One of the main reasons I stepped so far outside my comfort zone to write “The Soul Hides in Shadows” was in the hope that I could wake a few more people up to the terrors they need to stand up against. People might have to be shown how terribly ugly things could get if we don’t wake up NOW and start taking some kind of action IMMEDIATELY. And if they still sit at home, don’t vote, don’t push back, then they are helping to kill off everything decent and healthy in the world and it would be their own children and grandchildren who would pay! Everything horrific and ugly their children fall victims to would be their own damned faults!
“[Hurricane] Andrew tore trees apart; drove their shrieking limbs past our walls. All around us, it shoved huge deciduous behemoths flat to the earth, or tore them out by the roots.
“I have never been able to say “No” to wonder. Wherever God stood naked, I wanted to crawl into the middle and gawk. Plus, I’d already lost everything I had built or wanted to live for when we’d left San Diego, and my marriage had become a long, aching death. I had nothing left. I had to touch God again at all costs….
“… I ripped open the door, then had to shove my full weight into closing it behind me. Slamming and bucking against harsh unseen walls, waging war for every step, I crushed both hands into the railing, fought my way downstairs, past a pool already choked with roofing and with life torn apart. I bucked and strained my way out onto the street, deeper into the dark, vile heart of a hurricane. Gnashing hard into the storm, I leaned into winds that pummeled and slammed me about like a machete.
“Inching and lunging across the intersection, where all but one streetlight had crashed to the pavement, I crushed my way through as that last light sparked and whipped overhead. Winds like that can drive a grain of rice through a concrete wall, so I wrenched a stop sign out of a tree and held it before me as a shield, slamming my way backward through an intersection of shattered glass and metal, out onto a golf course, where I screeched Hallelujahs no one could hear.
“In that open field, that raging, shrieking fury slammed and wrenched the sign into my chest. For the first time in a long time, “I thanked God and prayed for survival.
“I fought my way back home. The sign heaved at my face, sliced my hands open, and blasted away into the night.
“There was no one left there but me, God, and His mighty, undeniable power.”
– From “The Mourning After”, a novel by Edward Fahey:
I played like this many a long gray afternoon, thirsting for the world beyond windows. Neighbors shuffled by but didn’t wave back. Some guarded their children when they saw me, as though congenital defects and loneliness were contagious, even at a distance and through glass. Those were gentler years when folks went out of their ways to not notice, but I spent a lot of time yearning through the shades; I watched them pointing without pointing, shaking their heads, cupping their secrets into each other’s ears.
Hours stretched longer when I was a kid. I knew I might not make it through to adulthood, but hadn’t grasped the full implications of that. Something had gone horribly wrong at my birth, so my father would never have his little soldier, Mom would never have her home filled with tiny scampering joy, and we each clutched our guilt very privately.
I’d been walled in since birth. Over-protected to the point of emotional crippling. I’m just now discovering that along with home schooling me in math, history, and language skills, my mom slipped in lessons on the torturous enrichment of loving too much; lessons I’m sure she hadn’t intended….
… “Honey, your father could be home any minute,” Mom told me; startling me out of my distraction. “You can leave your animals where they are for now. Just clear off the ones near the table where your father will see them.”
After another pause, “Denis. – Honey. – Please?”
I got ready, but “Sergeant Carl” didn’t come home for a while. I washed up and changed to “fresh clothes for your father.” They were warm and smelled of ironing. I caressed them softly to my cheek as I turned back toward my mother, who was scurrying around at the other end of the hallway. Folding the ironing board up with a hoarse, friendly skraaack! Hiding baskets of folded clothes quickly in the closet. Smoothing the wrinkles out of her apron but then taking it off anyway, folding it neatly, and placing it in its drawer….
… Suddenly I felt as much as saw Mom snap to attention, slap on her best smile, and launch into a flurry of activity. Out in the driveway, Dad was belting out a robustly cadenced song about caissons rolling and field artillery. No longing for loved ones left behind; no reverence for the nation or its deity; just stampeding over the enemy with arrogant pride.
