Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Always the Right Place"

This poem is spillover from the February 4, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It also fills the "Taking It Slow" square in my 2-1-20 card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Calliope thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Always the Right Place"

[Saturday, August 15, 2015]

"Do you believe in souls?"
Calliope blurted, looking
across the table at Vagary.

"I dunno," he said. "I'm not
really the religious type."

"Me neither, or at least,
I wasn't," Calliope said.

"So why bring it up?"
Vagary wondered.

"What happened
between us ... if that's
not a soul thing, I don't
know what is," Calliope said.

"Your point is disturbingly
convincing," Vagary said.
"What do you think we
should do about it?"

"I don't know ... talk,
I suppose," Calliope said.

"We're doing that now,"
Vagary pointed out.

"Yeah, but neither of us
knows what we're doing,"
Calliope said. "That's why
I thought it might help
to consult an expert."

Vagary grimaced.
"I don't want to go
to church," he said.

"I'm not enthusiastic
about the usual suspects
either," Calliope said.

"Well, there's one thing
we agree on," Vagary said.

"Maybe something a bit more ...
off the beaten path?" Calliope said.
"I mean, soulbonds are pretty far out."

"Some traditions mention them,
at least in mythology," Vagary said.
"I came across bits and pieces
when I did the research."

"Somebody has to know
how souls work," Calliope said.

Vagary snorted. "Human history
would indicate otherwise."

"I guess I can't argue
with that," Calliope said.
Her fingers drummed on
the table. "I just don't want
to keep making mistakes."

"Hear, hear," Vagary muttered.
"We've made enough of those."

"Okay, so ... a definite maybe
on souls, and we'd like more input,
but we don't want the kind of church
that left both of us not very religious,"
Calliope said. "That's a start."

"I just hope it doesn't start
another argument," Vagary said.

"Well, I'm learning to deal with
your quirks, and I have to admit that
sometimes your side is more useful
than mine in a crisis," Calliope said.

Vagary chuckled. "If the devil
is nicer than the church folks,
then we've got a problem."

"The Heights SPOON Base
didn't exactly show off
our best face," she said.

"Yeah, first stop the storm,
then squabble over politics,"
Vagary said. "Priorities."

"Another point of agreement,"
Calliope said. "We're on a roll.
Now we just have to figure out
all of this soul business."

"Are you taking charge on
this project?" Vagary asked.

"I think I should," Calliope said.
"You found us a therapist, and you
shouldn't have to do all the work.
Besides, this was my idea."

"Fair enough," Vagary said.

"Let's see what we've got,"
Calliope said, picking up
her tablet computer to run
a quick search. "Gah ... there's
over 130 churches in Stillwater!"

Vagary stared at her. "That's a lot.
Why would anyone need so many?"

"The population is just over 50,000,"
said Calliope. "If everyone went to
church, that would be almost 400
people per congregation. A few of
them are bigger than that, but most
are a lot smaller. Even though not
everyone goes, that adds up."

"That makes more sense,"
Vagary said. "Anything good?"

"I'm looking." Calliope poked at
her computer, weeding out
the unsuitable options.

Vagary peeked over
her shoulder. "I don't
think the atheists or
secular humanists
would be much help."

"Not for this, no," she said.
"How do you feel about
interfaith centers, then?"

"Haven't tried those,"
Vagary said. "My family
was so shitty about me being
sexually confused that I just
didn't want to mess with religion."

Calliope made a rude noise. "I'm
sure we can do better than that."

"I guess it wouldn't kill me
to take a look," Vagary said.

"This seems like a good possibility,
the Transcendental Interfaith Center,"
said Calliope, showing him the screen.

"It looks pretty," Vagary admitted.

The building was done in beige stone
and brown wood, with a tall spire
that didn't have a cross on it.

Instead it came to a point
above an eight-pointed star
cut into the wall just under
the peaked roof of the hall,
and the windows were filled
with abstract squares of
blue and white glass.

"There's a prayer room,
too, for people who want
more privacy," said Calliope.

"And a café, so at least it
wouldn't be a wasted trip."
Vagary pointed to the menu.

"True enough," Calliope said.
"Are you sure you don't want
to suggest any options?"

He thought about that.
"Unitarian-Universalists
don't suck too much."

Calliope checked. "Yes,
they have a fellowship here."

