Marcus, Ranjit, and the Praying Mantis

August 25, 2016 was a day of magic and mystery….and a small miracle, if that’s what it can be called.

It was early up in the morning before sunrise when the sky still slept. Sleep, good sleep came to me the night before. I’m not sure how long it stayed though. Sound sleep for an entire night is a nightly goal, a thing to be considered in my daily list of considerations and concerns where before my current circumstance I never had to think about it at all, and when I did it was usually to fight it off. Sleep, sweet sleep, will ever she return to me, her lover remorseful, her lover forsaken?

I gave thanks to Creator for my beautiful life and blessings, sending forth blessings to specific beings in my life, widening the circle to reach all of Humanity, and to all things seen and unseen throughout the Earth and all throughout our Universe. There are things I do each day, every day, and have done for years – prayers, blessing, visionings, rituals and rites through word or act or silent utterance. And what I do today was not what I did yesterday, and what I did yesterday I may no longer do today at all or in the same way.I don’t decide on which ritual I will do today or in this moment or ever.

I do what occurs to me and how it occurs to me to do in the moment that calls for the thing to be done. Each moment in the eternal now is a crossroad, an encounter with time whereby you meet with what you create only to discover that it has created you.

Anyway, this particular blessing, which has been an evolving constant in my life, goes like this:

Blessings, blessings, blessings of love, life, light, healing, and the unifying blackness to all forms and expressions of Life and Consciousness seen and unseen, heard and unheard, known and unknown, here throughout the Earth and all throughout the Universe. Blessings. Thank you.

This simple prayer has a become a kind of mantra for me, a mantel under whose covering I am powered, potent, and present, a point of contact where all things meet.  It is a lodestone and I a being of knowing pulled in by its blessed gravity to give it utterance and life.

Prayers are their own beings. They, too, live. They live, are alive, have breath and pulse, rhythm and rite. Prayers are Creator, as is the mango, the muscles, and the morning, ALL living, moving, expressing as One Thing individuated into infinite things, expressions, creations. The prayer, the one praying, the One being prayed to, the supplication and the answer, the medium, the means, and the meaning…..all is Creator living and expressing as One, in all, through all, as all, for all.

Moreover, we can experience ourselves, consciously, intentionally, willfully as channels of power and possibility, as expressions of Creator, as creation becoming Creator. We can experience this, are invited to experience this, and it is my heartfelt belief that we are called to be this, called to be Creator, called to be God, called to be One. It is the difference, if so be, between praying to Creator and praying as Creator, between entreating and declaring. However, it is not a thing to be learned nor to be done, it is what we are, what we become.

After my morning ritual of praying and stretching my thoughts turned to working out at Planet Fitness when it opens a new gym in Redding on Labor Day weekend and how cool it will be to shower when I want. It opens 24 hrs Monday – Friday. Membership benefits include chair massages and hydro-massages and infrared treatments, whatever that is. Beautiful! I was never into gyms, ever, but I’ve always been into showers.

I called into the Thursday morning  conference call with Sentext Solutions from 6-7am (and every Monday morning, too). It’s a nationwide sales call with about a thousand agents receiving sales instruction and motivation. After the call, I got out to stretch my body in the p-lot of ol’ big W. Some mornings my legs hurt more than others but since I ate 3 cloves of garlic last night and had an aspirin with my dinner I felt no discomfort in my veins. This morning was the usual stiffness and a little soreness, nothing more. My car is an ’04 Dodge Stratus and doesn’t allow for me to stretch out my 6’3″ frame when I sleep.

Kenny stopped by to say good morning. It was still dark with a hint of the new day blushing the horizon. He stayed only for a minute as he had found some labor work through Labor Ready, a day-labor agency. He installs flooring normally, but I don’t know what kind of work he was performing this day.

I left shortly after Kenny did. As I started out the parking lot, I took a moment to admire the view from the W parking lot as dawn crept into view. It’s a 270 degree view of the horizon and the hills skirting it sit low under the waking sky. Mt Shasta and Mt Lassen are in full view like twin breasts of graceful, granite silence. Beautiful.

