the habitat of some endangered species. We have time for neuts and salamander because are children aren’t being killed at school, though it’s likely a whole lot were aborted in sterile rooms filled with secrets and lies.  We’re civilized.  Mostly we wash every day.
We have all this water the global warming fanatics are suddenly interested in. They’re demanding we give them our cool mountain streams when they wouldn’t send us their heat when we were freezing in the middle of our frozen winters. They laughed at our igloos but now they’d sell a ferrari to an eskimo for an igloo just to fill their long dry back yard pools. Their governments fine them if they use a sprinkler.  Here we’re drowning in water.
Even in Winnipeg a friend complained of the floods and sent a picture of a realtor swimming with fins and snorkels down the street.  The water will be gone in days.  In Alberta when the rivers flooded last year and so many homes were destroyed everything is rebuilt except for the reputation of the police who used the opportunity to break into the homes of Canadians and steal their rifles from their locked gun cases claiming they were doing a civic duty meanwhile the criminals with illegal guns were roaming the deserted buildings stealing necklaces and jewels unafraid the cops would actually bother them for the police are increasingly tasked to watch over the most devout citizen.  Everyone knows a Christian only has to turn his cheek 70 times 70. We’re counting.  Obama has militarized the police and tanks are being sent out to every town and village.  Storms are brewing.  Earthquakes.
And money.
It’s so easy to forget the beauty of breath.  It’s so easy to forget the wonder of a cup of coffee. I am blessed with Quaker Oats.
Even now I’m ready to stand in a hot shower and bathe with scented soap from India. There’s a store that sells these amazing bars of wonderfulness that come all the way to Vancouver from Bombay.  I feel like the owner of the Taj Mahal must have felt when he arose in the morning years past and thanks to slaves and burning wood he could enjoy a rare ’shower’ and soap himself with this fine Bombay soap.  He might have had maidens lathering his body. In Canada we no longer have maidens only feminists and sometimes they don’t even bathe.
A favourite poet friend, Lilija, who wrote the “Faultline” poems asked where the feminists were when Sharia Lawyers and Judges were giving the death sentence to pretty girls for allowing themselves to be raped by AK47 wielding men with beards and cowardice in their hearts.  We both know that Canadian feminists have not fought the real wars. The nitpick about Ms or Mrs or Miss, always ready to harrigan about language demanding ‘political correctness’ at all cost.  They denigrate the cause of women by demanding tokenism not believe in meritocracy. Canadian feminists would back men not women in a fair fight. In contrast my international feminist following Thai friend Aim, sees herself mostly as a woman wanting whats best for women the world over and fearing feminism per se can be hijacked by special interests. She is brilliant and powerful but had no difficulty being the most beautiful of brides. Her man surely worships her.
I must shower. My mind made peaceful by meditation is already going the way of the BBC.  All day I will be buffeted by different ideologies. Every one will talk of death or sleep and I will hold that I am there to wake them up and celebrate life even as my government is promoting euthanasia , celebrating death as the new health care solution. Save money, kill the patient.
Time to shower and look everywhere for the evidence of grace. An attitude of gratitude dispels all fear.  Anxiety kills.  God's within. All the clutter out there can not disturb the great peace.  Inside is permanence. Laugh and sing. It’s a new day. How blessed you are to live here and have these simple things which are truly miracles.  We take so much for granted.  Help me God to ever see the majesty in all your works, no matter how apparently humble. Help me never to lose sight of the little things and be thankful for what I have.
Thank you for Gilbert my cockapoo companion too. He’s slept right through this morning.

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