Welcome to August, a time when many in the northern hemisphere are getting in their last bits of fun before school starts up. If you know your schedule is changing soon and you are in the middle of an Academy class, you will benefit from putting the extra effort into completing it soon so it doesn't hang over you when you have additional responsibilities.
If you don't own the book already, you can support the Institute by purchasing it either through the bookstore, which has been recently updated, or through the Amazon referral link.
That's all from my end. To further inspire you to find Jedi in your area, Boom returns with an update on the activities of Chicago Jedi. If you live in that area, join their meetup group and attend an activity sometime!
The Chicago Way by Boom Darklighter
Greetings and salutations from the Windy City! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. It’s been quite cool here all summer, which seems to make Chicago natives happy, although I can’t fathom why.
It’s the time of year when Chicago Jedi try to take advantage of the (non-icebox) temperatures and schedule as many OUTDOOR events as we can manage.
Once everyone returned home from the Gathering, we got our normal schedule started again.
Since I last posted, we had an unexpected (and pleasant) visit from our favorite filmmaker, Laurent Malaquais, and we had dinner then dressed in our Jedi garb to go up on the roof deck of my building so he could film us swinging our sabers in the dark, overlooking the beautiful Chicago skyline. The mundane people having a party seemed to enjoy what we were doing (I find that if you appear pretty much anywhere, wearing Jedi garb, with a lightsaber, you tend to attract positive attention!), and took pictures of the events.
Our next event was an afternoon of lightsaber practice and meditation at the Osaka Japanese Garden, which has become a familiar landmark for us to utilize for any number of events, where we need some space and want to be in a peaceful place. We also volunteer at the Garden, usually twice a year, and we plant bushes (the ones we planted two years ago are happy and thriving!), haul wheelbarrows full of mulch, and rake and sweep in the spring to tidy up the Garden for warm-weather visitors. Myself, I rarely get a chance to get out and get my hands in the earth, so I welcome the opportunity to connect. This is only one of a few ways that Chicago Jedi contributes and pays it forward in our community.
So, we met up at the Garden, and did about forty-five minutes of lightsaber practice, led by our Arms Master, Raphael ben Raven (aka Master Raven aka Ross Greenberg). We covered both sparring techniques as well as working on shii-cho forms. We are trying to if not perfect, to get it together so we can perform for the public at Conventions and demos.
This particular day, I was working on my double-bladed saber skills, up against opponents with double-and-single blades. I was on Flag Team in high school, and I’ve managed to retain my twirling and tossing skills (thank you, muscle memory!), so of course I think I have mad skills…Well, sort of. I’m getting there.
After saber practice, we did a unique meditation led by Master Angelus. We each had paper and pen, and we spread out throughout the garden, each of us picking a comfortable spot to sit and do the meditation. I thought of it sort of as a mindfulness meditation. We sat on the grass, under the trees or in the sun, as well as out on the large flat rocks that overlook the pond. I have a feeling that the designers of the garden put those stones out where they are deliberately to encourage people to sit and meditate.
We were told it didn’t matter how we sat, or whether our eyes were open or closed, as long as we were comfortable and open to our environment. We were to write down what we saw, heard, felt, smelled, etc in the space of fifteen minutes. It was a really interesting sort of meditation, something I, at least, haven’t done before. We followed the event with dinner at our fave restaurant.
Last week, we held our bi-monthly Book Group at Master Raven’s home. The book up for discussion was “Path of Destruction,” the first book in the Darth Bane trilogy. Nota bene, we rarely read any fiction, even Star Wars fiction. We prefer to read and discuss books that are relevant to our Jedi Path. However, since we read “I Jedi” several months ago, we thought we’d make it a summer casual book to read Darth Bane. Our goal was to compare and contrast Jedi and Sith philosophy and training, and see how it can apply to us as Masters, Padawans, and simple Jedi Realists. We also discussed the differences between the Jedi Code and the Sith Code. Since we have two members (who were leading the book group this time) who are very interested in the Sith Path, it was an interesting discussion, to say the least.
On this particular occasion, we were having a barbecue potluck dinner as well as hanging out in Master Raven’s brand-new pool. It was sort of organic, as we spread out the conversation about the book over the course of several hours—as we prepared food, and ate, and hung out in the pool. We discovered that it is perfectly possible to stand around in lovely cool water and discuss Jedi/Sith philosophy (see photo, which was obviously posed, but we really DID discuss it in the pool. My own copy only got a little bit wet. I think we all learned from one another, as well as having some fun. Last week we held a Chicago Jedi Council meeting, at Master Angelus’ home. We try to meet every four-six weeks, either in person, or (especially in inclement weather) over a “holo-chat” on Google Hangout. We discuss how past events went, and brainstorm and then schedule future events. We also spend time discussing Jedi politics, as well as our Master/Padawan program. As of this past meeting, we are scheduled through November.
Next weekend, we have fourteen people signed up to go out to the archery range, and practice our focus and aim, as well as our discipline. Archery is a great way to cover all of these things.
That’s it for this month! Everyone enjoy the rest of your summer, see you in September!