AN EXERCISE IN LOVE

Think about someone you love for a moment:   a son or daughter, mother, father, uncle, friend.  Get a clear picture in your mind of this individual, and allow yourself to feel a pure, complete and unconditional love for him or her.  You may want to picture this person doing something beautiful like working peacefully in a garden.  Or you could picture your mother, for instance, reaching out to hug you as she sent you off to school one clear, sunny morning thirty years ago.  Or you could recapture in your mind the joke your uncle once told a clerk while you watched in appreciation and awe.

Feel the energy and subtle vibration the love generates while you visualize this loved one.  Drop your shoulders and relax during the process.  Let your eyes soften and feel your lips smile slightly, automatically, naturally.  Let love be your only thought—other intrusive non-welcome thoughts can be gently discarded and replaced by the power of your love.  Just as you love your friend, child or parent, others love their people, too.  You know how to love your people, now practice loving other people. 

You will probably face over a hundred different people today.  You will likely drive beside and look over at twenty different individuals in cars.  You will have hundreds of cars come at you in the opposite lane as you drive home from work.  If you stand in line at a check-out stand, you will be looking at the back of five or six people’s heads.  All of these people are lovable.

Make the following decision:  “I will send love to everyone I come into contact with."  Try it for a few days.  Why not start now?  Look for someone near you, or within your sight.  Send them a few seconds of love.  Let your shoulders drop and let the tension drift away.  Feel your eyes soften as you relax your facial features.  Say the word “LOVE” to them with your mind.  Say it twice or three times.  Speak to their spirit.  Their mechanical self might not notice a thing, but the spirit may respond dramatically.

Let your eyes move to the next person.  Let’s say this person is someone you have had troubles with in the past.  It can sometimes be difficult (at first) to send this person love, so now you are to see the person as their mother or father sees him or her—with love.  Imagine the person as a baby.  Picture the parent's loving caress and the child's joyful response.  Try to visualize the influences that shaped this person's life over the years.  Forgive.  Release.  Know that this person is indeed lovable.  With this realization active in your mind, you can send love, too. 

Send love to people who don’t even know you’re there.  Send love to people who are angry at you.  Send love to drivers in onrushing traffic and wish them well on their journey.  Send love with no thought of reward.  The mother gazing down at her son does not expect the son to do anything to "pay her back."  Nor should you lose your commitment to sending love when and if others do not appear to appreciate your moment of attention.  You are sending love because you can.  You are sending love because it is in you to give.

During this process, see if you can "step out," "detach" or dispassionately "observe" the scene as it unfolds.  This observer, or viewer, might be the true "you." 

Love



The Quantum Field

I live exactly ten miles north of Santa Cruz, on a winding dirt road, way up on top of a hill overlooking the ocean.  You can see the entire Bay Area from my picture window, and when the waves are big you can hear them crashing on the beach almost two miles away.  My “lawn” is made up of the same brown weeds and yellow straw that cover our hundred acres, the only difference is that I mow this fenced-in patch of stickers every three or four weeks.  The “lawn” surrounds a fine, sturdy ranch house–the only one for miles–and when I turn the porch lights out at night you can see billions of stars.  In fact, the first night my son and I saw the Milky Way from my front yard, we weren’t even sure it WAS the Milky Way.  It looked too close, like smoke hanging in the sky. 

  

I commune with nature and do my best thinking while lounging in my hot tub, on a small redwood deck I built in the back yard.  I’m in that bubbling bucket every evening after work at 7:pm, and if I miss my soak I get irritable and tend to snap at people.  (I work in San Jose in one of those high-rise, high-stress office buildings, and I really look forward to coming home.)  

