Roadside Chats (18) 17/11/15
I head into a slight bend between Blenheim and Havelock. I feel tired; weak. I wonder if the anaesthetic’s still affecting me. It’s so good the colonoscopy’s over.
Suddenly the Camper loses power. Something’s wrong! I wrestle my beloved ‘Kotuku’ to the side of the road. There’s steam coming from the back of the head. It doesn’t look good.
The next day I’m towed to a garage. It’s bad. A hose has perished. The head gaskets blown. The motor may be repairable; more likely I’ll need a new one. Either way I’m looking at $3000.
I transfer my belongings from the Camper to the Subaru and head back to Deep Song. It’s so good to be home! I lie on the bed & sleep for hours.
When I wake I cancel Sunday’s trip to Christchurch. I feel frozen; uncertain if I can afford the petrol. I’m facing a financial challenge. I need to find a way to live until I turn 65 in May. I start to scheme. My head spins.
The next morning I return to my writing. The meditation is based on the saying; ‘Far more important to learn how to ‘be.’’ It’s just what I need. It ‘speaks to my condition;’ as the old Quakers would say. Learning to ‘be’ is fundamental to being human. ‘Being’ comes before thinking, feeling, intuiting, willing, planning, and doing. It’s the foundation stone: the place we connect with who-we-are; the place we connect with spirit.
Far more important to learn how to ‘be’
So much to do… so much to achieve…
Pressures… stress… complications…
Pull you away from yourself
You feel like a cork tossed on ocean waves
It’s ‘far more important to ‘be’
To ‘be’ is to be present in ‘who you are’
To ‘be’ is to be conscious… aware… awake…
To ‘be’ is to return to ‘something’ vast
It’s natural, resourceful and alive.
It’s your life
As I complete the meditation I feel the energy shift. It comes as I write the bit about returning ‘to something vast.’ I feel aligned with Creation; both visible and invisible. I’m connected to what the poet William Blake calls ‘the Divine Body.’ It’s what I call the Self. ‘Little me’ is the cork tossing on ocean waves. The Self is the ocean.
I feel peace. I feel resourced. I feel related. I’m not a penny richer; but I have all I need.
Something’s happening to me. It’s about neighbours. It’s about community. It’s about home.
It feels like a fog is lifting. I ‘see’ my neighbours in a different way. I feel the connection. I value.
My neighbours are a small group of everyday people being everyday neighbours. Neighbourliness is important up the top of the valley because of the isolation.
There’s Donald; my most frequent visitor. He’s educating me about chainsaws. He’s educating me about gold. He lives in a partly complete house with a tiny hydro scheme which gives him just enough power to watch the news. He’s recently developed a heart condition. He may need a bypass. I visit him when I can.
There’s Graeme across the road. Graeme lives in Picton & comes up Saturday’s to cut firewood. He looks after my water supply. He’s recently let me take over his veggie garden. I’ve got 3 small plots in wire cages to protect against wekas. I’ve planted tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, beetroot, butter beans, spring onions and silver beat. I’m immeasurably grateful. I never thought I’d have another garden.
There’s Pat & Colin down the valley. Pat helped me purchase the cottage. She helps keep me safe by being a contact person when I go wandering with my personal locator beacon.
Then there are the new people. Allan and Kath live opposite my letterbox. They’re Australians. They met when they worked for the aid organisation Oxfam. They’re passionate about social justice. Kath’s got an interest in sustainability. Allan is a writer. He writes crime novels. On Thursday they told me if I ever need help to get to another hospital appointment they’ll take me. I feel grateful and supported.
A week ago I received a mysterious saying; ‘He met with Jayber Crow.’
It’s unintelligible if you don’t know who Jayber Crow is.
Jayber Crow is the central character in a novel by Wendell Berry. I read the book years ago.
Jayber trains to be Christian minister. Eventually he leaves because he can’t accept the way the bible is interpreted. Essentially he’s learnt to think for himself. Jayber wanders the world. Finally he becomes disillusioned & returns to the community of Port William. He never marries. He works as a barber. He digs graves. He plays his small part in his community. Eventually his heart opens to transcendental love.
There’s a passage in the book which moves me to tears. It’s with me now. Jayber comes to a bridge across the Kentucky River. There’s a terrible storm. He inches his way across the dangerous bridge. Step by step he makes his way. He knows he must return to his community. He must return home.
I think of Jayber most days. It’s important because I am Jayber Crow. I edge across my own perilous bridge. I return from a necessary but dangerous journey. I reach out to community. I’m coming home.
“My vision of the gathered church that had come to me… had been replaced by a vision of the gathered community. What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection. There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody, who had been loved by somebody else, and so on and on… It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointing its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, always failing and yet always preserving a sort of will toward goodwill. I knew that, in the midst of all the ignorance and error, this was a membership; it was the membership of Port William and of no other place on earth. My vision gathered the community as it never has been and never will be gathered in this world of time, for the community must always be marred by members who are indifferent to it or against it, who are nonetheless its members and maybe nonetheless essential to it. And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another’s love, compassion, and forgiveness, as it is said; we may be perfected by grace.”
Wendell Berry – Jayber Crow