We heard the war song and knew where he’d been. We knew he’d come in smelling of cigarettes and beer. He marched to the vestibule, into the house, and slammed up against our alternate reality. I didn’t need to look up to watch his face and spirit sag, forced to once again acknowledge the son who would never be a hero. I knew he’d be staring at me as he greeted my Mom. Checking his disappointment at the door, stuffing his sense of loss into private pockets he thought we couldn’t poke into.
After a long moment of readjustment, of just standing there, putting World War II buddies back onto his own inner shelves, he stepped the rest of the way into our home and, as much as he could, into our lives. He turned away, eased his sample case down onto the floor of the closet so slowly that it didn’t make a sound. I heard the metallic scrape and clinkling as he dropped his coat onto a hanger. With his back to us both, he asked Mom, “How’s the boy?”
“Denis is fine,” Mom reminded him of my name. I knew she’d then offer me a wink and a smile. I tried to smile back, but my chin was too deeply buried in my neck. “We went to Africa today. We helped fight a war to free the slaves. Then our little man helped me make dinner.”
I really hadn’t. I’d only wanted to.
“That’s good, good,” Dad said. “I need to wash up.”
He stood there a moment after turning back around; a moment that felt long and heavy, like a gray rainy day. He was wearing his special salesman shoes. Orangeish brown wingtips. “Twenty-five-dollar Florsheims but worth every penny. A man’s gotta show he’s a man, that he’s got control of his world.” Looking down at them as we all stood unmoving, I could have spat out that long practiced defense, but it would only have left me feeling guilty and broken. I was holding him back.
There were dustings of peanut shell powder below his knees and two or three small spills or splashes, some crushed shell webbing in the cuffs Mom had ironed to perfect steak knife creases, but nothing really out of the ordinary.
Mom’s feet had changed from the stained tennis shoes that always reminded her she was “home with her favorite little fella,” to conservative, respectable pumps. Barely moving now, they shifted and rocked through their choppy, but timeworn, minimalist pas de none; like they wanted to run forward and pull back in the same instant.
Dad was home.
Caught up in moments like this, which lingered awkwardly, but passed all too quickly, I liked to imagine my father’s hand wavering, just above my head, almost ready to pat me.
But not quite.
After a time, I watched Mom’s knees buckle, felt her arm slipping around behind me, her hand hooking my far shoulder with a gentle Mom’s nudge, drawing me closer in to her. “Come on, Sweetie, get out of your father’s way. I’m sure he wants to go in and freshen up. He’s had a hard day.”
My father’s legs stood there, straight, strong and unyielding. He let out a sigh before he moved past us. I’m sure he never meant to make me feel small. He was a great man in his own way, a “pillar in our community,” The Levittown Times had called him. President of the local Kiwanis club, he led charity drives for other kids at Christmas. He was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, of The American Cancer Society, founder of this and that. He was away most nights doing good work. He spent so much time helping others that he was rarely home, so you had to give him points for altruism anyway. Everybody loved Sergeant Carl. I’m sure at moments like this he must have felt if I didn’t actually look up and see him sigh, I probably wouldn’t hear it either. He really didn’t want to hurt me.
At least I hope he gave things like that a little thought.
For the next twenty minutes or so I stood on the edge, between dining area and living room, watching Mom scurry back and forth between kitchen and table. My father lingered on his “throne.” Then I listened to him gargling away hours of waving mugs with his war buddies down at Clancy’s; counting on a stinging penitential rinse to make things right. Now was the time to put all that away, anchor into that courage, and do the right thing as head of the family.
Mom busied herself nestling steaming bowls and dishes into position as I stood around the corner of the fireplace, watching. After Dad had changed his shirt, he walked as proudly as he could back down the hall, to take his time-honored position at the head of the table. I climbed up onto my chair next, and then it was Mom’s turn in our little dinner ritual. Her job was to check my fingernails; a warm, friendly, but unnecessary rite since we both knew all the dirt was outside where I couldn’t get near it.
She placed my hands back beside my plate and nodded a smile toward my father, who’d been watching. Only then did he tell us, “Let’s say grace.” We folded our hands, closed our eyes, bowed our heads, and eavesdropped, as he spat the words out as though they left a sour taste in his mouth and he couldn’t wait to unload them. “Bless us Oh Lord in these thy gifts which of thy bounty we are about to receive through Christ our Lord Amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.”
