As a poet, I have air-headed tendencies, which I have to rein in, in order to function in a responsible manner. I have to be down to earth, though earth can be a dreary place, and even be ungodly, when people assume being down-to-earth is all there is. It isn’t, which is why there is a need for poetry.
Dreary, down-to-earth, pragmatic people need to be reminded from time to time that there are such things as angels. We get plenty of reminders that we need to be more pragmatic. Life is good at that. Sometimes our less good attributes rise up as an evil so frightening we must descend to the crudity of war, where living is reduced to such a life-and-death level that lofty thoughts seem pointless, but even amidst crude violence people need to be reminded to think of God and his servants. (In fact, when it is least practical to muse of otherworldly things, people may be especially prone to do so.)
Evil people tend to curse the otherworldly, perhaps feeling it has failed them and therefore doesn’t exist, and that high thoughts are mere mush and slop, as childish as believing in Santa Claus, so they discount angels. Angels don’t vote, so politicians can ignore them, up and until it occurs to politicians that angels, even as a fairy tale, have power. Angels possess the power of poetry. While the word “poetry” is of little interest to perverted, power-mad money-grubbers, (beyond doggerel that might sell some cereal to rot children’s teeth with), the word “power” brings their Cadillac’s screeching to a stop. “What’s that? What’s that you say? Did you say ‘power’”? All of a sudden, politicians want to know about a world they basically believe is make-believe. However, because they don’t believe, they get it all wrong. They are like transvestites; no matter how perfectly they put on the make-up and pad their bodies and act the act, it is an act. It is make-believe and not the real thing.
What, then, it the real thing? Perhaps I should capitalize it: “the Real Thing.” Basically, it is what we are born for. However, when we come down to earth, something about being down-to-earth turns into thinking that being down-to-earth is the Real Thing. It isn’t.
I think everyone knows this on some level, but some are corrupted to a degree where, even when they believe in things beyond the down-to-earth, they somehow manage to corrupt the out-of-this-world with their perverted, power-mad money-grubbing. They don’t seek caring witch doctors who heal with kindly herbs, but prefer quacks given to hallucinogenic mushrooms and sexual stimulants; even back two-and-three-quarters millenniums ago the paranoid, power-mad King Saul sought out the Witch of Endor.
There is something creepy about the other-worldly souls one contacts via OUIGA boards, and people who get hooked by such seeking tend to become creeps. However it seems to be a phase some of us must pass through: Speaking only for myself, before I could believe in God I needed to first believe in ghosts; it was helpful to be persuaded such weirdness might exist, but also a big mistake. You shouldn’t believe in ghosts because ghosts lie. God, on the other hand, is Truth at Its purest and most beautiful.
Over the decades I’ve learned that in order to function in a responsible manner I need to make money, and I currently do so by running a Childcare. The youngest children are two or three years old, and give me ample opportunity to study the process of souls coming down to earth. The children really make me think. For example, if they are not fully down to earth yet, where are they?
To a certain degree they are still in heaven. This is especially true of children from happy homes, but even the unfortunate, traumatized children of drug-addicted parents are otherworldly. They are pleasantly mad, and optimistic, because they haven’t forgotten what we are born for. The Real Thing is still very real to them. Even if they have never heard the Lord’s Prayer, they seem to intuitively grasp the part about makings things “on earth, as they are in heaven.” This goal isn’t easy to achieve, which is why small children cry so much, but they haven’t forgotten the basic reason for being alive.
There are some who dislike the idea of anything so impractical as heaven invading our world. Many of these people do not see themselves as being the slightest bit ungodly. They see themselves as pragmatic. They believe they have common sense. And they furthermore believe children need to be whipped into shape. Children require some sort of indoctrination, some sort of brainwashing, to make them contribute to society in an acceptable manner, as cogs that fit “the machine”.