Right now it’s summer, a hot August evening, and I’m sitting in my tub waiting for the sun to set between two giant fir trees.  From the corner of my eye, I see an incredibly thin, brown and yellow coyote slink through a fence about two hundred yards away.  I think it’s awesome the way the coyote’s fur is the exact same color as the field it was born in.  Nature is brilliant.  The coyote and the field blend so well together that unless the animal is moving, you can’t see it at all.  This little guy is probably going out hunting for rabbits or field mice, but there don’t seem to be very many this year.  The deer are pretty scarce, too.  It used to be that I’d catch one a day trying to eat my potted plants, or I’d surprise a group of them while driving up the road at night.  The rangers say that the wildlife is scarce right now because of some disease that’s been going around, and maybe because there was so little rain last winter.  

My thoughts turn to Rita, who lives in Santa Cruz, on the edge of town.  She has advanced cervical cancer and we’re being told that she probably won’t live much longer.  Normally, Rita is a powerhouse.  For three years she’s sung in our jazz band with a strong, clear voice, and a commanding, no-holds-barred stage presence that I could never hope to emulate.  She belts out songs like “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” and “Jump, Jive and Wail” with boundless energy and soul.  People are drawn to her happy, good nature like a magnet.  Her open smile and bright eyes make all the women want to hug her and all the men want to take her to bed.  People have fun when Rita’s around.  That’s the way she is.  And now she’s going to die.  

I can’t handle that.  It brings up too many emotions in me all at once.  I want to fix this thing.  When I ask how she’s doing, people closest to her tell me she’s “about the same.”  That isn’t good news.  I wish I could go to her right now and tell her there really is no death; that we shuck our failed bodies and move back into the Stream, that our lives here on Earth are just a parenthesis in a never-ending journey.  I know these things, but how do I convey this stuff to Rita?  I feel helpless.  

She’s been staying home most of the time lately, and doesn’t have the energy to see visitors–at least not right now.  My spiritual readings teach me that the tiniest part of matter is thought, that the world and everything in it is part of a “quantum field,” and that we can manipulate this field with our minds.  Many people believe that it’s possible to heal others with thought and prayer.  I am one of those people.  The books are true.  I am going to save Rita.  

A dull, red glow has settled between the fir trees now that the sun has finally set.  I turn off the jets in the hot tub and find that the stillness of the night carries with it a powerful sense of expectation–a hushed readiness–a subtle vibration somewhere above or below the five senses.  I feel as if I am a hot battery, fully charged, immersed in a womb of conductive waters.  Facing Santa Cruz, I focus my attention and command the Universe to heal Rita, to replace the cancer cells with healthy, new tissue.  I visualize nature quickening and responding to my call for rejuvenation.  Every ounce of my mind’s energy, every fibre of my being I direct toward Rita, lying still and weak in her bed ten miles away.

  

“Rita will heal.  

Rita will live!  

Rita will flourish!”  


The surety, power, and absolute rightness of this thing I do brings tears of joy to my eyes, and I thank God for His blessed touch.  I repeat the process over and over again, every night for six days.

_________________

Over eight hundred people attended Rita’s funeral.  We packed the church until it was standing room only.  Several people got up to talk, but when her sister stood at the podium and said that Rita would “never sing again,” I broke down completely.  With a sudden, tortured exhalation, I dropped my head into my hands and vented my anguish with great, heaving sobs.  My shoulders shook so hard that people all around became concerned and tried to comfort me.  My tears have dried, but I can recall my grief in an instant.  I don’t believe in that “quantum field” shit anymore.  I’m not sure I believe in any of that God stuff, or the “returning to the Stream ” business, either.  I like to think that I’m older and wiser now.  I deal with that empty, hollow feeling by burying myself in work, and I’ve gotten a lot done, staring at spreadsheets and databases long into the night.  No more commute, either.  Now I live in a two-room apartment a few blocks from my office.  It’s not so bad here.


"I miss you, Rita.

I loved you.

Goodbye."

_________________


The next day, in the local newspaper...





SleepWalker

Earl Beasley lived in the same house his mother had owned twenty years ago, in the thick of what used to be a prosperous, vibrant part of the city.  That was twenty years ago, however, and now the area below Earl’s house was little better than a slum; businesses had moved out, windows were broken, cans and bottles littered the sidewalks and the bums and drug addicts had taken over.  Homeless people were everywhere.  Earl felt sorry for some of them.  He could relate, he felt, to their loneliness and despair because he had absolutely nothing to do these days.  

