A Letter from the Border

27 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Skyepar,

We're in the middle of the Church of Unity reunion at the border now, and it's been both fascinating and exhausting. Yilli seems to be in good shape and enjoying herself, after the first two days, when she took donations from all the Gens coming in-T. She did fifty-seven the first day, and another twenty-nine the second. I was so tired the first night that she had to nag me to eat, but I managed to argue with her that I wouldn't eat unless she did, and we ended up both eating something. It seemed like I had no sooner gone to sleep than it was time to get up and go back up to the border crossing. Fortunately the next day was a lot less hectic.

Yilli told me that she's told you about how she works these events, so I don't have to describe the setup to you. She said it was a lot easier on her having me help her manage the fields than other times when she only had Mavis ambrov Teiu, or some of the Thirds, or a Tecton Donor whom she didn't know well. She told me to only support her intensively when she was doing a functional or I'd get tired too soon, and she was right. But I made her rest a few times too, rather than continue without me. Fortunately we went through the people who were lined up when the border opened in a few hours, and there were several times during the day when there was no one waiting, so I got her to lie down for a little while then too.

She explained to me in advance what kinds of methods she'd use to relax the Gens and help them through the process of giving a first donation. She told me to watch carefully and try to determine which tactic she was using, and what she did when it didn't work as expected. I tried to, but it wasn't easy. For one thing, she does it so smoothly that you'd never know she was changing tactics or manipulating the situation to make it easier for the Gen. For another, I was really worried that something would go wrong and I wouldn't be able to protect her, so I was concentrating on that. It was very tiring and it was hard to continue to observe carefully as the day went on. Nothing bad happened, nobody panicked or anything, and Yilli didn't seem troubled by all the fear and nervousness she must have been zlinning. She said I did a very good job of protecting her during the functionals and that the power and precision of my field management is improving along with my field strength. I hope she's right.

She told me in advance that there would be some Gens who could respond to the projection of need with a desire to give their selyn, and that she would signal me so I could be particularly attentive to their response, and how she would develop it to help them make GN-1 on first donation. This is so contrary to everything I've been taught about GN class donors and donation that if I hadn't seen her upgrade almost everyone she touched in collectorium shifts, and the way she upgraded those four out-T students I wrote you about, I wouldn't have believed it. She told me that my sensitivity was high enough now that I would be able to consciously detect her faint projection of need, and she was right. Most of the Gens she tried it on became more nervous, leaned away from her more or drew their hands back, or didn't react at all and she would continue chatting with them and relaxing them without the projection of need. Still, most of them qualified pretty high GN-3 or even GN-2, so she must have perceived something in their nagers that told her it was worth trying the tactic, or maybe they qualified higher than they would have otherwise because their bodies responded to her anyway. Of the eighty-six Gens, almost all of them first time donors, she qualified five GN-1. It was really remarkable. Just as she told me, the Gens would lean forward and their hands would move forward on their laps, resting on their knees or even projecting further forward. One man actually started to reach for her hand. She reached toward him, and he continued the motion and took her hand, and she held it lightly while they continued to talk. He made GN-1 easily, and she told me that if this were a Sime Center, and he were younger, she would have recommended he consider becoming a Donor.

Yilli seems to believe that every Gen has an instinct to give selyn to Simes in need, but most aren't aware of it, or it gets suppressed by things that happen to them in life. She says that working with this instinct is her secret for being so good at upgrading donors, especially to GN-1. I don't know what to think about this. I think she is very good at getting Gens to relax and trust her, and that must be a lot of it, especially with lower-grade donors. I'd like to discuss this whole topic with you in person. Is this just something she does, or can other channels do it too? She thinks they can, but you would think the Tecton would be using it if it really could work for everybody.

I guess I'll just give you some impressions and tell you some anecdotes about what happened. One thing that struck me was how many old Gens there were. I talked about it with Yilli, and she said that Gens out-T usually live a lot longer than Simes did in the junct times here and even in the Householdings, Gens usually live longer than Simes. In-T there are so few old people of either larity, almost nobody over thirty natal years except for Householders. But now that the Simes are all nonjunct or disjunct, and Gens can live like people in-T, the whole population will age and it will have profound effects on every aspect of life. For one thing, there'll be more people with experience in every possible area, and a smaller fraction of learners. People will have time to accumulate both knowledge and wealth, to develop their skills and work at their best. They'll also have time to raise their children, and even influence their grandchildren. This is normal out-T and in the Householdings, but unprecedented for the rest of in-T culture. Probably the Simes won't live as long as they might at first, because they won't take care of themselves properly, but in a generation or two they will. Yilli says that in five to ten years or so, there'll be a lot of Simes showing the medical problems of aging, and I remembered you talking about this in Capital. Yilli wants to teach me about the medical problems of the older Gens, but we didn't have much time. We'll try to get them to let her help them while they're in-T and she'll teach me more then.

