Thursday, March 08, 2007


Today was my 38th birthday. It was more eventful than most birthdays are to me, so I thought that I might write about it. I hardly post to this blog anymore, though it has served as a very useful way for me to organize my thoughts and try to articulate my queries. The dialogue aspect of it is also very helpful--your comments and questions enable me to move my piece along the board...
The picture is of me in the Visalia Meetinginghouse after a long day of working at Self-Help Housing putting a roof on. I am writing a story for my seven-year-old friend, Emily. It was a serial--I wrote it nearly every night and mailed the pages nearly every day of the three week trip, and her mother read it to her at bed time. I think that this relationship between Emily and I was the great learning relationship of my 38th year. I had no idea how to enter into a close relationship with a child, and made many fits and starts initially, until Em's mother admonished me to stop being ambivalent. Then I prayed about it, and got very clear, and the energy between the Emster and I grew to be so full of love and care that people who had just met us instantly accepted us as parent and child. When a woman on Amtrak asked me, "Can your daughter play with our daughter?" I just smiled and said "Yes." Emily is small, freckled, blonde, with China blue eyes--it should be obvious to anyone that she has none of my genetic material, but the energy between us would seem to have grown to be even more obviously that of a parent and child
Unfortunately, the energy between Emily's mother and I was much more fraught with difficulty, never really recovering from a bad start, and has been mutually layed down. We are still neighbors at the Sierra Friends Center, and I see Emily every day, but I cannot make her promises now. There is not the dailyness of brushing teeth, reading stories, feeding Gecko. We share a history of flakey adults in our lives--me before the age of one, impactful but ancient. Emily on a much more continuous basis. It is an odd sort of bond. Having ADD and a great love of chonklit chip cookies are other common points.
So, discerning what is Spirit's way in this. Love finds a way, I suppose. More prayer, perhaps...

It is also the fourth anniversary or so of the Iraq war. I can't believe that it is four years and no sign of let up. (Of course I BELIEVE it--hell, I PREDICTED it--but it is still appalling.) I remember watching the first footage of the Afganistan invasion, all in eerie green night vision, from the Humboldt County Jail where I was waiting on bail on a trespassing charge during a forest action in the Freshwater Creek watershed to save 1400-year-old redwoods. It seemed to me then that the world was ending, but really we were just on the cusp of getting accustomed to yet another level of horror. Now the war and the clearcutting are not even part of my daily consciousness. They are more like a relentless background noise. Time to bring them up to full consciousness again. Creative solutions are needed.
The pounding horror does have its effect. This year I developed a mild form of psoriasis, which is mostly in remission at this point. It is a stress disorder, genetic, usually manifesting in people before they are twenty-five. It scared me at first, but I am used to it now. There's nothing to be done, and it isn't really a health issue, just an exercise in not becoming vain about one's beautiful brown skin.
The other health issue that came up this year is more serious--hypertension. My health care provider wants to put me on a diuretic. I want to handle it with more holistic methods, but there are only two significant places for improvement, since I eat a low sodium largely vegetarian diet, am not really overweight, and don't smoke, etc. I have to reduce stress and get more exercise.
On the whole, it seems like a good time, this 38th year. My work at the Woolman Semester is still challenging and meaningful. I still live in beauty at Sierra Friends Center. My ministry and opportunities for it are growing (more on that anon), and I continue to grow and learn. I'd like to keep at it for many years to come.
Blood pressure therapy time... I'm off on me bike!


Blogger MartinK said...

Hey Carl,
Well happy birthday. I've got a few years on you (turn forty at the end of the month!) and have started noticing my own signs of aging--hope your hypertension dissipates away.

Please do tell us what's happening ministry-wise. I'm seeing people I've influenced stepping up to the plate but my own involvement in the whole RSoF has become way too virtual and electronic. Hearing a little good news would be nice.
Martin aka the Quaker Ranter

3:13 PM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Happy birthday, Friend.

38 was a really good year for me - learned a lot, took better care of my health, and grew a lot spiritually.

I wish you more joy and more faithfulness from here on out.

4:14 PM, March 09, 2007  
Blogger Lisa H said...

Happy late b-day, kiddo! It was good to see you at meeting last week. Let me know your summer schedule so we can sort out the recording sessions.

9:56 PM, March 11, 2007  
Blogger Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Hi, Carl,
Thank you for sharing your story of "the Emster." Having watched my own daughter form a close, strong bond with my second husband, there was a lot in your story that spoke to me.

And one thing you could try, in terms of hypertension? Garlic supplements. Garlic oil capsules, in my preferred form--I like to "breathe friendly," and they are close enough to the unprocessed form to still have an effect. Doesn't work for everyone, but it can lower HBP significantly, at least for some.

Many happy returns!

4:33 PM, March 14, 2007  
Anonymous Mica said...

I wondered if your Blog would ever wake up from its slumber. I have been thinking about age a lot lately and I think it is a beautiful thing. I like the clarity that comes as stuff settles to the bottom of the glass (if you are willing to stop stirring the glass long enough to let things settle). You were born with a certain clarity about things. I look forward to seeing what happens when you stop stirring so much...

4:29 PM, March 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Carl - Happy Birthday!

I thought of you today and typed your name into google - and here you are. It is nice to see how your life has changed and it seems that you are doing great things! Truely great, unlike most of the rest of us. I am still in the same town, still happily married, and we had our son March 3rd this year! So he'll have an old broad for a mother, ha! I see Frankie every once in a while, she lives near-by now.

You have a great impact on people Carl, you leave an indelible impression. Your friendship with Em is bound to last a lifetime in her heart, even if it is not yet evident to you. I hope you can find joy in that.

My wee lad is calling for me!

Best to you!

12:22 PM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger Chris M. said...

Ah, the gecko. Robin was the conduit for that relationship, at PYM last year... nice to hear it's still around.

Somehow I lost your blog on bloglines, so it's nice to catch up with these newer entries.

-- Chris M.

9:22 PM, June 20, 2007  

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