The Now Times
  Jeannie Beck, published author, poet, and an amazingly talented woman is NOW the Editor and CEO of a new online Spiritual Newspaper known as "The Now Times" She will be creating a healing and loving informational environment that will inspire and nourish your life's journey through her many thought provoking articles, poems, and stories! 
  We at The Resonance Code welcome Jeannie and support her incredible rise through the literary world as she endeavors to create a new form of a Spiritually Inspired life within the construct of the written word! Welcome to a new offshoot of healing, Through The Art of Resonance! 

Sending to you and yours Blessings of Love, Joy, Peace, and Gratitude! 

In greatest service, Mark and Denise of Paradise
Field of Saints
by Jeannie Beck

When your heart finally breaks
Light falls from the clouds
Like strings on white balloons.

God is here.
If you have or have not believed
God is here.

The back-lit field of chollas
Leaps with auric brilliance
Allowing you to witness

Another sacred gesture.
And this time
You've noticed.

Promise the one
Who taught you to see
The negative space

You won't forget
The trick of emptiness,
The invisible breath,

The curve of light,
The inside-out
Of love.
by Jeannie Beck

During a time of extreme stress I figured it might help to take a long walk. I hiked around the desert for awhile but it wasn't helping as it often did. In fact, I soon began crying as I was walking, and ended up crying so hard I had to kneel down in the sand to catch my breath. By this time the shadows were lengthening so I sat down to watch them nestling into the crags of a nearby mountain and tried to still my racing thoughts. I then realized I was sitting in a dry creek bed and got the sudden urge to lie down on my stomach in the soft sand. I stretched out full-length with my head turned towards the mountain so I could continue gazing at the mountain as long as it remained visible. As I lay there motionless, heart to the earth, eyes on the mountain, a deep calm came over my mind and body. After awhile I remembered I'd discovered this trick as a child. Whenever I was under a lot of stress I'd walk out towards a stand of trees and lay down on the ground; looking up at the changing light through the branches of the oaks and pines. Cloud watching in a grassy field could also help me relax. I didn't think about why these things made me feel better then, but now I began to wonder if there was a real physical reason for this serendipitous occurence. Maybe there is more about the beach that boosts the mood then negative ions. Maybe walking barefoot and lying in the sand is just as integral to relaxing.
Maybe there was some actual current affecting my body from the earth. I looked up the definition of grounding and found that it's a connection between an electrical conductor and the earth. Grounds are used to establish a common zero voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. Earth, of course, is the ultimate ground and can absorb an unlimited amount of current. Well, this was a start. For most of human history we've had direct contact with the earth but more recently asphalt, plastics, rugs etc. have separated us from direct contact. Recent research explains why direct contact with the earth makes us feel better.
Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface and when you're in direct contact with it (walking barefoot, sitting, stretching out on the surface) earth's electrons bring your body to the same electrical potential of earth. Electrons are naturally obtained by contact with the earth, and according to research, electrons from earth have antioxidant effects that can protect from inflammation. Living as much as possible in direct contact with earth grounds the body, inducing physiological and electrophysiological changes which promote health. When you ground to our electron-enriched planet an improved balance occurs between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Earth's natural source of electrons and subtle electrical fields assist the proper functioning of the immune system, circulation, synchronization of biorhythms and other physiological processes. 'Earthing' also appears to minimize the consequences of exposure to disruptive fields such as electromagnetic pollution. Multiple studies have documented grounding's positive influence on heart-rate variability, blood viscosity, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep and balance. Grounding also reduces the effects of stress.
The earth supports life and when earth energy flows through the human energy field a sense of balance and well-being is experienced. A lack or blockage of earth energy can create or accentuate anxiety and depression. Energy from earth restores the flow of energy through the human body. While standing with bare feet on the ground, sitting, or as I prefer, stretched full length on the ground, you can meditate or silently pray, letting the energy rise up the chakras until your auric field is filled with the natural electrical energy of our planet. This helps release stress and pain into the safe ground of earth. You may even begin feeling a sense of love and gratitude towards earth, as the ultimate supportive mother, and this surely opens you up to even more healing potential. 

The Following is an article from Native Peoples Magazine...
                                                            The Woman in the Moon