I had laundry to do, work emails to send, and merchants to follow up with. I drove to the laundromat on Bruce Street. Locked! Opens at 7am. I had passed a 24 hr laundromat a time before so I drove there. The place was dingy and dusty with spider webs, cobwebs, and spiders both living and dead. I inspected their top-loaders. They failed inspection. A young guy, dirty and spacey-eyed, was inside the laundromat when I arrived. He asked if I could spare any change so I gave him a dollar. Then he became my best friend, even telling me which top-loaders and dryers worked best. I smile inside when our good comes forth when awakened by kindness.

I was having second thoughts the entire time inside. As I loaded my clothes into the decrepit washer I kept looking toward the exit. I wanted out of there. Then I did. With a fast hand I removed my clothes from the washer and sped out of there. I’ll try Bruce St again, I said to myself , needing to reassure myself I was actually leaving. I passed 3 or 4 dead spiders on the way out.

The guy to whom I gave a dollar exited at the same time. I looked where he stood and noticed he left behind some change, all pennies. I mentioned it to him but he said he had no need for it so I picked them up, about 6 or 7 pennies. As I gathered them I repeated to myself, one penny at a time, one penny at a time. I’ve gotten into the practice of picking up every penny I see now, giving thanks as I do and saying within, one penny at a time, which is my way to recall and honor Spirit AND my healing voyage for the lesson I learned years ago (One Penny At A Time).

I pulled into the parking space in front of the laundromat on Bruce St. Still locked!

I walked over to the little grocery store at the end of this strip of businesses. The laundromat sits between the grocery store and some kind of business that never seems open but through whose windows I’ve peered inside to see a large State of Jefferson banner, a glass counter and an assortment of cooking and crafting equipment that appear unused.

I entered the grocery. An Indian-looking woman busied herself to get the store ready for the day’s commerce. She had a round, pleasant face, motherly and sweet.

“Good morning, ma’am, do you own the laundromat, too?” I assumed her to be the owner of the grocery and hopefully of the laundromat.

“No,” she replied, nodding empathetically, “sorry.”

“Would you have the phone number of the owner then?”

“No, I am sorry.”

She approached, closing the distance between me and her, separated only by the counter.

“Is there a yellow pages here?”

“Yes.”

She removed some papers from the top of a stack of sheets revealing 4 phone books underneath. I flipped through them quickly but found no laundromat listed on Bruce St.

“Nothing,” I said.

The woman and I eye stood looking at one another.

“I’ll figure it out,” I added and bounded out the door to somehow get this laundromat opened. I approached the window again and something caught my eye below. I looked down and it was a dead praying mantis, or what appeared to be dead praying mantis. It was lying on its back in a channel of a sliding door, its legs folded tightly into its body. It was no more than 3 inches long and its green coloring still bright with some yellow highlights.

I picked it up gently with pinched, right forefingers in case it was still alive. I laid it on the palm of my left hand. I see-sawed my hand up and down rolling it back and forth. The praying mantis showed no sign of life.

I studied its details closely – the bulbous eyes clouded by death; the intricate, tribal-looking design of the mouth; the geometry of its wings. I cupped it in both hands to warm the mantis, hoping to give it life. Nothing, no sign.

I wanted a witness to this moment, as I was confident in the Spirit to bring back to life this beautiful praying mantis. I took it to the woman in the store and showed her the mantis.

“Yes. It’s beautiful. It’s dead,” she said flatly.

“What is your name?”

“Ranjit.”

“Renjit?”

“Ranjit. RANJIT.”

“Ahh, Ranjit.”

“Yes. Ranjit.”

“Well, Ranjit, let’s see if we can bring it back to life.” I breathed onto the mantis. She watched me intently showing no anticipation on her face, only detached interest.

The mantis showed no sign of life. I exited the store so the woman could return to her work and I could return to mine.

Thoughts flowed….be Creator….give life….give breath….breathe free.

