The Matchbook Diaries

Success Clothes

Faith is the opposite of magic.  Magic is a violation of the limitations we believe exist – I am not interested in determining the value/truth of illusion for the sake of profit or entertainment.  Wishful thinking leads to a desire for magical outcomes, ways to avoid the conditions required.  Faith is not an illusion, nor is it about making something real.  Faith is real.  I am the one on the verge of being nothing at all, not the other way around.  My faith doesn’t make God real, it makes me real.  The illusion is that my wealth can save me; the illusion is that my cunning can save me; the illusion is that my weapons (my fists, my mouth, my attorney) can save me; these are phantoms.  Such things are not rooted in eternity, so they’re a lot like tying my life, the life in me, to an anchor that doesn’t actually reach the bottom of the sea.  If my intention is to be whole and free, if my intention is to be true and real, then faith is the method, the way to get there.  Faith is Real with a big R, immutable, hard enough to break us all.  Real is harder than death.

The connection I seek with you, with anything/anyone touching my life, is a true one.  I want my heart to touch yours, and for there to be, between us, a recognition of the utter, infinite joy that we both see from our unique perspective.   GypsyFaith is a faith market.  This place about living beautifully where I sell matchbooks and stuff is essentially a testimony to what I believe, what I hold dear.

I have been exceptionally lucky.  What happened to me certainly could have tipped me in another direction.  But I met a believer at the exact moment I was old enough to recognize that what he (John Hill, now a priest at St. Phillip’s and Saint James Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado.) was offering to me had the ring of truth to it.  Everything I did afterwards was a result of that first prayer I prayed at 13.  I remember exactly what I said to God the first time I prayed,  just as I know the first holy text I read that night.

I said to God that night, “Please accept me, and help me to accept you.”  That was the best I could do.  The holy text I read first was, “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before people, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.”

I can tell you here and now that I had no fucking clue what those words meant, I only knew that they were for me.  I just starting talking to God because God listened, God was available, and, in hindsight, it is very clear that God repeatedly intervened on my behalf.

Faith connects to the real.  It is the way to assure an authentic outcome.  Faith is not the way to give me what I think I want and need.  However faith will absolutely give me what I want and need whether I like it and know it or not.  When I research the history of ventures that have captivated the world, I see, often, in the root of them, something whole and real, some piece of the human being that was planted in sincerity, some passion that was followed without regard to the cost or to the outcome.

When we wanted a baby and couldn’t have one after 11 years, we met the medicine woman who made me pregnant using Chamorro native medicine.  When I started my magnet company, the very first day we went live on EBay (We do not sell there now, but I buy there a LOT.), we sold a magnet.  When I wanted to bring a library to the tiny island, Rota, in the Pacific where we were living at the time I wrote ONE solicitation letter to Mary Jane, who owns Mary Jane’s Farm.  Mary Jane instantly agreed to be my Big Cool Friend, so because of her we had books shipped for free to us from all over the world and we built that library.  These are things I could not possibly have forced to happen, no matter how talented I am.  I did not deserve them, but I received them anyway.  The list of such events in my life would be much, much too long to share.

Something bad happened to me.  But that series of events does not excuse me from my responsibility to live.  God gave me a chance at life, and my peers at the time thought that my new faith was something along the scale of embarrassing to low class to ridiculous.  I was tolerated, and gained some social acceptance because my father had a little money.  But I was not respected then, and I imagine if I met those people today they would not respect me now.  God does.  God respects the life in me and in you and in the people who mock and reject faith.

Success is about how well I live.  How true is it?  How fine?  Thoreau understood this, and I’ve read and reread Walden Pond I can’t even say how many times and I am always saturated in the stillness of Thoreau, in his capacity to endure the unmitigated presence of God for a sustained period of time and how that experience yielded paradigm shifting clarity that continues to inform humankind.

In Sartor Resartus, Thomas Carlyle writes, “….the Torch of Science has now been brandished and borne about, with more or less effect, for five thousand years and upwards…..perhaps more fiercely than ever, but innumerable Rushlights…. are also glancing in every direction, so that not the smallest cranny or dog-hole in Nature or Art can remain unilluminated,—it might strike the reflective mind with some surprise that hitherto little or nothing of a fundamental character, whether in the way of Philosophy or History, has been written on the subject of Clothes…..For if, now and then, some straggling broken-winged thinker has cast an owl’s glance into this obscure region, the most have soared over it altogether heedless; regarding Clothes as a property, not an accident, as quite natural and spontaneous, like the leaves of trees, like the plumage of birds. In all speculations they have tacitly figured man as a Clothed Animal; whereas he is by nature a Naked Animal; and only in certain circumstances, by purpose and device, masks himself in Clothes…”  To Carlyle’s I add Thoreau’s comment – ” I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”

I have often thought that I am uniquely disposed to understand nakedness.  I understand when the condition of naked is necessary and effective as opposed to when it is defiling and evil.  There is the silly idea, like children have, that if we close our own eyes, we cannot be seen.  But of course no matter how hidden the fear, the rage, the pain, those realities are abundantly obvious to the God who loves us.  To be real, to have faith, one has to be naked before God, and then, as courage and self esteem builds, to be socially and emotionally bare in the right moments in order to try to find connections.

GypsyFaith is me.  This company and its products are me, the me that is anchored to what I know to be real and true, to what I hope will transform me into real and true.  The wages due me, because of the things I’ve done, and do, those wages are death.  Death is what is due me.  I am the wage earner.  God is the wage receiver.  God says, to me and to everyone, if we will agree, that God agrees to receive the wages due us, and in exchange for allowing God to do this service, to receive our wages, God will give us life.   As a businesswoman I say, Hahahahahahaha – you bet!  I’ll do that deal every day and twice on Sundays.

Success is knowing the difference between death and life.  Success is knowing how to discern what has actual value and what has magical, illusory value.  I choose what’s real because I’m already so far gone that it’s my only shot, and lucky for me, God is real.  I do not know what success looks like for anyone but myself, but I can tell you I ALWAYS know if I am in the presence of bullshit or truth, just like you always know.  We all have the keen, innate ability to know truth when we hear it.  The clothing of success that I respect is humility, sincerity, transparency, shrewdness, skill, patience, endurance, tolerance, and mercy.  Those are the clothes I recognize as success.  Faith is the means to those clothes.

Pink Floyd’s words have tremendous power to underscore this idea:

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from hell?
Blue skies from pain?
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a leading role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year.
Running over the same old ground, what have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.