                                                                                                   A story passed down to Jeannie by Yellow Sky

“In spite of their knowledge of the plants and animals, a time came when there was not enough food to be found, no matter how far the Iipay traveled. Weakened and disheartened, a young Indian woman's clan settled near an open field to camp one night. The woman held her tiny infant to her heart, trying to comfort her with prayers for them and their people. The baby finally fell asleep as the mother continued long into the night asking for help. 'Please remember us,' she gazed intently into the fullness of the moon.
When she finally turned to cover the baby and prepare herself for sleep, she she saw a large ball of fire falling across the sky. It appeared to have landed across the meadow. The Iipay woman stood up quietly and followed the glow into a stand of old oak trees. The trees, grasses, sage and buckwheat were all bathed in a most inviting light. She felt no fear as she came forward. When she stepped into the light, she saw the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen or could possibly imagine. The beautiful woman smiled as if she'd always known the young woman. 'I came when I heard you calling,' she said.
'Where have you come from?' The young woman trembled in the presence of her dazzling beauty. The beautiful woman pointed up at the full moon.
'I came when I heard you calling,' she said, 'because you asked for help unselfishly, for all of the people.'
The moon woman opened her hand, revealing a pile of bright kernels that gleamed like jewels in the night. The young woman had never seen anything like them before.
'Plant these when the moon is young and remember me.' And then she explained how to harvest and prepare the corn. The Iipay woman slipped the kernels into her pocket and thanked her.
Just then, the sound of a baby crying in the distant field could be heard. 'Bring her to me,' the moon woman smiled radiantly. 'I also have a gift for her.'
When the young mother returned with the baby, the moon woman held her in her graceful arms and began to sing. The Iipay woman had heard many different types of songs in her life, but never one so sweet and enchanting.
The baby soon fell peacefully back asleep. 'This, I call a lullaby,' she handed the sleeping infant back into her mother's arms. 'Sing it to the children who have trouble sleeping, and remember me.' With those last words, the moon woman disappeared in a brilliant spark of light.
That Spring, the young Iipay woman taught the people how to grow and prepare corn and she also taught them to sing lullabies. After this, the people didn't have to travel so often or far in search of food, and they sang their restless children into peaceful sleep. Some children, even today, have seen the face of the woman smiling down from the moon. The elders say as long as there are generous hearts, the woman in the moon will be remembered.”

                                                                                                                           Borrego Morning
                                                                                                                          by Jeannie Beck                                          

                                                                                                                                For Bob

                                                                                                                     Flash from a distant fire
                                                                                                                     On a great brass bowl

                                                                                                                     Violet and Gold
                                                                                                                     Upside lake of color

                                                                                                                     Streams high peaks
                                                                                                                     Flooding valley below

                                                                                                                     Reptiles thaw
                                                                                                                     From dew-damp dreams

                                                                                                                     Roosters proclaim
                                                                                                                     From their yards

                                                                                                                     Lions sneak towards breakfast 
                                                                                                                     Rams listen from granite walls

                                                                                                                     Owls regurgitate rodent bones
                                                                                                                     Morning breath of creosote

                                                                                                                     Mesquite pods zing
                                                                                                                     Children begin to talk

                                                                                                                     Robed elders wonder
                                                                                                                     if they dreamt or even slept

                                                                                                                     Nighthawks close their wings
                                                                                                                     Bees begin their buzz

                                                                                                                     Datura scattered white
                                                                                                                     Visions across

                                                                                                                     Whispers awaken
                                                                                                                     Inner gods

                                                                                                                     Poets watch
                                                                                                                     And Wizards walk.
Show Time 
by Jeannie Beck

I once read, "We're all heroes"
Since we had the heart and guts
To come to earth at all
And I believe it.

When I push myself to think
Beyond all the influences
I know I wasn't born
Sinful or blank.

The longing and the heart-ache...
None of it is chance.
I came to be deliberately
Where the animals and the angels dance.
The Sorcerers Alphabet of Runes
by Jeannie Beck

