It was a small feeling sitting at the end of the old, folding table with the stack of old, worn books piled within an arms reach. One book lay open to a page somewhere near the middle, its binding gracefully arcing, its pages overflowing with shreds of paper for bookmarks. One lone, naked bulb in the ceiling lit the huge old kitchen in the huge old house in the middle of a huge old wood. Planked floor, a pot-belly stove, ratty curtains instead of cupboard doors and bare windows never distracted from the magical, peaceful calm that was felt as soon as the car’s front wheels hit the long driveway from the highway. Not seen from the highway, the old, dilapidated house in the middle of an overgrown clearing in the woods was an oasis, a world of its own, far away from the rest of life.
It didn’t matter that the overgrown path from the driveway to the side door led through prickers and briars. Not far from the entranceway was a huge statue of a smiling Buddha, palms up to catch the rays of sun. And, right inside the door was that table with the books, a few magical prints and Roerich paintings hung on the walls, a few folding chairs, and the humblest old man I’ve ever met. Tall, a shiny bald head and a grin as gleeful as the Buddha’s, his long arms always opened in a warm greeting once the trek up the path was completed. His existence was Spartan, yes, and maybe a bit eccentric, but always infinitely peaceful.
It was his place to sit at the end of that long, old table with the pile of books in front of him. It was his countless bookmarks stuck among the pages. But, this time, I sat there, hands in my lap, feeling small and inconsequential. Our conversation was light, meaningless, until the small feeling took over and began to lead the words out of my mouth.
“The city will be still, the streets silent and empty. There was no food.” The words came out of nowhere, certainly not from me, but they came from my mouth. I was filled with peace, calm, quiet inside and let the words come.
“The will huddle together in the country and find food out there. Not many, but more than a few, they will be together around the fire. It is quiet, very quiet.”
My mind saw these peaceful glimpses of groups, struggling, but never afraid. Every glimpse had a fire and the fire warmed, lighted and enveloped those gathered near. Those glimpses, those photographs were of the end of a long, ugly, frightful battle of floods, earthquakes and storms; the end of struggle to go from where we are now to that point in the future that was inevitable. The line between this Age and the next came and went. Evolution moved forward.
That was back in 1981 or so. I saw it all unfold. It was profoundly sad. The path to our destiny as a race, as humanity, is written in stone, but how we get there from here, go from Point A to Point B, is our choice. It can be a journey of enlightenment, or a burning path to Hell. I knew back then which path we would take, and it was sad.
I decided then that I would fight to put us on the right path. You can’t change people or interfere in their choices. But what I can do is point to the positive, point out the good, find the good at the heart of everything. Because, at the very core of it all is the heart, and that is the place where we began and where we will return. We belong around the fire. We belong in peace.
I wonder if those old books are still piled on that old table in that old house deep in the old woods. In my heart, they will always be there.
It is time to turn the page.