AND NOW A WORD FROM ‘ANDY ROONEY’- part 3-

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AND NOW A WORD FROM ‘ANDY ROONEY’. . .

By Roger Clark

Several months ago, I was asked if I would be interested in contributing occasional writings for Spiritual Climate. These could be on a subject(s) of my choosing to bring up the rear (so to speak) of the newsletter; being the oldest member of the group, made me think of Andy, though I do trim my eyebrows.

         “T’is the Season to Be Jolly”

My Christmas season starts earlier than most. If I don’t have my tree and decorations up by Halloween, my grand kids think there is something wrong. This year I did, however, wait until the day after to decorate and light the tree, and the day after Thanksgiving to turn on the outside lights. Don’t want to offend anyone, you know.

And now, December 9, most of the shopping is done! Did the annual Mall trip a couple weeks ago, to get the “flavor” of the holiday season? (That’s Christmas to those of you who are not offended) Bought a few things, but the bulk of present purchasing was done at Amazon.com, and other shops while I checked out online sites naked from the comfort of my own home.

Though starting this article with another story, I felt inspired to share some thoughts and experiences brought to mind today, when trekking out for the annual Brother Bonding Shopping Spree. Though seemingly disjointed, they are examples of how this “senior” mind works. I keep reading how bad the economy is and how retailers are so worried about making up for lost annual sales. Today is a Wednesday and at 10:30 a.m. the only parking spaces in site of the stores were for handicapped. Lucky us! My brother was looking for Sponge Bob Chump Bucket Legos (say that 5 times fast) for his grandson and it took four of the hiking trail super stores to finally come up with one. Presumably they are lead free. While looking through Target, I saw an associate talking on his walkie- talkie to another employee. “Sorry, I can’t help you now,” he said. “I am with a “guest”. If we are no longer customers, but guests, then why do they make us pay?

Then it was time for lunch at Pannera Bread, his favorite spot. I ordered a sesame bagel with cream cheese and coffee dujour. “Do you want anything with that?” I was asked, “Just cream cheese, please.” The same question was asked and answered two more times before I realized I was supposed to say “plain cream cheese”. The look I received was not particularly forgiving, taking up valued noon time rush. The highlight of the day, however, helped brighten my otherwise cynical outlook. A young mother noticed my brother standing, waiting for a place for us to sit. She got up and walked the length of the room, and invited us to join her. She was shopping for her three daughters and sitting alone. Not only did we sit with her but had a delightful conversation, and not once did her cell phone ring.

That brings me to my cell phone outrage…. It seems that few today can tolerate being in their own company, whether shopping, driving, or having the daily walk or jog. Multi-tasking is great, but not when it puts others at risk. I’m sure you have all seen someone go through a light, changing red with cell phone in one hand, and a cigarette or coffee in the other. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. It made me think of an old game we used to play while riding on a trip: that of counting out of state license plates. Now, though, whoever counts the most cell phone using drivers, wins.

To end the tale of this day, we stopped at the local Walgreen store on the way home. Upon checking out, the cashier asked me,”Do you need batteries today?” Answer: No thank you, I am traveling under my own power.

“And The World Will Be As One”

My brother and I were brought up in a time when there were perhaps one of two blacks in our entire graduating high school class. Our father was somewhat bigoted, but didn’t single out African Americans; he often referred negatively to Italians, Portuguese, Hispanics and anyone else who wasn’t a purebred ‘WASP’. Each had their own distinct characteristics, but we could trace our ancestors to the Mayflower. You’re impressed now, right-<smiles> As the years wore on, thankfully things began to change in his attitude as well as the country’s, but then it had to for him, for he loved his family. In his later years he found out African Americans weren’t so bad, especially when one married his grand daughter. Nor were Portuguese, Hispanics or even gays. I debated going on with more background, but that is not necessary, nor what my meanderings are getting to.

‘Robert’ (name changed for privacy concerns) and ‘Joseph’ (my nephew, name changed for privacy concerns) have been partners for eight years. They met while roommates at college; Robert becoming an elementary school teacher, and Joseph, a high school music director, both of whom received Teacher of the Year Awards at their respective schools. For a number of years they wanted to adopt children, and towards that end they even moved to another town with a superior school system to the one they were in, anticipating an eventual adoption. After many tries and dollars, taken by no result promises, they finally became one of eight couples being interviewed by the state for the care of a seven year old Hispanic boy. ‘M’ was taken by the state along with his two siblings from their abusive parents, bouncing from orphanage to foster homes, for a number of years. Much to their delight they were the selected couple to provide a home for the boy, a home, unlike any other he had known or dreamt about. ‘M’ now has his own room, neighborhood friends and loving family. My brother and his wife, now have the grandchild they had longed for. This past year ‘M’ was legally adopted by his new “Dad” and “Poppy.”

