Found: the Faithful and True in His Army

The Light of the Divine Presence descended from above in a shower of true Love, washing me clean of my cares and worries during worship at the Salvation Army chapel in Billings. I know I can turn to the Salvation Army in a time of need. They have proven that once more again.

When I was homeless the first time, I went first to the Salvation Army. They gave me a voucher for a meal at a the King’s Table, an all-you-can eat buffet in Redwood City, California. They also gave me a room at a motel for one night in the same town.

I went from living in an Atherton estate to homeless as the locks were changed on the doors to where I grew up. The home that was on the cover of House Beautiful was never to be home to me again.

I was very much out of my mind at the time and I yelled at my mother. She waited until I left for work to have the locks changed and post a typed notice on the door saying I was not welcome there again and if I tried to enter, she would call the police.

She had her reasons and they were undoubtedly what she thought best. I certainly turned into a shrew. After I was sexually abused by a priest, I went mad and no one knew why except that I was now mentally ill  (I told no one and did not even understand myself what happened). I was eventually forbidden to pray while living in their house and while they thought I was made crazier by religiousity, in truth, the prayers were one of the few things that held me together, if tenuously.

My parents did me a favor, as I see it now. I cannot live without praying. It is more important than eating to me. So, I lived with the lady I worked for as a stablehand, on the floor of her place. More importantly, I found that there are people who will help me no matter how sick in the head I am. They are the Salvation Army.

When I was in and out of the psych ward through most of November and December one year, into the New Year, as my psychiatrist sent me to a new shrink, my family did not want to have anything to do with me either. That Christmas, in the psych ward, Santa gave me the one present I received and I still have it. Santa brought me from the Salvation Army a little white bear, which I called my bipolar bear. I hugged it last night tightly, all through the night.

A few month’s back, I went to the Salvation Army sobbing because I was told I had to sell my doctor-prescribed service animal (that is a way-too clinical term for my best friend on earth). I wanted to volunteer for them. They also asked if I wanted to talk to someone. The counselor talked with me and told me about ExperienceWorks, for older people who have not worked for awhile. The kind lady played a recording of the Lord’s Prayer after I asked if we could pray a Lord’s Prayer together. I felt–no, I knew, that something would work out.

Lots has happened in this State as the bottom is falling out of the safety net for the mentally ill and others. I am in far better shape than most. This is an opportunity to learn to trust Him more, for me.

When I read that a homeless man died outside of Mission Dolores in San Francisco recently, I realized that though he took Holy Communion daily there, it could well have been the Salvation Army who fed him meals. I do not know that there is any truth to that thought, but it just seemed like I wanted to donate something to them. I do not have money to do so right now, but today, I expressed a desire to go in the food trucks to help feed the homeless in Billings. One thing I do know is that my abuse at Mission Dolores is not the end. Today is a new chapter and I refuse to write my own tragedy. The Lord is ressurecting my career as a journalist, somehow and I felt it as an absolute reality today. The Faithful and True is alive and well in Billings, Montana, I can report. He is with me here, too, as I am called to “publish abroad” of His vocational rehabilitation of me…Thank You O Faithful and True! I live to embrace and espouse the Spirit of Truth wherever it leads me…

The Sufi Path

Tonight I began a course on the Sufi Way of the Beloved taught by scholar Andrew Harvey. What brings me there and here on my path?

First and foremost, I long for the mystic depth of Hafiz, who wrote:

“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath/moves through–listen to this music”

That is the kind of follower of Christ I desire to be and I do not find it elsewhere in my life right now. This blog, ISO: the Faithful and True, came about as a way to chronicle my path to and with Him.

His connection and Oneness with the Source of all is so exemplary and to Him do I turn for guidance. He leadeth me beside the still waters and restoreth my soul through finding this course and the way of the Sufi mystic poets.

In the introductory lesson, Andrew Harvey taught that Sufi poet Rabia was the first known in history to address the Divine as “Beloved.” I looked her up in a book I have called, “Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices From the East and West.”

Sure enough, she was the first poet in the volume. The book itself I found in a profound way. I had spoken in therapy of my struggles with my desire for God and the psychoanalyst tried his best to help me, but I left with a very heavy and burdened heart. I felt the urge to go to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore and I wandered in and came to that book, “Love Poems From God.” It was very clear to me that He was guiding me and He was and is there for me. It was a Godsend, literally and literarily.

So is this course, as I find those who are kindred spirits on this mystic’s quest. The Sufi way includes sacred dance as a way to worship the Divine and this blog began as my quest for the Faithful and True to teach and train both my equine partner and me. A former trainer used to ask me what my goals were in riding and I used to always answer that my goal was to someday become worthy to ride with the Faithful and True.

When Splendid High aka Mel, my equine partner, was once at the veterinarian being x-rayed, it turned out to be a shoeing issue and the wonderful vet, Dr. Mark Robinson, had to take a shoe spreader and widen his shoes. That relieved the pressure and he then moved perfectly. At the time, Dr. Mark said to me, I do not know any other horse owners who would even pick up that something was amiss as you have with Mel.

Mel was only slightly off and really just not fully extending his front leg, not favoring it. At the time, it came to me very clearly that Mel was a dressage horse. He was and is a dancer in training. How do I do him justice? Perhaps we are yet encountering our Trainer. Tonight was inspirational, and so I will end with the ending of the poem:

“We are a hole in a flute, a moment in space, that/the Christ’s body can move through and sway/all forms–in an exquisite dance–as the wind in a forest.”

from “Listen to this Music” by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky in “A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations”