Re-post from July of 2015 at Incline Village, Nevada
Yesterday I was confronted by a stranger and required to establish whether or not I had a right to be where he thought I oughtn’t. I didn’t like it one bit. We have lived in what amounts to a gated community for several years now. We’re here full-time, unlike the majority of our neighbors who apparently live elsewhere and only visit their fabulous condos on the north shore of Lake Tahoe occasionally. This means these owners don’t know us and one of them thought he was in charge of keeping out the riff-raff, hence his icy challenge: “Can I help you?” as I ascended the stairs adjacent to his unit on my way back from our community’s pier. Now, there are forty-five of these stairs … Each previous year we’ve been here, before my two total hip replacements last summer, I could not even get to the water’s edge and had to stay content on the balcony outside our living room. This is admittedly not a hardship by any means, but you can’t take a swim from there! I’m pretty proud to be going up and down these stairs, even though it’s still really hard at this weight. Coming back up, when I was accosted by my “neighbor” I had scarcely any breath left and could not respond with my usual ease and loquaciousness! It was obvious he wasn’t offering any assistance in my ascent, unlike the construction workers who’ve been here for months renovating the unit next to his. They, on the other hand, have been genuinely concerned for my well-being as I shouldered my beach chair and bag, adding another thirty pounds or so to my load. I answered: “What with?”, and he repeated his query. I repeated mine. Then he got to the point. “This is private property. Where are you going?” “Home: number 32!” I said, which was all I could gasp out while struggling to catch my breath. “Oh. Okay. Have a nice day.” he replied, but it felt like a dismissal. You know, “I’m done with you. You can leave now!” And then he disappeared back into his domain. I do not even know his name, but I have been rehearsing rejoinders I will never use ever since.
Following a week where my gay and lesbian friends and family members finally won the right to love and marry whomsoever they choose, and my president sang “Amazing Grace” during a heartbreakingly beautiful memorial for my black brothers and sisters, who, along with their pastor, were senselessly slaughtered, and the hard-won medical coverage I now enjoy was reaffirmed as law of the land, this seemingly minor event in my own life assumed enormous
proportions. I was born white and have never endured the slights and oppressions that those of color know all too well. I happen to be a woman who has loved a man for forty years, so I did not have to fight for, nor “earn” the right to marry the love of my life. I have always known that I have been blessed, but I do get it that I have also been privileged! So, when I was confronted by a stranger and required to establish my right to even “be” where I was at the moment, it occurred to me that that feeling of surprise, then indignation, then fear, then outrage, which are so foreign to me, are the constant experience of those who, for whatever reason, do not “qualify” for the privileges that I have been given, but never earned.
Last weekend my husband and partner-in-ministry Gil and I conducted a Celebration of Life service for a friend and fellow trumpet player who had just passed away. It was held in a gazebo which was reserved for our group at the local community park. During the reception following the service a woman with a small child and a dog on a leash walked right into our reserved gazebo! The deceased’s daughter and I were talking together and we both stopped to observe the stranger in our midst, who, after a momentary hesitation approached the widow and was warmly received. The daughter and I looked at each other and she said what was on my mind too: “I’m really glad I didn’t say what I was thinking which was ‘This is a private party!’ It’s obvious now that she belongs here, but what would it have hurt if she didn’t even know my Dad and just joined us and ate a sandwich?” We both gave thanks for our newly found wisdom to take a breath, pause for a full beat, and think before speaking the words that shun, expel or embarrass another.
“He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout!
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in…!
Gil’s and my initiation with Ken Wilber was his book No Boundaries. (We’d tried Sex, Ecology, Spirituality earlier but couldn’t get with it. Turns out it wasn’t about what we’d expected!) In this comprehensive introduction to his own Theory of Everything, Wilber explains the many different, yet nesting ways human beings determine for themselves what is “me” and what is “not me.” Two noteworthy (in my opinion) conclusions emerge: one, wherever one draws the line, there will be a conflict of some sort; and two, the larger one’s definition of “Self” the healthier and more highly evolved is that being. Bigger circles. More heart.