His mother had left him a sizable inheritance, and along with his retirement pay from driving a city bus for thirty years he had plenty of extra money, but he was bored and restless all the time.  His life seemed empty and unrewarding.  He wanted something important to do.  He longed to help someone, to make a difference in some way.  At night when he lay in bed with his window open, he listened with a horrified fascination to the sounds of the street below.  He heard sirens, burglar alarms, shouts, fistfights and desperate hookers calling out to lonely men in passing cars.  He often thought it a shame that so many people in the city had no food, lodging or friends, and were forced to roam the streets, hopeless and alone.  So many people needed help! 

Eventually Earl talked himself into taking some action.  One night, instead of going to bed, he dressed for a long walk.  At fifty-seven years old, having never been much for exercise, Earl was paunchy and stiff.  The walk would do him good, he thought, as he put on his favorite Sears button-down dress shirt, grey slacks, Redwing walking shoes, thick cotton socks, and a heavy wool sweater with big pockets.  He drew a lockbox from under his bed and removed handfuls of fifty dollar bills, then left his house and stopped at a Bible bookstore and purchased six New American Standard Bibles–the real nice ones with zippered leatherette covers.  Between the pages of each Bible he inserted a single fifty-dollar bill and zipped the covers shut.  He then walked to the bus depot and purchased a book of all-day bus passes.  Finally, he went to the local mission and picked up a bundle of AIDS literature and a couple of blue books titled “Alcoholics Anonymous.”  

Struck by powerful emotions he was unable to identify, Earl imagined that people all over the city would soon know him by name.  Eventually, he hoped, they would respect and maybe even love him.  “Earl is such a kind, generous man,” they would say behind his back, or “What a saint that Earl is!”  He visualized his people regaining their dignity and their self-respect.  He imaged them getting jobs and becoming productive.  He pictured himself smiling benevolently down upon them . . .  Tightly clutching his Bibles and bus passes, and with stacks of literature puffing out of his sweater, Earl walked down the hill onto the city street with determination and surety.  Tonight he would make a difference.  

It didn’t take long before Earl found a dark shape curled into the porch of a long-abandoned dry cleaning store.  An eye-burning cloud of urine and wine fumes threatened to overcome his senses as he pushed his head deep into the darkness of the man’s “home.”  “Wake up, my friend, I am here to help you,” he intoned in his deepest voice.  “Come on out!” 

“Wha? Wha?” responded a slurred voice.  “Geh ouaa hea!  Goaaay!” 

“My good man, I am here to help you,” Earl called out.  “I have some literature about alcoholism that will change your life.  It’s right here.  Come and get it!” 

The dark shape rustled for a moment, then lunged.  Earl fell back and was blinded by a coarse, foul-smelling blanket, then felt the crash of a heavy bottle against the side of his face as the drunk sought to protect himself from Earl’s intrusion.  One hundred fifty-five pounds of wobbly, terrified bum knocked Earl backwards where he scooted across vomit-slickened cement into piercing shards of broken wine bottle.  When the blanket fell away, he could see the drunk lurching down the sidewalk, as fast as he could go.  With his chest pounding like a trip hammer, Earl stood up and tried to catch his breath.  He realized that he was scratched and bloody, but relatively unhurt.  Shaken but undaunted, Earl brushed himself off, picked up his bag of books and resumed his quest.  You can’t help everybody, he thought to himself, some people are just too far gone.  

Earl passed a multitude of city dwellers before he came to a bearded man sitting on a bench, holding a wooden sign that read: 




With a sigh of relief, Earl sat down.  A split-second later, the man yelled “Get your OWN damn bench!  This one’s MINE!” and swung his sign at Earl.  Earl leapt to his feet in surprise and dismay.  “I’m here to HELP, you fool!  What’s the matter with you, anyway?  Are you some kind of a nut or something?”  