As a poet, I distain the entire concept of society as a machine, and people as cogs. In my view it is a disgusting idea from all angles, whether you are right wing or left wing. It degrades the value of individuals, who are beautiful in God’s eyes irrespective of what they “contribute”. One biblical hero was a thief being crucified on the cross next to Jesus. He contributed zilch to society, and in fact he stole. That was why society felt it was pragmatic to be rid of him. But was he banned from heaven? Apparently not, (but the fat bureaucrat who had the thief crucified may not have been so lucky).
In like manner a very small child contributes zilch to society, in the eyes of morons who can’t see how beautiful they are. They are small and cute thieves. They steal your heart. They make no sense economically until around age five, when they can be whipped into shape and do simple chores. Up until that point they are welfare recipients with an attitude of entitlement, or perhaps candidates for eugenics, or examples of overpopulation, or any number of other degrading ways of seeing small fellow men and women. I beg to differ. I hold a different view. A poetic view.
Not that I find it easy to live up to my own standards. This world has a pernicious way of forcing even idealists to be down-to-earth and pragmatic. I own a certain element of shame for even operating a Childcare. Sixty years ago, when I was young, a woman would have felt ashamed to have to work rather than to rule her household, whether she was wealthy and ruled a staff of servents, or poor and ruled a saucepan. For a mother to hand a child younger than six to another, for anything other than a brief period of baby-sitting, would have been a cause for deep, painful chagrin. So I am, in effect, profiteering off modern mother’s misfortune, a vulture on the carcass of happy homes. But I spread my palms. What can I do? It is the way things are.
(My wife and I have had talks with young mothers, distraught about leaving their wailing child in our care, where we have pointed out the young mother’s wages didn’t cover the cost of the Childcare, the car, the gasoline, the car insurance, and the spiffy clothing necessary for the job. We actually try to talk young mothers out of using our services. But the prospect of social isolation, home alone, is too daunting. The mother needs the job’s society more than she needs the paycheck.)
This world drags me down to such a degree that poetry feels impossible. I am like a little child, being whipped into shape. Left to my own devises, I slump into pragmatic functionality, and my heart feels squeezed. I need help from On High. It is time to pray fervently, or to do some zealous yoga.
Prayer and yoga is hard to do once pragmatism has a hold of you. Personally, I have never been very good at it. It never seems to make sense to get down on your knees and do nothing, or sit cross-legged and do nothing, when you should get off your butt and bust your butt. However, despair drives you to odd behavior. I confess I sometimes do confess my incapacity to God, and plead for help. Sometimes nothing seems to come of it. I then get up and hurry off to be pragmatic, but I always wonder if I should have persisted, and done nothing longer. And I must confess that, perhaps twice or thrice in my long life, my despair was so great I did persist, and then did seem to get visible help from On High.
But more often I persist in a different way, and the help from On High seems to be accidental. In such cases I persist at some physical activity past the norm. Perhaps this is why people climb Mount Everest. In pushing themselves past a certain limit they are like a person sitting cross legged doing Yoga past a certain limit. Walls in our minds, often walls we ourselves built with our own pragmatism, are peeked past, are peered over-the-tops-of, (even if they don’t actually fall down). And then we see as we usually don’t, (which we tend to call “a vision”.)
One such situation arose because as a teenager I was “the crew” of a 28-foot sailboat which had an engine that didn’t work and a self-sailor which sailed the boat in circles, and this required someone to sit and steer the tiller at all times. As the captain was busy elsewhere, holding the tiller was up to the “crew”, which was me.
To sit and hold a tiller may sound like a romantic and wonderful job, but we were on a haul around Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout and Cape Fear, and it took three days with the winds the way they were. The captain did give me some breaks, but most of the time I just sat and held a tiller. It got old. It got old halfway through the first day. The second day I was wracked by desires to go to MacDonald’s for a hamburger, to zone out watching a TV, to look at the weather maps in a New York Times, to do anything but hold the damn tiller of a damn boat. But that was my Yoga, and there was no escape (besides screaming and jumping overboard.) And under that duress I started to see angels in the clouds.
