Alcina’s Journal – Newearth

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Alcina’s Journal

Newearth: Year 25

It’s been five years now since Cerulean arrived with his Inter-Alien Alliance agreement. Governor Sharp met her match in him, that’s for sure. I wonder who’ll take over now?

 Lordy, I’m tired. Way too tired to take notice of all the recent upheavals. I do care but… Uh oh, here comes someone in an all-fired rush.

“Alcina, there’s been an accident. Hurry. We’ll need your healing bag.”

So much for quiet time and contemplation.

I step out of my little herb shop, and who do I find but my friend, ‘Roux to the Rescue’…again. Even for a Luxonian, he’s fast. And he’s too handsome for his own good…well, for my good.

“I’m coming! Let me grab my stuff and check something.”

Dash in. Grab a cloak, my bag, and check—Anything on the boiler? Nope. Opps. Gotta strain those berries before the ants—

“Alcina?”

Rush, rush! I’m coming! And dashing right—

“Sorry. Didn’t see you in the doorway.”

Even when he’s perturbed, he’s handsome. Sigh.

“So—Who is it this time? An Ingoti construction worker fell off his high-rise? An Uanyi merchant tackle a thieving intergalactic trader? Don’t tell me—A Cresta has blown himself to smithereens in one of his new labs?”

I’m jogging along to keep up, trying not to sound like I’m completely breathless. Building my shop out here in the wilds of Westland has its advantages, but not so much when I’m in a hurry…

“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Alcina. Healers are supposed to maintain their professional dignity at all times—with all races. It’s in your creed or code or something.”

“Huh. Must’ve missed that part. Roux! Would you please slow down? I’m not made of light so I can’t move as fast.”

“Sorry. It’d be easier if I could—”

“Don’t even think about it.”

“We’ve improved our transportation methods. Really. You’ll hardly even notice…”

“No, thanks. I’ve buried enough transportation failures to give me a strong devotion to pedestrian travel.”

“You can’t live in the Oldearth past.”

“I can try. Well, sort of. Though, I must say; I’m deeply in love with my whirligig.”

“Whirligig?”

“It does all my laundry, dries it, and leaves it folded on— Oh, never mind. Where are we rushing off to anyway?”

Roux didn’t even blink. “The past.”

Speaking of sarcasm…

“You really ought to spend more time with the Bhuacs. They love riddles and you’d have a gorgeous time figuring your way out of their labyrinths. I hear their settlement in Song—”

Roux is still not blinking. No emotion whatsoever. “Been there. Nearly died. Not my best memory.”

I’m trying not to express my jumbled feeling on every fiber of my face. “Oooh-kay. So, you want to tell me what’s going on?”

“Simple case. New community named Amens, guy broke something in his back while building a house. They want to keep close to nature, so they use the old ways and only natural resources. You should get along great. They’ll love your plant-of-the-day shop— natural remedies and all.”

“I’m an herbologist.”

“You’re an Oldearth naturalist.”

“Why do you make that seem like some kind of insult?”

“It’s not intended. Look, I respect what you do, but you can’t ignore the reality of living in a world with universal technology.”

“Who’s ignoring? I told you about my whirligig and look, see, I’m advanced.”

 It’s a tab bit embarrassing holding out my arm for inspection like this, but hey, a comp-insert is pretty blinking impressive.

Lordy, he’s holding my arm…and looking me in the eye. Sheesh. He dropped my arm like I’m made of ice.

 “Where’d you get that?”

“Cerulean gave it to me. He said we needed a better way to stay in touch, I mean, in communication. He’s like that… You know how he is.”

“Yeah, I know Cerulean well indeed. Listen, I’m just going to shorten this little jaunt by a hair’s breath if you don’t mind.”

“A hair’s breath? What does—?”

“Wahhhh….”

Now Roux looks smug. Seriously smug. “Here we are.”

I’m checking my heart…Thank God! It’s still beating. Honestly, I’m grateful it is still there. “Roux! I outta shoot you. How dare you—”

Uh ho, he’s grinning. Dang, I can’t be mad at him when he smiles like that. Deep breath. Regain some semblance of dignity.