I waved my hands through the obligatory gestures, feeling there had to be more to God and spirit than that.
“Spending time here is like movin’ in with Pandora. Maybe some stuff should just stay hidden, y’know?”
“Yup,” Charlie answered. “But comes a time when you just don’t want to screw around anymore. You can get real tired of playin’ hide-and-seek with yourself.
Getting toward the end, you wanna stop playing games. There’s no time left. You see how things have gone wrong and just want to make ’em right. At least one moment of honestly trying, before your soul rots away on ya….
… “I buried my whole life, every bit of it, in my own stinkin’ manure, and it’s high time I planted some seeds there.”
He told Harve, “But I don’t like being asked to swallow OTHER people’s shit.”
“Got you on that one, man.”
“Do you?” Charlie said. “Do you really?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You. Pretending you’re no hero. – Bull. – You don’t know what I wouldn’t have given for even a little bit of something I could feel good about.”
“You did okay for yourself, Charlie. You made the papers.”
“I made headlines; I wasn’t a star. I had a few fans, sure, but not the kind I’d ever want to meet in a dark alley.
“But that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about finding out who we are, what we’re here for, and truly steppin’ into it. I wasn’t put here to smash noses. You think you were put here to shoot ’em off?
“You save lives but then you get all ‘Gosh Golly Shucks’ about it. You step into who you are, but then you step back out of it again. That just doesn’t ring true to me is all. That’s all I’m sayin’.”
Then he had second thoughts. “Look,” he told Harvey, “I know you didn’t do it for the fame and being a star and shit, but still … I would like to have experienced what it was for people to know me and like me anyway. I’d love to have done at least a little something worth doing. It’s too late for some of that now, I know, but I just want the chance to do a little bit of good if I can. Somewhere. For somebody.
“And to do it just because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.”
- From “The Gardens of Ailana”
One of my major challenges in writing theosophical novels for readers who don’t know they’re theosophists is that so many of our “spiritual” concepts fail to stand up to the rigors of most people’s lives. It is all well and good to have a select few esotericists, knowing some Sanskrit and New Agey kinds of phrases, paying a few bucks at our lecture halls so we can remind them that everything is Mayavic illusion. That in truth they themselves are God, and ultimately unassailable. I myself believe these things, and live accordingly.
Then they go home and buzz for a while on the poetic eloquence of such a philosophy until that starts to wear off and they need another hit at another uplifting metaphysical conference.
But what of the masses who aren’t in any way ready or willing to listen to, or build their lives around that? Do we just abandon them as unenlightened fools? Where is our compassion if we take that approach?
Obama makes health care affordable, sets limits in how much our insurance companies, credit cards, and health services can milk us for. Tells big industries to stop polluting our environs.
Our child has suffered horrible, debilitating illness for so very long, but now we can finally afford treatments, and medicines. We watch him getting better. Healing. Laughing. Playing.
Then along come the Republicans. They take our insurance away from us. Raise the costs of our medicines by multiples. Lower our incomes. Take meals away from poor school children. Tell heavy-handed polluters they can dump all the poisons they want to into our food, air, and water.
So then, what do I/we tell those parents? That there are no external enemies? There are no battles to fight; no evils to stand up to? Just be at peace with watching your child returning to his long and awful pain, to that crippling he was just beginning to climb out of? And what does that parent tell his kid? That this is all an illusion? “Just suck it up kid, and keep dying. You’ll get it together one of these lifetimes, and then all this will be behind you”?
Totalitarian dictators throw us out of our homes, drive us off of lands our families had farmed for generations. They buy up all water rights in the deserts as tribal families wither up and die by the thousands, and we should just ignore this? None of this is real?
I write from the knowing that there are different levels of reality, suffering, and coping; and that most people are doing their best to hang on with what they have. I try to offer them hope that there may be some Higher meaning, and deeper access to healing and growing beyond a lot this, but I do not essentially call them numbskulls; tell them this (and their dear child’s suffering) is all their fault for believing that any of this is reality.
For most of us suffering is very, very real. And so that is where I start my stories. I welcome other readers who already know some of these things, and maybe carry them in a little deeper; but I will not slam any doors on the hearts of these others.
In pain and loss, we can find either meaning, or hopelessness. The choice is ours.