My brother for many years was a stereotypical “Archie Bunker” and as a result Joseph kept his sexual identity a secret from them. After much prodding from other members of the family, he finally told them, realizing he was denying them and hurting himself with the stress.

This past summer, I received an invitation in the mail, inviting me to the civil union of Robert and Joseph, to be held at a church in Connecticut where they live followed by a reception at a local country club. And this is the reason I decided to tell this story.

A formal wedding could not have been more beautiful: a perfect day, lovely church decorated with an abundance of flowers, and choir. The church was nearly filled by the invited plus many friends, teachers and students who just wanted to be a witness and part of the event. Joseph and Robert came down the aisle dressed in formal tuxes followed by ‘M’ carrying the ring pillow, the four parents and ushers.

All of those in attendance agreed it was one of the most beautiful and happy occasions they had witnessed. Gay, straight, friends, neighbors, family, African Americans, Hispanic, Korean and probably some I missed joined as one, dining, dancing and singing for the remainder of the day.

And the most heartwarming part was my brother, leaning over to me and saying, “Why can’t the world be like this every day?”

IMAGINE!

What does all this have to do with the Spiritual Climate? Everything!

I wish all my friends on the staff of the Spiritual Climate Newsletter, along with family, friends and fellow travelers the very best of the holiday season and a brighter New Year. May all our lights shine brightly in the upcoming year.

May Light Be Extended Unto You

Roger Clark

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Spiritual Climate Newsletter DECEMBER 2006 Part 5: COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Roger Clark

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Coming Home for Christmas

By Roger Clark

Merry Christmas to all you believers and to those of you do don’t believe, Greetings! When Christine asked me to write an article for the December Issue of the Spiritual Climate Newsletter, I didn’t hesitate to say Yes. All Kinds of thoughts ran through my head to write about “Coming Home for Christmas”, I even wrote it way before the deadline of December 17, yet, alas, when I went to email the article I hit the wrong button and deleted the whole thing! So, now here I sit on the deadline eve playing ‘Beat the Clock’, not surprising to David I am sure J

I love Christmas and there are so many good memories associated with it, one of my favorites have been some of the memories in here in Massachusetts, some in Florida, more in Oregon and yet some that linger from Germany. It really doesn’t matter where I am, however, where I am, I am always ‘Home’ for Christmas.

Let me stroll back a bit to 1961-1963: I was stationed in Germany with the Army. Having made good friends with a member of the Bundeswehr, I was invited to spend Christmas with his family in a small town in Northern Germany. It was magical; real candles on the tree, toasting with white wine and singing ‘Oh, Tannenbaum,’ and it happened to be the coldest winter in Germany in 100 years, but the warmth I felt from this family and their friends was amazing and remains a favorite memory to this day.

Moving a bit forward to 1990, I answered the call (unknowingly at the time) to move to Florida for a special homecoming of people I’d never met but am close with to this day. Ironically (jokingly) about 13 of us had come from different parts of the country at approximately the same time to a city called Naples within the gulf coast of Florida. Thirteen of us arrived within a few a few years of each other and we all attended David’s classes at least twice a week and some extra ‘sessions’ that would on to the wee hours of the morning. Many awareness’s too place within those settings of classes. I would like to share on with you as they were proof to me I was on the Path and in the right place.

One hot afternoon I was sitting outside my small duplex reading, all of a sudden my body got extremely hot and I was perspiring through my clothes, soaked to the skin. I looked up and saw a perfect god six pointed star. Remembering what David had taught us, I looked away three times and each time it remained. My neighbor was within ten feet of me with a friend at the time. I lost my breath and was going to ask for help, but managed to get into my apartment and placed one of those ‘URGENT’ phone calls to David J

My breath was coming back as I told him what had happened, expecting him to tell me something wonderful had taken place, he simply said, “Do a banishing and say, ‘Thank-You’!” A number of other experiences and awareness’s took place during that period of about 4 years, though I still get some once in awhile, I believe the bells and whistles are to wake one up and they tend to recede, testing your faith.

The ‘Aquarian Days’ were among the best of all; one very special Christmas was spent at the home of our friend, Nannette. A small group of friends, including David, Dianne and Several of his Students enjoyed a wonderful meal, conversation, gifting and love.

