All Along the Watchtower

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

In a moment of great clarity and sobriety. You take stock of where you are. You recognize that you are lost in the world following the prescriptions of your culture and of those people who influence you so strongly. Here you pray not merely for relief from suffering, you pray for the truth to be revealed to you. The Rays of Initiation

Perhaps you will wonder if you are going mad, but you are not going mad. The Awakening

Times of duress precipitate these moments–the title alone of the famous work by Alvin Toffler summarizes it: Future Shock.  What can also trigger these shifts is a change in the direction of your life. It’s like the pendulum that drives the clock of your life gradually slows to a near stop in order to change direction.

This Bob Dylan song accompanied a couple of these moments in my life. The economic upheaval of 2008 seemed to be the crisis that unsettled my notion of financial security, which was confused already. On Christmas Day that year I read a book by Richard Rohr that resonated deeply with this great need to reorient my thinking.

A chance conversation with a friend drew a memory from me, on account of how the memory kept coming up for me. The day that JFK died was one that most anyone living at the time can recall where they were when they heard the news.

The thing I needed to pay attention to was who it was who told me the news. Through remembering and remembering, since the memory kept insisting–and also through training similar to the therapeutic use of metaphor developed by Ira Progroff in At a Journal Workshop–finally I saw a key element about what had ever seemed to drip with dramatic irony.

Indeed, the fact that I learned about Kennedy’s assassination from a Cuban exile was an intriguing detail. Through the contemplative practices from Education for Ministry, I could practice what a less metaphorically-minded person would call “projecting.” But to me it seems perfectly logical to imagine what must have been going through the mind of any Cuban in America in 1963, on hearing the news of the assassination: “It’s a coup. All your land could be confiscated.” Nothing was apparent on the surface, certainly not to that oblivious six-year-old me. The feeling of the encounter was not understood until much later, yet the impact is hard to deny of a sense that the world could easily be turned upside down.

Not quite a joker and a thief there, but a little daughter of business and her companion. I feel his message was received, but not understood until later, until puzzling over this nagging memory and finally seeing the urgency of the message:

But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

In brief, I’ve now come to see the Cuban–the alien–as something like an angel, but more like another being who has come from elsewhere in the universe here on Earth at the same time as I, and we happened to cross paths, and it is so fortunate we did. I have an impression that my older brother also was attuned to certain realities because of the presence of this person in our lives.

The message he was here to remind us was:

Everything that humanity values is now at risk—all that you have created, all of your advancements, all that you have accomplished which is significant.

He was reminding us of what we did know, perhaps, deep within, having somehow previously witnessed the distress of worlds such as ours at such a vulnerable time.

To be able to discern friend from foe in the universe, you must know the difference between your strength and your weakness, for your foe will speak to your weakness, and your friend will speak to your strength. Everything that humanity values is now at risk—all that you have created, all of your advancements, all that you have accomplished which is significant. The Allies of Humanity Book Three, Fourth Briefing: Hidden Powers

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