How we see things, how we interpret them, how we emotionally react;
these call more of the same into our lives.
We build a world for ourselves out of what we believe.
And how we choose to respond.
Whether we let it take us under,
or rise to meet it.
- From “The Soul Hides in Shadows”, a novel by Edward Fahey
Joan told her, “Knock it off, Marsh; you don’t always have to be such a putz.”
Marsha, still leaning onto the sink, told them, “You guys and your always-must-make-nice crap.
“Mincing around with your damned fresh coffee, playing Little Miss Nicey-Poo alla time. The charming hostess with all her non-threatening jokes, never hurting anyone’s feelings. Sitting around trying to sort out the karmic implications of sneezing on the burglar who just shot your dog. Fuck it! Some things you just can’t Om away.”
Clarice’s smile had frozen in place, but her eyes belied her terror. She didn’t understand what was going on, but tried to calm the waters anyway. “You send out love; you get love back,” she said.
Marsha finally turned toward them all, and it wasn’t pretty. “Great. You can put that on a Hallmark card and feed it to the goats.” She turned toward Paulette.
Paulette said nothing. She didn’t dare look too deeply inside this rabid anti-Christian standing before her. She was horrified that she might find herself looking back.
- From “The Gardens of Ailana” handbook for healers & mystics
In order to research the book I’m now working on, I’ve needed to dive into the world of normal human experiencing. Immerse myself in the internet and political anxieties. I’ve had to take on ego, feel that steely fist of anger closing around one’s heart. Had to touch at least the misty outer edges of defensiveness; that thin and fragile line between speaking the truth courageously at all costs, and falling for a moment into some vague and passing delight in having bested another with some brilliant and finely-tuned sarcasm. I’ve had to explore what it’s like to get enmeshed in intractable hopelessness when each of two clashing and irreconcilable encampments thinks it knows absolutely that only they have the facts, ethics, integrity, and honesty on their side; that the opposition is undeniably foolish, and insane, and could not be more wrong.
I have had to dive back down into being human again so as to bring life and grit to a book that I now more deeply appreciate the title of: “The Soul Hides in Shadows”.
I do not like the view from down here.
In that moment Paulette stepped outside anything that had ever hurt her before. Harve needed her more than she needed herself.
But she had nothing to say. Nothing to offer him. She came up empty.
“I may not have shot any of those babies in safety seats, but I took out my share o’ guys in a country I started thinking we had no right bein’ in. I could tell myself they’d signed up for it, knowing they might not go home, but that just didn’t cut it after a while.” …
… “Oh, they were scumbags, alright. Other guys in my unit’d be ready to just level the kids too, cause they were getting in our way, but I said, Wait. Let me try goin’ in first. Let me come at ’em from the rear.
“Other times I just lost myself in the righteous glory of cluster bombing the hell outa those bastards.
“And for that one moment, in all the cheering and explosions it’s like all was right with the world. It was John Phillip Sousa at Disneyland.
“But then you wake up a little. You just snuffed out future generations. Maybe bad guys can have good kids if you let ’em. We’ll never know now.”
He was coming close to crying.
“And then you see all those pieces; kid parts lying everywhere.
“And their little faces.
“If they even still had faces.
“Once you finish throwing up, and then toss back a few at camp pub, your next job is to find something inside you that you can bury that under.
“And then … what? Just go on living?”
– From “The Gardens of Ailana”
Paulette awoke with an ache in her heart, a grinding in her gut. If there really was a God, why would He have let anyone put a child through that? …
She had survived, but at what cost? She was an itinerant professor, living in her head, not her heart. She had broken away, but abandoned her sister; hadn’t contacted her family in years.
Paulette wondered what she was looking for in these weekend workshops. Absolution wasn’t on the curriculum. What could she possibly hope to accomplish? To be a healer you need to connect with people. You need to touch, and let yourself be touched. And not just with your hands.
Watching these nurses, she envied them their friendships. Here were real buddies truly caring about each other, taking jabs, sharing private jokes and fears. She’d never had that. Even witnessing it from across a room, or a yard, only made her feel that much more lonely.
She got along with people well enough. Agreed with whatever they said, watched their pets, helped them move from one apartment to another. But no one really knew her.
