|Arnold Böcklin, Pan nel canneto|
I had been on medical bed rest for two weeks before the Changeling decided to prematurely bail from the womb. During that time, our meals were prepared almost entirely by neighbors & other members of the community. The local Relief Society chapters organized meals, offered to clean the house (although Hubby would have none of that) & also offered to tend to the Little Lad, run errands, etc. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern & support.
I wrote thank you notes, but this seemed like a pretty lame gesture.
Standing outside the security doors of our medical cocoon, I told my friend that I wished I could reciprocate somehow -- not just to the community, but to everyone; the medical life-savers (literally), the folks who provided our housing, the emotional & financial counselors… She told me that not only was that unnecessary, it was impossible. What we needed to do was to "Pay it Forward." That was what she was doing, for all the kindness given to her when her son was sick & dying. She said there is no way to properly give back in measure to those who gave to you, so go give it to someone else. She told me to do the same for her.
Pay it forward. To be honest, I was a little afraid this was another one of those Steven Covey-isms so pervasive in Utah culture. While the etymology of the actual phrase 'pay it forward' is foggy, I did learn that it was popularized by Robert Heinlein in his book Between Planets. Heinlein's legacy of paying it forward continues today through the efforts of the Heinlein Society. (Incidentally -- if you weren't already aware -- Robert Heinlein was also the author of Stranger in a Strange Land, a book that became the cornerstone of the Church of All Worlds (CAW), one of the oldest incorporated Neo-Pagan churches in the United States).
Searching for the origins of this principle, I discovered (to my surprise & delight) that Pan had a hand in promoting it. Menander's Ancient Greek comedy Dyskolos, circa 317 BC, contains one of the earliest written references to this concept. The play surrounds a grouchy farmer, his beautiful daughter & the man who seeks her hand in marriage. Pan is instigator & the underlying influence throughout the story, the crux of which is stated so eloquently here:
Sostratos: You're talking about money, an unstable business.
If you think that all of this will stay with you
for all time, guard it, share with no one
what you own. But what you're not yourself master of 800
— and everything you have is not yours but luck's —
don't begrudge any of these things, father, to anyone.
For luck herself will take everything of yours for herself
and assign them again to some one else, perhaps someone who doesn't deserve it.
That's why I say to you, for as long 805
as you are master, you must use what you have in a noble fashion, father;
yourself, you must help out everyone, make rich
as many people as you can by your own efforts. For this act
never dies. And if you ever happen to stumble,
the same will be there for you from what you've done. 810
A much better thing is a visible friend
than invisible wealth which you keep buried away. (emphasis mine)
How wise & wonderful. Over & over I find Pan's gentle benevolence quietly working its magick in literature & life. I suppose I should not have been surprised to find it here -- just another wink from One I hold very dear to my heart.
|Arnold Böcklin, Pan che fischia a un merlo|
I feel I was handed such an opportunity yesterday. At a local bookstore, we met an elderly gentleman wearing a Veteran's hat, searching the "Spiritual/New Age" aisle with a lost look about him. Not having found the book I was seeking (but placated by three other nice finds), I was ready to leave. It was then that the man asked me if I "knew about metaphysics." How does one answer this question? I stumbled on my words for a moment or two & then asked him, "What exactly are you looking for?" He explained that he was trying to find books about healing & ley lines, but he referred to them as "Hartmann lines." Out of my element, I faltered. Hubby found one book, but it appeared to be a survey of the ley lines of the U.K., not a book about healing.
I have an acquaintance who refers to herself as a "practicing metaphysician,' so I asked the man if I could get his email address. I told him I would try to contact her (she is notoriously difficult to reach) for advice. He took the pen, paused & then asked me if I could do the writing for him, gesturing sadly to his gnarled hands. If I didn't already want to help him find some answers, that settled it. We chatted a bit more, exchanged introductions & said goodnight to Bob.
In the car on the way home, we talked about Bob. During our bookstore chat, Hubby had taken the time to observe Bob's heavily adorned hat. Apparently Bob is a veteran of both the Vietnam & Korean wars. He is also the recipient of a purple heart. If this man wants a book on ley lines, or help with energy healing or a metaphysician, or a fluffy pink velvet unicorn, he bloody ought to get one (or all of them).
So, I'm throwing it out here into the blogosphere: can you help me help Bob? I don't know a thing about energy lines, ley or otherwise. I don't even understand the Feng Shui thing. I talk to fungi, flirt with horned gods & pray to the Moon -- the totality of my healing powers are summed up with a kiss & a latex-free band-aid. If you know anything that might be of assistance, if you have bits of knowledge, links, book recommends, other resources for Bob, please send me a message, or leave a comment. Please. And thank you.
"Pan ... but in truth I will pray to you every time I go past you — and I shall be a friend to my fellow man." Sostratos, Dyskolos