30 August 2015

Sunday Meditation #43: By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Restive Sea

Out on the headland a turn in the weather has brought coolth to the cottage. So much so the windows were opened for a few brief interludes. The susurrus of the waves fills the interior, bringing with it the ticking of insects in the beach grass. The peculiar combination of the two is one of my favorite sounds on this mortal coil. No matter where I am in the world it always grounds me, comforts me, ties me to the earth.

To be fastened to the earth in such a manner is good. Necessary, one might say. The summer has been unusually busy this year. By turns generating exhilaration and anxiety in near equal measures, the resulting stresses have been efficient at cutting the tethers that keep a soul from floating away. The whoosh of the waves and the gentle rasp of the stalks combine in voices that I fancy to be of my ancestors, or perhaps of gods faded from mortal view. They call, they coax, and I feel stronger against the wind.

The sky out there is a mottled silver-gray. It is interesting in its texture, not as monotonous as one infer from the description. It pleases me as it dapples the undulating sea with a subtle, ever-changing surface. It is a hypnotic mirror of my mind that provides its own ballast. This is important, this matters. It is nature herself speaking with an ancient voice to tell me "You are here, you have roots, you will not be swept away."

I am grateful for this tie of ancient blood. It keeps me here, on earth, where I need to be. I will not be swept away.

27 July 2015

Verdant Empire Chronicles: Herbiwarriors

In the of weeding flower beds, there arrives a point at which any praetorian worth his salt knows that "Kill them all, and may the gods sort them out" becomes his battle cry and modus operandi. Thus it has been in our campaign against the rebels in the Western Beds and Northern Reach. Summer has been hot, our bodies watering the soil with the sweat of our brows. The weeds trembled before our might.

The dawn broke, the day began with our scouts testing the positions of the barbarians. They sat placidly, perhaps unaware that by days' end they were destined to be corpses on the shores of Lake Avernus, to be cast upon the waters amidst the mephitic fumes seeping from the ground. Perhaps they had not taken to heart the fate of their compatriots during our campaign along the Eastern Beds, earlier in the year where we visited our imperial fury upon the intruders to till them into the earth. To return them to the black dirt from which they sprang.

The day was hot. The very air felt as if we were immersed in the caldariums of the capitol, the memories of which brought a brief smile to our troubled mien. There would be no bathing here, no bracing splashes of chilled water to refresh and revive us after our martial labors in the name of Mars. No, there would be sweat and death.

Our gaze turned to the sky. It was full of clouds the color of worn denarii, but as yet there had been no rain. The earth steamed before us. We gave the signal, a hundred trumpets lifting their brazen voices to the sky. Our army fell upon the weeds and unwelcome grasses amidst shouts and groans. The first rank of soldiers fell hard upon the prickly boxwood and juniper. Blood was drawn but we held fast, tearing the enemy out by their pale roots. A surprise attack by a thorny little bramble, secreted amid the bushes, caught us off guard. Our heroic effort beat it back. It roots twitched and curled in the wan sunlight as we tossed it upon the burgeoning pile of the dead.

Sweat and heat threatened to put us off our objectives. Terrible thirst and a near swoon, and we had to retreat momentarily before advancing headlong into the valley of the Northern Reach. It was there that the shriveled stalks of the tiger lilies that had bloomed weeks before fell to us easily. It had the air of a trap about out, perhaps they conspired with the low-lying creeping Charlies that entwined themselves amongst the roots of the taller plants. But we could see them. Their amateurish attempts at camouflage were given away by the brazen display of their blooms, which we easily spotted and used to great advantage in finding the roots to rip them out.

The piles grew. The air filled with the noxious reek of their dying lifeblood oozing out onto the mossy sward. Bindweed surged forth and mounted a feeble counterattack towards the middle of the day. The sun, what little we could see of it, limned the foe in pale white light. They shrank back, discipline gave way as our forces clearly gained the advantage. The green shaggy invaders we crushed beneath our imperial sneakers, holding fistfuls of the vanquished above our heads as we growled in triumph. Soon, the Western Beds and Northern Reach fell quiet save for the labored rasp of our breath.

The barbarians, what pathetic examples of them that remained, made no sound as we gathered them up and into the sacks we drew from our supply train. We stood stiffly in the zephyrs wafting through the valley. The campaign was complete. We had won.

The night still steams. The sounds of camp life drift softly up the hill to our tent, where these words spill themselves out into our journal. Through the gap in the tent flaps, I see the lights of the camp stretch out before me to the north and east. This day is won, the weeds and trash trees on their way to Hell. The campaign will continue, this we know. The provinces of the Eastern Faciem Saxo are reported to be under attack. Reports lay on the camp desk, of bindweed, rampant hostas and unsettling rumors of a weed heretofore unseen.

A goblet of mountain snow sets near to hand. It is flavored with certain berries and herbs that promote calmness of mind. Tonight we rest. Soon, we conquer. The weeds know this, and tremble.

Written by our hand on this day, 26 July 2015,
Kevinus Aurelius

29 June 2015

Burning In the Name Of

The air is thick with the stench, the smoke resulting from the explosive clash between love and hate these recent days in the United States of America. There has also been a light, and strong rainbow light streaming out the gaps in the smoke. It's love versus hate, and even a hard-core pessimist such as myself can see that love is winning. But there is a shadow on my heart. Impatience upon the soul to hear some of us talk as they do.