Modern societies can leave individuals longing for a sense of communication with something deeper than the mundane.  Organized religions acknowledge that there is something more- but the average person is not invited or expected to actively explore the possibilities of directly connecting with the mystery.  The god or gods seem absent from daily experience for most.  Contemplation of and practice with the ancient alphabet of runes offers a proactive way of addressing the god, or gods, or higher self.  
Although most commonly defined as letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic people, the study and use of runes runs deeper to address an archetypal secret lore.  This lore is known as "scaldcraft," when referring to the magical force of poetry or incantation, and "runework," when the skill is used for causing changes in the subjective universe or self-developmental work.
Some scholars believe that runes first came into use by the Germanic people of Northern Europe around two-thousand years ago.  Others claim more ancient origins and it has even been suggested that runes are timeless patters woven throughout the eternal fabric of all worlds.  They are of the gods and goddesses, which have an independent existence from individuals, but whose psychic energy may be accessed through the right use of these archetypal symbols.
Runes were customarily carved into wood to carry messages and chiseled into stone to commemorate great persons or deeds.  But they were also used by sorcerers to foretell the future, for working curses, or creating healing magic.  It is widely held that runes were invented primarily for occult purposes.  They were tools for the sorcerer, for communicating with the unseen world, and divining the future.  There is no real distinction between good or "white" magic and evil or "black" magic, but a word to the wise- like attracts like.  The ancient Teutonic tribes recognized two types of magic, "galdr" and "seid."  Galdr included the casting of spells and rune magic and was the magic of Odhinn and the poets.  Seid was used for ignoble purposes, often taking the form or sexual perversity and human sacrifice.  The Nazis used, or rather misused rune images for the purpose of mass manipulation, not wholly unlike some mass market advertising today.  As always, the level of consciousness or spiritual awareness of a person or group determines whether they use their knowledge for helping or harming others.
There is ongoing evidence that paranormal events exist and many cultures and individuals accept magic as an aspect of the universe.  Runework can be used as a noble path towards personal transformation, healing, expansion of consciousness and psychic development in general.  Of all the classes of holy people, fortunetellers and sorcerers among the Germanic tribes, those believed to hold the greatest power were ones able to access the spirit world through a vision quest, similar to certain Siberian and Native American groups.  Of the ancient Germanic gods, it is Odhinn, who has been called the god of poetry and runes.  Freyja, is his magical counterpart, who may be called an archetype for women pursuing magical knowledge.  It was Freyja who is purported to have taught Odhinn a shamanistic trance-inducing type of magic.
The Havamal (The high song of Odhinn) is part of the Poetic Edda, which is one of the primary written sources for Norse mythology.  Here Odhinn himself claims, to an unknown skald (poet), it was on a vision quest that he received knowledge of the runes, wisdom and the gift of poetry.  This story relates the mystery of the birth of Odhinn as a god; how the subject has become its own object.  Thereby it can be said that those seeking to emulate Odhinn's pattern of self-transformation do not so much worship a god, as become one, by turning inward to discover the god in the self. 
Runes have been thought to hold magical power because each character has an actual phonetic value as well as a mystical meaning associated with it.  They can be both a symbolic and literal means of communication.  The ancient skalds were highly skilled in the use of metaphor, using indirect language for stylistic purposes of poetry and concealed meaning for word magic.  They also employed a system of numerology to satisfy certain formulas for spells.
When I first came across rune symbols I felt a sense of familiarity with them.  Surely I had dreamed these symbols before or subconsciously doodled a rune or two on the back of the electric bill.  Jung's theory of the collective unconscious may apply here.  Anyhow, I had long been interested in old languages, so I decided it would be fun to teach myself to write in runes.  Discovering the runic connection between magic and poetry further inspired me.  I had already sensed a connection between these two interest of mine, even in the English language.
After memorizing the runic alphabet, I took to occasionally writing myself brief affirmations and meditating on the layers of meaning inherent in the shapes of the letters.  It wasn't long before I began to desire a set of runes made with my own hands.  In the few good books made available to me at the time, I discovered that runes were sometimes inscribed with the runester's own blood.  I recalled that many traditions considered red a magical color.  I knew ancient pictographs thought to have shamanistic meaning often made use of red ocher or dyes.  Having a squeamish bent, I opted for red oil paint, if you don't mind.  Many types of trees are thought to hold magical power, especially nut-bearing trees, but not having access to a good saw, I decided to collect twenty-four white rocks that tumbled up from the ocean on a nearby shore.  After a short consecration ceremony, in which I requested the blessing of the powers of the multiverse for the right knowledge of the runes, I began the ancient path of runeworking.
I occasionally throw the runes for a close friend or relative, upon request, when they are seeking an answer to a specific dilemma or need some clarity about a certain situation.  For the most part  though, I keep them out of sight and avoid the temptation of using them as a parlor trick for curious entertainment.  I chiefly use them as tools for reaching beyond my conscious grasp of understanding and am often lead in new directions worth exploring.  I believe the answers we seek lie within- and the runes are one powerful means of reflecting that meaning outwardly.  Runes satisfy my intellectual and psychic urges and one door eventually opens and leads to another.  Runework is an inner quest whose first goal is self knowledge.  Humankind has a long history of belief that they are part of an ordered and patterned universe and various means of divining the future have been employed.  And as far as divination goes, to each his own, but I find rune-reading more appealing than reading entrails.
Most people have experienced meaningful coincidences in their lives, as if some power beyond our full comprehension is capable of manipulating events, whether fortunate or unfortunate.  Large numbers of people both in the past and present times have had personal experiences that convinced them of the existence of some cosmic planning.  Through the focused intention and contemplation that comes with runework, we may find another tool to understanding our small, though significant, roles in the great unfolding.           
Great Zucchini Dreams
by Jeannie Beck

There it is on the kitchen table
A distant relation to the bowl of fruit.
I brought it in last month
And if it lasts till Halloween
I'll carve it as a goulish lizard.
After all it seemed to crawl
Upon its viney feet
To hide among the peppers and greens.
That must be how it escaped
Being eaten by squirrels
Or nibbled down by rabbits
Or taken in by me to steam.

It has a greater destiny than that.
The great zucchini wants to evolve
From vegetable to reptile.
I think it's going to make it.
It seems clever; has intentions
And the weather is dry.
If it lasts the month
Without turning soft
I'll give it legs to walk
And set it on the porch
With a lit candle inside.
Witches will take note
And lesser spooks will shriek
Looking over their shoulders
Before they leave my street.

Maybe a large bird
Will lift it into the sky
And drop a seed on fertile ground
to reignite its life.
But the great zucchini is resting now
Perhaps conscious enough to dream
About its past and future lives
And the potentiality of seeds.
Stranger things have spawned
From simple gardening.
No Distance
by Jeannie Beck

In the portal
Where the door is left half open,
I lay there
Still as the dust on the moon,
Knowing I could reach through either way.

At the crack of dawn
Senses take on strange meaning.
A sound can weave a dream.
A dream can become a twinge
You'll carry the rest of the day,
Or maybe the rest of your life.

Just before the sun peaks
Around the slope of the day,
A shaman might toss a stone
And you may see
A bird lifting its wings to the sky.

 At daybreak
The distance between the head and heart
Folds up like a paper telescope.
If you don't remember-
There is no time.

This morning
Held me stark and innocent,
Like an infant with no memory.
Your voice called my name
And for a spell
I believed you'd performed some magic.

Then, time fell titanic-
Splitting a second.
I couldn't reach back.
Fully awake
I called it distortion-
but in the matin light
​I wholly believed it.