Most everyone at some point has seen a cloud that resembled something or another. On this occasion the clouds started out that way, but the faces and people became more and more numerous and commonplace and vivid, until the entire sky was full of portraits. By the third day it was ridiculous. The sky was one big mural. I’d look away, and then glance upward, and it took no imagination to see the masterpieces. They were the hues of Rembrandt’s work, by the late afternoon, and as gorgeous as his paintings. One I remember in particular, (as I was very hungry at the time), was a fat woman bringing a roast turkey to a table, a big smile on her face, and something beatific about her posture.
Now I look up, and the clouds are just clouds. I have to work to see a cloud come close to looking like a face. When no one is around, I ask the sky, “Couldn’t you do it again, just a little, just once?” But I guess you have to hold a tiller three days, to see such majesty. If you don’t do the yoga, don’t expect the samadhi.
Actually, one good thing about my current life is that I usually manage to avoid such situations. Pragmatism has paid off, and I seldom have to round Cape Hatteras the lone crew at the tiller of a malfunctioning boat with a malfunctioning captain. (Although being a citizen under the rule of Fraudulent Biden does give me a sense of Deja Vu). However, pragmatism has its penalty, in that the skies are not so amazing.
Yet this spring I have managed to bite off more than I can chew, as I always seem to do as days lengthen, in at least one area of my life. Usually it involves my vegetable garden. It is too big for an old geezer like me, but I have refused to age gracefully. I should turn 90% of the garden into a lawn, and have a little sissy garden, but some stubborn side of me has me out pottering away under the hot sun, hour after hour. It has been somewhat humiliating, as it takes so much longer to do simple jobs, but I have pushed myself and, hoping I might be a tortoise who beats the hare, I’ve kept working. And as I worked, and worked, and worked, I noticed, to my delight, the clouds were starting to change. The tedium of toil was becoming a sort of yoga, and I was being uplifted into a sort of heaven on earth.
Mind you, I didn’t sit and do nothing. Nor did I sit and do nothing, all those years ago, as I held the tiller of a sailboat during a long haul. You have to pay attention on a boat, or the sails start to flap, if you man a tiller, and in like manner you have to keep doing your pottering in a garden, or the weeds will win. But if you persist and do your job all of a sudden the world may become enchanted, even as you’re down-to-earth.
I was so struck by the enchantment that appeared as I pottered that I, being a writer, immediately pondered how I might share it to you, the reader. Sadly, it can’t be described to those who haven’t experienced it. It is like describing color to the color blind. The best I can do is compare it to some similar experience you might have experienced, perhaps assuming you have resorted to some socially inappropriate behavior in the mists of your past.
For example, one time as a teenager I purchased some pills in London with a pal and retreated to a nice country flower garden and ate them, and then we sat back expecting our minds to produce an animated Disney cartoon of some sort. The pills had tasted a lot like malted milk tablets, and around an hour later we decided they actually were malted milk tablets, and the salesman had made a fine profit by selling single malted milk tablets for six silver shillings apiece. Being young, we got a good laugh out of being such chumps and suckers, rather than becoming bitter and vengeful, and we then employed some whisky we liberated surreptitiously from my stepfather’s cupboard to produce more modest cartoons in our minds. But the point of my story is that we were able to identify the pills as fake by the enchantment which did not occur.
The negative aspect of enchantment caused by drugs is that it is not earned, and rather is brutally induced by a sort of maiming of the brain. Therefore it has a harsh quality more natural prayer and yoga does not have. Because it is unnaturally induced it has unnatural consequences which reverberate in life after the “trip”, but I don’t want to talk about that. I only bring up drugs because many of my generation were foolish when young. Despite the amnesia drugs induce, many have a vague recollection of how things went from normal to “high”. Natural enchantment occurs in much the same manner, but, because it is natural, it is possessed of a wholesomeness utterly unlike drugs, and also unlike the creepy quality of QUIGI boards. One suddenly becomes aware of what a gift life is. Like a little child, one sees the Real Thing.
