I've had this weird series of days where I haven't had any access to the computers that I use to post. I'm in the middle of packing up all of my stuff. I'm mailing home as much as I can because I figure I'll let the USPS pick up the cost of extra gas, rather than loading up my car full of heavy stuff.
Let me tell you about Sunday, though. First of all, Sukima was going to be substitute teaching yoga, so I had this big open space in the morning. Earlier in the week, I had gone out to Rhonda's farm to help Faith with the harvest since Rhonda was gone kayaking on the Snake River. It was a neat full-circle kind of thing for me because I've grown out of my initial smitten-ness with Rhonda. I've realized that she's charismatic and strong and uses these skills mostly for her own glory. I mean, the work that she does is good work: sustainable, local, farming is the way that we will save this world from consuming itself. Also, she does it well. Her CSA is more professional by far than the CSA that Jeff gets. However, she likes the attention that she gets for being the underdog and I've noticed that she doesn't like sharing that credit. It's a funny phenomenon that I see all over the place in leaders; I guess it's a necessary evil that in order to lead and break the rules that need to be broken in order to do good things, one must have confidence in oneself and it is very easy for that to become slightly megalomaniacal. Still, it's also been proven over and over that if leaders don't share credit with their helpers, the peasants get revolting.
So, the nice full-circle applies because I've gotten to know Faith better and better over the last several months and am really moved by her quiet confidence in herself, her great patience with others, her spirituality and her overall beauty. Faith makes baskets and has just begun a garlic farm at the Coffelts farm. She'll grow something like 30 varieties of garlic organically and sell them down in Seattle. (On the side, the Coffelts are fantastic people here on the island and it seems like as they age, they're trying to rent out their land to small farmers of various sorts in order to create a growing community around them as they retire. Then they can still pay for the taxes and upkeep of the farm as they age and have people around them to take over the tasks that they must give up as they age. That's what I call a retirement plan.) Faith interacts with me authentically, without a mask of strength, so harvesting this garden that I've worked in periodically felt very, very right. The fruits of my labors and all of that. While we were working, Faith spoke about the Circle of the Spirit. I've been hearing about Circle probably since I started going out to lunch after my literature class. However, I've been hesitant to ask if I could come. It seemed more appropriate to wait for an invitation. Faith offered it and since I wasn't going to yoga and I could still make it to my own church service (I have missed a couple weeks and I didn't want my old ladies to worry too much about me), I picked up her and her friend Heather, who is living in the other yurt at her place and drove out to Deer Harbor.
The Circle of the Spirit is, I guess, a worship service. It is a chance for people to center themselves in community by sitting in quiet and spending some guided time focusing on their breathing, which causes all of the mundane concerns of life (which are everything but breathing, the first requirement of life) to leave out conscious brains for a little while. A man named Francis, who also runs the hospice center on the island, leads the Circle. In all ways, the Circle functions like church. It is a small group of about 15 people, mostly older people. Contrary to my expectations, they did not look like hippy-dippies, with lots of beads and feathers. They dressed nicely and many of them would not look out of place at my grandma's church. They bring food to the Deer Harbor Community Center, which is a historical little meeting hall with a beautiful wood stove to keep it toasty. Gretchen was there, as well, and she did offer during the announcements portion that if anyone wanted to hold either of the two crystals that she had placed on the table in the center of the circle of chairs, they could. Interestingly, no one did. It was like they were patient with her, but didn't necessarily share her beliefs. Or, maybe they did and this week, they just didn't feel the push. So, we started by centering, then had some announcements, actually quite a few announcements. They had a little microphone for the two women who were hard of hearing. Then, Francis asked if there were any issues that needed to be discussed. I don't remember what his exact words were. One woman who had been in my literature class, Jessica, said that she's like to talk about processing conflict as it happens. You could tell she was generalizing a specific event. In fact, she said, "Do I need to explain further or can I just leave it at that?" Francis said it would be better if she left it. A young man, Noah, who had recently moved back to the island after severing his Achilles tendon in a dance rehearsal, asked to talk about integrating or big world beliefs with the mundane actions of getting the mail and doing the laundry. I didn't know where this was leading, but it turned out that Francis gave an impromptu sermon on these two things. The message always came back to, "Who you are and the struggles you face at this moment are enough. Do not stress about being more or better than you are right now. It is enough." He did this eloquently and I could tell by the way he spoke that he is obviously well-read, although he did not cite fancy sources obsequiously. He seemed to be very humbly offering up wisdom of the elders that he had incorporated into his own belief. I don't often encounter people that can do that so effectively. Francis reminded me a little of my grandfather, who I've always thought was a little gnomish, with laugh lines on his forehead and eyes. He had tufty white hair on his mostly bald head and a funny little goatee. A couple of teeth stuck out a little funny and this simply lent the gnomish look greater authenticity. He wore a turtleneck, sweater and nice pants with sturdy suede outdoor shoes. I trusted him immediately, but I've also heard honest and good things about him. No one calls him a guru, but they come close without crossing over the line of demigoguery, which would make me suspect. After the homily, if it can be called that, the congregation was given the opportunity to contribute. It was interesting to see so many very normal-looking elderly men (without ponytails and beards) display such sensitivity. It is so uncharacteristic of men of their generation but their commitment to the philosophy and poetry that they shared had greater impact because of it's unexpected nature. Gretchen sang a song she wrote; it's hard for me to get a good read on the quality of it because she is so weird whenever I walk into a room that I find it hard to think of her as anything other than little and ineffectual. That's the way I read all people that take a simple disagreement and hold a big grudge out of it. After that, we chanted "om" three times and rather than the "om" that I chant in yoga, it was a little song that I just listened to, even though it repeated itself and I could have joined in. I actually did join in towards the end and the difference in the way my consciousness resonanted when the sound was coming from my own body and joining the collective song was astounding. I've had similar experiences in the women's group that I went to and when I would sing with my high school youth group. As much as I love the old hymns, it doesn't compare. After what would be the equivalent of a benediction, we sang the old refrain of "A-a-men, a-a-men, a-a-men, a-men, a-men," just like my dad made us sing after reciting each pool rule at camp. So I joined right in with that and even provided some harmony. The whole time was worship.