Our granddaughters and I came back to the pier today, past our neighbor’s door again. I knocked and hoped to introduce myself a bit less out of breath. No one answered, but I left my card. Our address is printed on it. And I am sitting here on the pier, looking out at “our” lake, thinking of him, writing this and drawing a circle big enough for him too.
On the surface of the world right now there is
war and violence and things seem dark
But calmly and quietly, at the same time,
something else is happening underground
An inner revolution is taking place
and certain individuals are being called to a higher light
It is a silent revolution
From the inside out
From the ground up
This is a Global operation
A Spiritual Conspiracy
There are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet.
You won’t see us on the TV
You won’t read about us in the newspaper
You won’t hear about us on the radio
We don’t seek any glory
We don’t wear any uniform
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles
Most of us work anonymously
We are quietly working behind the scenes
in every country and culture of the world
Cities big and small, mountains and valleys,
in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands
You could pass by one of us on the street
and not even notice
We go undercover
We remain behind the scenes
It is of no concern to us who takes the final credit
But simply that the work gets done
Occasionally we spot each other in the street
We give a quiet nod and continue on our way
During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs
But behind the false storefront at night
is where the real work takes a place
Some call us the Conscious Army
We are slowly creating a new world
with the power of our minds and hearts
We follow, with passion and joy
Our orders come from the Central Spiritual Intelligence
We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking
Poems ~ Hugs ~ Music ~ Photography ~ Movies ~ Kind words ~
Smiles ~ Meditation and prayer ~ Dance ~ Social activism ~ Websites
Blogs ~ Random acts of kindness…
We each express ourselves in our own unique ways
with our own unique gifts and talents
Be the change you want to see in the world
That is the motto that fills our hearts
We know it is the only way real transformation takes place
We know that quietly and humbly we have the
power of all the oceans combined
Our work is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains
It is not even visible at first glance
And yet with it entire tectonic plates
shall be moved in the centuries to come
Love is the new religion of the 21st century
You don’t have to be a highly educated person
Or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it
It comes from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings
Be the change you want to see in the world
Nobody else can do it for you
We are now recruiting
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have.
All are welcome
The door is open ~
…author unknown, loved and appreciated anyway…
I see a world in which everyone and everything thrive, where each sentient being is cherished, loved and appreciated for their essential Self. All our needs are met and an opportunity to express is enjoyed by all. The good, the true and the beautiful are our norms and we celebrate new ways to engage and enlarge upon each one every day.
Our Earth-home is well cared for and cultivated with loving stewardship. Her resources are husbanded responsibly. Wilderness and the natural environment are restored and our footprint as a species is light, spare and respectful. Our Universe is an endless playground of discovery and delight.
Literature, poetry, architecture and art of every description, dance, theater and music abound! Daily we revel in the creations of our own and other fellow beings as we revere the wonders of Creation itself. Efficiency and elegance go hand in hand to make even the simplest of routines a joyous song of the soul.
Relationships provide us with the delight of conscious connection, an awakening over and over to the Oneness of all in infinite variety. Giving and receiving, serving and being served, blessing and being blessed are all an endless dance of love.
Bodies are our “home away from home”, a temporal gift to experience the space-time continuum and express essence within this dimensional plane. This physical house is a fit vehicle: robust, vital, harmonious with itself and it’s environment. The senses of body and mind give a richness to life that is unsurpassed and welcome. It is clear that we are intended to move from glory to glory, from ecstasy to more…the possibilities for joy in form are endless.
Forty-five years ago today (September 7, 1974) I woke up alone in my little apartment. I dressed and packed a weekend getaway bag. My friend came by and picked me up. We drove from downtown Los Angeles up into the San Bernardino mountains to Cedar Lake, near Big Bear. She was on the committee organizing this retreat for new ministerial students at the Ernest Holmes College of the United Church of Religious Science. I had wanted to be in this place, at this time, for my whole life. I couldn’t remember when I didn’t want to be a minister. Everything had led me to this moment! What I did not anticipate was what happened next! An exotic little sports car, a bright blue Lotus Europa pulled up with a gentle roar and parked. Out of it emerged the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen! He was tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, mischievous and simply marvelous in every respect! He had kind eyes and strong hands, a warm smile and pleasant voice. A carved pipe was clutched in his teeth and rested on his prominent chin. A subtle and sweet scent came from the cold pipe. He spotted me and asked brightly: “Do you know where I can get a cup of coffee?” I did! That was the day I met Gil Linsley!