Paulette had never been flush with self-confidence. People took that as humility, but humility isn’t painful and crippling. She hadn’t yet learned that humble and self-destructive aren’t the same thing at all. They’re not even on the same team.
And now here she was at a workshop for healers. Had she come here to heal; or to be healed?
It was one of those warm, charming days that write poems about themselves, and then settle these very softly into your mind. Paulette sensed what felt like a rain-laced breeze stirring her soul; sodden, and yet beautiful; laden with both the dismal, and the promising.
– From “The Gardens of Ailana”, a fiction largely based around adults still traumatized by having been abused as children, in the name of their parents’ religion.
Harvey wanted to dive into his ugliness; he intentionally reached for those long hours of soul desolation. He waited. He paced, ready to face down whatever was to come.
Paulette’s, though, busted loose uninvited, catching her completely off guard when she was already hurting, feeling crumbled, and vulnerable. When all she really wanted was some quiet gentle feelings for a change. A few flowers. Some sunshine. A way out of all that inner torment for even just a moment.
Had she had brought only nastiness out of her childhood? Hadn’t there been anything sweet she could remember instead?
As she wandered back to her cabin, searching for even a single fond memory, light faded everywhere around her.
Aw, c’mon, she thought. Everyone had some happy childhood memories. She had to have at least a couple.
How about the coloring? Children enjoy coloring; how about that? She’d spent hours and days on her art. It was as close as she could remember to having her Mamma stand over her with anything even remotely resembling approval. Her books and comics could be tales of Jesus, but coloring books had to be Old Testament because “No child’s impure hand could touch a crayon to the sweet beautiful face of our beloved Lord and savior Christ Jesus.”
So the little girl had scrunched down over Daniel in the lion’s den. Samson screaming in rage, pain, and terror as they blinded him with daggers and torches. The redder she made the flowing wounds of a man of God shot full of arrows, the richer the flames around those three men being burned in an iron box, the longer Mamma let her stay out of that closet.
– From “The Gardens of Ailana”
You reach a stage in your development when life floods over with minor miracles and bizarre synchronicities. You hardly notice them anymore; they’re just what your life is made of.
– Then you learn to stay in the moment, following subtle promptings. No longer needing feedback that what you’re doing is right; you trust, and stay centered in the joy of higher service.
– As you pull away from old relationships, outmoded habits and beliefs, others gather around to be part of your new team. You may have to leave folks behind who try to hold you back. Do it caringly.
– As you shed ego, you may be offered an even bigger challenge: to shed what could be thought of as your anti-ego. Allow yourself to be powerful; do great things even as you open in naked and humble vulnerability to another. This will really test your honesty and adherence to Truth. Can you admit your failures and foolishness, and just as willingly step in among the spiritual big guns working miracles?
– Everything that happens to you, everyone you meet, everything you do, starts meshing together like gears in a finely tuned motor, driving your life forward into Higher states of purpose and meaning.
– Edward Fahey
This existential battle I write of in my new novel, “The Soul Hides in Shadows” may go on for centuries. Easily decades anyway. Some people moving toward the Light; some taking stands against it; some vacillating, moving back and forth between the two pulls or not moving at all.
This is how man grows, evolves, learns, and changes.
There will be no sudden explosion of angels from on High and suddenly all bad guys turn to good and all good guys are made pure.
Mankind doesn’t work that way.
We may have a sudden burst of brilliance as in Ancient Greece or in the Italian High Renaissance, but still … The Darkness will fight for control. The dull or stubborn will sit still. There will be those feeding every choice and extreme, but overall the world of men is trending inevitably toward enlightenment just as the planet they live on is trending toward warming.
In the real world, obedience was pounded into our butts; discipline nailed each to the cross of his own days. I fought so hard to shut up and buckle under, but couldn’t confine myself to this tiny, hurting world that everyone else lived in. I was like St. Michael slaying the dragon, with me as both the saint and his dragon.
