April 8th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

When I went to Point Reyes Station yesterday, I bought a book by Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen. I usually buy a book in the book store there because I want it to stay in business. I like the owners, and their choice of books, and I love to know there is a book store nearby. I find that comforting.

I also debated Bubba's in San Anselmo over the Station House, knowing that Bubba's needs business since the December storms. The stores in San Anselmo smell like mildew. They can't get the smell out. I bought Easter candy in the chocolate store despite the smell, and drank coffee at Debbie Does Dessert despite the smell. I choose sometimes by where it seems most important to support and none of these places are sacrifices. They all are wonderful, and so then, how does one choose. We are choosing all the time. Each thought is a creation, a gift we offer to the universe, like a bird held lightly on our fingertips. Bubba's is there for me this next week, and I hope the Station House makes it until the tourists come again. I see the rain has affected their business. Also, the change in ownership has not helped. Sitting there yesterday, I felt I could consult on what they are now doing wrong. A business needs attention, constant attention. It truly is a labor of love. I see it with Steve's business. He is never away from it. He loves it. He is always there for it, like a fully lived life.

So, I now know that Alice Hoffman is a cancer survivor, and this morning I sit with what that means to me. Why have I been so irritated by these words, "cancer survivor," and I think I thought it was because I thought to survive you had to do something, and now I feel it is not that at all. All I did was show up. I went to appointments and I made decisions. I did do that.

I hear the families talk as they gather in the waiting rooms together. Actually tears come to my eyes now at one this week. The man is proud of having been a hippie all his life. His hair is long and gray and gathered in a pony tail. He is with a man and a woman, friends or relatives would be my guess. The woman is so matter-of-fact I can't believe she is wife or girlfriend. He is trying to decide whether to do chemo. He is trying to decide whether to give his pony tail to Locks for Love. Will anyone want his straggly gray pony tail? The woman tells him he will lose all of his hair, not just his ponytail. He seems unable to grasp any of it. They go upstairs for their appointment. I wonder how it will affect him, the loss of his hair. I had thought it would be harder for women, but, perhaps, it is equally hard for a man of the 60's where hair made such a powerful statement, and often divided families like a war.

Steve has been in NY and I could tell that when I told him I finished the puzzle and got to choose the next one that he did not understand how something so small could seem important, how this was something tangible. I sneered at the puzzle table when I first saw it, at the attempts to entertain us, but yesterday I saw it as a gauge. I can discern again, and that feels important to me. I like the other place, the spacy place, and I miss it, and this is important, too, and means I again will have a world of more density and more acccomplishment than finishing a puzzle. I hope this makes sense.

Anyway, all of this leads me to the book "The Ice Queen" by Alice Hoffman. I learn there "that without thunderstorms, the earth would lose its electrical charge in less than an hour." We need thunderstorms. That is my point.
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Elaine Pagels on Judas -

I was fascinated this week to read that Judas was operating according to a plan set up by Jesus.
Here is Elaine Pagels writing on that.


Op-Ed Contributor
The Gospel Truth


By ELAINE PAGELS
Published: April 8, 2006

The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover. ... Jesus said to him, "Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal."
— The Gospel of Judas

THE Gospel of Judas, which remained virtually unknown to us from the time it was written 1,700 years ago until its publication this week, says that when Judas Iscariot handed Jesus over to the Romans, he was acting on orders from Jesus to carry out a sacred mystery for the sake of human salvation: "Jesus said to Judas, 'Look, you have been told everything. You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.' "

For nearly 2,000 years, most people assumed that the only sources of tradition about Jesus and his disciples were the four gospels in the New Testament. But the unexpected discovery at Nag Hammadi in 1945 of more than 50 ancient Christian texts proved what church fathers said long ago: that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are only a small selection of gospels from among the dozens that circulated among early Christian groups. But now the Gospel of Judas — like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and many others — opens up new perspectives on familiar gospel stories.

Many scholars who first read these gospels had been taught that they were "heretical," which meant they were the wrong gospels. When I was introduced to them as a student, we called them "Gnostic" gospels, the name given to them nearly 2,000 years ago by Irenaeus, one of the fathers of the church, who denounced them as false and "heretical."