During the events planned for the new students, he and I seemed to gravitate together. When they asked us to form dyads to share our vision of ministry, we were partners. When they scheduled a silent vigil we wandered off together to talk and laugh and tell stories. When the sun set and we sat around the campfire, we sat next to each other. And when my candle kept going out in the wind, he lit it again and again from his own, which miraculously never went out. He talked about himself and his life. He told me the water in Cedar Lake was “trick water” which I later learned meant “smooth enough to do tricks on water skis”. He told me he lived in both Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe and played trumpet in a big band. He mentioned the names of performers I knew and admired and said his band played for them at the casino showrooms. His experiences were far removed from my own, but we shared a passion for living and teaching the Science of Mind!
I had come to this mountain retreat to begin my life’s work, my ministry. I never dreamed that the love affair which would lead to our marriage would begin here as well! There are times in one’s life when, in retrospect, we say: “This is where everything changed; this was the defining moment! If everything hadn’t conspired together just the way it did, my whole life would have been different!” I feel incredibly grateful for the exquisite alignment of consciousness and events in both of our lives that brought us to a tiny lake in the middle of a forest where we could discover one another and fall in love and begin the adventure of a lifetime!
1928 born in Alhambra, CA to Edith Mary Clough and Donald LeRoy Linsley, his older sister was Mary Edith.
1940 Joined the school band to be with his friends. Wanted to play drums, but that spot was taken; they handed him a cornet instead.
1942&43 Took trumpet lessons with Louis Maggio and several others in Los Angeles area.
1944&45 Gil Linsley’s Swing Teens played at Lake Arrowhead for the summers during WWII.
1946&47 Served as Private of US Army in Sixth Army Headquarters Band at Presidio, San Francisco, CA. Honorably discharged.
1948 Graduated from Pasadena City College.
1950 Graduated from Westlake College of Music in Hollywood, CA.
1952 Married Norma Lou Moldenhauer and moved to Las Vegas where he joined the house band, opened the Sands Hotel Casino and played trumpet for most all of the headliners performing in Nevada show rooms at that time.
1953 Bought the first of more than a dozen sports cars owned in his lifetime, including three Lotus Europas, one Lotus Elan, three Jaguars, a Porsche speedster, a Mini Cooper and a Mazda RX7. This first one was a Morgan.
1954 Daughter Karen Ann was born to Norma and Gil on November 22nd.
1956 Started Science of Mind classes at the Las Vegas Church of Religious Science with Dr. H. A. P. Polite. Learned Transcendental Meditation. Became licensed as a Religious Science Practitioner.
After divorcing from, and losing the custody battle with, Karen’s mother, there were four more Mrs. Linsleys during the next fifteen years: Sue, Claire, Marie and LaVeta. And he helped raise their five teenage children from other fathers.
1960 Moved to Lake Tahoe and joined the Sahara house band. Later joined Brian Farnon’s house band at Harrah’s. Learned to snow ski, ice skate, water ski and bought the first of several boats, a G3. Later came fast Cheetah hulls with outboard engines as big as they made them then: 200 horses! Lastly an I/O Donzi Cuddy Cabin Cruiser became his favorite water toy. Trick skied and slalomed on water until 2014.
Played Breck Wall’s Bottoms Up lounge show in Reno, Vegas and Tahoe.
Traveled with Billy Eckstine and Frank Sinatra, Jr. Had other gigs in San Antonio, TX and an ice show in Chicago, IL.
Created Gilberto’s Tequila Brass, a five man mariachi-style band that played both Las Vegas and Tahoe.