​We- Us- Ours
by Jeannie Beck

Every seat in the hospital's emergency room was filled and many people were standing against walls and in doorways bleeding, moaning, coughing and crying.  Everyone was begging, audibly or silently, for relief;  hoping it would come in time, but they had to wait for the clean white-coated angels in stethoscopes to end their suffering.  I was dazed and staring at a coffee stain on the floor that had fantastically assumed the shape of a raven.  I didn't want to look at the man a few seats down from me who was pressing a bloody rag around the base of a metal rod stuck through one arm.  
I heard a kindly voice speaking to a child and lifted my gaze from the raven.  An elderly man with a broom and a light in his eyes had suddenly appeared among the mayhem.  He stood smiling in front of the child and handed him a trinket. The distraction calmed the child's cries to something more resembling hiccups as he stretched out his tiny hand to accept the toy.  The old man meandered along with his broom, mostly unnoticed through the crowd of pain, occasionally making gentle eye contact as he lightly touched a shoulder or offered a friendly nod while he worked his way around the room.
I watched him offering soft words, various palm-sized gifts- perhaps a pack of gum- different things for different people- to those who were able to lift themselves away from their pain long enough to look up.  He walked along  the rows of seats in the crowded room until he eventually came before me.  I thought what he was doing was pretty amazing but I wasn't in any mood to be part of it so I gave him a weak smile and glanced away.  He remained in place so I felt obligated to look back and give him another- perhaps a little less weak of a smile. 
 "I'm going to give you one of the greatest messages you'll ever receive,"  he said.  "It's the best message I have.  Now, don't forget."  I smiled half-heartedly, just to be nice, and waited as he fumbled through his pockets.  He pulled out a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote my mesage without pausing.  I reached for the scrap as he waited for me to read, "We-Us-Ours."  I looked into his eyes, wondering what he was getting at.  "Remember this,"  he said.  "Most of the world lives with 'I-me-mine,'  but love doesn't get old- only the people who haven't learned this secret."
I looked down at the scrap of paper and read the message several times.  My worries and prayers had been soley focused upon my daughter in another room until I'd noticed the old man.  When I looked up he'd apparently slipped away through one of the doors.  I read the message again. Yeah, but I've lived outside the grace and mercy of inclusion.  It seemed I was always stumbling my fearful way through every crisis alone.  I realized it was hard for me to even make eye contact with others.  I'd been abandoned when times were hard by the people I loved.  Selfishness and greed not only destroyed personal relationships but threatened our collective survival as humanity.  Caring about others was dangerous.
What if, I began to wonder through my fatigue, I took this We-Us-Ours message as some kind of miraculous heads-up from the universe?  What if I pretended this man was an angel and his message was vital information instead of just a striking arrangement of inclusive pronouns given to me by a trippy janitor? 
Just like earlier, I could see a coffee stain or a raven.  I might have seen the face of Christ if I'd of looked at the floor long enough.  I looked at the people around me.  Everyone here required help of some kind and all of us would have countless opportunities to leap over our own boundaries to extend ourselves to others; if only we had the courage.  Recoiling in pain and withdrawing in fear only separates us from what we're all seeking.  I could decide to limit the circle of who was allowed in or I could apply the concept of We-Us-Ours to a way of life.  I chose that day in the Emergency room.  We all choose every day whether we realize it or not.  
Every day of your life is a new opportunity to make the world a better place.  If you've been mistreated and left to die on the side of the road alone, all the more reason to do what you can to alleviate the suffering of others.  In the big picture we really are all connected.  We-Us-Ours.  Love never gets old.  It's the best message I have.
A Drink of Light
by Jeannie Beck

I walk alone in the evening gold
Looking for a tender space
And time to nestle in
Before the coming cold.
I vagabond who feels no home
Never knows when it's time
For beginnings or endings
Or just to be alone.
Where's the peace for those who yearn
To know without a thought,
To love without an end,
Who question all they've learned...
For now I'll rest upon the ground
Tasting flowers, mountains, clouds-
A goddess drinking light.
How well this gold goes down...
I'm glowing like a firefly.
I can see through the night.
There's no distinction now
Between the eye and I...
There's nothing like a drink of light.
Jeannie Beck

