Saturday, July 31, 2004

Prairie Soul for the Familiar Harvest

It's Heartland baha'i school here at Bradley which is a very special time for me...Williams cafeteria where I eat lunch at during the school year plays host to the bookstore. Uncle Mike gives elcetric, humble speeches teeming with gumdrop anecdotes. This morning I was priveledged (Blessed) to work with youth culled from all over Illinois. We trimmed bushes at the center and I listened to their stories. I asked them queries. How did your parents hear about the faith? What was it like growing up beneath the aura of the teachings? Mona just came back from a devout year of service in Belgium and is contemplating studying psychology at U of I. Anna is homeschooled and her dad was offered a job in Hafia, only he turned it down because of family.Twins Ben and Mark playfully mauled me when I went to lunch. And Brilliant Andrew, a thirteen year old chess savant and also a DIRE Cub fan, assisted me in devising our 'secret' handshake. He told me that he hopes to get his Doctorate in Civil Engineering (which he importantly informed me will be twelve years of school) unless he makes the roster of a professional soccer team.

I heard all about the peacokcs in Baji. The fragrant-scent tithed by a single Israeli rose stemmed outside the master's shrine.

I heard about the House of Worship in Germany and in Somoa. I heard about the Guardian's grave in London.

I met a cool young married couple from Aurora who just became baha'i in the last year. They were an interracial smile...thread filched from a seraphim's garment...sort of imagine Othello with a friendly raucous gentle spring thunderstorm of a laugh and Desdamona sloughing her histrionics, not afraid to hold her husbands hand and give it a squeeze in public. We were pulling weeds at the center and the husband just couldn't stop laughing. At his own foibles "Oh..That's what Poison Ivy looks like." He just couldn't stop offering a steep, hearty chuckle. It was almost like the concourse was pouring out their verbal orchestrations and smiles using this man's voice as a filter.

As always, I get their stories. I salivate for their narratives. Her first husband had died of cancer and she found a Baha'i book at Barnes and Nobles of all places. He had heard about the faith when he lived in Urabana, ironically at a junior high school where she used to teach at. Even more so ironic (TC SMILES) they had grown up within a three blocks of other and NEVER recall seeing the other before they themselves were spiritually doused with blankets from the light.

I tell them my stories too. Tell them how Uncle Mike found me when I was drinking heavily, stirring up fatuous sentences for my first novel. Tell him how Uncle Mike would just appear. Tell them about how I wasn't allured to the faith at first, how I honestly thought it was about some guy named "Bob" who was martyered for trying to collate a thesis that all religions were essntially one giant integer set in the shape of a Persian sunrise.

I tell them how I was afriad of Mike. How, when I purposefully turned off my cell phone and "forgot" about the Naw Ruz dinner three years ago ( I was more scared than anything) Mike went out of his way to find me afterwards, handing me covered leftovers.

I tell them how I inexplicably dialed Mike the night of my father's passing. "Can't hurt," I joked with my friends who held me up at my father's deathbed. I told them how Mike called me back fifteen minutes later. How he told me that he had said prayers and how he had phoned several other Bahai's in the area and that they had said prayers of passing as well.

I told them about how apprehensive I was and still to this day overall scared shitless about my mother ever finding out about my spiritual propensities.

"My mom has all the virtues down. She's on a baptist binge. The only thing that would really occlude her from ever seeing what I see is the jargon. The lexicon."

"The kingdom will not come by expectation....The Kingdom of the Father is spread out amongst the land and men do not see it."
Gospel of St. Thomas

What a blessing to have found this! All this!!! To still find it every day, all new, inside, so lovely.

As I waited for Mike in the student center of the college I work for, the school that has milked my emotional mettle; the school who this weekend becomes amicable host to middle-age men in polo shirts and glasses, their nametags drooping down from their necks; their junior-high daugters experimenting with hair-dye and crushes. As I watch the masses slink into the atirum, toating backpacks and brief cases, ferrying smiles, forming a gentle trainwreck outside the cafeteria, I could feel it, COULD FEEL IT, palpably tugging inside my chest, a feeling of fathomless warmth skidding down from my neck, coating my entire flesh with an impenetrable golden slant; a feeling of union. A feeling of timelessness, a feeling of oneness, a feeling of plurality-- we are just at the dawn of something both mystical and practical and we are witnessing the glorious rise of the global orb together. What a blessing to have been chosen. What a blessing to have been found!


daku said...

D, today of all days is my 13th anniversary of having become a Baha'i. Amazing.

David Von Behren said...

Happy Anniversary!!!!! Wow 13!!!! You've been baha'i for almost half-my life.....unreal indeed.


daku said...

a/ you're making me feel old
b/ don't be at so much awe! remember my 8 year break!!!