I spent some time after the service with Kevin, whom I occasionally clash with. However, Jeff likes him and he's close to Jane and I wanted his advice as to how I was going to get this money that she owed me for working for her. The concern that he showed for my predicament and the type of advice that he offered me really expanded my respect for him. Where as I probably would have put him in the camp of socially malfunctioning middle-aged men that live on this island, I now would consider him mostly thoughtful and good-hearted with only slight social deformity. In fact, he's aware that he doesn't always interact well and that almost makes him completely normal. :-)
So, then I joined the Lutherans, whose service was already in progress, but they were all happy to see me and the pastor asked me specifically to speak with the young woman who was sitting at the front.
After church, I went and confronted Jane, after some stalling. She had told me to remind her in the middle of September that I was moving. I had stopped by her store Saturday after the Farmer's Market, but she was in the middle of a "Friends of Pyewacket" meeting, so I thought it would be bad form to barge in on this group of people that were meeting to brainstorm ways to keep the bookstore open in the midst of all sorts of trauma that Jane mostly brings on herself. That made me mad because here I was respecting her by not making a sccene when I had the perfect opportunity and she didn't even have the slightest consideration for the stress she was causing me by making me hound her for money that I did not loan her but that she owed me. That anger and bitterness was why I had spoken with Kevin. He told me that she had been pledged $500 at the meeting and that she had talked about a $400 scanner as if she could easily afford it. So, on Sunday, I was ready to demand some sort of promise in writing and a chunk of money right then or at least a payment plan in writing because it really did feel to me that she had no intent to pay me if she didn't have to (notice these next key words here) just like my ex-husband. So, I asked for all of these things and I got them with only a little pushing on my part. That took huge weights off my heart.
So, from there, I stopped at home, then went out to the ferry to join the usual Sauna Night crowd to go bowling, of all things! Jeff couldn't go because his kayaking day-trip got back after the ferry left, so I just went by myself. 9 of us showed us showed up and the festive atmosphere was exactly what I needed after a day of meditation, contemplation and confrontation. Joy is the most appropriate resolution for those things. The boat ride to Friday Harbor felt a little like the train feels on the way to Chicago for Blues Fest or the Jazz Festival. Bowling was great, although the place was brightly lit, mostly sanitary and not at all smoky, so it felt a little like walking around with your shirt buttoned but off a button. I was amazed at how many of the group had never been bowling or had rarely bowled. I was a relative expert and I realized that I actually went bowling quite a bit as a kid and in high school. I was also the most entertaining bowler. They all told me so. I've known this about myself for awhile. It started in high school. I didn't care about form and it was physically satisfying to whip the ball with as much force as possible down the lanes, without much aim. This apparently causes my body to flail in all sorts of funny ways. I don't do it intentionally, but I have also never really made an effort to normlize my bowling style because I like making people laugh. That's a pretty good microcosm to explain my sense of humor overall, I guess. I like being entertaining and it comes fairly naturally just by being myself, but know that if I try too hard, it'll flop. Just enough beer and pizza were consumed at the bowling alley to create a nice little buzz and the night air was warm as we walked back to the ferry that would take us to Lopez, where we would catch the ferry that would take us home. I know I talked a lot and told a lot of stories that were generally well-received and although I worried a little that I was being too over-bearing, it didn't feel like I was. It was a good, easy-going time.
A perfect island Sunday, if I do say so myself.
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