Unfortunately all my pictures from the time I was in Florida and Oregon somehow got lost, but I believe David would still have the magical photos taken that evening: when the pictures were developed, there some mystical images on several of the photos, appearing about David. Some of the photos were showing multi spirals of light about his head and in one there was even an image of ‘an old friend’. Even with over 12 years lapsed since, Nanette and two of the members from the classes still meet to do their spiritual work, study and meditation. Once touched by the Spirit, your life takes on new meaning, motivation and growth through understanding. Much of my understanding took a bit longer (at least to me) but I never gave up; there is absolutely nothing like feeling the presence of Spirit and coming to know the Real SELF.

Moving further on from Florida to Oregon in 1994 was indeed a curious time. Those of us who traveled the ‘Oregon Trail’ with David and Dianne will never forget that journey! Talk about the tests that emerged through the fabric of everyday situations. I had four rolls of film to capture the beauty of America and ended up with only the pictures in my head. There were a number of unfortunate setbacks along the way so the respite in Phoenix was nice during which one of the vehicles was repaired. Picture the middle of August and 115 degrees (I won’t say in the shade, because I am sure there isn’t any in Phoenix J). But we forged ahead, ending up in Portland, Oregon, where I think I would still be today if I didn’t feel the need to return to my family in Massachusetts. For me, Portland is the best city I have been in with the one exception of Heidelberg, Germany. The Columbia River Gorge and all of Oregon, is breathtaking.

Portland, Oregon was a very magical time. Five years with ‘The Master” had some very trying times but we have managed to remain friends. You have probably heard stories about Master-Student experiences where the student either gets a ‘spiritual’ whack upside the head or kicked off a cliff, but I would not have changed those experiences for anything and have emerged stronger, truly individuated and wiser.

Now we finally arrive to here and now, 2006 and another Christmas is upon us. This year as usual my apartment was decorated inside and out, the day after Halloween. I have always enjoyed the season and all aspects of it. My children and grandchildren get worried if they come to my home around November 1st and there is no tree up. There is so much to do that it’s nice to come home to Christmas on a daily basis. My work time has reduced considerably over the past year, but I have found its time to be giving back. One way I do this is to volunteer at the local veteran’s hospital near me here in Massachusetts. I feel that everyone should have volunteer experience to realize how much that they do have and to increase the genuine appreciation for what they do have.

I remain continually impressed with the positive attitude these men and women emanate. Some have been wheelchair bound for years with a variety of illnesses and injuries and yet they go into each day anew: some enjoying life far more than some of us who have ‘everything’. It continues to move me and renew those areas of my Spirit that require refreshing.

There is an interesting story I would like to share with you in closing. A few days ago I met a man at the VA hospital who was looking for someone who might be able to help him find an afghan for his 6 year old grand daughter.  We struck up a nice conversation while waiting for the arts and crafts room to open. I volunteer there, and he and I were both early. Turns out he was a mason, and I felt an instant connection with him. So big mouth, big hearted Leo that I am said, "Oh, I live in senior housing and I’m sure I can find you one.

My neighbor knew a couple ladies who made them and took me to meet one of them.  Well, she had two, and one was just the ticket…very colorful and perfect for his little granddaughter.  I asked how much and she said $40.00.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do as in my benevolent mode I failed to ask what he would be willing to pay. So, I just bought it and called him to let him know I had found one for him.  He asked how much it cost.  I couldn’t bring myself to tell him as I felt it wasn’t right of me to go ahead and spend that much without first checking with him.

Now you must know that I pride myself on not lying, even little ones.  Well, I lied!!! Told him that when the lady found out I was getting it for a veteran confined to the hospital, she said she’d like him to have it with her best wishes!!!   What a wonderful guy I am.

So, I brought it to him and when he saw it he cried.  Then a little later he wheeled himself down to the room I work in and said he’d really like to make a donation to the lady.  I said ok, if he wanted to that would be fine, thinking I would just take what ever cash he gave me. Imagine my surprise as he pulled out his check book and not his wallet and said, "What’s her name?"

I was caught in a lie!  If he wrote the check to the woman, I couldn’t cash it! So I told him the truth that I was sorry I was but that I had paid for it. Of course he wanted to know how much.  We settled on half as I still felt I had done the wrong thing by getting it without checking with him first.  So not too bad an ending, but it taught me a lesson and thought it was worth sharing.  This lion has his tail between his legs.   OMG, David, it just came to me!  The drawing you gave me years ago of the crying lion. Now it finally has a meaning to me.

In closing, for now, I wish all of you a joyous season of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or what and wherever your heart brings you home to.

To David and all those of you who have been a part of this mystical yet genuine journey with me, I wish you Light and Love.

Roger Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas from my House to yours, Roger

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