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Monday, November 1, 2010


the master resting

At 10 o'clock this morning I met with 3 members of Jr's family (second cousin, her husband and her mother, Jr's cousin in-law), at his grave to celebrate him with a drink of some liquor he gave me about a year before he went on. I took his drinking glass, an orange juice glass, and we each had a sip from it, passing the glass around, like communion. In fact, when I handed the glass to the first one, I said, "This is communion." We didn't do prayer, ritual or anything like that. We stood at the grave, talked about him, each of us had a sip of his liquor. All said, "This is smooth," wide-eyed. They didn't know Jr only drank the best liquor in the land. I knew who made it, that the "recipe" goes back 4 generations, that this is liquor good as liquor has ever been made. I kept that part to myself, not because it was a secret, it just didn't feel like the place or time to be bragging about the liquor Jr shared with me for 5 years. We each took a sip, then poured a sip on the grave. We all laughed saying if he could see us from up there he would be having a good time
laughing over our way of remembering him.

One of the many benefits of being a friend to Jr Maxwell was that he told me his life in 2 hours a day chapters while we each sipped two drams of liquor so good tasting it was candy. When he told me he wished he could pay me for what I've done for him, I said he'd paid in advance with 5 years of sharing the best liquor ever made in this world with me. I started the sentence meaning it in light hearted humor, but as I heard it said, I realized his gift was tremendous indeed. Where pay-backs are concerned, I was in debt to him. I helped him out in his year of helplessness because I knew the story of his life , I knew who he was, I knew he couldn't eat cornbread anymore because crumbs stuck in his throat and "strangled" him. I knew the depths of the great sorrows of his life. He loved his place and his people: Whitehead.
I had never thought of helping as an exchange. I refused any offer of money from anyone all along the way. I didn't want one dollar to taint what I was doing. This was my "service to humanity" after I'd realized one person is the same "humanity" as all 9 billion or however many they are of us. By then, I knew God had sent me to Jr. All the way along before his decline, I was the one benefitted, learning, really, at the feet of the Master. I saw Jr someone way beyond me on his spiritual path. I was sent to him by God with the instruction to pay attention to this man.
I've likened our relationship a few times already as the abbot monk and the novice monk, the novice monk helping the abbot monk in his time of helplessness.
I think of Joshua, one of Ezekiel's novice monks who insisted he be with Ezekiel when his spirit ascended. As Ezekiel departed he passed his "mantle," perhaps a length of cloth worn over the shoulders to keep them warm, to Joshua. (I may have these names and the story all wrong; going by memory from a long time ago) It was symbolic of his power, his spiritual power. It was then that Joshua received the grace of his enlightenment. Jr passed his chariot to me, also an insulated long-sleeve plaid winter shirt someone had given him that was way too big and fit me just right. I knew him well enough to know it was all important to him that he die at home in his own bed. Jr Maxwell lived too honorable a life (I'm not talking about church going and running references in the Bible--not at all) to be shelved in the lumberyard of the dying. Nobody else could come forward for him, so I had to. It turned out I was the only one who could not allow Jr Maxwell to die of despair. I was also the only one who saw it that way.
That's why I believe God sent me to him. God paid really close attention to Jr Maxwell as one of his own. He knew what was ahead for Jr and sent someone who would benefit as much from knowing Jr as Joshua would from knowing Ezekiel to the last moment. It was God looking after both of us, individually. Where Joshua's enlightenment is concerned, I certainly had at least a mild form of enlightenment. I'm different now. I tend to feel the "spirit" of a place, a gathering of people, people, animals. Taking Tapo to the vet, one of the symptoms I gave was her spirit is weak. It's not like there is something new I've never seen before. It's a subtle sense of awareness of the feeling in a place or an event, or just my surroundings wherever I am. I feel an understanding of others like never before. I don't mean like reading minds or intents, not like that, or even being able to tell if somebody is lying. It's an understanding that we are all individuals unique as our fingerprints and all are important, no matter how low down or how high up.
I'm comfortable with the people of my world without respect to their assets anyway, and get along easily with nearly everyone, because I like peace in my world, in my mind. The "enlightenment" I came away with, from the experience of helping out somebody I respected a great deal, is a subtle awareness of peace within, an ongoing calm that I deeply appreciate. It's put me in a place where reading the words while singing the songs in the Primitive Baptist hymnal sends tears flowing down my face. I feel their meanings like never before. It's like it's right there in plain english just like it really is, where before, that "plain english" was sometimes impenetrable, just couldn't grasp it. Perhaps it's what is meant saying a veil has lifted. Whatever it is, I'm happy to accept. I like everything in my world a whole lot better. My part in our celebration this morning was done from a heart overflowing with gratitude.

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