Monday, November 12, 2018

'SHALL I CATCH A SHOOTING STAR?' -- Memoir of a Healing Adventure

[ * There are 21 pieces of writing on the mystical
path in this blog: essays, articles and poems.
The 'blog archive' or Table of Contents
is located below the tall, narrow image at left.
Click on a white triangle to open it. *

[ * To enlarge text, use Control + keys. * ]



"Symphony of Fire" at Vancouver, Canada

Text and Image © Copyright 2018 by Neall Calvert

MY SOLITARY DINNER at a Fraser Valley restaurant is over. As I direct my vehicle out of the parking lot, a strange sensation manifests in the middle of my head. Deep in the recesses of my mind, something feels wrong. I have no reference point for what I’m experiencing. This could be the muffled booming of an approaching thunderstorm—except the rumblings are occurring in my brain. 

My thoughts no longer seem under my rational control; the feeling of disorientation accelerates and suddenly I think I could be losing my mind. Experience with spiritual teachings has taught me that some greater power is always available to assist human beings in trouble, and so I stumble around in my mind looking for the most effective way to invoke my Higher Power. Rather than asking for help, in other words ‘pleading with God,’ as the old paradigm declares, I realize I have to affirm what I want, as Science of Mind teaches. I’ve never had to solve a problem this big and this pressing before, but I try to find words that will affirm what I want to happen. Tentatively I begin: 

I call forth the restoration of my health and my sanity—and I declare it now.” I repeat the phrase again and again, checking if it still resonates with the situation at hand, each time my voice becoming louder, until, driving through the farm-country night, I’m shouting repeatedly, “I CALL FORTH THE RESTORATION OF MY HEALTH AND MY SANITY—AND I DECLARE IT NOW!” Given the circumstances, this seems the most helpful thing I might do. 

I begin to realize I’m angry about the continual lack of money I suffer from and the isolation I, a city dweller spending a year in the country, am experiencing. 


With those last words, I’m suddenly clear who it is that I want to bellow at. It’s God. I feel abandoned by the Universe. As I warm to the confrontation, I let myself get real worked up. 


Never have I felt so isolated, so apart from Creation. Tears pour down my face; my nose runs profusely. Movement seems my only security: I keep following my car’s headlights along Fraser Valley back roads. Angrily I roar, “WHEN WILL THINGS CHANGE? . . . HOW LONG MUST I SUFFER? . . . WHEN WILL YOU DO YOUR PART!? . . . WHERE IS YOUR PROMISE, LORD?” 

Through the cascading tears and mucus, I feel that something I consider to be “God’s promise” to me has not been kept. It’s as if—until this moment unknown to me—in my core I believe that a contract exists between human beings and the Creator, to the effect that Its power is available to help us live fuller, healthier, more abundant lives. But, by some arbitrary decree, my contract seems to have been cancelled.

I feel very silly yelling like this, but there is no other person to hear me. There is also no counsellor available at this moment, or psychiatrist, and besides, a psychiatrist would conclude that my problems were either biological or psychological in origin, and likely indicative of a pharmaceutical deficiency. So I shout again, “WHERE IS YOUR PROMISE, LORD? WHAT IS YOUR PART IN ALL THIS, AND WHEN WILL YOU PLAY IT?”

A streak of light flashes across my windshield. Was it the flash of headlights from a turning car? There are no other cars on this country road. Then I remember this is August, the month of the Perseid meteor shower. I have just seen a shooting star.

My mind adjusts to a larger perspective than the one inside my head and the dark interior of my four-door Chevy Nova. I continue driving, thinking about the trail of light I have just seen. Is it a sign? If so, what does it mean? As I get out of my car at the house where I’m staying, the tears have stopped. I notice I’m standing a little straighter. The crisis is over.

The next day, two things happen. A voice whispers in my head, “You’re in the New Age now,” and a freelance editing contract worth thousands of dollars is confirmed. In the evening, feeling cleansed and lighter, I stand outside in peaceful darkness to watch for more streaks of light. . . .

The Perseid meteor shower is created each year as the Earth on its journey around the sun travels through the tail of a comet named Swift-Tuttle. Tiny particles of dirt in the comet’s tail collide many kilometres above with the Earth’s atmosphere and ignite and burn, creating what we call meteors. This particular night, high above me—although far below the fixed stars—I see one more of the beautiful dashes of light zooming across the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The week previous, together with hundreds of thousands of oohing and aahing spectators, I had witnessed the annual Vancouver fireworks spectacular called “Symphony of Fire.” Yet one shooting star of only a second’s duration seems more real and profound than a half hour of multi-hued, man-made pyrotechnics.

I turn on the late television news: Local people camping out in a rural park to watch the meteor shower are being interviewed. Several adults are asked for their responses, then a little girl approaches the microphone and the reporter repeats her question. 

They’re God’s fireworks!” exclaims the child. . . . That’s what the flash of light means. In my hour of deepest darkness, I had been given a light; I had been shown what a child already knows: The Universe has fireworks too. . . . 