When I was a girl, my favorite things were kept in an old shoe box, mostly filled with assorted plastic, rubber and glass miniature horses. Each one of them had a particular name and personality. “Old Charlie” the rubber plow horse, crippled in a tractor accident, was the peace-maker. “Leona” the white Tennessee Walker with the black flowing mane, was proud and aloof, and so on. I passed many hot, summer days nestled in my father's grapevines digging out cool shelters and building crude twig corrals for the horses. Sometimes the sprinklers would send in devastating floods or a Tonka jeep full of plastic army men would come careening in to make war on the horses. There was no challenge, however, that they could not rise to when they put their heads together. We worked out many conflicts during those long summer days.
It was always a joyous and rare pleasure to introduce a new horse into the family. On the most memorable of such occasions, my mother gave me an antique metal horse with a tiny wire bridle in his mouth. The horses received him with reverence. He was beautiful and unique but what made him extra special were the small initials engraved under his belly. They were my own initials and made it all the more apparent that it was our destiny to be together.
After many years my attention to the horses began to wane. They nobly stepped down for soft-ball games and guitar practice, and later, real horses and boys. Eventually the shoe box lay crushed beneath my bed and the horses scattered to various and distant lands. I only bothered to carefully preserve Silver, my soul-mate of toys, in my box of special things- which still included an old Hebrew pin my fourth-grade “boyfriend” had given me, some old coins and track ribbons, a clay Buddha my mother had made for me, and a few special marbles.
Over the ensuing decades, through countless moves and bouts of homelessness, I never lost that box. Every so many years I would look for it in storage, perhaps to add another thing I found of value and didn't want to lose. I'd take Silver out for a few moments just to make sure he was still more than a toy. I felt an almost greedy pleasure holding the solid metal horse in my hand; stroking the engraved initials. Other than the contents in this battered shoe box, I didn't collect trinkets, and had developed a non-materialistic philosophy befitting my wandering lifestyle. I would have been embarrassed to admit such absurd stirrings of sentimentality for a toy horse. The remaining old special things in the box got moved aside for new special things; a leather medicine bag, an old worn paperback of Siddhartha, and a poem I'd copied from a book by Yeats. Silver remained in spite of all the changes.
I'd managed to hold onto Silver for at least four decades. I finally decided it was time to go through several large boxes left untouched in storage for numerous years; transporting them in stages from an old leaky shed on my mother's property to my small apartment. I found cherished books, a few blankets, photo albums, reams of poetry and papers I'd written in college.
I was surprised as I awoke one early morning to find my daughter sitting on the carpet next to my bed playing with Silver. I'd been going through my boxes all night and hadn't found my special shoe box. I leaned over the bed and picked him up. It was Silver alright. I'd never seen another horse that looked even similar to him. He had my initials under his belly, the wire bridle; he was one of a kind. I was so tired that morning from staying up late the night before that I allowed myself to give in to a few more moments of sleep before getting up to start the day. As I drifted back asleep the last thing I saw was Silver through my daughter's clear plastic backpack. I groggily reminded myself to remove him before she went off to school. By the time I got myself up and settled with a cup of tea, Sarah's father had whisked her off to school. “Uh-oh” I thought with some concern. Sarah had already given away or lost several toys her first year of school.
I eagerly awaited her return that day and when she arrived back home I immediately looked through her backpack. He was gone. I tried to ascertain Silver's whereabouts, but grilling a preschooler on such a thing proved not only frustrating but a little silly. She finally admitted a boy at school had taken Silver home. I reminded myself that this was just a material object, of little value in the grand scheme of things, but I still felt heart-sick.
The next morning when I took Sarah to school I asked her teachers to be on the lookout for Silver. I even mentioned the possible suspect. I felt shallow and petty but I couldn't let go of the deep feelings of loss. As the days passed, and chances of finding Silver diminished, I tried to practice an attitude of non-attachment. It was ridiculous but I was clearly in the process of grieving for a toy horse. I alternately consoled myself with hopes that Silver would at least be treasured by someone else and then tortured myself with images of him lying crushed and buried in some vacant lot.
My obsession with Silver continued. About a month or so later, I finally braved the mold and black widow-infested shed to locate the last of my boxes. I had to wait for the sun to set, hoping to escape some of the summer's humid desert heat, but I couldn't wait until it was too dark to see.  I steeled myself to the 115 degrees in the tiny metal shed and proceeded to uncover my last box.
Since it was my mother's shed and I hadn't touched the box for five or six years, I found it crushed in the corner under her sewing machine, a broken end-table and an old ironing board. To get to it, I had to move a wedged ten-speed bicycle, several heavy pieces of a weight set, three stacked chairs and a heavy wooden desk with an old turn-table on top of it. I was dripping sweat and my clothes stunk of dust and mildew by the time I pulled the flaps of the deteriorating cardboard open.
I was mortified to find mice droppings and deep yellow stains smearing the pages of important papers and old poems and documents. My mood didn't improve when I found irreplaceable photographs melded together by streaks of rodent piss and the rusty rain that had found its way in from the occasional torrential downpours on the dilapidated roof of the shed. I found my secret box at last and pulled it from under a faded crocheted quilt and some yellowed baby doll clothes. I carefully lifted it from the bottom of the composting cardboard and stared at it for a moment before lifting the lid. You know that silent moment where you afford yourself to believe in miracles; the moment before you check the winning numbers or the mail? I imagined myself holding that cool, solid metal horse in my hand. After all, this was his resting place, and we were destined to be together. I lifted the lid and laughed out loud. There was Silver right where he belonged. The wire bridle was intact, the initials were there under his belly, and there was no mistake this was my beloved toy.
“Mom!” I rushed into my mother's living room with Silver in my hand. “Do you remember my favorite toy horse?”
“Of course I remember... Silver... with the wire bridle.” As I placed him in her hand she turned him over and looked at my initials. “I'm glad you never lost this one.”
“There was never another one like him was there?”
“Not that I know of,” she said. “He was very unique; an antique even when I gave him to you.”
“You're not going to believe what happened....” I expected her to laugh at my story and try to devise a logical explanation at least.
“I've heard of that sort of thing,” she nodded thoughtfully as I finished my sequence of events.
We concluded that my intense longing for Silver must have unhinged the door to some hidden power. No one's ever been able to figure out what we use most of our brain for. Maybe that ninety or so percent comes into play disguised as the miraculous every now and then.
The story of Silver will probably go down as family legend, but I have to tell you, after the awe of this experience faded, I started feeling uncomfortable about some of my other obsessive desires. Maybe it's time to read Siddhartha again. Miracles are everywhere. I laughed out loud when Silver reappeared in my life.  Now, when I think about the odds of all that happened to bring him back to me, I can only smile.

