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  • It’s funny, the mind thinks it remembers the essence of what an experience was like, but how much of that essence is actually retained in the memory? I think only a small portion of it, just enough to know that it was an experience to be remembered. But, since while you’re in it, there are things happening on many different levels, not all necessarily at the conscious level, what we remember of it is only a small portion of the overall detail.

    This is probably why, when two people share an experience, both in the exact same place, having what seems to be a very similar experience, what each remembers of it might be completely different. It’s those fragments, those pieces of the overall experience that each chose to retain, to carry forward in the conscious memory of it.

    Take, for instance, these retreats I come up to, twice a year. Each time, I come up carrying the memories of the (now 8) previous retreats I’ve been to, and when I first get here, more often than not, I find myself looking for, expecting, some similarities to those previous experiences I’ve had here. They were such warm and wonderful experiences, a part of me is yearning for, and wanting, that same, familiar experience. And, each time, I have to move past that expectation, and allow myself to simply be empty and open and mindfully awake to be here now, to experience what THIS weekend has in store for me. Because, each time, it is different – much different.

    There always comes a point in the weekend where I realize that I’m in it. I’ve finally let go of those incoming expectations, and given myself over to the experience of this one. That’s when I really begin to reap the benefit of being here.

  • You see, there’s things about this place, this group, and this experience, that I haven’t been able to write about. I know it, I experience it when I’m here, when I’m not filling my head with things I’m looking for, and just being. It’s kind of like this (my attempt to put the undefinable into words) – there have been times, when I’ve lain awake at night on the first night, unable to fall asleep for being so wired on the caffeine and junk I consumed on the long journey up here, when I used to drive it, or when I awake early in the morning, long before anyone else arises – at these times, I have occasionally felt the spirits of those who have been here before, and have left a part of their spirits here, to lift and inform mine of the life, and the renewal, this sacred place holds for any who are open to it.

    I felt this most strongly my very first night in this house. Perhaps, since I had no prior experience to compare it to, I was most open that time to feel and touch those spirits. There was no doubt in my being that they were very real, palpable, spirits, holy spirits, possessing of a highly attuned healing quality. I gave myself over to them, and I felt very healed by them. I felt embraced, and loved, and carried by them.

    This time, after slogging through my initial adjustment awkwardness to being here again, I felt them again, as I awoke at 4 a.m. this morning. They welcomed me to the day. They held me, and reassured my spirit that all was well. I was seriously contemplating going back to sleep – I’ve gotten a lot better at doing that, getting the additional hour or two that really helps me to feel more rested, but I felt those spirits pulling me towards an awakened state of my spirit, and I laid down my resistance, and got up.

    I had been having a dream right before that happened. In it, I was in a house in which I was resisting all attempts to get me to leave it. I was barricading myself in there, refusing to leave, even though the bulldozers were on their way, and the place was going to be raized, with or without me in it. The house had been condemned, and it had to go. But, I loved that old house. I was perfectly willing to go down with it. I was hanging onto it right to the bitter end.

  • But, thankfully, these kind spirits said, “Enough”, and awoke me with such love and a true sense of belonging, I was quickly over that dream and eagerly looking forward to what this day had in store for me. I was awake, alert, alive, and filled with a sense of joy and anticipation. Anticipation of what was to come. I knew something good was coming. I didn’t know what, and I didn’t care about the particulars. I was alive and I was happy.

    I am alive. I am happy. There is so much good happening in the world today. So much. Amidst the ruins, like a phoenix, is arising a palpable spirit of life, of undaunted optimism, of a determination to fight the good battle, where’er it need be fought, to reinvigorate the world with a spirit of kindness, goodness, and active engagement in our lives.

    My seatmate flying back from Minneapolis on Wednesday might be partially responsible for this attitude I’m feeling, and sensing, and giving myself over to. She was really something. I haven’t known quite how to write about her, until just now. It’s coming to me.

    I was in the aisle seat, about halfway back in the plane, and she had the middle seat of the three in our row. As I stood up and out to let her get into her seat, she coughed, and immediately apologized, explaining that she has pneumonia, but not to worry, she wasn’t contagious, it was bacterial pnuemonia. I wasn’t worried for myself, I was concerned for her, traveling with pneumonia. We got to talking. We talked the entire 3 hour flight. Her story was equally uplifting and appalling. I felt so honored to have spent that time, shared that ride, with this young lady. I’ve never met anyone quite like her, with the possible exception of our Kristin. Yes, she reminded me a lot of Kristin, not in her looks, but in her indomitable spirit, her undying positivity, in the face of disasters the likes of which few of the people I have known have had to face.

  • She was Melissa Mays, who I learned, happened to be the voice of the residents of Flint, Michigan. She was coming to D.C. to testify, on Thursday, before a congressional sub-committee. She had just been in town the previous week, for a similar reason. She had also been in to speak at the Woman's March the day after the inauguration. She went on right after Angela Davis.

    Melissa described in detail what her family of three boys and her husband have had to endure for the past going-on-three years, since the government made the decision to switch the water supply for Flint from the same source that supplies water to Detroit, to drawing the water from the river that goes through town.

    Since then, Flint has gone to hell in a handbasket, and the health of its citizens has been, literally, sold down the river. After the initial concerns and lots, and lots of rhetoric about what would be done to address the issues there, not a whole lot has been done. Flint has, pretty much, been left to fend for itself. There have been many who have tried to help – several celebrities, most notably Mark Ruffalo, have been especially helpful – but the government has done practically nothing. Flint is kind of on its own.

    But, fortunately for Flint, one of its residents is a young lady named Melissa Mays. She believes, with her whole heart, which I will tell you, is huge, and her whole soul, which is so committed and singularly determined to prevail over all the evils that have befallen her hometown and her family, that she will win this battle against a mighty evil. She believes. And, I believe.

    As we parted ways, down by baggage claim, I couldn’t help but think we are probably going to cross paths again, somewhere down the road, and I fully believed in my heart that this woman would not be stopped. Attempts have been made on her life – yes, they did cut her brake lines. She laughed at their stupidity. “They’re going to have to do a hell of a lot more than that to stop me.” She was (is) fearless.

    But, she lied to me at the beginning. She said that she was not contagious. Oh, she was contagious. Quite so. Her spirit has infected mine, and now I feel a new certainty, a new hope, that shines so clear and bright when I am awakened early in the morning, that, despite all appearances, all will be well in the land of the free. Like Melissa Mays, I believe many of us are waking up, with a newfound determination to not let the bastards get us down.

    I believe that we shall overcome.

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