“You stink worse than I do,” the homeless man replied.  “Get away from me.  Find your own bench and help your own damn self.”  

With a look of exaggerated disgust etched upon his face, Earl reached into his bag and, with a flourish, dropped a Bible onto the bench.  In response, the man used his sign to push it into the gutter where it fell through the grate and into the sewer system with a splash.  “Your religion stinks, too.” 

“But I put fifty bucks in there!” Earl yelped. 

“Sure you did, Buddy.  Sure you did.  Now get away from my bench before I knock you into the gutter with your friend, Gideon.” 

This injustice filled Earl’s eyes with bitter tears.  Why won’t they accept what I have to offer?, he asked himself.  I only want to help these people!  Why won’t anybody listen to me?  With a wretched sob, he turned away and headed back the way he had come.  A heaviness had settled over him; he felt unloved and unwanted, and it was the worst feeling he had ever experienced.  He felt as if no one understood him and that he’d been sorely misjudged by the very people he had intended to rescue.  To hell with them, he thought, I’m going home to my nice warm bed.  Let ‘em eat out of trash cans and piss themselves, if that’s what they want.  

“Hi, Baby! You awright?  Y’all need some comp’ny?” asked a sweet, southern voice from behind him.  “I’m Wanda, and I could hang out wif you for a while, if you want me.” 

“Oh, hello, Ma’am,” Earl said, turning around.  “No, I’m fine.  Thank you.  I’ve been looking all over the city for people to help, but so far I’ve had absolutely rotten luck.” 

It felt surprisingly good to say this, to share with someone willing to listen.  As Earl leaned forward to launch into a more detailed explanation of his woes, he suddenly noticed the woman’s impressively full breasts.  His eyes were drawn like magnets to the hard, dark nipples fighting for freedom beneath the confines of her thin, cotton top.  This woman is a prostitute, Earl thought to himself.  Perhaps she will accept my help!  

“What would it take to get you off the streets and into a healthier job?” Earl asked, straightening his back and pulling his eyes away from her chest with a herculean effort.  “How can I help you to recover from this wretched state you find yourself in?  Is it money you need?” 

“Baby, you ain’t kiddin’ I need money.  Tha’s all I ever did need.  You right on wif dat.  If I had me some money, I’d be leavin’ this sorry-assed town tonight!  I’d be home wif my momma back in Mississippi first thing.  But I’d be needin’ a whole buncha money fo’ dat.  You gots a whole buncha money fo’ Wanda?” 

“Well, I’m not rich, if that’s what you’re asking, but I am willing to help,” Earl replied with a chuckle.  “Here, let me set these books down for a moment.  My name’s Earl Beasley, by the way.”  He then extracted $300.00 from his wallet, plus literature on AIDS, and three all-day bus passes -- enough, he hoped, to get Wanda to Mississippi. 

“Wanda, here’s some information on sexually transmitted diseases, and three bus passes to get you home.  Now, I’m going to hand you several hundred dollars.  This is a loan, not a gift.  You must promise me that you will use it to buy warmer, more practical clothes, and to tide you over until you find a decent job, at which time you will need to pay me back.  Do you promise?” Earl asked, holding the cash up and away from Wanda’s reaching hand. 

“Oh, Mr. Beasley By-The-Way, I promise!” she said as she jumped and snatched the handful of cash. “Now I got sumpthin’ for you,” she whispered in a sultry voice, and deftly steered Earl into a nearby alley.  A quick signal had been transmitted from Wanda to her hidden pimp, waiting across the street. 

While Wanda worked at the zipper of Earl’s slacks, completely ignoring his feeble and weakening protests, the pimp stepped silently into the alley, switchblade open, cutting edge up.  “What you doin’ to my bitch?” the pimp screamed in Earl’s face, as the knife slashed through Earl’s clothing and into his abdomen.  “Wanda, get the cash. This one’s gonna die right here.”   He then began to twist and jab the knife, searching for vital organs as Earl slipped to the pavement in shock.  