                                                                                                                       Finding Slab City
                                                                                                                       by Jeannie Beck

“How do they live out there like that? ” I turned off my computer.
“It looks like it's only a couple of hours away,” my partner looked up from the map. “I wouldn't mind checking it out.”
“Should I go ahead and sign us up then?”
“I'm game if you are.”
Determined to find the last free place in America, we headed into the desert of Imperial County towards the southern edge of the Salton Sea; a 35 by 15 mile inland saline lake 228 feet below sea level in the Sonoran Desert of Southeastern California. The monotonous sandscape eventually gave way to cultivated fields made possible by water traveling over 70 miles from the Colorado River across the desert to irrigate farms before dumping into the artificial sea. The great blue body shimmered in and out of view from the highway like a colossal mirage behind the onion, lettuce and carrot fields. Finally we came to something resembling a town; the end of the line for amenities before heading inward towards the sea and our ultimate destination. Westmorland is a small stretch of element-beaten civilization 12 miles south of the Salton Sea and 31 miles north of Mexicalli, Mexico. Numerous boarded-up and graffitied businesses discouraged stopping, but since we figured we were heading deeper into desolation, we scanned the main drag for an open shop for some last-chance fortification. We settled on the milk and honey elixir of Westmorland's date shake; obviously its claim to fame, since we'd seen billboards mentioning it miles before hitting town. My partner and I passed the cold, sweet drink between us as we travelled a lonely stretch of road that cut through miles of alfalfa and Bermuda grass. Stacked bales of rotting hay sagged along seemingly random fields, leaving us wondering at their purpose. Burrowing owls glanced suspiciously from sun-baked banks along green-tinged canals. White egrets gathered in fragmenting flocks through the humid heat of the August morning. Several geothermal plants spewed false cloud-work in the distance.
A few miles from the sea, we entered the post-apocalyptic vision of Niland. An old railroad building with classical architecture stood out amid the cobbled homes and surrounding squalor. An angry dog on a short chain bared teeth from a shaded recess of the decaying monument. As we turned a corner, a man in a pith helmet and filthy clothes walked into the street and stood like a statue with his arms pointing away from the semblance of a town. We slowed to a crawl as he re-animated and came up close to the window, “You should come over and see my pet rattlesnake.” He pointed to a row of broken-down trailers with piles of metal scrap and trash between each one. We thanked him for the offer but declined. He repeated himself and leaned in closer with a wild look in his eye. My partner rolled up the window and increased the gas. Before we crossed the railroad tracks, I looked back and saw the 'traffic cop,' frozen mid-directional gesture in the empty street again.
We passed the sprawl of buildings, pipes and wires of the Niland Gas Turbine Plant, surrounded by nothing but the hard-packed sand supporting occasional twists of creosote along dry washes and wind-sculpted hills. The road eventually bridged over a bracken-choked canal where the pavement exhausted into a gravel drive. A few brightly-painted, large, metal canisters stood by the road bearing mixed messages of hope and doom. A graffitied guard shack from the Slab's military incarnation, now humorously passed itself off as an information booth with suggestions and warnings, 'Leave your baggage here,' and 'Danger Reality Ahead.'
Around the next bend, Salvation Mountain came into view in all its gaudy and godly glory. Leonard Knight's obsessive tribute to God, now some thirty years old, is considered outsider art. The 50 x 150 foot mountain is made from adobe and donated paint; depicting bible passages, flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, birds and bright yellow stairs. It stands near the entrance to Slab City, but is an entirely separate entity. Instead of stopping here, we headed straight into the last free place in America.
This is how we came to Slab City; a bit of a hardship in our un-airconditioned vehicle in triple-digit degrees, but how had the others arrived? What drove or inspired them to the edge of business-as-usual life, either for a short stay or the long haul? Whether by choice or desperation, somewhere close to a hundred people call the Slabs home year-round.
Slab City was constructed in 1942 as Camp Dunlap; a place to prepare Marines for combat duty. When the camp was dismantled in 1956, only the slabs the buildings once stood on remained. The land was conveyed to the State of California by the Department of Defense in 1961 without restrictions, recapture clauses or restoration provisions. Then a chemical company from Oakland hired twenty men to harvest creosote near Niland. Some of the workers moved into small trailers at the abandoned camp to live closer to their work. As time went by, the Slabs became a snowbird campsite for recreational vehicle owners who use the site during the winter and migrate to cooler climates in the Spring. Slab City also became a destination for the homeless and a year-round refuge for drifters across America. Summer temperatures easily reach 120 degrees here. There's no running water, electricity, sewer or trash pick-up service. Some campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity. Bathing is achieved, for many, in a canal down the road.
I was working as a reporter for a small-town newspaper when I first got wind of Slab City. I'd heard about a local couple who'd been delivering food and other donated items to the 'Slabbers' once a month for thirty years. I didn't want to see Slab City as a drive-by gawker. I wanted to get a feel for the place and people who call the 'last free place in America' home, so I made arrangements to meet Ernie and Debbie at the time and place of their monthly delivery. They welcome anyone willing to help, especially in the summer months when volunteers are scarce.
In another era, Slab City would've been called a hobo camp. Weathered tents, huts patched together with plywood and torn blankets, and faded motorhomes with tires rotted in-situ, dot the bleak landscape. Some of the shelters have fences strung around the surrounding barren land suggestive of yards. Many of those fences are decorated with odd and astounding objects: broken toy parts, toilet seats, hub caps, unstrung tennis rackets, yellow crime-scene tape, bent hangers, old shoes... you name it.
We spotted Ernie's large purple truck pulling into a dirt clearing and followed. Small groups of people were already gathered and we could see others making their way on foot from various directions. I saw some women corralling dirty toddlers with matted hair and a smattering of elderly folks perched on dilapidated couches and frayed recliners under a tattered shadecloth held up on forked sticks. Others were leaning into slivers of shade from spindly trees. A few bearded, shirtless men stood in the blazing sun in defiance of the heat and everything holy to wait for the food.
