Pod people

pose

 

Nell was having none of it. Not anymore. Her husband simply refused to even try to breathe air. The doctor said he could, that his lungs could adapt to this environment, but he disagreed. Trouble was, he’d never know unless he tried.

Elowyn had read about other Marenians who had converted to air breathing. He’d never met one, of course. How could he? There were only three who lived in this state, and the closest was two hours away by plane. No airline would let him on a plane with his argon suit, that was a given. Their fears were unproven, but policy was policy.

They’d met three years ago at the landing site. She was a reporter, alerted by the scanner in the office that something was coming from the skies again. That scanner was worth its cost from all the leads it provided. Quick as a wink she was downstairs and in her car, trying to not drive off the road as she followed the plumes of green clouds stretching like a tightrope from the eastern sky to some nearby cornfield – Mr. O’Reilly’s, most likely. He had the biggest one, so it stood to reason. She turned down Ellis Way and got there before the locals did. Farmers listened to the scanner same as reporters did, and for much the same reason. It was the best way to know what was going on that might be of interest. Something like this would pull them out of their barns for sure.

Just think of it! Aliens! Here! In Mill City!

Nell had guessed the pod’s trajectory right and reached the small crater it created just after the police had gotten there. The ground was still steaming next to the blue (metal?) craft. She noticed that there was a bright iridescent sheen across the pod’s surface, reflecting the late afternoon summer sun, as well as a distinctive sharp smell much like ammonia, but she couldn’t quite place it.

They didn’t know at the time but it turned out that the color and the smell were both hallmarks of the Marenians. They both came about because their ships were alive, growing out of the same stuff as the people. This way they could self-repair. It saved a lot of money and time that way. It worked perfectly as long as they stayed in the Marenian solar system because the elements were more or less the same throughout.

Earth, however, was another matter entirely. The stresses of the previous crashes had resulted in every pod going into automatic repair mode, sending wispy tendrils into the soil to gather the raw materials needed to boil up replacement parts in the integral kitchen/lab. Three minutes after the tendrils went down, they came back up, spit out what dirt they’d sampled, and retracted back into the beetle-like shell, refusing to budge. The self-preservation instinct was the strongest one, so the pods calmly explained in their proto-language to the pilot inside them that the soil was not compatible with their electrochemical makeup, so repairs would not be forthcoming. As trained, each pod then sent out a trans-space summons for another pod to make the trek to bring dirt from home so repairs could proceed.

The only problem was that these supply pods came and they too became stranded. They’d underestimated the amount of dirt needed for the repairs.  The pods were small, with barely enough room for the pilot.  Even if they were able to navigate without a pilot there still wouldn’t have been enough room for dirt to repair both ships.

No matter – flying without a pilot wasn’t an option. Each pod was raised with its pilot from the moment s/he was formerly admitted to the astro-nav program. Saying that they were synchronized wasn’t the half of it. Cells were harvested from under the tongue of the pilot and cultured over three weeks, growing into a ship that learned as the pilot learned. This was no simple cloning. The two beings were separate in body only. All past, present, and future were shared.

This created a dilemma when the pods, and thus the pilots, began to be stranded. Without hope of repair, the pods chose to self-terminate, opting for a quick death over a slow lingering one. The pilots had to be tranquilized before the pods could self-euthanize. Otherwise it would have been too painful for them to endure. Some later, once they’d learned the local language, said it was like amputation of half your limbs and your brain.  Many were encouraged to adopt dogs afterwards as the closest Earth option to the deep connection that they had shared with the ships.

Nell had worked closely with Elowyn after the crash, helping him to adjust to Earth living.  There was no going back to Marenia, so he had to learn a whole different culture. This was made easier because of his astro-nav training, but it was still understandably difficult.

She’d not planned on adopting a stray, but the Mayor assured her that she was the most qualified person in the city for the job.  Simply being a reporter, curious about new things, made her ideal, he said.  Put that way, how could she refuse? It was a high honor to be deemed worthy of helping a stranded Marenian.  You were serving as an ambassador for the whole planet, after all.  The future of the relationship between the two solar systems would be created from these one-on-one relationships.

It was about a year later that they both realized that they were quite compatible together and decided to formalize their pairing.  Fortunately for them, other human-Marenian pairs had formed before they had even met, and laws had been changed to allow for interspecies marriage.  There was only one difference with these marriages and all others – one member of the union had to be sterilized.   Doctors weren’t comfortable with what could happen if a child was created.