The sense of beauty the Real Thing imparts is overpowering, which is likely why powerful people covet It, though they cannot grasp It. The sense of beauty involves a peculiar confidence and assuredness. It sounds silly to say, “Everything is going to be all right” when the world seems determined to go to hell in a hack, but when you see the Real Thing, worry limps away defeated.
As I pottered about, at around at a quarter mile an hour, pausing to lean on my shovel and huff and puff, I wondered if I might be killing myself with my foolish garden, and might be suffering delusions at death’s door. I’ve always said I wanted to die with my boots on; perhaps I was succeeding at that. Perhaps I was hallucinating, and about to collapse. However, I felt too healthy; too restored. In fact, I hadn’t felt so wholesome and healed in months. Apparently, heaven would have to wait a while longer for this old codger.
After a while my mind drifted to working on a sonnet, as well as the soil, because I wanted to share with you how wonderful we should feel, if we could remove the scales from our eyes. I looked around for details in the enchanted landscape I could use. What made everything so different; so ecstatic?
One thing I noticed was a big old crow, who lurks around the farm. There are several species in my area, and crows all look pretty much the same to me, but particular bird is so big that I suspect it is a raven. He or she is always alone, so I think it lost its mate. In any case, as I pottered, I noticed the raven kept bopping by, sometimes flying high overhead, sometimes hopping on a stone wall to the north, or pacing about at the far edge of a pasture to the south, or on a dead limb of an oak to the west, or on an electric line by the road to the east. Unlike smaller crows, he was silent, and often seemed to be watching me, leaning forward with his hands behind his back. I imagined he was muttering, “You still here? Don’t you think you should go indoors and write a poem?” But I kept up with my pottering, until the raven seemed to become disgusted and impatient, and simply flew down to the far end of the garden to strut around doing whatever it is ravens do, before I have planted my corn. The big black bird gave me the sense I was accepted, as part of the scenery, the same way my goats are accepted by that same crow. Then, as I glanced around, I saw other creatures were accepting me as part of the scenery. A brash chickadee pecked at a fencepost barely ten feet away. A chipmunk on a rock was far more interested in alerting the world to the fact a fox was trotting along the shaded far edge of the pasture, than in warning the world an old man feebly hoed close by. And the fox was more interested in fomenting a surprise attack on rats in the barn than in me. I was part of the landscape. And I really liked the sensation. It was very different from how I usually feel, which is to feel like every creature in creation is out to get my garden, and that a farmer is making a desperate last stand like Davey Crockett at the Alamo. Instead, I felt like a character in the old Uncle Remus tales I read to children at my Childcare. Along with Brer Fox and Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, there was me, Brer Farmer. In the landscape of enchantment, we are not against each other, but with each other, (even when we eat each other).
Sorry, but that’s the best I can do, at this point, and surely my description fails to adequately describe the overpowering enchantment of the Real Thing to the uninitiated. But I will say this: There are powers about, which politicians woefully underestimate.
In “Lord of The Rings”, the wizard Saruman underestimated a tree’s ability to fight back, as he clear-cut beautiful groves to fuel the engines of his war of domination. Saruman’s plotting forgot to enter Ents into his calculations. He thought he had everything covered, but neglected to consider the Ents.
Ents may be fiction, but are perhaps Tolkien’s most brilliant creation, for those walking-trees are a perfect symbol of what the pragmatic lose sight of, when they become too down-to-earth. In like manner the perverted, power-mad money-grubbers in Washington D.C. forget they are stewards of a land like farmers are stewards of a land, and instead underestimate the land’s ability to fight back with powers given by enchantment. Most especially, they have forgotten the Real Thing, and that there are such things as angels.
I don't have a garden gate. Instead I have a time warp. You will walk into A different dimension. I've not the head For the math, but I know this much is true: If you're led down my garden path you'll see Things that don't add up, and yet they all seem Strangely true: The way you thought when three When life was a wonder and you waltzed a dream. Angels walked with you. Zephyrs and Dryads Aren't allowed in science books. Their vote Is not courted by politician's ads. But they are there, not at all remote. If you come work in my garden with me You'll learn o a power the devils can't see.