* The healing powers of a drug store cashier

(From an April 2010 e-mail to my family:)

Dad was still in good health back in ’83-85, when I became so deeply interested in spiritual healing.  He maintained a pragmatic skepticism about it throughout; in essence, “What’s the use?  We’re all going to die anyway.”

I recalled that Monday night 12/07/09 on my way home from Rite Aid, where I’d had to go buy a few things.  I was having pretty severe pain in lower left abdomen, after having had several “difficult” eliminations earlier in the day.  I took the pain for infection-inflamed ureter; later concluded I was passing a stone.  Long time since I’d passed a stone. Long time by my standards, that is.

The state I was in at that hour, I was inclined to cancel all appointments and errands for the next day, and plan to spend all day Tuesday flat on my back in bed.  With pain like this, you can’t do much more than just stare into space and feel miserable.

I would recall one author’s answer to Dad’s argument; Lawrence Althouse is the guy’s name.  He said the sheer alleviation of pain — without opiates — is justification enough for the practice of spiritual healing.  Pain occasions loss of productivity, as just described.  It also stresses relationships; with any less self-control as to these things than I’ve learned in the past few years, had anyone crossed my path the wrong way on that trip home, I might well have snapped at the person.

That’s not something you want to do in the ghetto.  Especially at night

There are other was to effect spiritual healing, besides prayer.

Just being nice to people, as opposed to choosing, say, to inject needless pain (“static”) into their world — that’s one.

Crystal happened to wait on me at the Rite Aid; she’s my favorite clerk, and I’d not seen her in months.  Damn if she didn’t smile at me and give me a cheery greeting as soon as I came in the door.

Damn if my pain didn’t go away — completely — for some time, later after I got home, as I recalled that encounter.  “Spiritual” — healing — indeed.

Every word can work good or ill.  My choice; your choice.

on air talent, radio talk show, talk show host, the homeless blogger

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* All about breads

I have been asked to share my vast wisdom on the subject of yeast breads (chometz).

I’m not a big fan of lots of different recipes for bread. My philosophy is to find one basic recipe and then do variations on it: experiment with different ratios; stir in a cup of raisins or nuts or grated cheese; make rolls, using cinnamon, sugar and butter, or jelly, or peanut butter and jelly; use milk or evaporated milk or even fruit juice or cream instead of water; and so on.

I’ve forgotten the basic recipe I used before becoming homeless. One could start with this one, and experiment with different ratios until one settles on one one likes.

BASIC RECIPE

½ cup butter, melted but not hot
1 cup warm water
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 package commercial yeast
flour: I don’t know how much. Have at least four cups available.

This is destined to produce a small loaf. You can increase amounts later.

Put all the ingredients but flour in a bowl and mix well. Begin stirring in flour, a little at a time, until the dough is firm enough to knead. (Note: There is not, and never will be, an exact amount of flour to use, as the right amount on any given day will depend on the humidity in the room, etc.)

Dust a cutting board or tabletop with flour; turn the dough out onto this, and knead. Sprinkle flour on the wet or sticky spots as needed. Kneading is done when the dough has become springy and elastic.

Put the dough into a greased bowl. Coat the surface with vegetable oil to keep it from drying out. Cover with a cloth, and put in a warm place to rise.

When it has doubled (about two hours), punch it down. At this point, you’ll form it into any special shapes you want, or make the jelly roll, etc. Put it in or on a greased baking pan, cover with cloth, and put up to rise for another two hours.

Bake at 325⁰ for as long as necessary, which will depend on the size and shape of what you’ve made. It’s done when it sounds hollow if you tap on it.

STRATEGIES

Using store-bought yeast, one can start a batch at noon and take it hot from the oven at supper; in which case the whole will probably be consumed that night.

Clean all surfaces and tools a.s.a.p. after use. Once the traces of dough begin to harden, they’re much harder to clean.

Be forewarned: you WILL “waste” flour; it’s inevitable. You WILL make a mess; it’s inevitable. Determine from the get-go to regard cleanup as fun rather than as a chore.

SOURDOUGH

The biggest difference between sourdough and other bread is that sourdough takes much longer to rise. If I start a batch this morning, I will anticipate baking it tomorrow night.

To make sourdough starter: half fill a small jar with flour, and stir water in until it becomes a paste. Cover loosely and put in a warm place, like the kitchen window. After 2-3 days the wild yeasts already in the flour will have become active, and it will be bublly. Now it’s ready to use.

