I grew up in a different age than most of you who are listening to this. In an age of small stores, family-owned, neighborhood barber shops, shoemakers, a pharmacy, an A&P grocery store with a man in a white apron. And boxes of animal crackers selling for five cents a box. A long handled pair of grabbers that the clerk could use to reach the high up shelf to get something down for the person who needed it and could pay for it. A time when clerks went around and shopped for you in the grocery store, and put stuff, one by one, in a bag or a box for you to take home. Long, long ago, it seems. Small town America, as they call it now. A small town with a couple gas stations where kids could go and, for free, fill up the tires of their bikes. I used to love to watch that pressure gauge.

“How many pounds you got, Jimmy?”

“Oh, I’m gonna do twenty-eight, Johnny.”

“Yeah, I’m gonna do twenty-eight, too.”

Friendly guys working in the garage and pumping gas, fixing cars, talking to people and cleaning their windshields, taking care of their cars, take it apart and put it back together. Simple machines, they knew every piece, all the pieces of the different brands were basically the same.

Different times. Gone now, forever. The last faint vestiges of that way of life disappearing before our eyes. Disappearing as Wal-Mart and the other multinational big box stores drive them out of existence. Watching as it all becomes corporate, and the people are all just employees - employees instead of owners and small businessmen. Employees in a rapacious economy whose sole concern is to maximize the amount of return that can be squeezed out of whatever game it is that they’re playing. People’s lives being the source of their profit. [singing:] Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halleluuuujaaah…

The expanding of consciousness. Consciousness expansion. Expanding beyond the self-imposed limits of the mind. Expanding to see new things and experience new feelings. Expanding to come in contact with the wisdom of God as it permeates every atom and every vibrating string of creation. Every vibrating string is humming with love, the love that creates and sustains and guides this manifestation we call life. This manifestation we call earth; that we call heaven, Call it by any names you choose. The name is not It.

The word can never come close to describing It in a way that will bring It into being in a person’s life. It/love/truth/joy comes into being in a person’s life spontaneously. And then we search for words to describe It. A fruitless, futile search for words that can describe It when no such words exist. In the fullness of this situation some lapse into silence and are, perhaps, never seen or heard from again. Others are fascinated by the different paths and the men and women walking on those paths. Called by the possibilities of the dharma road as a learning tool. Where meditation and the life of activity and engagement proceed hand in hand. One without the other doesn’t seem to work very well.

Experiencing the tantra of life in play. Standing on the edge of the world, looking out into the stars. The stars and the breaking dawn. Realizing and shaken by the transitory nature of it all. Here, in front of my mortal eyes, for but an instant of time - Eternity.