I returned the opening of my cupped hands to my mouth and exhaled a long, slow, warm breath into them. The air was hot and dry, and I thought my moist breath would help. I took another peek. Nothing.

Something within me called me to this moment, and it now pressed me to continue.

Blessings, blessings, blessings….blessings, blessings, blessings….blessings, blessings, blessings, I repeated in silent prayer over and over.

I breathed again into my hands, believing with all believing and seeing with all seeing that the mantis would come back to life. I recognized this moment as the real reason why my agitated spirit led me way from the other laundromat back here to this one.

Another peek. The hind leg twitched! It twitched again! Then the other hind leg! I felt I was levitating, my insides bursting like a balloon! I was a living witness to this moment, to this miracle!

All life is miraculous.

The praying mantis now moved its hind legs as slowly and stiffly like an arthritic stretching.

I kept the mantis protected in my hands and returned excitedly to the woman in the grocery store.

“Hello?”

She was crouched over some boxes sitting on the floor by the soda machine. She turned to look.

“Come! Look! The praying mantis!”

“Oh??” She rushed over, smiling.

I opened my hands. The praying mantis was on its side now but I could have done that while walking. The hind legs twitched once, maybe twice.

“See?” I inquired, wishing the mantis showed as much life as it did moments earlier.

“Mm hmm,” she hummed. She didn’t seem the least impressed and smiled politely.

I returned to the parking lot where the sun grew higher and hotter by the second.

I stood still and looked most intently at the praying mantis now, concentrating all my awareness and focus, all of my energies onto this mantis, this moment. The mantis lay on its side, still.

I breathed and blessed (blessings, blessings, blessings…), breathed and blessed, breathed and blessed…..and waited and watched.

Nothing.

I breathed and blessed (blessings, blessings, blessings…), breathed and blessed, breathed and blessed…..and waited and watched.

Nothing.

I continued this way completely, unaware of time, of laundry, of anything outside of this moment, this mantis, this magic. I had no idea how much time was passing. I didn’t care.

Then….the mantis moved again. Its hind legs, its forelegs! I kept blessing, blessing, blessing and giving thanks. Then the mantis turned over onto its feet! It was standing now!

WOW!

Then it fell over, landing stiffly on its side. I continued blessing it and breathing on it. My energies were consumed with resurrecting the mantis.

I heard footsteps approaching from behind and now stood next to me.

“Hey, it’s a praying mantis!”

“Yeah, isn’t it beautiful!” I replied.

“It looks dead. What are you doing with it?”

“I’m working to bring it back to life. Watch.” I cupped the mantis protectively, closed my eyes and breathed onto it slowly. The mantis started twitching again.

The stranger exploded, “Whoa! Whoa man! Look at that! I can’t believe it!”

He then looked at me wonderingly, as if I were the one giving life to the mantis.

We stared at the mantis now motionless again. Without warning, the stranger blew air on the mantis. On reflex I recoiled, instinctively pulling my hands away from his blowing. Then I reminded myself that he is Creator and Creator’s breath breathes through him also. I returned my hands to their original position so he could blow.

He implored and begged the mantis to come alive again. Feeling his energy to be a bit pushy for this mission, I whispered, “It will live. It will live.”

No sign of life again. The praying mantis, now on its back, looked as dead as when I first found it. I returned my cupped hands and the mantis to my mouth and breathed on it again in slow, drawn out breaths.

Blessings, blessings, blessings. The mantis twitched again.

“It’s moving! It’s alive!” he exclaimed. Brother, you got the gift! Who are you, man??”

“I’m a child of Creator, like you my Brother. We all are expressions of our Creator,” I answered, my eyes still on the mantis.

“Brother,” he said, “I’d like to pray.”

I nodded my approval, not that it was needed. He began his prayer and I closed my eyes. He was praying in a foreign tongue, one I had never heard. Then I heard ‘wonka tonka’ in his prayer and knew it was a tribal tongue of Indigenous America. He finished his prayer.

“What makes you do this, Brother?” he asked me.