“I apologize. I’m just afraid this guy will die while we’re traipsing through Newearth’s natural elements.”

“Okay. Good reason. I’m looking around but I don’t see much. Just an old barn and a few outbuildings.”

“That barn is bigger than it looks, and it’s the center of the Amens community. Here, follow me.”

~~~

We’re inside a huge structure, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s a luminous, pulsing green with lofts and little niches all over the place, built of some kind of plant structure; it could be a tree, but it’s not like any vegetation I’ve ever encountered before. It feels…alive.

Roux strides up and knocks, bold fellow that he is. “Hello? It’s me Roux. I’ve brought—”

“Oh, Roux! Thanks for coming.”

Hmmm…. A Bhuac. Charming little beings, elusive though. Wonder what…

By the look on his face, Roux isn’t here to exchange pleasantries. “Shira? Where’s the patient?”

“I’m sorry for troubling you, Roux, but he’s passed on. The damage was too great, and his family didn’t want too much intervention.”

“I tried to get here as quick as I could. I brought a neighbor of yours, Alcina, the herbologist.”

Those luminous eyes! Bhuacs are gorgeous no matter what shape they take. But she’s so  sad…touched.

“Alcina? Yes, we know of you. Song of Wisdom admires your work.”

The Song of Wisdom? Seen me? And I failed to notice? “Sorry we didn’t get here in time. It was my fault. I’m slow—”

“Don’t trouble your soul. The Amens have great faith. We have found strength in each other. I will introduce you. They are in mourning now.”

“Certainly. Is there anything I can do for you…or anyone?”

“Thank you, child. I’ll inform them of your arrival and preparations for burial will begin immediately. You may assist in preparing the body, if you like. I am sure they would appreciate your skill.”

Skill? “I can’t heal the dead.”

“No. But you can ease the passage for those who remain. You have buried many, and your respect for the body is admirable. Let me know what you need, and I’ll procure the materials.”

She’s turned her powerful laser-like gaze on Roux now.

“Roux? Would you inform Cerulean that we need his assistance?”

“Cerulean? Sure. Why? I thought the guy fell off the roof.”

“Only after he was shot with a Dustbuster. There’s trouble ahead.”

Poor Roux. It’s never easy being a hero in a universe of villains. Sigh…I’ve been hidden away—too old to notice the troubles of our time—too young to care… But now…

“Alcina?”

“Yes.”

“You’re needed.”

That I am. Sigh.

Real World Disconnect = Despair

autumn11Some people would say that we are more connected to the world than ever, but I wonder if this is really true. I heard a statistic this week that suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens. That tragic information made me pause.  Why would teens, in a world full of options, choose to end their lives?

What are kids connected to? Or disconnected from? They are connected to the vast information web, they are connected to sound bytes, superficial relationships built on Facebook and Twitter, they are connected to pictures, images, sounds, but too often, disconnected to what is happening right in front of them.

It is hard to distinguish “real world” vs “false world,” but I think there is a truth here which we, as a human family, should investigate.  Personally, it comes down to what actually feeds us – spiritually and physically.  “You shall be known by your fruit…” I do not get fed by Facebook interactions.  I do not feel seriously connected on Twitter.  Even e-mail has it’s limitations. It is not to say that these technological innovations don’t have their purpose and value. But it is to ask: “What are we crowding out when we engage in them to the exclusion of other forms of human communication and interaction?”

When I took my kids to the lake yesterday and they ran around watching the geese and ducks, sat and enjoyed the sun setting over the water, and played tag down a wooded path, they engaged in a real-world reality check. They absorbed a truth which cannot be improved upon. Joy and health seeped into their beings.

When I go outside and work in the garden, when I take a walk down a country road, when I sit and chat face to face with someone, even a stranger, I engage in a real-world reality check that cannot be replaced by any technological gadget.

I wonder if that is why some television programs have become so weird. They are reflecting that absence, that disconnect, that xeroxed print, which has been copied too often and become anemic and a little warped in the process.

Perhaps what our teens need is a little more time with natural reality, not “reality” shows. Perhaps what some writers need is to reflect human beings and our real world, and not slap stick, word-bytes meant to get a laugh or jerk a tear.

Perhaps, reality isn’t meant to lead to suicide.

Mortality Among Teenagers Aged 12-19 Years: United States, 1999-2006. (2010). Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db37.htm

Simple Summer

flowers in AugustI’m sitting outside on the back porch, while Merry, the cat – a poor injured stray we saved – is sitting at my feet doing what cats do…resting and checking out the world whenever the mood hits. The pine trees are swaying in a gentle breeze while white, fluffy clouds sail serenely overhead.  We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so everything is green and gorgeous. A red rose in a nearby pot practically glows against the backdrop of pine trees. Various summer flowers bloom in their summertime brilliance. Flies and bees and a little jumping spider have also made an appearance. The chicks, still in the brooder house waiting for their outdoor pen to dry are running about, trying their wings as they learn that the ground cannot hold them bound.

The awesome beauty of this summer day, the chirping multitude: sparrows, red-wing blackbirds, robins, cardinals, and cooing doves, the laughter of young children at play, the haunting melody played by one of the girls at the piano, rustling waves of breezes cascading over the fields of corn and beans all work together, creating a pallet of beauty that any artist would envy.

When I considered what to write in my blog today, no words would come.  Yet as I sit here, surrounded by simple summer, I find I do not need words…just eyes and ears and a willing heart to believe that this is real.

When the winter winds blow, the sky is laden with grey clouds and the birds silenced in their nests, I will remember this day. The yellow buttercups, the red rose, the buzzing bees will live on in my heart and imagination. Even in my dreams, I will remember that such a day existed and no matter the clouds, the cold and the barren waste of winter, summer will yet live.

Peace and Prosperity?

loaves of breadThere is a saying that some people cannot handle the truth.  I wonder if it would also be true to say that some people can’t handle prosperity?  When I hear individuals complain vociferously about this country, this century, and all our present problems, I wonder where else would they like to be. Yet, I understand the anxiety which drives the complaints to the surface.  I see the evil of our times.  I just wonder (after reading way too many history books) when has it not been this way?  When has humanity truly valued ourselves as a whole and enjoyed our free will as a gift in which we are able to choose good and God? Free will, a mighty gift, comes at a mighty cost.

I don’t have answers mind you – I’m not Google – and in our “Yahoo culture” where many search for meaning through information-driven technology, I find I am silenced by all those voices so much more knowledgeable than myself. Yet still, I wonder about humanity, and our future, and our ability to be content. The Garden of Eden wasn’t enough for us…

Earlier today, as I kneaded the bread dough and heard the birds chirping, saw the new buds on the trees, felt the warm spring breeze waft through the house, I felt the immensity of our connected humanity.  We are bound together through time and space. The peoples of the past have made our present world possible.  If it weren’t for men and woman who have gone before, I would not hear the hum of the washing machine as it cleans my kids’ clothes; I would not be typing on a computer; I would not be worried about a nuclear war; I would not know the glory of our beautiful planet and realize the fragility of our ecosystem.

Apple harvest 2015And what will we bequeath to our future brothers and sisters, the ones we will never meet but will know us by our fruit? What will we pass on to them? It is true, we are handing on some of the greatest technological advancements that the human race has ever known.  We have the opportunity to causally and frequently engage in direct contact with people from all over the globe. We have more and better food, medicine, housing, and entertainment opportunities than ever before.  Yet, as the world situation once again heats up, as extremists murder in the name of God, as individuals choose to distract their minds from anything too serious or long term, as families fracture under the pressure of time and emotional breakdowns, as the decisive threat of nuclear war is bandied about, so I wonder – what do we offer of ourselves?  Have we improved on the inside while we struggle to improve our outside? Do we have minds and hearts capable of knowing what to do with all that we have accomplished?

With knowledge comes responsibility.  We not only know how to cure, we know how to kill – on a massive scale.  We know how to destroy our history and our inheritance. Perhaps, while we march forward with all our social improvements, let us consider becoming a race of people who can choose contentment.  Let it not be said of us, that humanity perished because we could not handle our success.

Spring Time Faith