There was no way a child could have been created in the case of Nell and Elowyn. He was still hermetically sealed inside his argon suit.  He had to have it to breathe on Earth, he insisted.  The material in the suit was fortunately impervious to decay, or he would have a more difficult time of it.

Nell was quietly upset when she learned this, hoping that he’d eventually be forced to adapt to Earth ways.  She loved him, of course, but she thought that things would be better for both of them if he didn’t wear that darned suit.  It made going out to visit friends awkward.  Plus, the smell took some getting used to.  The ammonia-like smell was a byproduct of the impervious material.  It was unnoticeable on Marenia, but on Earth it alerted others that there was a foreigner around even before they saw him.  It made some people not want to deal with Marenians at all, saying that they smelled like used gym socks.

Nell and Elowyn mostly kept to themselves at home when she wasn’t working.  He didn’t have to work – none of the stranded pilots did.  They didn’t need food, and they weren’t interested in owning anything.  If they couldn’t carry it, they didn’t need it – this philosophy was part and parcel of being a Marenian.  It was how they had finally adapted to a planet with too many people and not enough land.  They didn’t even need to live in homes anymore, having selectively bred themselves over twenty-three generations to be unaffected by temperature changes or ultraviolet rays.  Some did live in homes on Marenia out of habit or convenience, and most pilots on Earth did as well, but it wasn’t uncommon to see one hanging out with homeless people under overpasses or near street corners. They were comfortable wherever they happened to be.

The Marenians got along with the homeless population uncommonly well.  They had in common their philosophy of “less is more”, albeit perhaps unwillingly for some of the homeless.  Soon the Marenians and homeless had developed a spiritual system – not a religion – about this, encouraging others to get rid of their addiction to things. They explained that there was a reason that the Earth language used the word “possession” to refer to things as well as being taken over by demons.

It had to be a spiritual system because a religion would require stuff – books or buildings, for instance, and this was totally opposed to their beliefs.  Of course, many years later, after the founders had died and no more new Marenians came to Earth, their simple way was converted like all other spiritual paths had been and there were not only cathedrals to “less is more” but also gift shops with plastic trinkets made in China.

Aho!

I’ve recently heard the word “aho” used in several different gatherings. In the context it is being used it sounds like it means “I agree” or “awesome”. I looked it up, and it could be one of two things. According to Wikipedia, it is either a Native American word or a Japanese word.

If it is a Native American word (and the tribe is not specified, so it sounds questionable to me) it means something like what I think I’m hearing. It means something like “So be it” or “Amen.”

If it is Japanese, it means “idiot.”

So I’m not using this word.

First off, I’m not going to confuse people. If they know that the word exists in two different languages and means two entirely different things, they don’t know which meaning I’m using. If they don’t know what the word means, then it is going to be even more confusing.

Neither of these languages are my language. Not only are they not my native tongue, they are not languages I’ve learned and am fluent in. So it doesn’t make sense to use this word.

I totally respect the idea that sometimes there are words in other languages that aren’t in my language. Sometimes you have to borrow a word from another language because there isn’t a word in yours. Sometimes ideas are more fully expressed in another language.

But that isn’t the case here. There is a word. It is “Amen.”

Perhaps people frown on the use of this word. Perhaps people are afraid of it because they are refugees from church. I get that. I am.

But I’m giving up the church as we know it. I’m not giving up the idea of God, and of Jesus.

In the same way I’m wary of people who refer to God as Source or any of any other myriad of other terms I’m hearing. I’m not even sure what they are talking about. I’m not even sure they know either.

As for me, I’m going to keep saying “Amen” and “God”, because I think it is best to say what I mean and not be ambiguous about it. Perhaps it is politically correct to be vague and use broader terms, but after a while I’m not even sure if we are all taking about the same thing when we start using different words. So I’m sticking with the known good.

Signs of the Holy Spirit

We have lost touch with the Holy Spirit in many churches. Many people don’t know how to recognize when the Holy Spirit is present and active. We hear about the Pentecostal idea of speaking in tongues, of handling serpents, and of drinking poison. These are scary things. Most people think these are otherworldly actions, and they shy away from even wanting the Holy Spirit to come into their lives.

But we need the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the force that makes the whole thing go. The Spirit is the gas in the car, the fuel in the rocket. Without the Spirit, the Body will not get anywhere.