1974 Began studying for the ministry at the Ernest Holmes College in Los Angeles, CA when Dr. Al Lowe was Dean. Met Gail who was becoming a minister also. They lived together next door to Founder’s Church and UCRS Home Office while going to school.
1975 Marriage to Gail Ann Durant in Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe was performed by Rev. Warren Chester. Cary Tronson was the best man, Karen was the maid of honor. It snowed. In June.
1976 Graduated with Religious Science Fellow degree, was licensed as a Minister of Religious Science and created Lake Tahoe Science of Mind with Gail as co-ministers.
1977 Created Chapel of the Pines wedding business with Gail. Specialized in on-location ceremonies including the M.S. Dixie and Woodwind Sailing Cruises. Had the first permit to use federal land for weddings at Lake Tahoe from the USDA Forest Service.
1980 Son Adam LeRoy was born to Gail and Gil on May 2nd; They were ordained that autumn at LTSOM.
1984 Began serving as co-ministers for Unity-Religious Science Church of Carson City. Taught A Course in Miracles for eleven years. Taught all the Science of Mind classwork, studied HeartMath, Integral Theory, Non-Violent Communication and The Prayer of Jabez among many other disciplines which they incorporated into their ministry over the years.
1988 Closed LTSOM when the United Religious Science Church (later known as Center for Spiritual Living Carson City) affiliated with UCRS. Served on the Standing Advisory Committee for Practitioner Policy and Procedure (SACOPPP) for three years and on the Cabinet for the United Clergy of Religious Science (UCORS) for four years. Awarded honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Terry Cole Whittaker’s Adventures of the Heart organization.
1989 Moved to Carson City and cared for his mom Edith Brac until her death in 1991 when they moved back to Tahoe.
1996 Created Tahoe Dance Band with Al Smith; played monthly dances at Tahoe Senior Citizens’ Center until 2015.
1999 Created The Jazz Guys, which played “Wind and Jazz” on the Woodwind II catamaran Sunday sunset champagne sailing cruises out of Zephyr Cove for ten years. Also joined David Bugli’s Mile High Jazz Band and The Millennium Bugs, both in Carson City. Played with all three groups until leaving the area in 2016.
2009 Adam’s daughter Aiden came to live with her grandparents full time. Her sister Madison visited as often as possible.
2012 Moved to a lakefront condo in Incline Village, NV and cared for Gail’s mom Nikki Campbell until her death in 2015: it was a four generation household with Adam and Aiden.
2013 Retired from pulpit ministry at CSLCC after serving there for 29 years.
2016 Bought a small motorhome, gave away most of their worldly goods including the wedding business to Karen and the boat to Adam, then took to the open road visiting family and friends, creating their traveling ministry Fellowship of the Heart and having adventures all along the US Pacific Coast and the Colorado River for the last several years.
2019 Gil made his transition to the next phase of life on July first about 11:00 AM in their motorhome parked at Adam’s home in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Gail was spooning him in their bed. A scented candle was burning. Native American flute music was playing softly. He was surrounded by friends and family members, holding High Watch and telling stories of loving remembrance as he slipped quietly and gently into the loving arms awaiting him on the other side.
Final arrangements were handled by the Neptune Society. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in honor of his life and ministry be made to Fellowship of the Heart.
I had a dream last night worthy of the name nightmare. Right up there with Scrooge’s visitor from a future Christmas, this dream came a-haunting. In it were people and circumstances familiar, yet which had never before happened, a single theme binding them all into a seamless, terrifying whole. I was detested, disrespected, disowned, disheartened, lost, alone and afraid. No matter what I did, it was wrong. And having committed countless unredeemable sins, there was no road back, no way to make it right, no chance to make amends. Every where I turned I was unwelcome and unbefriended. It was the most horrible dream I’ve ever had.
As I awoke, my relief was overwhelming, for I knew it wasn’t true. But the sheer terror of it stayed with me and I wept uncontrollably for quite a while as my loving husband, no longer frightened by the waves of emotion that can overtake me and spill out as tears, spoke words of comfort. As I cried, two ideas crystallized in my consciousness. One was that this dreadful fear of being completely unlovable was the birthplace of every fear I’ve ever felt. Whatever circumstance I was hoping to avoid, whatever name I gave it, this was The Big One. And two, it is universal. You feel it too. Everyone does. Nothing in the world binds us together like this does.
