Meeting Sydney Banks
The space heater whirrs, warming my bare legs. I’m peaceful. I love peacefulness. I love that I’m falling in love with writing. I love my life. I love the feeling of joy in my body as I think about what I love. It’s easy to find and be in that feeling. It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when I was far less peaceful. My inner sweetness grew as I understood a little bit about the power of Thought. I’m not talking just about the thinking we do. I’m talking about Thought itself, the manifestation and gift of a formless God.
The man whose writings introduced me to Thought was Syd Banks. I wonder if time will record Syd as one of the most influential beings to wander the earth. I’m so ordinary, by what grace would I have met such a man?
“I would’ve known your smile anywhere,” he said, his Scottish brogue thick. I still wonder what he meant by that. I recognized Syd from a picture I’d seen on the back of Second Chance, one of the books he’d written. The wood table I sat at was greyish brown, faded under hours of direct sun and days of salty spray from the gulf just below the deck of the restaurant it rested on. At the edge of the table, a saltshaker with a rusty silver cap leaned against the balustrade. Boats, sailboats, fishing boats, power boats and house boats bobbed on sun-dappled water that lapped, stirred by a slight breeze both salty and sweet with the smell of fresh pine. The air was cool, and I shivered under my down jacket. Bill and I had been waiting four days to meet this man, having made a long trip from West Virginia to Salt Spring Island.
We had driven two hours from Morgantown to Pittsburgh and taken planes to Seattle and then to Vancouver. The trip had culminated with a three-hour ferry ride from Tsawwassan, Canada to Fulford Harbor with many stops at the Gulf Islands in between. As the ferry boat slipped slowly through tunnels of heavy mist, interludes of cloudy sunshine revealed stands of tall pines observing it from rocky coastlines. This glide through the Pacific Northwest was mystical, fitting for a trip taking me to meet a spiritual teacher, an enlightened man. Finally, he stood before me. We had called him every day since we’d gotten here, but each time he said we were too tired to meet and that we should rest and sight-see. I had grown impatient, indignant. It had cost a fortune to take time from my practice of psychology and get to this island. Resting wasted valuable time.
I had read enough of Syd’s work to know he pointed to Truth. I couldn’t understand him, but I wanted to. He was neither imposing nor impressive. Hands in his pockets, he wore a brown leather jacket over a blue sweater and faded brown corduroys on a trim, medium-built frame with slightly stooped shoulders. His silvered brown hair was longish, combed back beside a bald spot from a smooth, bearded face. He looked a little faded as if he’d been gently laundered many times. His smile was wide and warm, his brown eyes were soft.
“You must be Syd Banks,” I said. I didn’t know what else to say, except, “Bill went to the bathroom. He’ll be right back.” Syd had mentored my new husband for many years. He moved toward me and I stood. His hug wasn’t perfunctory, it lingered, meaningful and present. “Hello, Linda,” he said in my ear. “I’ve looked forward to meeting you.” He said it with such feeling that I cried.