Saturday, November 23, 2013

30 things

There was a really cool event on Facebook that is happening this month. November's 30 Days of Thanksgiving. The idea is that every day you post something that you are thankful for throughout the whole month of November. Great idea and i signed on. Problem is, i get really flighty and so have missed a lot of days. I actually think i only posted once and i will again once i get this blog done. So, what i figured i would do was write this blog with thirty things that i am thankful for in honor of all of those who have been diligent in posting their items of grace each day so far.

So, in no particular order, here are my thirty things that i am thankful for:

1. Best parents ever. Totally supportive even when they don't understand. Could not have asked for more.

2. All of the events and history of my life that has led me to this place i am in today. Life is pretty awesome. I get to perform, teach martial arts and own a Renaissance Faire. Truly blessed and lucky.

3. A freezing stream and waterfall in Oregon that gave me my true baptism.

4. Calvin Martin and Bruce Wilshire who gave me a basis for my philosophy on life.

5. Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto for the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. This has given me my passion and purpose and many times, it has given me a job.

6. All of the students i have ever had who have taught me more than just about anyone else.

7. Cheryl, Elise, Bethany and Shelli for teaching me exactly what i needed to know about love at exactly the right time.

8. My Sister the Moon and my Brother Orion

9. The Appalachian Mountains

10. The beautiful Delaware River

11. The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. That place has given me the best times and people of my life. Think about it, i bet there are a lot of us on this Facebook event and reading this right now who, if you really think about it feel the same way. Truly magic.

12. Rick Tucci, Alex Wilkie, Master Martin, Craig Stanton, Ron Kosakowski, Mr. Kirkpatrick... my direct martial arts teachers who really transformed my life.

13. Jim Georgi and Mary Karl, my fellow TA's for Calvin Martin at Rutgers, i am really thankful i got to be a part of that team

14. New Jersey. That is right New Jersey. I love NJ and that is my home.

15. Ninja the cat. My Grandfather and teacher, wisest animal i have ever know for a long period of time and he taught me much in our walks in the darkness. He gave me many lessons on patience, enjoying every second and blade of grass and also on meditation.

16. Andy Pritikin. Thankful for the home he has given us for the NJ Ren Faire.

17. Liberty Lake Day Camp. Thankful to have been accepted into the family and to have a place to share my knowledge and skills with the next generation of young martial artists and actors of the world.

18. Pizza

19. John Williams. Best sword fighting partner ever and always reminds me about what it is like to live a life of joy

20. The angel choir of the night, all the spring peepers, crickets and bull frogs that sing constant praise to the divine

21. The fact that i was able to know all of my grandparents and 5 of my great-grandparents

22. Ginny Bartholomew for giving me the inspiration to finish my book

23. Dana Andresen for being an awesome, albeit high maintenance BFF

24. Eileen Wisor, best friend of all time and long lasting as well

25. Seth and the Hilburn clan for accepting me into their family

26. Mike Brown and Rob Kiernan for years of friendship

27. Dungeons and Dragons. I know i am a geek, but this game really had a lot of influence and taught me a lot. Again, i know i am a geek.

28. Shelli Nock for reminding me what it means to be a super hero

29. The Adventurer's Guild and all of the adventurers we have met who have embraced what the Lords of Adventure is all about

30. Thankful for being born in the time and place that i was. You know, really i can't complain about anything and i am thankful for that too. Sometimes when people ask me how i am and i say i can't complain, the response is, "would not do you any good anyway." But that is not why i say it. I really have nothing to complain about. If i had my choice of any life that i could live, it would be this one. I am deeply deeply grateful for every single moment of this little life i have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Be blessed and be thankful for what you have.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Close and Present Darkness

"Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." ~Exodus 20:21

The title of this blog may inspire images of a horror film to some of you. Not to me. I realized that i should clarify my view of the darkness after i published my last book, The Same Way Home. My mom asked me about a quote in the book, something along these lines, "When we love, truly and get beyond our ego we approach the thick darkness where God is." The quote from the Bible inspired that kind of language and i have always thought that was a beautiful image. When my mom asked about it though i realized everyone does not feel the same way. We tend to think of darkness as negative and i feel like that is a shame and a disservice to the night much in the same way as our images of bats and wolves are a disservice to those beautiful animals.

The light is amazing, let me say that first. We are creatures made out of stars and we basically need to eat light to survive. For the most part i feel that we should shed our light upon the world. But, that does not mean i feel that the darkness is a negative either. Some of my most spiritual moments have been out in the woods at night. I used to walk, almost every night, out beyond the hedge row behind our house in New Egypt, NJ, into the fields and woods beyond the reach of the street lights with my various cats and just exist out there. It was absolutely amazing and had a lot to do with shaping who i am in relation to the spiritual side of our lives.

Loren Eisley said that our forms are an illusion of the daylight. It is so true. Light gives us our shape and form and in the surrounding darkness of the night we melt and blend with the surround. It can be terrifying to be in a place where your sense of sight basically leaves you cold. Other older more primal senses begin to take the front seat. There have been nights when out of fear i have fled back to the warm embrace of the lights of my house. But, on those nights when i could relax, and let go of my ego, i felt more welcome and at home than i ever did in a crazy party somewhere. I have always been impressed that when i listen to the bullfrogs and spring peepers, crickets and other members of that great chorus that sings on at all times in the night beyond our villages, that they comprise an angel choir that sings forever exalted praise to the Divine. That chorus can sweep you along in its current and when we get past our fear, our ego can dissolve into the greater story of life living itself that we are all a part of. It is intense and it is meditation. The darkness is full of God, whatever that may mean to you.

Stillness so thick
it tingles on the skin
like static.
Its presence resonates
with the pregnancy of meaning.
Silence oozes through
the chambers of my being.
I am invaded by a moment
that is not a unit
but a meditation.
A meditation on matters
so grave and primal
God has not yet dreamt them.
The pauses between beats
of music and ticks and tocks of time,
flows, expanding, growing.
The moment envelopes and embraces.
Only a soft murmur
touches the still;
A tiny drum beat;
It melts into the Surround,
as natural as the silence.
My own heart.
It is disturbing,
like a child’s cry in church.
Only egos cringe.
The All accepts.
Silence welcomes sound,
a blank slate
for painting words and chants,
drums and strings,
and small animal hearts.
Equal part and parcel
with occasional goose or rustling leaf.
He is the tempo of the slow chorus
that is the night.