When non-violent communities wish to punish a misbehaving member, they will shun them. What indigenous peoples do with folks who have lost their way is to sing them the song of their origin, their belonging. I’ve told these stories on many a Sunday over the years. Never has the message resonated with me as deeply as it does right this minute. To hurt someone forever so that they can never recover, banish them from your heart. To heal even the worst offenders, bring them into a tender place they have all but forgotten exists.
Yes, it is that simple. And Christmas celebrates the birth of someone they called the Redeemer.
I am thinking of those who hurt me personally whom I have chosen not to forgive. I am thinking of those in public life I have come to revile and shame. I am thinking of all the groups of people I write off as not worthy of my time or attention. Yes, I’m afraid I’ve done that. I do that. Like Scrooge, visited with the undeniable knowledge of the outcome of his behavior, I had to weep. No more.
It is not my place to tell anyone else what to do, but I had to share what I learned last night: I have to put every ounce of energy I possess in every fiber of my being into doing this better, this thing called loving.
So, I want you to know: You belong with me. You are safe in my heart. Your name is honey in my mouth. I see you as you truly are. I will sing your song when you forget. I forgive you. I trust you. I honor you. I believe in you. And I promise to love you forever. Merry Christmas.
Progress is a noun, describing forward movement achieved. It’s also a verb, when the accent is on the second syllable, meaning the act of moving as it is occurring. Like sharks swimming in the sea, we have to keep moving or we die. And pilgrims are simply people who are doing the moving with awareness. Unlike vagabonds, pilgrims have a purpose, if not a specific destination. And it is all about the journey and the mindfulness we can bring to it.
Travelling full time in our motorhome is a singular experience. Our lives have been stripped of many non-essentials, possessions, obligations, expectations. Our knapsacks get lighter every day. Yet the experiences of simply living, the exquisite preciousness of the ordinary and mundane wash over us like waves filled with awe and gratitude. To have heat, light and water are wonderful things. And oh! the sheer joy of being level! Food in the fridge and clean clothes! Rain on the roof while we’re sleeping. The brilliant colors of sunrise and sunset framing each day like a jewel.
We know we’re blessed. We’re paying attention. It seems the least we can do.
…and it isn’t even seven o’clock. I woke up this morning at 4:30 to the sound of a big thud…and then nothing. I called out Gil’s name and he didn’t answer at first, so I struggled to free myself of the down comforter on our bed in the loft of the motorhome and hurried down the ladder. It was out of place and wobbled alarmingly. Now I knew what had happened. I told him I was coming to him and he finally responded weakly. I found him partially under the table, lying on his side. I could hear something dripping into a puddle on the carpet and wondered where it was coming from. In the predawn darkness I couldn’t see it, but the stickiness soon told me it was blood. A lot of blood. It was squirting out of his left temple with every heartbeat. He was ashen and trembling. And I was scared. I managed somehow to pick him up off the floor and put him in his recliner. Even with pressure on the gash in his head it wouldn’t stop bleeding, spurting if I let up for a second. I called 9-1-1 and a voice who said her name was Brianna summoned help for us. The two EMTs who arrived shortly (without lights or siren at my request – no need to terrify the neighbors!) confirmed we were going to the hospital and helped me put pants on him for the trip. We rode in the ambulance, me up front with Jeff driving and his partner in back with Gil. I checked him into the Emergency Room at Western Arizona Regional Medical (WARM) Center here in Bullhead City while nurses Theresa and Rachel, medical technician Matt and Dr. Mike all cared for my beloved: checking vitals, trying to stop the arterial spray, taking his medical history, tidily suturing the four centimeters long wound, mopping up the mess to see if anywhere else was bleeding. (It’s difficult to get blood out of a beard.) There were some random abrasions including one on his lip where the horn goes when he plays. He was taken for a head X-ray by Bart, all clear. Dr Mike came back in and said it would be a week before he could get the stitches out. Theresa called us a cab. Hector took us back to Silver View RV Resort and didn’t accept credit cards, but wouldn’t take any money either and helped Gil get into the RV. We were back home in just over two hours. He’s been resting quietly since then, except that it really hurts if he coughs and he’s weak as a kitten. We’re watching the Houston funeral for HW and I’m making him some scrambled eggs and toast. It looks like it may rain today and I don’t feel up to doing laundry even though I should…I’m ready for a nap.
“Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late. The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder. I’m an over forty victim of fate, arriving too late, arriving too late…” A Pirate Looks at Forty
Gil and I just finished reading Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. We started our custom of reading aloud to one another back in 1974. Since we were studying the same lessons at the School of Ministry and spending all our time together it seemed a natural choice and one we have enjoyed ever since. We’ve read all manner of things over the years, but we seem to enjoy rollicking good stories the most. This was most definitely that! I was introduced to Peter Blood by my junior high school French teacher and guidance counselor Janet Roberts. She knew intuitively that my adolescent heart needed a romantic adventure and Sabatini’s classic story set in the seventeenth century Caribbean Sea certainly satisfied. Captain Blood was an honorable man, a surgeon by training, and fell into the disrepute of piracy through an unfortunate series of misadventures. Trying to remain a man of integrity in those circumstances was a real challenge for him, yet he prevailed, even thrived.
So, Johnny Depp wasn’t my first pirate hero. Neither was Errol Flynn who played in the 1935 movie version of “Captain Blood”. Actually, it was Geena Davis in “Cutthroat Island” who became my heroine when I realized that girls could be buccaneers too! Amid her swashbuckling escapades and some seriously questionable personal habits, she too had a code of honor that informed and circumscribed her choices. I like that in a person.
Jimmy Buffet wrote about his longing for a life at sea, free from the constraints of polite society in his song that I quoted above, but I’m not forty, I’m sixty-six and it’s becoming less and less likely I will ever run away to sea. The closest I came to it was the 25 years I spent as the boat minister aboard Woodwind and Woodwind II on Lake Tahoe. Every Saturday during the summer months I got to go sailing on those two beautiful vessels for the modest price of officiating a wedding each time. After my clerical duties were completed I was free to enjoy the wind and spray in my face to my heart’s delight! I never tired of feeling the deck move beneath my feet with the rhythm of the waves, hearing the sails flap wildly then snap to as we came about, knowing that I belonged to the elements in a way I could scarcely fathom. I learned the rolling sailor’s walk so well that I looked odd coming back down the pier after a day’s adventure. There were many nights when I’d go to bed ashore and could still feel the gentle rocking as I fell asleep.
When my Mom was 17 she ran away and joined the circus. It was one of those things she said with pride her whole life long. Somehow, before I grow up, I’m going to run away to sea!
“Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard your call! I’ve wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall. You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all…”
I go there I’ll lose my way
If we stay here we’re not together
The moon upon the ocean
Is swept around in motion
But without ever knowing
The reason for its flowing
In motion on the ocean
The moon still keeps on moving
The waves still keep on waving
And I still keep on going
You go there you’re gone forever
I go there I’ll lose my way
If we stay here we’re not together
I wonder if the stars sign
The life that is to be mine
And would they let their light shine
Enough for me to follow
I look up to the heavens
But night has clouded over
No spark of constellation
No Vela no Orion
The shells upon the warm sands
Have taken from their own lands
The echo of their story
But all I hear are low sounds
As pillow words are weaving
And willow waves are leaving
But should I be believing
That I am only dreaming
You go there you’re gone forever
I go there I’ll lose my way
If we stay here we’re not together
To leave the tread of all time
And let it make a dark line
In hopes that I can still find
The way back to the moment
I took the turn and turned to
Begin a new beginning
Still looking for the answer
I cannot find the finish
It’s either this or that way
It’s one way or the other
It should be one direction
It could be on reflection
The turn I have just taken
The turn that I was making
I might be just beginning
I might be near the end.
Here’s a link to the YouTube version: