On Saturday, I decided to attend the Body Mind Spirit Expo rather than the business meetings of the Mission Center Conference. I hate that both are held on the same weekend, but having been to the last two Body Mind Spirit Expos, I was not missing this one!
For those who don't know about the Body Mind Spirit Expo, the best way to describe it is a weekend event in which booths are set up from vendors of all types under the umbrella of "New Age spiritualism" and a lot of lectures to choose from. The lectures are about 50 minutes and can be hit or miss. More than a few are "psychic / mediums" offering to give cold readings. This happened at my first selected lecture. The woman started off by telling her life story. She was kind of boring. No one comes to these things to hear their biography. She could use some advice on knowing what to share about her life and what to leave out. Most want to hear enough to establish credibility. When she got around to cold readings, it was interesting to hear what the person's reaction was. After giving readings to a few women, she said that she wanted to give a reading to a man, and there were only two of us in that session. The other guy was older and seemed hesitant. Since I wasn't sure if she was legit or not, I decided, why not?
I went to the front of the room to sit in the chair. She put her hand on my shoulder and said that I'm going to be making a big change or move soon. She said that it was a career change and by move (I asked for clarification), she said that it didn't necessarily mean a move to another city (at this point, I'm not really desiring to move away from Portland), but could be a move to another job (though I love my job, the low pay means that I will not hesitate to move on if I get a better job offer, particularly one that might include travel, which is what I want the most). Then she said that I was due to be in a relationship soon. She said that this would change my life in a big way and she thinks I already met the person. She acknowledged something I have never shared with anyone before. She said, "I know that you are concerned that you might spend the rest of your life alone, but you don't need to worry about that." When she was done, I was stunned because she said exactly the same thing as the psychic I had seen in the spring had told me. Two different women, half a year apart, sharing the same message: career change and relationship. Well, the other one had said "by September" and that didn't happen. I really would like to meet this lady and begin a relationship before the year ends. That's my one wish.
In another session, the psychic lady led us in a group meditation. I prefer guided meditation than self-directed one. I need to be more disciplined about it. However, during this meditation, I was stunned because I saw the most incredibly blue light I have ever seen. It was so beautiful! A dark blue with light shining through. It was intense and so amazing that tears dripped out of my closed eyelids. I've heard that there are scenes of incredible beauty that the body's only natural reaction is to shed some tears. Wow, amazing! I wanted to stay in the brilliance of that light forever! When I told my friend about it later, she asked me what shade of blue and when I said a dark blue, almost indigo. She offered "cobalt" and showed examples of cobalt blue at the Saturday Market. I will concur and say that it was cobalt blue that I saw. Translucent cobalt blue, that is. Later on Saturday evening, I Google-searched what it means to see blue light during meditation and read a few sites that came up. Apparently, this is something that people who meditate strive to see. I've meditated occasionally (not on a regular basis) and have only seen pitch black or a white light. This was the first time I saw a blue light and it was the most beautiful blue I've ever seen. According to various websites that describe this, there's a spiritual theory that this blue light, known as "The Blue Pearl" is the shell of protection for one's soul. To see it is a blessing of meditation. I kind of like that theory!
In another session, a lady spoke about "shoulds" being a problem that we need to be aware of. We need to end our emphasis on "shoulds" and anytime it appears, we need to ask ourselves what might be causing our desires for "shoulds." Though the lady was reading her presentation (and a few people did walk out early on), I guessed that she was probably more comfortable speaking from prepared notes than speaking entirely from memory. Thought its always better to attend a lecture by someone who can speak at length without notes, each person is different and her information was good. I could've used this knowledge during my last job. It might have diffused tense situations. Then again, probably not. Dealing with an OCD control freak is not easy, no matter how reasonable and understanding you try to be.
The final session I attended was true to the previous two Body Mind Spirit Expos that I attended. Each time I attended a lecture by a guy, I ended up regretting it. I don't know what the deal is, but the men who lecture are WEIRD. At the one in the spring, the guy spoke about 2012 and us having to make a choice in February (choosing which portal to walk through). He also made us do a strange ritual and advertised for an expensive initiation ritual he was giving elsewhere that will help us transition during next year's upheaval. I don't know what it was, but I felt that he was a fraud. The one last fall, I had attended a lecture by a guy whose lecture was too philosophical and academic, not to mention boring and circular. Many people walked out of his lecture. I didn't have the guts to and hoped that he would get better, but he never did. He came across to me as someone in love with his own intelligence and his entire lecture seemed designed to show off how smart he is, but many people were just turned off and left.
At this Expo, the final lecture I attended was by a guy who wanted all of us to walk up front and look everyone in the eye and see each others' beauty. A few people did so at his insistence, but I didn't participate and quite a few did not do so either. I'm glad. I thought it was a stupid exercise. I know that it was about getting us out of our comfort zone and having the courage to look strangers into the eye and recognize their beauty, but this exercise would be more effective if we had all day together and was a team-building exercise. For a 50 minute session with people we're likely never to see again, uh, no thanks!
Nevertheless, I left the Expo and headed to the Portland congregation to meet Susan, who came down from Alaska with another delegate from the congregation up there (in Mat-Su Valley, home of Sarah Palin!). We were supposed to go to a Lebanese restaurant for dinner and return for game night. However, when the final session of the evening ended, I mentioned a Thai restaurant that was next to the New Renaissance Bookstore. Susan is a friend I've known for a decade. She had lived in Atlanta when I was there and is cousins with a lady from church who is good friends with my family and currently lives in Peru. The three of us didn't fit in well with the Atlanta North congregation because we're too liberal, non-traditional, and international in our life experiences. In fact, Susan had hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2000 and this past summer walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. She's well traveled and now lives in Alaska (moved there in August). She drove to Palmer, Alaska in her Prius from Florida! Now that's a road trip!!
The Thai / Lao restaurant we ate in is a Victorian style house. I ate there once a few years ago. This time, I enjoyed it even more because I got to catch up on Susan's life and hers on mine. Nancy was along for the company and was quiet most of the time but I tried to include her in the conversation. Its difficult, though, because I wanted to focus my conversation on Susan and hate excluding people. It takes awhile to get to know someone, so it was kind of awkward for the third wheel. The food, though, was incredible. Susan ordered a lettuce wrap and I had a dish that was called The James Bond something or other. I ended up liking Susan's dish better than my own! Yes, we were able to share each others' plate. Next time I eat at that restaurant, I'm getting the lettuce wrap! It is seriously delicious!
I knew that Susan would love the New Renaissance Bookstore. We spent a lot of time in there and she bought quite a few things: a DVD, a couple meditation CDs, a couple books, and a 2012 journal. She is like me regarding spirituality: open to ideas that aren't Christian. It is so nice to know others in the church who share my spiritual openness. I had no idea what Nancy might have thought of it all. Nancy has lived all her life in Alaska and said that she knows Sarah Palin. Here's the jaw dropper. She said that Sarah is "surprisingly deep." Uh, I seriously doubt that. I've read a lot about that woman and have seen many interviews, her debate performance, and other media appearances. If Sarah Palin is "deep", then I'm Albert Einstein!
We were in the bookstore so long that by the time we made it back to the church, game night was over and it was time to head over to the Southeast Grind for the young adult activity. I knew that Southeast Grind was not a good place for our group of a dozen people. It was crowded, as usual so there was no room for us to sit together and talk. We waited for a section to open up and sat on whatever we could find. I haven't seen Andrew since his wedding in June, so just had to say to him, "May I suggest...?" He laughed. That was the song that was sung by the wedding party (Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Bridesmen, and Groomswomen) when he was waiting for his bride to walk down the aisle. I love talking with him because he's cool, funny, and smart (his father is a psychology professor at Lewis and Clark College and he has a psychology degree from the church's university, Graceland). I don't get the impression that his wife likes me very much, though. She's beautiful and amazing, but whenever I try to talk with her, she appears to be uncomfortable and wanting to end it as soon as possible. Why do beautiful women hate me so much? Really. I get this a lot. It makes me wonder if she's really shallow. I like her, though, and its upsetting that she seems so uncomfortable talking with me.
There are signs that MAYAs is truly defunct. I could sense in Rachel that she doesn't appear comfortable talking with me as well. She's been rather cold to me in the past few times we've seen each other at church events. My opinion of her has declined anyway, because I had the impression that her involvement in MAYAs was purely to find a church-member husband. Once she found him, she discarded the group for the exclusive relationship. I guess that's to be expected, but it still doesn't sit well with me. Her husband won't even talk to me, either. I noticed this at Andrew and Emily's wedding. I tried to make conversation with him but it was like pulling teeth. I don't get these people at all. What truly pisses me off the most is that I remember what they said at the Vision Project and the dishonesty bugs me. They had complained about the lack of young adults being involved and had even mentioned game night being a good way to get together. Well, a family from the Tuality congregation did offer a game night last year and I was the only one who showed up! My guess is what they really meant is that young adults that they like aren't involved and since they don't seem to like me for whatever reason (perhaps my outspoken political views, perhaps for my open spiritual views that aren't exclusively Christian), they aren't interested in MAYAs anymore or regular Young Adult meetings.
Oh well, their loss. Its not like I lack for a social life. I've moved on from MAYAs, too. After Christine left, I moved on. I became involved in the World Affairs Council Young Professionals discussion group, I've met friends from various political campaigns, I became friends with a few people at the Tuality congregation, and I'm not meeting new people through the Movies and Meaning group sponsored by a Presbyterian Church near where I live. It saddens me that others don't value me the way I value them, but its not surprising. I've lived long enough in my body to know that there are shallow people who won't like me no matter what, and there are true friends who value my friendship. Its the greatest irony of my life that I am close to four of my Mormon friends from BYU than I am to members of the MAYAs, who are fellow church members. This is probably a big reason why I'm post-religion / trans-religion.
By the time I hit the bed on Saturday night, I realized that I had experienced a perfect day! I was ecstatic about the psychic's reading, the Blue Pearl, re-connecting with old friends, and being among church members (even if some of them don't like me much). Because of the joy of seeing so many church members I know and not having enough time to talk with all of them as much as I wanted to, the pain of the past has officially dissipated for me. Last year, when I went to the Portland Congregation, all I could feel was emotional pain. That was due to the fact that my memories of Christine were still too fresh. I associate that congregation with her since she was the reason I attended that unfriendly congregation from 2007 through 2009. I'm glad that that ghost has been exorcised. I still won't attend a regular church service there, though, but at least I don't feel emotional pain when I attend the Mission Center Conference, which is held at that congregation.
On Sunday, after the awesome church service (at Mission Center Conference, its a mini-reunion in which church members from all over the Greater Pacific Northwest Mission Center come to Portland, so I get to see people I haven't seen in a year or since the last Mission Center event, such as Bend Institute or the Young Adult Retreat), I led Sharon and Nancy to Cafe Yumm! for lunch, then a tour of Occupy Portland camp, and finally to the Saturday (and Sundays, too!) Market. I was stunned by how many empty spaces there were compared to the last time I walked through in the spring. This is a bad sign. I've never seen this market place with open space for booths. Obviously, the economy is affecting the artisans and their business. But I did see a few things I want to get before they close on Christmas Eve (I need a fleece face mask for a long rainy and cold winter of waiting for three buses on my daily commute).
After walking the marketplace and returning them to their car at Lloyd Center, I bid farewell to Susan and Nancy. Susan said that she might see about living in Portland next summer. She's a physical therapist with a contract that only covers the school year, so that means she'll have to find a job for summer and she might want to come to work in Portland. If she decides to stay in Alaska next summer, I may go visit her for a week. Not enough time to explore Alaska, but enough to give a taste (and you can bet that if I visit, I will be checking out the city hall in Wasilla and go on a driveby of the Palin property).
So ends a great weekend!