“Because we are Creator, we are Sons and Daughters of Creator, and we’re called to give life, to bless all, to express our Father, our Mother…..”

Waves and waves of the sweetest spirit washed over me, overwhelming me with a feeling of love and gratitude so immense I could not contain the energy. I wept. Sweet tears streamed down my cheeks. The stranger watched, saying nothing. We looked at one another with straight eye. I saw goodness in his eyes; I saw Creator. His eyes teared up and when they did his face, marked with deep creases and years of hard living, softened. His lips parted slightly into a half-smile.

“Brother, my name is Marcus,” he asserted, putting his hand out.

I switched the praying mantis to my left hand, and took his hand with my right one, saying, “And I am Sariyd.”

“Serene?”

Sa-reed. S-A-R-I-Y-D. Sariyd.”

‘Good to make your acquaintance, Brother. We need more like you in this world. You’re special.”

“No, I’m not. I’m not special. I am you and you are me, Brother Marcus. And there are more like us, many more throughout the Earth.” I knew my ego was pleased by his words of praise; my heart is pleased only with connection. I followed my heart. “Brother Marcus, what was that prayer you spoke? What language was it?”

“That was a prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit. I was saying thank you to Grandfather Spirit, Grandmother Spirit, and to our Mother Earth…..and blessing our little friend there. The prayer was Lakota-Sioux. I am Chippewa.”

His skin was darker than a white man’s, reddish in tone like the lands in New Mexico that whispered secrets and blessings to me when driving through in 2012 (New Mexico – Land of Enchantment) on the way to California with Caroline and Solomon, my son. His eyes were dark like his hair which he wore in a ponytail. He had a deep voice with a scratchy edge. I heard years and years of whiskey, beer, and cigarette smoke in that voice that prayed in Lakota-Sioux.

He looked pretty fit, no pot belly, no turkey neck. His forearms, darkened by the sun, were thick and heavily tatooed. He wore tight, faded blue jeans, an off-white cap that read ‘Marine’ and a black t-shirt. He looked like a biker to me if I were to judge his appearance.

“Guess how old I am?”

“I don’t know, thirty, thiry-two?”

He laughed. “Sixty! I’m sixty, Brother….watch this!”

He widened his stance as his jeans tightened around his legs. He started lowering himself into a split and I became concerned he was going to hurt himself.

What is he wanting to prove? Or maybe he just wanted to feel something in his body, wanted to feel young again?

He completed his split watching to make sure I was looking. It was impressive seeing him on the ground in a full split and told him so. He looked pleased with himself as he rose again.

“Now watch this….I studied martial arts for eight years and boxed for fourteen. I’m a 2nd degree black belt.”

He went into a stance and then proceeded to flail his arms and kick his legs in a sequence of sloppy martial arts moves. He was fast and flexible. He ended his exhibition by returning to his original stance with the gravity of a martial arts master, closing his eyes and exhaling deeply through pursed lips. I feigned being more impressed than I really was. I was more distracted by his energy than anything else.

I returned my attention to the praying mantis, still lifeless in my hands.

“You might as well forget about that, Brother. It ain’t comin’ back. Return it to Mother Earth.”

Resigned to the truth as he spoke I simply said, “Yeah.” I still held out hope and so I held on to the mantis. I thought I’d keep it as a reminder of this day, this moment, and the miracle and mystery of life.

Marcus was more emboldened by our sharing and opened up more. He told me he used to be a musician, played guitar, wrote and sang songs. He sang the first and last verse of a song he had written. He had a great singing voice, deep and soulful, perfect for blues and country. The song was a bluesy, country-sounding song, full of soul and pain, of the life it spoke of. He sang with heart and confidence, like he was on stage singing in front of a crowd, not in this parking lot with only me. My head swayed to the rhythm and I punctuated his lines with, go ‘head Brothaman! He finished and I was impressed, even inspired. He came alive as he sang and when anyone comes to life by doing what they love, doing what they feel, I am inspired by the aliveness of that life.