Here are the verses in question – Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” And Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Handling serpents and drinking poison sound freaky, and they are. I honestly don’t think that those actions are meant to be intentionally done. I think that scripture means that if we are filled with the Spirit, nothing can harm us. That snakes and poison will not affect us. I don’t think you are supposed to test God by taking these things up. I think that what this means is that if you are filled with the Spirit, you won’t be harmed if these things were to cross your path.

I do wonder why these churches seem to focus on the less useful signs like handling snakes and drinking poison rather than the more helpful sign like healing. Wouldn’t it be amazing if their worship services were all about healing people? And I don’t mean the TV evangelist who puts on a big carnival show of bopping someone on the head and they fall to the floor. I mean real healing, deep to the core. Healing that comes from a person letting go of their fears and their doubts and their pain and their loss. Healing that comes from letting go, and letting God.

Who is to say that “speaking in tongues” isn’t the same as being fluent in another language? It seems like being able to speak to people in their own language would be helpful. It would let the other person know that they aren’t alone and they are understood. We have so much miscommunication going on right now even with people who do speak the same language. It would be great if we could access the ability to really connect with other people. We can, through the Holy Spirit. We just have to remember how to reconnect.

Now, understand that the Holy Spirit isn’t really mentioned in most churches. It is mentioned in Bible readings as a historical thing, but not as a real, right now kind of thing. We certainly aren’t taught how to call it down or how to recognize it or use it. God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are seen as kind of real, but not really accessible or present right now, to us.

So I’m going to try to muddle through and tell you what I’ve figured out. It isn’t expert at all. It is feeling things through, step by step. But it feels right. I don’t know how to call it down, but I’m starting to recognize when it is present, so I’ll start with that.

How do you know that the Holy Spirit is present? We can’t experience it directly with our senses, but the Spirit affects things around us in unusual ways and we can notice those changes.

One of the ways the Spirit reveals itself is in unusual weather, especially water. God is within water, and a pervasive mist is a beautiful sign of the Spirit. It reveals to us that we are totally within the presence of God. We can walk through mist, and it gets in our hair and on our skin. We breathe it in. This is exactly the way that God is here on this earth. God is everything. Everything is from God. From the smallest fish in the ocean to the largest tree in the forest, all is from God. We are all condensed light from the source. If the mist is icy, it is all the more a sign. It calls attention to itself. It is unusual. It almost creates a feeling of electricity on your skin.

The Spirit also lets us know that it is present through wind and sound. Strong winds can be a sign. Bells, whistles, chirps that are unusual are of note. Odd, pleasant high-pitched sounds. Windchimes. These are all to be noted if they are sounds that are pleasant yet call attention to themselves. They aren’t background noise, but they aren’t annoying.

The Spirit also lets us know it is present through smell. The smell of incense or roses, when there are none around, is a very good indicator of the presence of the Spirit.

People who have been touched by the Holy Spirit often have a feeling of more energy. They often don’t need as much sleep as they normally do, but they still feel rested. You might not get as much sleep as you wanted, but you’ll get as much as you need. This gives you more time to do the work of the Spirit. You’ll have more time to pray for others or to volunteer.

When you notice the signs of the Holy Spirit, give thanks for it. It likes to be noticed. If you notice it, it will come more often. If you ignore it, it may pass you by and seek out someone else who can benefit from the immense power that it has to offer.

Jesus tells us in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We must get reconnected to the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, otherwise the Body will die.

The History of the Church, in beads.

I’m attempting to explain the history of the Church in bead form. I apologize for the dark pictures – this is a work in progress. (edit – I’ve added new pictures that are brighter. )

Here is a picture that gives an idea of what the whole thing looks like.

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And another –
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It all starts with the cross.

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Then the large fancy beads near it represent the Byzantine era. I chose blue, purple, and red because those were the colors God said to use for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

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This section represents the Middle Ages. One church, so one unifying pattern. Lapis lazuli represents the material used by monks in their illuminated manuscripts. The red is antique “white hearts” from the African trade to remind us of history and time.

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Here is another picture of this section –
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This section has the three colors of the temple, but it is casual and a little jumbled. There is a pattern if you look hard. This is now, the age of strip-mall churches and Mega churches.

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And also here –
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Pure and unadorned, the color in this section has the best of blue and purple to it, and was started off with red, the color of the Holy Spirit. Blue is also the color of Mary – a human being who said Yes to God and allowed The Divine to work through her to bring forth healing and redemption to our world. This is the future. This is what we as the Church are being called to.

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Better lit –
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