On June 11th, 1963, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sat down in the middle of a busy Saigon intersection, was doused with gasoline, then his hand struck a match thereby setting himself on fire. The photograph of his burning body, taken by Malcom Browne of the Associated Press, has become one of the most famous mass media images in the history of the modern world. He did it to protest the oppression of Buddhists under the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. He felt it was a necessary act to bring effective attention to persecution.

On June 23rd, 2014, the retired Methodist minister Charles Moore knelt down in the parking lot of a strip mall in Grand Saline TX, doused himself with gasoline then set himself on fire. Bystanders put the flames out but the pastor did not survive, dying later that night in a hospital. There are no photographs of the event of which I know. The Reverend Moore had a lifetime history of advocating for social justice, particularly to rid society of racism and the hatred of gays, lesbians and transgender folks. He felt it was necessary to inspire action for social justice.

On June 16th, 2015, the irrationally anti-gay pastor Rick Scarborough, indicated that he and his followers would 'burn' if the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage equality. He also made remarks indicating that leaders in the anti-gay marriage movement need to get out front and proclaim "Shoot me first!" to protest what they see as godlessness and the destruction of our nation.

Early in 2015, the would-be GOP presidential nominee and delusional charlatan Mike Huckabee stated in a video that he will "Call down fire from heaven" in defense of traditional Christian morals, to stand up against gay rights supporters and those who advocate for marriage equality.

On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to deny the right of marriage to LGBT persons, thereby rendering it possible for those folks to get married just like straight Christians get to do.

On June 27th, Rick Scarborough backtracked on his statements, saying he didn't really mean it. Mike Huckabee apparently cannot get through to God, because the skies have been remarkably free of flames or even a little bit of smoke.

For many years it seems, there has been an abundance of fire on the minds of those who proclaim strong moral, ethical or religious convictions. The main difference that has emerged is that those with love in their hearts were so moved by that power that they translated it into action. Those with hatred in their hearts, people like Rick Scarborough and Mike Huckabee, will never translate the power of that hate in such a way because for all their proclamations of being people of true conviction, they are really just mean-spirited cowards with big mouths.

Hate has nothing over love, not in the long run and the big picture. Love inspires truth, hate runs from it. They run. They are cowards. They will never set themselves on fire because they do not hold love in their hearts. Outside observers such as you and I may look at the actions of Quang Duc and Charles Moore and think them to be insane, but I believe that ultimately they set themselves on fire because they had more love than they knew what to do with in the material world.

The Rick Scarboroughs and Mike Huckabees of the world know deep down they will never set themselves on fire. They are so mean, so spiritually myopic, they do not see how the decent human beings they could have been have been corrupted by hate. Hate has its own rotten heart on which it gnaws, all the while pretending to feast as the soul crumbles. Love exponentially magnifies itself when unleashed. Love has courage and conviction of which hate can only dream.

Love burns.

31 May 2015

Sunday Meditation #42: Sketchy

Christ, I don't reckon I know what has gotten in to me. Springtime on the headland is usually a time of joy, even for a a child of the fall such as I am. The sea looks different, feels different, even smells different. Maybe it is life blooming a bit in the shallows and the depths, stirred up by the rolling of the waves. This spring, I am different.

More restless than usual. Head full of ideas that never make it past the daydream stage. The slush of thoughts not making it to the ice of clarity. The proof is in the scratch papers, notepads and detritus piled up on my desk. They form a dune banking up to the windowsill. The paper rolls and bleeds into the dunes. It is a curious thing to have a sandbank comprised of the ideas illuminated in ink that ultimately is wasted. The scribe in me feels shame at the thought.

There is no avoiding it. Truth in front of me. The very notepad under my right hand bears little in the way of words and much in the way of idle sketches. Sketches of what, some may ask. I cannot say other than describe them as architectonic, formal follies. Mostly they depict variations on cubic volumes, shaded with crosshatches. Towers? Obelisks? Cenotaphs?

That last idea makes me chuckle. Cenotaph is fitting. Little monuments erected in honor of ideas buried elsewhere in my mind, or somewhere in the cottage around me. The sea, even! The sea. It waits there beyond my windows. Jade swells reflecting an unquiet mind. My hands stop shaking long enough for my attention to be drawn to the sky. A mottling of pewter clouds rolls in. Beneath them I can see the gauzy stain of rainfall. Spring has been wet here so far. Much has been washed away under its maulings and caresses. This I know.

The cottage fills with that special light of overcast as raindrops spatter and hiss on the glass panes. It comforts me in a way that sunlight and blue sky do not. My hand continues to sketch. I am building something. No, I am searching for something that I have lost the words for but my heart seems to know from someone I once was decades ago now. I recognize some of the drawings from my adolescent years, the younger me sketching out abstracts in blue and red and black. Somewhat confused by what they could mean, not knowing how to quit drawing.

The paper fills with fragments of someone I used to know. I can see him there. The rain falls harder, and weariness floods my gut and head. I watch the drops fall into the sea where perhaps they trouble it just a moment. But the ripples vanish as the sea rolls on. I take that as a lesson for my heart, rippled and anxious, but rolling on.