Now that I no longer feel separate from an infinite creative force, sanity has returned. I’m back with people, earning a living, once more in the flow of life. I’m clear that no material-minded philosophy or science or psychiatrist with drugs could solve this kind of crisis. I sense I am more solidly part of something far larger than my human problems—yet certainly not unaware or unmoved by them. 

The healing I needed was to expand my faith, the kind expressed by that word faith when it’s an acronym—‘F.A.I.T.H.’—for Following An Ideal That Heals.

*     *     *

Shall I catch a shooting star?
Shall I bring it where you are?
If you want me to I will . . .”

Edith Piaf, “If You Love Me

Thursday, November 1, 2018


[ * There are 20 pieces of writing on the mystical
path in this blog: essays, articles and poems.
The 'blog archive' or Table of Contents
is located below the tall, narrow image at left.
Click on a white triangle to open it. *


Images and Text  
© Copyright 2018 by Neall Calvert

House of Jewels   (c) 2018 by N.C.


         If My Hands . . .         
Turn Crosses into Art
Midlife In Three Chapters
Unwakeable Sleeping Infant  
    To A New, Spiritual Family       

The Man Outside My Door
'Cultivate Ordinariness'


Campbell River above Elk Falls   (c) 2018 by N. C.


   © 2018 by Neall Calvert

The longing for belonging,
the longing to be celebrated,
longing for Big Picture living,
the longing for inner peace (a vacation
from self-negation),
the longing
to be
more courageous and compassionate
can all be satisfied through
permanent partnership with,
constant companionship with,
forever friendship with
a ready-and-steady, reaching-and-teaching,
e n d l e s s l y e n e r g i z e d,

pacifically patient, hopefully humorous,
socially and psychologically skilled,
scientifically accurate (inventor
of quantum physics), eternal and unlimited,
demonstratively compassionate,
unconditionally loving,
universe-sized, invisible
and indivisible
Higher Power—the One in All / the All in One,
the One Mind, whose essence is hardwired
into the space between each atom’s nucleus
and its electron haze, into all of Creation
and encompasses every human mind

. . . every heart.

Riverside Giant, Campbell River   (c) 2018 by N. C.


                            for Maren

If my hands were the wings of a powerful angel
I would have reassuringly brushed against
That special place high in the centre of your back
The very momentspeed-demon that you are;
     your mind far ahead of your body—
You prepared to dash through four lanes 
Of rush-hour traffic. My well-timed touch 
Would have charged you with radiant comforting strength, 
From your foot-soles up to your invisible winking stars,
Restoring to you your rightful stance
     In the cosmos.

If my hands were the wings of a powerful angel
I would conduct a symphony written in your honour
And, with a wave, transform your mind’s yet unreleased pain
      Into gladness.

If my mind were the mind of God
I would see youmind, body and spiritas loving and complete,
And sing praises that the scientific “charm” 
That holds in orbit a gazillion whizzing electrons 
Reverberated, moment by moment, in your every atom
      As conscious, charmed living.

Electrons at Play  (c) Neall Calvert


Some say turn swords into plowshares—
I say turn crosses into artwork.

Gather a few old ones. Dismantle
     the heavy timbers; plane off
     the rough edges, the weathering
     of centuries, the grime and pain.

Don’t do the work yourself—you’re weary
     from lugging them. In the electric age,
     Dear Jesus, we give such jobs to machines.

When fresh wood gleams, splash with varnish.
     Atop a swaying skyscraper
     creatively arrange the beams just so, and so—open
     to their home elements: wind, rain, sun . . .

For the next twenty centuries
Let this lumber carry a happier form.


'Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming...'


For a decade nothing I try works
and I don’t know who I am;

For a decade I know who I am
but I am alone;

Today I am no longer alone:
the people around me remind me who I am.
In a dream, my brother says, “I trust you now.”

This moment

              is always the right one

                            for bowing down

                                          in gratitude.

South Granville, Vancouver   (c) 2012  N. C


What shall I name you, infant,
Swaddled, sleeping deep within,
Blissfully unaware of life, unwakeable.

For your unspoken requirements—for decades!
—I’ve strained to keep the raucous world
Away or shushed, denying my own needs
For worldly engagement,
Career, income.

Unbidden you’ve come while I’m wond’ringly
Gazing out misty bus windows—downtown to pick up
An infrequent paycheque . . . I want to charge
“You’ve sabotaged my career!” but this,
Our incredible first meeting, is larger than anger . . .

Home again, I ponder:
. . . Infant, how do we even begin
To communicate—you asleep
And me defended, drifting in life,
Not connecting . . . Who are you?
Why do you not awaken?! . . .

. . . I am Awakened, although sleeping . . .
I am on a long journey—
eternal, in fact . . .
Dialogue with the timeless
Is not the same as other conversations;
It happens through
You see? We
can interact . . .

. . . But what function do you serve . . . ?

. . . I carry sacredness
From all traditions, times,
Religions, belief systems—
Believe in me and you shall be saved. . . .

. . . But how?—you are in me . . .

. . . Exactly . . .

. . . Then it’s been necessary for me
To keep the world at a distance—
For decades . . . ?

. . . Yes—until you could develop
A path of your own. . . .

I descend into
Sleep: an hour’s
Pure peace.