“Hello, hello, hello,” Ernie sprang from the truck, wasting no time unlatching and sliding open the wall on one side. Then he set up a ramp in the back and climbed inside. “The Lord is so good,” he said, looking out on the crowd from his makeshift stage. I watched as he paced back and forth before a collection of household items: heaps of used shoes and clothes, old suitcases, a couple of rusted patio chairs, and various odds and ends. A grizzled man wearing a shirt that proclaimed, 'Got Jesus,' listened intently as Ernie told a story about orphans in Mexicalli. A woman in a soiled mini-skirt and torn stockings, with a knife strapped to one thigh, glanced around with no expression. A middle-aged man in a khaki kilt and dreadlocks asked for water. Debbie instructed me to begin ladling chicken soup into styrofoam bowls as another volunteer opened a bag of plastic spoons and set out some bread. When Ernie wrapped up his sermon with an “Amen,” Debbie called out, “Women and children first!” A woman in a green tutu and army boots was followed by a teenaged girl holding an infant. I served people without teeth, people with broken spirits and broken skin; people with the soles flapping on their broken shoes. Debbie made small talk with the people that didn't avert their eyes. Nearly everyone expressed gratitude in words or with a smile. I found myself sneaking extra to the ones who looked like they needed it the most, but I couldn't think of a thing to say and it bothered me.
When a man in a dress and matching parasol came forward, Debbie held his bowl back and asked, “Have you been good Doc?” He batted his eyelids and tilted his head, “I've been trying.” For this, Debbie took the ladle from my hand and scooped a large pile of chicken into his soup. “That's for your honesty,” she said. Doc flashed a smile, “Trying not to get caught.” Catching my suppressed laugh, he winked and sashayed towards the bread. Someone mentioned it was Doc who ministered to all the feral cats in the camp.
After everyone was fed, they stood in line again to sign their names for commodities and a raffle ticket. Ernie brought the commodities from a local food bank and gave out tickets to anyone hoping to win one of the donated objects off the truck this month. My partner and a few other able-bodied men were moving crates and coordinating the give-away. I scanned the Slab City carnival as canned carrots, raisins, oatmeal and rice changed hands with the occasional pair of shoes, chairs and blankets. I was looking for Bunker Dave. A volunteer who knew I worked for the paper had pointed him out earlier. He said Dave would talk to me if I wanted inside information.
Dave was relatively easy to spot in the crowd because of his ordinary yet tidy appearance; nothing resembling a costume or the lost-in-the-desert look. Several volunteers and a few Slab City residents were working together near the unloaded crates passing out the commodities. I went over to help by tearing the plastic packaging from the canned goods for quicker access near Bunker Dave. In a pause, I looked up and made eye contact, “Are you Dave?”
“I am,” he wiped his hand on his jeans and held it out to shake mine. “It's nice to meet you Dave,” I gave up my struggle with the packaging on a case of green beans and shook his hand. We resumed our work side by side until the last person had come through the line. Dave reopened the conversation, “I don't really know much... but you can ask me whatever you like.” My initial curiosity was, “How long have you been here?” He glanced upwards as if calculating, “Oh, about seven years I guess.”
Dave went on to tell me how he'd lost his job back in Tennessee when the industry he was working in took a nose-dive. As months passed without finding employment, he went into a downward spiral, eventually losing everything. “You ever been to a greyhound race?” he asked. I shook my head. “Well, the dogs run after this artificial rabbit around a track. It doesn't matter how fast they run... They can never catch the rabbit.” At his wits end, Dave finally used a computer in a public library to look up free places to live. “I always wanted to see California, and since I had nothing left to lose, I made my way out here.”
“Where's my dog? Has anyone seen my dog?” A tall thin man wearing nothing but a pair of frayed shorts and blown-out flip-flops called out to no one in particular. “He was just here,” his voice was rising in panic. A small group of people seemed concerned and glanced around. Someone thought an unknown man who'd driven up on an ATV to collect food had driven off with the dog as well. A man with a car finally offered to drive the guy around to look for the suspect and dog.
“What happens,” I turned back to Dave, “when a crime is committed here?”
Dave looked over at an empty stretch of desert and seemed at a loss for words. “It's not... really... It's hard to... It's like we're all in the same boat, you know?”
Dave doesn't have a car, but he has a bicycle. He's pedaled across many counties and gone on several days-long expeditions on his bike. “I have so many blessings,” he said. He then confessed a growing plan to pedal all the way to Northern California. “I just need to get a few parts for my bike,” he said.
“Why are you going there?” I asked.
“I want to see the redwoods,” he said, “and I hear there's a lot of great musicians up that way.”
“Are you a musician Dave?”
“I play a little.” This brought up an interesting story about his reconnection to music after buying a case from a Goodwill store. “I really liked the way this case looked and I just couldn't walk away without it. When I opened it, there was a clarinet inside. It turned out that a few of its keys were stuck. I brought it back here and tried to fix it. I finally put it up as a decoration for awhile. When I took it down to work on again, I asked my neighbor if he could help me. So many blessings,” Dave turned his palms upward and smiled. “I didn't know it, but he used to be a jeweler and he had all these little tools, and he fixed it for me.”
I wanted to stay talking to Dave longer but my head was throbbing and my heart pounding. I was unbearably hot and beginning to feel like I was moving into heat exhaustion. People were dispersing in all directions; carting their goods the best they could. One guy was tumbling a couch end-over-end down a long dirt road. “Can we give you a ride to your place?” I asked as my partner staggered over, clearly ready to depart for civilization.
Dave seemed surprised by the offer but quickly took it up, along with his wealth of canned goods, and followed us to the truck. “You can sit up front and tell him where to go,” I sat on the tailgate as he slid his bag into the back. I craved the movement of air across my skin. Within a few minutes we stopped in front of a small trailer with a ripped shadecloth stretched over a few tree-like bushes. A yard was neatly designated with a circular border of large rocks.
“This is my place,” Dave came around the back of the truck, smiling awkwardly, as I handed his bag over. “Can you stay awhile?”
I was feeling increasingly dizzy and found it amazing that I hadn't dropped off the tailgate on the short drive over. “We really need to get going,” I said. “But Dave, I wonder if you'd do me a favor before we go?”
“Sure. How can I help?”
“Would you mind playing us a tune on your clarinet?”
“Okay,” he only paused for a moment. “I'll be right back.”
I attempted to explain the necessity of our short delay to my partner as he climbed from the cab looking like a wet rat.
Dave hurried back and set the case on the tailgate to display the fine stitching on the border of that genuine leather case. We nodded in approval as he unlatched it in slow-motion as if unwrapping a wondrous gift. He proudly held the clarinet before us and pointed out the sheer beauty of the instrument before bringing it tenderly to his parched lips.
I can sincerely say, that was the sweetest-sounding clarinet I've ever heard. I closed my sweat-stung eyes for a moment as the passion of dreams and heart-felt blessings resonated through my sun-baked being.
As we thanked Bunker Dave for the song and drove off, I splashed the last of our water on a paper towel and patted my face and arms down. “I'm glad we found it,” I handed over the wet towel. My partner said nothing, clearly using all his remaining strength to focus on getting us somewhere cool as soon as possible.
About a half an hour later, we stumbled into a building seeking air-conditioning and another date shake. While we struggled to regain homeostasis, my partner said, “That was kind of dangerous.”
“So many blessings,” was all I could muster.