Another thing I found remarkable was that some of these people were coming to live in-T, either temporarily or permanently. Some parents wanted their younger children to live with their Sime siblings until they grew up. Some young Gens wanted to come live with their Sime siblings to see what life was like in-T. There were a few cases where a Gen wanted to visit a Sime, because they had hoped to get married when they grew up, and wanted to know if it might still be possible. I know these are very rare cases, but Serri was right -- life really has changed out-T since Unity, certainly for the better.

There were a number of Gens who had been in-T before, and they often were the first in a group to volunteer to donate, which made it easier for the others. A few were former Gen Army soldiers who had donated the first Faith Day, and one said his donation had been taken by Risa Tigue. Yilli said she wasn't as pretty as Risa, but she was a Sectuib too, and could do just as well. The soldier said she was pretty enough for him and kissed her cheek! That made some of the other Gens laugh, and relaxed them a lot. The soldier winked at me, so maybe he did the whole thing on purpose to make the other Gens feel better. Yilli said he was pretty nervous under his act, but the other Gens didn't know that. She said this is something the Gens out-T value -- the ability to look like you aren't afraid when you are. She said this way of managing fear is so ingrained in them that it's very hard for them to unlearn if they want to live with Simes. She said they conceal their emotions a lot, but of course not to Sime senses. Overall, in-T people, Sime or Gen, are a lot easier for Gens to read, but out-T people can be read too, with more experience. She told me about her Aunt Mrina, who was a non-nageric healer out-T, and very good at this. She says that Roza learned a lot from her, about non-nageric healing and understanding what people feel behind their words. But of course you know this.

The second day a very old woman, fifty-three natal years, came across. She was coming to live with her grandson and his Gen wife. Her grandson was the only family she had left alive, and she couldn't work as a weaver and dyer any more because her hands were crippled with arthritis. Her grandson had been waiting for her since before dawn of the first day, and it was late afternoon of the second day she arrived. They all came in to us together and they were very upset because the border guard would only give the grandmother a visa for a week. She had packed up her loom and everything she owned to move in-T, and now they wouldn't let her. They said she was too old to learn to live with Simes. Yilli had some of her members take the whole family in back and give them some tea and food and get the old woman to warm up and rest, and as soon as we cleared up the other people who were waiting to donate, we went back to see what was happening.

Yilli asked the woman if she could examine her hands, and she was entirely willing. She had been holding hands with her grandson and he had wrapped his tentacles around her hand and she wasn't upset at all. Yilli said that she could work on the hands a little and reduce the pain, and if she wanted, she would work on them every day for a while which should reduce the inflammation and pain and give her more mobility. The woman said that her grandson had written to tell her that it was true that channels could do marvels of healing, but even if they can't fix her hands she still wanted to live in-T with her grandson. He wanted to continue to learn her craft from her and she could still teach him and his wife. Yilli said that her hands would never be normal, the joints would continue to deteriorate, although more slowly, but with the inflammation reduced they would be like they had been years ago and she would not only be more comfortable, she would be able to work with them again.

We got as much of the story as I've told you, and the grandson's wife said that the woman had brought some of the cloth she'd made with her. Yilli said that she would go talk to the head of the border guards and get this sorted out. She would argue that the woman should not only get the usual settler's bonus, but the extra bonus for bringing a valuable skill and the equipment to practice it in-T. Then Yilli told her that if she could manage to give a good donation, it would be a strong argument that she could learn to get along with Simes and donate every month, and with her grandson's wife to help her learn how to live as a Gen in-T, she would be an asset to Nivet, and not a problem for anybody. Yilli was holding her hands the whole time, but not using her laterals. The woman told her that she would do her best, whatever Yilli wanted. She said that she trusted her, because she had trained the missionary who had saved her grandson's life, and she only wished that there had been missionaries to save other people in her life who had died in changeover or from the Kill.

So Yilli worked on her hands with lateral contact for a while, and the woman said that they felt better, less painful. I was supporting Yilli, and watching the woman, and as Yilli projected need to heal the hands, she seemed to get more relaxed and I could see that she was feeling attracted to Yilli. The grandson was zlinning this, and he put his arm around his wife and I could see that he was really moved that his grandmother would feel attraction to the projected need. After a while, Yilli asked the woman if she could take her donation, and she said yes, and Yilli qualified her GN-1. She explained what that meant, and told me to wait there with the woman, she would take the grandson, the wife and the weaving over to the offices and make sure things worked out right.

I talked to the woman, and she told me that she was looking forward to living in the south, where the weather was warmer and she'd have an opportunity to work with cotton. She's always worked with wool and linen, and if she could use her hands again it would be wonderful to do something new in her craft. She raised her grandson from a little child, and when she heard about the missionary in a town several hours away, she went there to find out what was possible. She took him there several times for changeover training, and even got some other people to send their children along. She took him there as soon as they suspected he was in changeover, and she stayed with him as long as the missionary would let her, and waited until the changeover was finished and when she saw him she congratulated him. She said she was determined from the time of Unity that he would have a chance at a good life, Sime or Gen, and now it was possible. I told her that my stepmother felt the same way about me, but she didn't live to see me establish. I started to cry, and so did she, and we hugged each other, and it really helped me. So it's true that Gens can comfort and heal each other, even if it isn't nageric, and it's true that there are good people out-T too. Yilli and the young couple came back and zlinned the ambient and told us everything was settled. The woman told her that I was a fine boy and would be a good man, and she should take good care of me. Yilli said I was already a good man, and she was would do her best for me, just as I was doing my best for her. The young Sime and his wife hugged the grandmother, and they all started crying, and Yilli and I just enjoyed their happiness. Yilli told them she'd see them again at the barracks, and we went back to work.