["Unwakeable Sleeping Infant" is published
online at Recovering The Self:]

'Photographs In A Water Glass' series


Feeling ashamed and worthless as a child
Before the immense, punishing power
Of a wrathful, arbitrary God / father
I put my essence far away—
So deep inside even I couldn’t find me.
I left home but I was young—a child—
What could I do? I wandered
In a strange forest world.

Today, as a six-foot adult child, having searched
And having found myself deep in a wood, I rage—
To cover the fear I may not be strong enough
To protect you, indomitable boy of mine.

Let me now communicate with you;
Let me remember that as an adult
I can now protect, nourish, parent, love you,
Bright little one in me—for who else
Could do it so well? . . .

Suddenly I know
I have merely forgotten the way home—
I am home; I am found.

O wonder boy! O more wondrous Protector / father—
Not unreachable in heaven now
But in me: father and son as one!

I celebrate my new, spiritual family.

VIA Rail Station, Courtenay, Canada








When at night my solitary rooms became still
I sensed, lurking outside my dwelling’s door,
A mysterious silent man. Sometimes I feared 
He would break in with a great
smashing and splintering of wood.

For weeks I strained to hear thumps of approaching
Or leaving footsteps, especially after midnight
When corridor light streamed around my entry’s edges 
Into the murk . . . In daylight I puzzled 
         this perilous male potency.

Getting nowhere I finally challenged WHO ARE YOU?  
Startling facts began trickling through the thick portal:
I’m handsome, with a ready smile;
I’m healthy and walk with a confident step! . . .

The noiseless knocking had been announcing
A shimmering shadow brother — Man of Light
Who was everything that I in darker hours
            thought that I was not.

Self-portrait, Courtenay, Canada


          "Anxiety means you're on the edge of growth." 
                                                       —Psychological teaching

June 1991, Vancouver International. Big parked planes
Look happy, like bright balloon toys. Uh-oh:
Mine is small, faded, dirty with oil-streaked wings
And soon jammed with chattering Dutch. It's a discount
Amsterdam excursion, every seat's taken, and I've become
A tinned sardine.

We're rumbling and lumbering too long, barely accelerating 
—is liftoff even possible? The abrupt silence of leaving terra firma
Is broken by fifty cheers—I hadn't been the only doubter.
A quarter mile up, the grimy jet suddenly tilts to head east 
And just as suddenly—terrified, panicked—I fiercely clutch
The armrests. It will fall! My mind's eye sees only flames
A massive fireball after the ground shudders.  
Into this horror-film-without-an-exit a female voice announces:
"You are not ordinary enough to die yet . . ."
Its source turns out to be not the plane's loudspeakers, however,
Rather the centre of my own head!

"Listen to me" this at-last-recognized voice (current spiritual teacher)
Thinks into my gyrating mind. "I am calmer than you. Listen."
I quiet myself enough to pay attention; the voice continues:
"Inside yourself you feel special—above all others—and separate.
In your mind, a conflagration like a place crash
Or a catastrophic illness: 'Death at a young age!'
Is the necessary outcome of such a belief system. 
Your biggest, and lifelong, tasks are these: To become ordinary:
A good friend, companion, neighbour; a partner, co-worker, student
And teacher; a brother, husband and father . . . And after many years
Of living a creative, connected life, you will see
That to die is an ordinary thing . . ."

High above Canada's tundra, soaring over the North Atlantic,
I cycle my new flying mantra: "You are not ordinary enough to die yet.
                                                        You are not ordinary enough to die yet.    
                                                        You are not ordinary enough to die yet..."  

At last feeling safe enough to read, I open Whitman's Leaves of Grass
And notice every poemthe title evencelebrates ordinariness.
And, improbably, I am now more serene than the last time
Sitting in my living-room's easy chair. This inner quality
Is being created by a strange kind of awarenessthe knowledge
That, assembled around me, are hundreds of invisible others
 —each one crucial to this all-of-a-sudden incredible journey:

Aircraft designers, underground miners, metal refiners,
Riveters, rubber tire molders, midnight-shift assemblers,
Ticket takers, meal makers, fuel fillers, fellow passengers
—and all of their mothers and fathers; 
Flight attendants, flight instructors,
Men and women who built the electrical plants 
That generated electricity to run the power tools
That built this planetheir fathers and mothers . . . 
And on and on: an ever-growing circle of interdependence. 
All persons that ever had anything to do with this craft,
Including me as paying passenger 
plus the air we are hurtling through giving essential lift,  
Plus the equally essential Sun shining in the windows 
—are here, now, charging this ample moment. 

The aircraft in flight unites earth and sky; connects everything.
It is anima mundithe soul of the world—a living force . . .
And I myself am part of this living spirit, connected
To past, present and future (Amsterdam and beyond)
—to everything and everyone . . .
This state of wonder, this place of grace, leaves no room for fear.
I've become the unflappable Buddhist monk who knows "It's all space
 . . . There is nowhere to fall."

In a 500-mph tin can, five miles above the Earth, I have created
My most expansive, happy and peaceful moments ever.

Campbell River & Quadra Island, Canada