Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things Are Looking UP

I love when graffiti is actually uplifting. Especially when it is printed above an L.L. Bean outlet.

I had a pretty amazing (ly long) day in Portland. The point of my adventure was to get to the Portland Observatory. It is a light-house shaped tower, that I am told, was built so that wives of sailors could climb up to the top to see if their husband's ships were coming in. Now, I do not have a sailor husband, and it is probably for the best because it was closed. I guess they don't see the value in winter sightseeing! But, once I got there I was only two blocks from Fort Allen Park, the tip of Portland that offers the best view of the islands. There is a beautiful hill for picnics, but in winter all you can do is stand, and freeze and enjoy the view. It seems like a lot of people drive down on their lunch break to eat and enjoy the view from their car... I guess that is part of the draw of the East Coast: car picnics with a view.

I spent some time down on the shore trail (which must be absolutely gorgeous in the summer) and right on the water there I saw a boat I was hoping I would be able to find in Portland. It's call Rawfaith and was built to be Maine's only wheelchair accessible tall ship. The gentleman who built it, has a disabled daughter and his hope when he began building it was to give other families with children in wheelchairs the chance to see the sea. He has given everything he has for his boat, and now it seems, the Portland port authority wants him out. But, Rawfaith really is a sight to see. I looks like a three mast pirate ship in the middle of the harbour. It stands right behind a statue of George Cleeve (who I know absolutely nothing about, except that the statue reads "He relied on persuasion by words not the sword" which sounds pretty valiant to me. If only everyone relied on persuasion by words rather than with guns, fists, and I guess... swords).

I'll have to do some research on this Cleeve character. He must not be that important considering they placed his courageous-looking monument behind a chain-link fence, next to a shipping trailer.

On the way from George Cleeve to the harbourfront I met a guy named Mike. He was on a walk to clear his head, taking a break from building an original Greendland-style kayak in his basement (his second home-made boat). He also introduced me to Standard Bakery by the pier and suggested some sort of crusty Asiago bun that was really quite delicious (and welcome after two hours of walking with a computer and a bag full of books on my back).

After roaming aimlessly all day I was lucky enough to come across the Museum of African Culture just 20 minutes before closing. It is just a small little museum, but had so much to offer. I was planning on getting there yesterday, but got held up. The museum's owner, Chief Oscar Mokeme, is such a charming and fascinating man. He answered all my questions about Igbo masks and carvings, and then I answered all of his about radio documentary. And, somehow, with his gentle charm he convinced me to help him set up a podcast about the museum to let people explore from home. I have the equipment, I have the knowledge, I have the interest, all I will need is a little bit of time. I left the museum for home and by the time I got here he had already sent me an e-mail thanking me for coming to Portland and that he is grateful to have met me. How could anyone not do their best to help out a man as wonderful as that? At my request, he also sent along a blurb he wrote and posted on the wall in the museum. It explains a West African (Nigerian, he says) way of seeing everything as spirit-related. It is a rather refreshing way to think of things. I thought I would share it with all of you (either that or I am gunning for the title of world's longest blog post!). It is called 'The Spirit of Dryness':

The Harvest Spirit of Dryness

The Spirit of dryness exhibit will highlight artifacts from the Sub-Saharan African cultures that focus of dry session, fall session, autumn and economic stagnation, the end of planting session and how this is related to the currents world’s economic melt down.

It is believed that every problem in African’s worldview is spirit related; therefore the current world financial economic melt down is also spiritual related.

The world have got off its guard and wander through ego among externals in search of happiness and materialism, and have sunk into dissipation and have committed crimes against the nature, our maker through war, through abuse of natural resources, and have refused to turn inward for refinement for having departed from the spirit of Chineke-creator; for this purpose the creator will begin to purify us and try our faith in order to draw us nearer to himself, so now he leads us through the paths of dryness and desertion.

So for this reason, as we try to fix our minds in pumping money into the economy and not in silence to feel God again, and we will not experience the comfort and refreshment that we had expected we will feel fear, trouble and loneliness as we have been trying to do it on our own human but not in the divine order, then, as we labor to no purpose and all the efforts to fix the world’s economy seem in vain and our imagination is so ungovernable by the use of monetary power and our minds so void of good.

But the state of dryness is very profitable if we use it to surrender to God, if we when we recognize it and suffer it with patience. This spirit uses this veil of dryness that we may not know what it is working in us and it is only to seduce us to seek God and repent from our old ways and welcome change through humility.

The spirit of dryness reminds us about the turn over, the death of the season, the necessity of deadness for rebirth and renewal, it brings peace to what is left behind, the husk of the fruitful season; returning the relics back to the earth and bridging from the dead towards eventual rebirth for the greatest good of all.

In this exhibit we will witness the power of death, fear and hope and experience the power of connecting back to the source that created us in order to regain our lives and our economic vitality and power.

All over the world, this is the season of dryness, the spirit of fall, harmmatan, autumn and the hope of what is to come when we completely surrender.

I guess if you think of deadness as necessary for rebirth and renewal, it doesn't seem so bad does it? Or, have I gone TOO spiritual on you?

Well, I have walked far, found some friends, and I feel fulfilled for the day. But, my highlight of the day so far was eating a banana by the sea!

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