​"Bunker Dave" of Slab City 
Web Walkers
by Jeannie Beck

Our movements through this life
are like walking on a spiders web.
What happens here is felt there.
What happens now affects tomorrow.
Every strand connects to the wholeness.
Will our movements sustain the integrity
Of the grand design?

As we pass along
Others feel the vibrations.
Will we make connections durable to last
for those who come behind?
Can we weave elegance?

What happens here today
affects future generations.
How will we move on this fragile, exquisite web?

Feel the connections consciously.
​Intend to leave with no regrets.

Where You Are
by Jeannie Beck

In a rose that continually blooms
as you take me in
beyond image, beyond all
the known senses-
that when I leave
it's because of too much sweetness

In a tree that takes the shape
of one, whose face
I never can remember
but always recognize-
you lead the way
through dreams of forest

Inside the music
there's a joyful language
just now I understand
you lift me through the roof-
through the sky
all the way to where you are

And I do not think...
and I do not think you say...
You say, “It's all happening as it should”

And still I claim,
“If you would show me, tell me,
take me where you are
always and again”

I circle you;
a moth afire
dying into flame.

by Jeannie Beck

I turn to sleep, instead
float up above some self
like cream on top of milk.

There's movement through a wire,
dry feet walking water,
sparks lifting up fire.

I thrive up to a clear
calm eye to watch the storm
before I disappear

Into geometric
shivers of harmony
up the spine of the sun.
by Jeannie Beck

Everyone I see is holy-
The upset neighbor
At the broken fence
Everyone I see is holy-
The one who gains 
At my expense
Everyone I see is Holy-
The baby born
With no defense

Everything I see is holy-
The new green grass
That aims for sun
Everything I see is holy-
The ravished garden
When rabbits come
Everything I see is holy-
The cockroach
With his crumb

All that is, is holy-
Forgetful or attuned
Spirit moving through
All that is, is holy-
Incoherent light
Steps up true
All that is, is holy-
Blessings sent
​Come back for you