Blind obedience was both our nemesis and our inspiration. What could be more achingly beautiful, more pained by inspiring grief, than that scene in the Garden of Gethsemane? “Not my will, but Thine.” My God, that makes your heart weep. But Jesus knew what he was getting into. Life was rarely that clear for me. I was just a lonely kid with no hope for companionship, in a world where adults claimed to be following God, and God didn’t have to explain Himself. “Abraham, kill your son! I’m bored and the TV’s busted again.” …
… I couldn’t resist questioning encrusted old beliefs, though questioning was the worst of all sins. Adam and Eve had been fine wandering around nude among tigers and snakes until they’d eaten that apple and started thinking things through. We had to bet our souls on stuff that didn’t make sense; on wandering stars, wives turning to salt, and God stopping the sun so His own children, made in His image, could kill each other. Samson hadn’t cut his own hair, someone else had, but rules must be followed, so the hell with him, God said. Then our principal kicked a kid out of school for refusing to cut his. Adults kept changing “eternal truths,” and I couldn’t keep up. Everybody kept hammering away at the world like blacksmiths, each trying to beat it into something different…. – From “Entertaining Naked People”
The Gardens of Ailana” will be controversial and many will hate it.
But in reading it some have already come to new terms with their lives and a God they see as either non-existent or cruel.
In this story, adults crippled by memories from childhood; two them suffered at the hands of evil and twisted men from southern fundamentalist churches; have to come clear with every ugliness within them before they can find any meaning and purpose for their lives. In the process they learn that if there is a Heaven at all, it would not be what their churches had told them to believe, and that forgiveness may not always be the healthiest option.
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Before there is time, or form, there is Potential. All things are possible.
There is Caring before there is anyone to care about. And before we create raging and fear.
Before guilt there is the purity of true Innocence.
Before knowledge there is Knowing.
Ailana looked out into the vastness with her eyes closed. In her heart she was smiling, and that world beyond worlds smiled with her.
She was dying.
But this only mattered to her body. Her spirit was not confined much to that these days.
She had a few more people to help first, and then she could step free of it.
A few who had been fighting their ways out of their own darkness seemed so very close to breaking through.
It was time.
They were ready.
– From “The Gardens of Ailana” handbook for mystics & healers
When I was early on in this life’s esoteric studies, back in the 60’s, among the first things I read were books by yogis from the 1920’s admonishing us to NEVER intentionally develop our siddhis. So then I spent a whole year-plus with Dora Kunz, with her trying to give very few of us private lessons in healing; but I kept trying not to accept my budding psychic nature. – I started appearing in the dreams and hospital rooms of those in need, and I tried to shut that off. – Now I find myself answering prayers and even Sai is telling me to stop screwing around and just take on the responsibilities I was put here to honor. – I tend not to fit into one-size-fits-all categories and rules is what I’m saying. No one – HPB, Manly Hall, or anyone else- can say everyone must in every moment follow and believe the same things. Life and spiritual development are flexible.
I couldn’t resist questioning encrusted old beliefs, though questioning was the worst of all sins. Adam and Eve had been fine wandering around nude among tigers and snakes until they’d eaten that apple and started thinking things through. We had to bet our souls on stuff that didn’t make sense; on wandering stars, wives turning to salt, and God stopping the sun so his own children, made in his image, could kill each other. Samson hadn’t cut his own hair, someone else had, but rules must be followed, so the hell with him, God said. Then our principal kicked a kid out of school for refusing to cut his. Adults kept changing “eternal truths,” and I couldn’t keep up. Everybody kept hammering away at the world like blacksmiths, each trying to beat it into something different.
– From “Entertaining Naked People” by Edward Fahey.
Depression is a non-life. It just sits there, not stirring. Like you’re mired in the silence and sludge at the bottom of a stagnant sea. Now and then a dim, fuzzy wad of something hangs above, a brief distraction from your comforting gloom, but it hurts to be reminded there is still life in any form. So you snuggle back into your sludge. Snug it in like a thick, fuzzy blanket around your heart, welcoming the dull, slow non-rhythm of pain and numbness.
Depression sticks to your soul, layers around and within you, suffocating all hope.
I may have lost years to this emotional cancer after Julie pulled away. Depression is a timeless state. Each second is interminable. This hideous strangling darkness drew in ever tighter and more dank, closer than my skin because skin is only on the outside.
There was a big ugly hole in my world, and nothing to plug it with but misery.
– Excerpt from “Entertaining Naked People”