She said she'd write up a protocol for the woman's Tecton file, that the channels at her local Sime Center would probably be interested in working on her because they so seldom saw an older Gen, and with frequent treatments the disease could be controlled fairly well. She's also going to give them a recipe for the apothecary, willow bark with some other herbs to counteract the side effects on the stomach.

We weren't as tired that night, but we went back to our room at the old Pens, and Serri brought us some food and we talked for a while. I told her about the old woman and some of the other people, and said she was right about seeing the changes up here at the border. Serri said that things were going very well, the Simes all said that the ambient was just wonderful. One of the Tecton channels had eaten supper in the refectory and just couldn't believe that you could mix out-T Gens and Simes and have an ambient like that. He wanted to know if it had something to do with the religion. Some of the Church people told him, no, it was just real Unity in action and invited him to a prayer session, so he could zlin what religion could really do to the ambient. He was pretty amazed by that, too, and rode out of there shaking his head, probably with some stories to tell.

I asked Yilli if all of the out-T visitors were CoU members, and she said no. When the Church first approached her about training missionaries, she asked whether they would help any child or just the children of their members. They said they would help any child they could. Yilli said, even atheists and devil worshipers? And they laughed and said yes, and Church of the Purity, too. So she knew she could work with them. But a funny thing happened. Roza was with her, and said "Yilli, these people will help 'republicans and sinners', like Granda. Let's do it." One of the seminary professors asked her where she had heard that phrase, and Roza said that Granda had used it in some of his stories, to mean people that nobody cared about. The professor said that it came from one of the Ancient religions, that its founder believed in helping people like that and got into trouble for it. 'Sinners' were people who broke religious laws and customs and 'republicans' were probably criminals, people who broke civil laws, although the etymology was shakier on that one. Roza told him that that sounded just like Granda, helping the helpless, and no money in it either.

I asked Yilli whether there really were devil worshipers out-T, and what did they believe? She said that nobody called themselves devil worshipers, it was mostly what one group called another whose beliefs they disagreed with. Just about any Church of the Purity group would call any other group that if it weren't as full of hatred for Simes as they were. It seems that religion is a lot more important to people out-T than in-T. Yilli says there are a number of theories about why that is.

Skyepar, I have to tell you that Yilli's nightmares have come back. The first night after we came up here to the border, she had the dream where she was a Gen being killed. I woke her up and helped relevel her and we talked for a while and she did some training exercises with me and then we slept some more. The night after we worked so hard, I was afraid I might have slept through her nightmares but she said she was so tired she must have slept through them too. The second night I woke up and she was curled up in a ball, trembling and making little incoherent sounds. There were tears on her face but she was asleep. I tried to help her nagerically, projecting calm and safety and love, and I called her name and held her but it just got worse. I think she was screaming in her dream. Finally I tried to take her arms in a transfer contact, but they were folded up and her muscles were hard as iron. She must have been augmenting. I stroked her lateral sheaths and finally she woke up, but she was hyperconscious and I had a hard time releveling her. I tried to keep my field calm, and not let my worry show, because she told me after the first nightmare that if she zlins fear during one of them it can be terrible for her. Finally she was duoconscious, but she wouldn't let me hold her or even touch her. She kept saying that she didn't deserve it. I felt so helpless. She got up and dressed and went out and ran in augmentation for a little while, and when she came back she was more normal, but wouldn't talk about the dream. She wanted to put me to sleep, but I wouldn't let her. She let me hold her and we just lay there in the dark for a long time, our fields barely engaged.

I tried to talk to her in the morning, but she told me she can't talk about it yet. She kept apologizing for waking me up, for alarming me. I asked her if she'd like me to stay awake and guard her sleep, but she said no. She said it might be best if I slept in another room where she wouldn't disturb me. I said I wouldn't do it. I asked her if there was anything I could do to wake her up when I could see she was having a nightmare, and she said no, but she'd sometimes wondered if pain would work. She said I'd done well, just following my intuition, but I don't think I did. She told me that was the worst one, and it doesn't happen very often. She said she has some medicine she will take that helps, but she is groggy the next day and it isn't good to take it too many nights in a row.

When I think of her going through this alone, almost every night, for years, I'm filled with horror. How can she bear it? She doesn't seem to be able to tell me what I can do to help her. Please, Skyepar, tell me what to do for her, if there's anything you can think of. Please ask Roza if she knows of anything. When you told me she had nightmares, I didn't imagine it could be this bad.


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