Yet those early Christians who loved and revered such texts did not think of themselves as heretics, but as Christians who had received not only what Jesus preached publicly, but also what he taught his disciples when they were talking privately. Many regarded these secret gospels not as radical alternatives to the New Testament Gospels, but as advanced-level teaching for those who had already received Jesus' basic message. Even the Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus explained things to certain disciples in private, entrusting to them alone "the mystery of the Kingdom of God."

If so, Jesus would have been doing what many other rabbis did then, and most teachers do today. Many of the gospels not included in the New Testament claim to offer secret teaching: Thus the Gospel of Thomas opens, "These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and Didymus Judas Thomas wrote them down." The Gospel of Mary Magdalene reveals what Jesus showed Mary in a vision, and the Gospel of Judas claims to offer a spiritual mystery entrusted to Judas alone.

Irenaeus, however, insisted that Jesus did not teach any of his disciples secretly; such secret revelations, he said, were all illegitimate, and those who revered them heretics. Knowing many such gospels circulated among early Christian groups, Irenaeus wrote that "the heretics say that they have more gospels than there actually are; but really, they have no gospel that is not full of blasphemy."

Many of these secret writings, however, were still read and revered by Christians 200 years later when Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, an admirer of Irenaeus, wrote an Easter letter to Christians in Egypt. He ordered them to reject what he called those "secret, illegitimate books" and keep only 27 approved ones. The 27 he named constitute the earliest known list of the New Testament canon, which Athanasius intended above all to be a guideline for books to be read publicly in church. The New Testament Gospels, which contain much that Jesus taught in public, were the most obvious books to put on that list. The secret books, which contained paradox and mystery akin to the mystical teachings of kabbalah, were not considered suitable for beginners.

What in the Gospel of Judas, published this week by the National Geographic Society (disclosure: I was a consultant on the project), goes back to Jesus' actual teaching, and how would we know? And what else was there in the early Christian movement that we had not known before? These are some of the difficult questions that the discoveries raise for us — issues that historians are already debating. What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.

Startling as the Gospel of Judas sounds, it amplifies hints we have long read in the Gospels of Mark and John that Jesus knew and even instigated the events of his passion, seeing them as part of a divine plan. Those of us who go to church may find our Easter reflections more mysterious than ever.

Elaine Pagels, the author of "The Gnostic Gospels" and "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas," is a professor of religion at Princeton.
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Thoughts on seeing -

I pick up the kitchen and the house, noticing where my eyes go, particular and open focus. Perhaps that is what chemo mind is - open focus, taking things in, in a whole new way, no energy or attempt to dissect. Now, I focus in, and out. I have a choice. I reflect now on the place where I was confused in this transition, as the chemo fog, which was really a cocoon, began to lift and unfold. I had been focusing one way, and then, there was a shift to another, and I didn't know what to write or think about. I felt confused. Who was I? Who am I? I was inbetween far-sighted and near-sighted. Yes, inbetween knowing and not-knowing, being and doing. Inbetween. Perhaps, I still am. In, between.

Today, I am with the waiting room, why finishing the puzzle was such a reward for me. I find the waiting room a hard place to be. There is not much joy there, despite the flowers and the attempts, but there was joy in my finishing the puzzle. I felt joy, a genuine smile. It was something to share. Everyone smiled. There was bustling. A camera must be located, and a picture taken. There was activity beyond caring for patients. A photo of the puzzle went into a book. The puzzle was completed on April 7th, 2006. A ceremony was made, a ritual celebrated.

Some people bring someone with them, so though only the patients are supposed to be in the inner waiting room, there are usually others, and they are the ones who feel foreign, who look down, and do not find an easy smile. I am generalizing here, but that is my impression. They feel they don't belong. The older couples sit close together, a unit. It is an odd place, and with all the attempts at cheeriness, and calm, there is an undercurrent of fear.

And perhaps that is why I, at first, found it odd to learn there was a party there to welcome the new machine, which is a little guy, hardly worth noticing. It is portable and maybe four feet tall. Anna tells me they didn't even uncover it for the party, and it was supposed to be the guest of honor, or, perhaps, an excuse for a party and wine. Who knows? 1350 South Eliseo in Greenbrae is about community. People strive to understand and bring hope to pain, and, sometimes we all learn we have to let go. The wine goes in, and comes out. How is it in, between?