“Bro! I go to the Mission in Redding to eat sometimes and I know some good Brothers who also play music. There’s Shakey Jake who plays harmonica, Thunderheat who plays guitar, and a few others who play. I’m thinking you all could get together and jam! That would be cool, Bro!”

“Sounds good, Brother. You go to the Mission? You homeless?”

“No. I’m living in my car right now.”

He gave me a funny look suggesting confusion.

“I’m living in my car…..but I’m not homeless. Home is where the heart is and when I’m doing anything I love I am home. So that’s why I say I’m not homeless. No one is if we visit the places we love and do the things we love no matter what or where our residence might be.”

Marcus then confessed that he, too, is living under homeless circumstances. He was staying with a friend gracious enough to help him. I told him of my current circumstance without going into great detail about it. I mentioned that I sometimes eat at the Mission but choose not to stay there, preferring to sleep in my car rather than sleep in a large room full of the unwashed. Yes, it is all Creator, I always remind myself, but I don’t want to inhale it and smell it all the time.

“Hey Bro, are you ever hungry? Because if you are you can go to the Mission in Redding to eat. They offer three meals a day, seven days a week.”

“Yeah, I know about the Mission. I don’t have a car but I even if I did, I would eat only dinner there. The dinners are good. But I never stay there….never. But the dinners are the best!”

“Yeah, Bro. I’m heading to Redding when I finish my laundry….I can give you a ride there and back if you like. But I’m not coming back until nighttime.”

He accepted my offer and walked back to his friend’s apartment change his shirt.

Finally, the attendant showed up to unlock the laundromat. I went to my car to retrieve two shopping bags filled with dirty clothes and the laundry soap and placed them on a top-loading machine. I loaded the clothes and placed the quarters into the slots. After starting the wash cycle I returned to the store.

“Excuse me,” I enjoy being polite, “how do you spell your name?”

“R-A-N-J-I-T.”

“Ahh, got it,” I replied, thankful that I had asked as I had her name spelled differently in my mind. “I’m writing about my experiences online. It’s a blog called Healing Voyage. Healingvoyage.com. You can go on there and read it anytime you like. Anyway, I wanted to mention you in my blog so I wanted to know how to spell your name.”

“Ahh, yes, that is good. Can you write down for me please?” and she handed me a pen and piece of paper for me to write my blog-site address. I did, excited that someone I just met was interested in reading what I had to say.

She peeked at my left hand where I still held the praying mantis. I held it up for her to see.

“It lived briefly, but not for long. It’s gone now.”

“Hmm,” was all she replied.

“My brother, Marcus, the one who was with me, he suggested I bury it, return it to Mother Earth. I think I will keep it though.”

“He is your brother??” she inquired with disbelief accenting her question.

“Yes, he is. And you are my sister, Ranjit.”

Her big smile radiated with beauty and understanding.

“Yes, you are right. We all are God’s children. And you are my brother. What is your name?”

“Sariyd. I am Sariyd.”

“Sariyd. God bless you, Sariyd.”

“And blessings to you, my love.”

I left the store. My heart felt full…..it felt full of Ranjit and Marcus and the praying mantis and of the life that lives as each of them.

The sun continued to blaze the day and the heat felt good. I looked at the praying mantis and prayed a prayer of thanks to the Spirit of Praying Mantis; to the Spirit of Life, the Spirit of Creator, the Spirit that guides and blesses my steps. I blessed and thanked our Father, our Mother; I blessed all lands, waters, and skies of the Earth and all things seen and unseen in them.

I returned to tend to my laundry for a moment then stepped out again to return to the heat of the sun. Once more I blessed the Spirit of Praying Mantis, for the magic and the miracle of its life and the mystery of its brief return to the body.

I waited for Marcus to return, eager to talk about life and the Creator of it, eager to bless and be blessed by the fellowship of the heart, and to be an embodiment and expression the One Great Life in all things seen and unseen.

After all, isn’t that why we all came to Earth – to do good and be God?

Blessings to you, beloved reader of these words….I pray you find heaven within you.

Blessings, blessings, blessings

 

 

 

 

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