The information included
a site map and a few images
of the church grounds, with
a sprawling complex that
had sections for education,
administration, socializing,
and then the sanctuary.

"Is that a story circle?"
Vagary said, leaning forward.

A curl of wall reached out to cup
concentric rings sunk into the grass.

Above it, the sanctuary rose with
stained glass windows that showed
the Unitarian flaming chalice.

"Looks like it," Calliope said. "This
says they do story circles every weekend
on different topics. All faiths are welcome
to participate. We could take it slow."

"The gardens are nice too," Vagary said.

There were landscaped ones and also
a little prairie patch beside the sanctuary.
Both of them enjoyed walking outside.

"Which one do you want to try?"
Calliope said. "I like both of them."

"No reason we couldn't do both
in order," Vagary said. "Are they
just doing services and stories
and stuff, or do they have anyone
on the staff who could talk about
these bizarre soul-related issues?"

"The Transcendental Interfaith Center
has an interfaith chaplain who
keeps office hours on -- oh,"
Calliope said, breaking off.

"What?" Vagary asked.

"This page has a quote on it,"
she said. "Wherever you are is
always the right place. There is never
a need to fix anything, to hitch up
the bootstraps of the soul and
start at some higher place.
Start right where you are."


"Wow," Vagary said softly.
"That gets to the point."

"Yeah," Calliope agreed.
"Let's start there."

* * *

Notes:

"Wherever you are is always the right place. There is never a need to fix anything, to hitch up the bootstraps of the soul and start at some higher place. Start right where you are."
-- Julia Cameron

The Transcendental Interfaith Center has a tall building for worship connected with a shorter one for social activities. A large porch extends from the connecting area. From this angle you can see the lower level of the social and administrative side. The back shows how you can look through the glass lobby connecting the sections.

The Grand Hall has a high arched roof and stained glass windows made with blue and white squares.

The lobby has a reception desk along with tables and chairs.

The Great Room provides social space with conversation clusters of coffee tables and chairs.

The Meeting Room offers a write-on viewscreen, a table and chairs, and a buffet counter.

The Prayer Room has bookcases and materials for many different religions.

The Uplift Lounge includes a buffet counter, bookcases, a small meeting table, chairs, and coffee tables.

The Café has a wraparound bar along with tables and chairs.

There are several classrooms, each with a projector, viewscreen, desks, and chairs.


The sitemap shows the layout of the Stillwater Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship with its building and two parking lots. This overview shows the building and some of its gardens. A story circle stands beside the building, which has stained glass windows of the Unitarian-Universalist flaming chalice. Parking lots provide easy access to the building.

Inside, the lobby includes a reception desk and mailboxes.

The sanctuary has plentiful seating with a balcony above the main floor and stage.

In the administration area, a reception room leads into the open office. The breakroom includes a kitchen with tables and chairs. The computer room offers chairs and desks with computers, plus a whiteboard. There are several consultation rooms, each with a desk and chair plus a coffee table and chairs for guests.

In the education area, a reading room offers books about many different religions, along with tables and chairs. There are several classrooms, each with projectors, viewscreens, modular desks, and chairs. A gym invites members to exercise.

In the social area, a lounge offers tables and chairs along with couches. The café provides food and dining space. The Fellowship Hall serves as multipurpose space. It has tables and chairs along with a stage.

A search for Stillwater churches turned up 127 results.

Stillwater, Oklahoma's estimated population is 50,391 based on recent estimates.

* * *

Souls are a matter of great concern but little solid knowledge for people. Soul care is a part of most religions. Interfaith and Unitarian-Universalist opinions on the topic vary as much as anyone else's. This makes them challenging to understand, but not understanding is worse. Do you have a soul? If you care about this question, the answer is necessarily yes. Do some soul-searching. Here are some ways to take care of your soul and heal past damage.

Love is fundamentally about touching souls. Intimacy means vulnerability. Pretty much all religions agree on this part, although they disagree about other details. That's why it is important to be kind and gentle with other people's souls. Then they will know that you are a good soul.

Bonding is a popular trope, variously described as a soul link or mind link. In fanfic it's often called a soulbond. Calliope and Vagary developed this connection accidentally after Phasing through each other. It took trying to break the bond, and then choosing not to do so, for them to notice where they were connected.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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