My machine is mighty and massive. I wonder what it thinks of the new little guy. I think of the Velveteen Rabbit. Do the machines talk and play at night? Of course, my machine is all alone in its room. The computers peer through the windows but it is usually all alone. What does it think about at night? Perhaps it feels might in its goal of helping others, of fulfilling the creative wishes and desires of others, perhaps it is proud or maybe just altruistic in its movement and place to hold body after body and radiate with its huge eye. It even blinks.

I understand the left brain side of the modern cancer world. The horse therapy is to open the right side, the intuitive side of our brains, even as we trust our lives to technology and logic. Today, in the travel section of the New York times, there is an article on the seductiveness of Sedona, Arizona, on the believing in and seeing your own aura when you are there. The author succumbed to drums and flutes. I have been there. Steve and I celebrated our honeymoon in Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona Country. We went back with Jeff and Chris and took a jeep far into the canyonlands. There, we found an inner sanctuary in the rocks open at the top, and Jeff played his flute so beautifully and hauntingly that birds came to see. They flew overhead. They thought they had a mate, a soul-mate, and they did.



The book of Julia Child's memoirs is out. It sounds like a must-read! She met the world with Joy. Let us greet each day that way.
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Between -

I look up the word "between." It seems my way of using it as connection, is called a usage problem. I'm not sure what that means. Between can be seen as separation or connection. When I say, I am in between, I mean I am held in those wonderful edges I feel, those boundaries that enclosely safely, warmly, happily, joyfully. Again, I'm not sure if this makes sense, but I feel it.

There are some wonderful books by Anne McCaffrey on Dragon Riders. I read them years ago. I think of them now. Her description of "inbetween" is not perhaps, mine, but I have separated in and between, and I think it is a marvelous place, a place to travel and jump, and I feel my dragon under and with me now. We can jump, and we do. May you, too, as this day seems to provide us with all. Today, I have seen rain, sun, clouds, wind, and stillness. All is here now. The boundaries are winged.
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Wings -

You may wonder at my thoughts on machinery, but my cars usually like to have a name. They name themselves. I currently have "Wing" and I love Wing very much.

In the shower today, I was thinking about Wing and wings, and I remembered my hang gliding experiences. The first time I was hooked up to a hang glider I flew, because I had no thought process on it at all. I had been looking out at the ocean when the instructions were given, and had no thought of flying, and therefore had no idea on how to land. I flew up in the air, and then, didn't know what to do. Shouted instructions brought me down face first with a mouth full of sand. After that, I thought about it, and felt great fear, and couldn't take off very well, and I crashed time after time,  often again, face-first and with a mouthful of sand, and I realized I wasn't having much fun, so I stopped and became the driver for Steve and our friend Steve. That was fun for me. I was outside, and I loved whizzling downhill to pick them back up. They were fun times, like now.

Jim said yesterday that we should keep a journal and write after our visit with our mentors, the humans and the horses.

He said when we write from the heart it is a free-flow. We just keep going. That is how we know. When we write from the head, we stop and analyze. I write to you from the heart. This is my free-flow. May we continue to meet there.

In the book on Matisse by Hilary Spurling there is a wonderful photo of The Archangel Michael, c. 1457: an icon of the Novgorod school from the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow.   Matisse was greatly affected by the Russian icons, and I feel this photo in my bones.  The wings are attached in just such a way that I can imagine myself having wings growing just like that.  It is something to feel.  There is a part like a spring where they attach, like the way a Jack-in-the-box pops out and up.  At least that is my interpretation of the photo, and of how I want my wings to be.  I can tuck them in, or pop them out, and they have that extra spring.  It is quite fun.  Play with your wings today.  Design your own.  I believe we can have as many sets as we want, all colors and sizes and designs.

Yesterday, the mentors gave us their gloves so we would not be cold.  Life is like that.

