Everybody Comes to Rick’s
This was the title of the play that was to become the film Casablanca. And a good thing, too, because you’re invited to a year-end celebration and Rick and I don’t want any excuses. Everybody is invited and everybody belongs. It’s an imaginary birthday party, Auld Lang Syne, and a lot more combined. The Guest of Honor will be there. “Jesus” is associated with Christianity, but the Logic of reality and truth in A Course in Miracles covers everything. Its message of understanding is for everyone. Even for those who, like Groucho Marx, wouldn’t lower themselves to join anything that would have them for a member.
Many traditions coalesced to turn December into a madhouse of activities that strayed from their origins. Jesus’ birthday is one. But if you pan around Rick’s Café Americain with the camera, on the opening shot, you’ll see the setting is cosmopolitan. These people really do come from all over and not everyone gets excited over the same thing. Except the cause that brought them there and will send them on their way. The beauty of where they are, where we will be honoring life-changing, mind-changing events.
In our imaginations. I can get us started, but the guests are invited to attend to their own comfort so everyone has fun. Celebrating a new life and new year with festivity – food, drink, song and dance – and a rebirth: the rebirth of the sun. The winter solstice. Whatever event, whatever tradition, makes this a holiday for you. Temenos is all about fun. Mine to begin with but yours, too. One big sanctuary, a blend of differences where differences attract instead of distract. Where we can just Be.
Where Maxfield gets his inspiration
Casablanca honored cause that brings us all together. “The beginning of a beautiful friendship” between Rick and Louis, two cynics who joined the cause. Who set an example for change of mind, the event that our situation calls for. That, hopefully, we’ll get around to before it’s too late. Rick’s Café is part of my temenos. So is the airport where Rick gave up the love of his life for the cause. Gave up the letters of transit signed by General De Gaulle so Ilsa and Victor, a paladin of the cause, could take the last plane to Lisbon and continue their work.
Jesus could have authored the script. But so could any figure who embodies our ideals if they match. The name we give it doesn’t matter. Casablanca rose to the top of the list for a reason: it speaks to something universal that’s real and true in all of us. The thing that our guides still teach, that made Jesus’ miracles possible then and makes miracles possible now. The reality we were born into and the truth that still lives. We celebrate with a prayer of thanks for its guidance and comfort while we change our minds. For a reality that doesn’t have to be imagined and a birth that’s leading us there.
Call it Christmas Eve or whatever you want. You’ll be all in when you see Rick himself behind the bar serving the nectar of the gods. Beneath the branches of Ewah, the great tree of eternal life. The great tree of Logic radiant with lights and ornaments put there by children -- Owen, Courtney and Amanda – assisted by the goddess Psyche & friends: Puddy and Buster, Sparky, Cuddles, Grayheart, and William Roofus Marmalade, my orange tabby. The tree is their home where they play. Where Maxfield Parrish draws inspiration for his celestial art through a telescope in his treehouse.
The nocturnal lyric of wolves and loons
Ewah combines two trees from Avatar: the giant communal tree and the smaller illuminated tree that ended the story with resurrection. It represents safety – the benevolence of Logic that governs and protects all of reality and creation. The Innocence of temenos, its atmospherics decorated by the nature of our imaginations:
• The deep blue pure waters of Lake Parrish shimmering beneath an incandescent moon and stars
• Silvery clouds billowing above our gathering, where we can swoop and soar to the heights on Pegasus forever free from worry and regret
• The airport beacon sweeping its corner of Lake Parrish in red and green
• The nocturnal lyric of wolves and loons in the distance joining our chorus of joy
• Twin lighthouses standing guard at the Straits of the Pacific
• Up on high, the Course in Miracles Lighthouse, anchored to the side of Mount Olympian, beaming mindfulness and love, freedom and innocence, across the Aegean and beyond. To Athens, Bethlehem, and Alexandria, incubators of ideals: the ethics of Socrates, the virtue of Plato, the understanding of Jesus.
Ambiance courtesy of Maxfield, who will turn any request into a portrayal of heaven. Catering by the King Cole Grill at the Saint Regis Hotel in Manhattan. We will be met by the gatekeeper of the Garden of the Gods: Old King Cole himself will come down from Maxfield’s mural behind the bar to direct us to our choice of tables: beside the mountain stream with the pure, healing waters; around the campfire on Maxfield Island; along the shore of Lake Parrish; beside the children’s playground beneath the tree. Dance music courtesy of the orchestra at Rick’s Café, the same one that brought down the house with La Marseillaise.
Saving the best for the last
Caroling accompanied on the piano by Sam. Sam, who played it again for Rick and Ilsa. Sam, whose piano hid the letters of transit that saved the world. Well, not quite, but it came close. Before Auld Lang Syne we’ll sing As Time Goes By. If that doesn’t melt hearts and open minds nothing will.
I’m bringing honored guests. My darling granddaughters. Family from around the fireplace on Christmas Eve when I was a kid – mom, dad, and grandma, brother, sister, and our Dalmatian. The teenage girl who cared for me while my mother recovered. My son and his mother who left us too soon. My spiritual family: mother Persephone and father Apollo, sister Psyche and brother Jesus. Charmed escorts from Calvary to Ewah and resurrection: Black Beauty, Rhoda the show horse, and Ferdinand the Wall Street bull with the golden horns. Dobbin the magnificent sorrel flying draft horse, Pegasus – the free spirit of Love. Plus best friends forever like you. Who will you bring?
Here’s looking at you, kid.