You can keep it in the cupboard, loosely covered, indefinitely and it won’t go bad. Every day, discard 1 tbsp. of what you’ve got — our use that much to start a batch of bread — and stir in as much new flour to replace it. Thus you’ll keep the sourdough starter fresh and active.

How much water to use is up to you. The thicker the starter is, the less sour your bread will be; the thinner, the more sour.

SPIRITUAL CONSIDERATIONS

(1)  All activities associated with breadmaking provide an ideal occasion for presence or mindfulness meditation: one focuses one’s attention wholly on the activity at hand, giving oneself completely to the experience.

(2)  It’s a good time to maintain an attitude of gratitude.  Give thanks to God for providing the materials.  Thank God for, and pray for, the farmers who produced it.  Thank yeast (or “Yeast”) and wheat (“Wheat”), who have been staunch friends to our species for thousands of years.  Pray that your taxes, tithes and activities may so create shalom as to make bread more accessible to the hungry. Praise God that you can so pray.

(3) Love for “the least of these.” I’ve always made it my business to actually love the yeast. These tiny fun guys (fungis) are actually right to stand tall and take pride in themselves. No less than the Blues Brothers, they are “on a mission from God,” to destroy complex starches and create simple sugars (cf. Jeremiah 1:10); to consume those sugars and produce ethanol (:)) and carbon dioxide.

(4) The Parable of the Yeast —

Matthew 13:33: He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and [hid in] three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

— illustrates what happens when one begins to establish presence. A little harmony and peace facilitates greater harmony and peace, and one’s motivations become increasingly coherent, until one’s whole being is transformed.

Why shouldn’t I dream about these things?

Previous pertinent posts:
Jesus’ outrageous parables
What a homeless man dreams of

on air talent, radio talk show, talk show host, the homeless blogger

* Light Inside: A Hallowe’en Message

(Below appears a tract I passed out with the Hallowe’en candy in 2007. “Chaos overwhelms the poor” describes that neighborhood.)

Light Inside

Hallowe’en is the night before a Christian holiday.  The name of the holiday is “All Saints’ Day.”  Years ago, they called it “All Hallows’ Day,” and the night before, “All Hallows’ Evening.”

Trick or treat, jack o’ lanterns and all the stuff with ghosts, come instead from a pagan holiday called Samhein.  These customs became attached to Hallowe’en, but are not really part of it.  Hallowe’en comes on October 31 every year.  Samhein comes on the first full moon after September 21, which can be any day between September 22 and October 19.

A jack o’ lantern is a pumpkin with the insides carved out, and a candle or other light inside.  What about the light inside of you?
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* Jacob’s ladder 09/28/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

 1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
 2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  Details here.
 3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  Details here.
 4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  Details here.
 5. Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Details here.
 6. Cut loose the losers. Details here.
 7. Smoking.  See posts tagged “Smoking”.

A real church in a real ‘hood

Video: Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Baltimore

Link to it early and often throughout the day!

My first audition tapes will probably be PSAs (public service announcements) for this congregation.

 

She discovered the opiate receptor

Candace B. Pert, neuroscientist who discovered opiate receptor, dies at 67

The significance of this discovery is not to be underestimated.

I would have supposed it occurred much earlier.  To put things in context, 1973 is the year I graduated high school.  So maybe that’s about right.

This opened the door to study of the whole world of receptors, with many important developments.  Discovery of the serotonin receptors was key to invention of the medicines now most widely prescribed, and most successful, for treatment of depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Discovery of the insulin receptors has wholly changed research into diabetes.

At least from its Amazon page, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d seems to deserve attention.

Critique of Theosophy

On 07/12/13 I was shocked to find out that Light recommends a long list of Alice Bailey’s works.  I have looked askance at her ever since an article in Venture Inward years ago practically credited her with inventing the concept of “New Age.”

In the next several days, I read extensively at Wikipedia and elsewhere about Bailey and about Theosophy.  Theosophy is a movement founded by Helena P. Blavatsky (“HPB,” “Mme. Blavatsky”).  Bailey was involved with Theosophy for about five years, during which time she quickly attained high offices.

The following may not be completely accurate, but is the best I could adduce from the various articles I read.  This was not my first encounter with Theosophy.
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