Garden 2015 May 4Setting aside the fact that the one and only time I ever consider entering politics is under the inauspicious dream of ending the tyranny of our biannual time-change, I do look forward to seasonal changes.  God knows us so well. Humanity needs change, yet we also need consistency.  Somehow our Creator manages to address these concerns through the seasons which occur regularly yet are never mundane.

For us home-schooling families living in rural environments, this means the springtime transition from indoor intellectual pursuits toward outdoor occupations. Instead of heating with wood fires, classroom schoolwork, literary pursuits, research projects & indoor games, we have open windows, gardens, fruit trees, chicks, and outdoor fix-it lists. There is something so sane about going outdoors.  Smelling the rich, damp earth as it awakens and seeing the tiny, fragile buds push their way through last year’s death into this year’s new life draw out a thousand parables which never need to be spoken out-loud – just noticed.

While I tremble at the state of our 18 trillion dollar debt, our entangled international affairs, the forces of evil rising toward our children’s future, still I can stand on our good, firm earth and know that despite those terrors which disturb my soul – yet I know that God still believes in us.  God has given us spring one more time and that fills my heart with relief and gladness.  Let us not fail to notice this great good and thank Him. By ingratitude we tend to lose those gifts which brings out the best in us.

Epiphany of the Divine

December ice 2 (2)Epiphany used to conjure up images of the three Wise-Men who came from the east to honor the infant Christ as Lord and King. Later, as men and traditions waxed and waned, it came to simply mean a highlight – a sudden and profound understanding. The divine intervention aspect was shrouded by a modern dedication to purely human experiences.

For me, there are no purely human experiences.  Everything in the universe, as well as in my little world, shouts the manifestation of the divine in the intimate details of every day life.  When I first awake, no matter what kind of a day it is, I look outside to check the weather and I am immediately struck by the glory of God’s handiwork.  Whether it is black and stormy or sunny and mild, I marvel at how so great a Master can be so mighty yet paint in such detail the subtle colors on wisps of clouds and frail blades of grass. He amazes me each day, changeless, yet always changing.

When I get downstairs and begin teaching, I cannot help but feel so grateful for my children’s vigorous, inquisitive and lively minds.  Teaching is a wonderful profession for those open to the glory of God.  Each child and each new subject opens a world of wonder.  Science, history, math, language, reading, even spelling (not always considered the handiwork of God – I’ll admit) draw us into a wonder of uncounted universes, lives, minds, hearts, experiences – so much greater than ourselves.

I do not want to simply admire the Wise-Men as they travel toward the Christ child this year 2015.  I want to walk with them bearing what gifts I may as the day presents itself to me. Such is the hope of a real Epiphany – an Epiphany of the Divine.

Make Your House A Home

autumn 2There are a lot of ways to make your house a home but one of my favorite is to decorate naturally.  Since we have a garden we grow the usual things: tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, beans and corn, and though all of these are great to eat none of them are particularly great to decorate with unless you dry the corn or use their stalks.  But some more humble harvests are wonderful to hang and dry, making the kitchen and even the living room look a little more like something from Tolkien’s’s Middle-earth. From small pegs or nails near the ceiling, we hang long lines of onions, peppers, herbs, (peppermint, oregano, sage, lemon grass, Thyme and what ever else happens to have done well this year). We have even done a little inventing with grape vines, laying them over pictures or twisting them into interesting shapes and tying late summer flowers to them.

My middle daughter has an especially good eye for this sort of thing.  She is always coming up with new ways of decorating the house with nature’s gifts.  She uses cattails and puts them in a vase with long green grass stems and perhaps a sun flower or two.  (Spray the cattails with hairspray or they will burst with seed before you know it, which can be an interesting science experiment but a chore to clean up.)

We look forward each fall to the harvest, not just for good food, but for the sheer joy of seeing the house transformed from bare rooms to a cozy haven, sheltering us from the harsh winter winds and the isolation of a slumbering earth.  With nature’s bounty hanging from the walls and decorating little corners, we are reminded; we are never alone and season’s bounty has not left us bereft.

home decorations 3