I remember one time I walked down from Pantoll to the ocean, and it was such a beautifully warm day I just walked right into the ocean.  I came out dripping wet in my shorts and shirt, and a little boy ran up to me and gave me a towel to dry off.  Again, life is like that.  Joy to you All!
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Prayer -

A study came out this week that therapeutic prayer doesn't work, and yet, other studies have proven that it does work. Why the discrepancy? Because this group didn't believe prayer worked, and so, it didn't. The beliefs of those who set up the study influence the results and that is why we have so many conflicting studies. We see what we expect to see. The scientists who set it up probably let a tone come through their instructions that it wouldn't work, and so it didn't. All of this is too fragile to study, and that is where it boils down to belief. I feel prayer has been proven to work in my life. I thank you for that. I saw and felt the results. My red and white blood cells thank you. My reach for peace does too.

I also see that how the doctors convey information to me influences my response. We live in the world of the Uncertainty Principle. Our interpretation is key.

I google and am amazed to see all the articles challenging the results of this study. Wow! I smile. It is quite a defense of faith. Check it out.

I finish Alice Hoffman's book The Ice Queen, and I am touched. It is about love, a subject I adore, and it gives a good argument that magic is real. It is a book of fiction, and in it a man presents a scientific paper, "Chaos Theory and Fairy Tales." I quote:

"At the heart of his paper was the notion that fairy tales relieved us of our need for order and allowed us impossible, irrational desires. Magic was real, that was his thesis. This thesis was at the very center of chaos theory - if the tiniest of actions reverberated throughout the universe in invisible and unexpected ways, changing the weather and the climate, then anything was possible. The girl who sleeps for a hundred years does so because of a single choice to thread a needle. The golden ball that falls down the well rattles the world, changing everything. The bird that drops a feather, the butterfly that moves its wings, all of it drifts across the universe, through the woods, to the other side of the mountain. The dust that you breathe in was once breathed out. The person you are, the weather around you, all of it a spell you can't understand or explain."

So, savor the carousel of this magical world each moment, each day.
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Mirth!

There is a wonderful collection of photos at the San Francisco main library demonstrating the joy and humor with which people handled the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. It might be good for those of us who can to take a look at it. Where is the humor of today? Jon Stewart and Bill Maher somewhat handle that, but their subject matter is pretty sobering.

Joe Biden was on Bill Maher last night, and presented himself very well. I do not understand this clamoring after Hillary Clinton. I am hoping there will be some viable possibilities from which to choose the next Democratic president.

Also, Kevin Phillips spoke about his book American Theocracy. It sounds like another must-read.

It seems people in the Bay area are becoming depressed with the gray skies. They are suffering from a lack of serotonin. Well, in this moment, there is light. It may be time to venture outside and stir up even more before the predicted rains again pour in.
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Silent thoughts -

This is from the May Car and Driver. A 12-mpg vehicle, like the Cayenne S, produces 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every 12,000 miles. How is that possible, you might ask. Well, "Carbon dioxide consists of one carbon atom (which comes from the gas) and two oxygen atoms (from the air that's burned in the combustion chamber). Also, don't forget that one oxygen atom weighs about 30 percent more than one carbon atom. So the majority of the weight of the carbon dioxide comes from the air, not the fuel. Burning one gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide." That's enough to make one get out of their car and walk.

I peruse the book Fields of Plenty by Michael Ableman, and read these words by Gene Thiel, who has a cultural and family history of potatoes, and grows them near Joseph, Oregon. "The strongest memories of the land probably come from our youth. They're indelible in your mind. If you've worked with potatoes as much as I have, you find out that when they're thrown into burlap sacks, every one has a distinct sound. And you get so indelibly impressed with it that it becomes a form of music. You're tuned to nature, all the vibrations. It's really rewarding to know that you can feel those resonances, that you can totally immerse in them."

He can feel a potato under the soil. He says, "You develop potato hands. You can sense a potato in the soil."

I read an article in the New Yorker on the pervasiveness of Musak. Musak is "in the realm of retail theatre." The article ends with these words. "Our biggest competitor," a member of Muzak's marketing department told me, "is silence."

Silence.

The reins of commerce unleash.

Peace taps an inner beat.

Pulse red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and white.

Hold the strings and light a vibrational feast to life.