This time the sirens were for Earl.  

“He may not live,” the doctor spoke softly to the nurse on duty.  “We were able to repair most of the damage, but he’s in a deep coma now.  His entire body is shutting down.  There’s nothing more we can do and only time will tell.  If it weren’t for that woman’s phone call, this man would have died long ago.”  The two of them walked away to leave Earl by himself, with the recirculating and monitoring devices clicking and whirring tirelessly in the background. 

Three days later, Earl began to dream.  He dreamed that he stood, healthy and vibrant, beside a ruined, comatose version of himself lying on a hospital bed with tubes snaking in and out of his body.  He saw his double’s chest rise with ragged infrequency, and noted the chalk-white pallor of his still form.  After a moment, he leaned over and kissed his counterpart’s blue-tinged lips.  “I will complete our work,” he whispered, then vanished.

 __________________ 

The drunk woke up that morning to the smell of chicken soup.  At first his ruined stomach lurched painfully, but then began to grumble and call for sustenance, for the first time in weeks. 

“I brought food,” came a voice from around the corner.  “You’re welcome to as much as you like.” 

“Who the hell are you?” the drunk asked the voice.  “What do you want?”   

“I’m nobody.  I don’t want anything.  Let’s eat,” came the reply. 

The man pulled his blanket tight around his shoulders and moved out into the daylight to stare long and hard at the stranger sitting in front of the dry cleaning store.  He saw a balding, older guy with two large bowls of hot chicken soup, a loaf of french bread, and a quart of wine.  With a tremor in his voice and his hands shaking uncontrollably, he asked, “Can I have some of that wine?”  The stranger handed him the bottle without a word and then tore off a large piece of the bread and handed that over, too.  He then pointed to one of the steaming bowls of soup and said, “That’ll be right there when you’re ready for it.” 

Eventually, the two of them finished their meal.  After wiping his mouth on the blanket, the man said “I used to be a lawyer, you know.”  Earl said nothing.  “I worked in a real nice office, with leather furniture and a brick fireplace.  I had two legal assistants and a secretary.  I made three hundred seventy thousand dollars a year handling legal cases for private school systems.  I started out having two-martini lunches with my associates, which soon turned into six whiskey lunches by myself.  Eventually I wound up drinking cheap bourbon right there at my desk, all day long, starting at 10:00 in the morning.  They fired me when I fell on my drunken face in front of a big-wig school superintendent.  It’s been downhill from then on.  My wife left me and took the kids last year.  I’ve been living on rotgut, sleeping in this God-forsaken doorway for the last three months.  My name’s Roy Baker.  I want you to know that I appreciate the food, Mister.  And the wine,” he added in a quieter, smaller voice. 

Earl felt as if a giant, loving hand was behind him, guiding and leading him in thought and action.  He seemed able to look completely through the man before him.  He knew him in every way, and the knowing, at this depth, filled Earl with a love that permeated the very structure of his being.  Words were unnecessary.  Love and acceptance radiated from Earl like a warm, yellow light and enveloped the quaking drunk like a peaceful cocoon.  Ray’s shivering stopped.  His eyes took on a new clarity and focus.  “Who are you, anyway?” he asked.  Earl stood up and pulled Ray to his feet.  They stood, hugging each other unashamedly for a full minute.  

Eventually they both began to walk.  At the door of an A.A. clubhouse, Earl handed Roy a key and an address written on a slip of paper.  “Roy,” he said, “here’s the key to my home.  I’ll be away for the next several weeks.  Help yourself to anything you find there.”  Roy took the key, with tears of hope in his eyes, and entered the room.  Earl stepped into an alcove and vanished . . .   

. . . and reappeared outside a tenement apartment door.  Inside was a mother shaking a tiny newborn baby.  “Stop crying!” Earl heard her scream over and over, “Stop crying!”  

“Carol, I’ll watch the baby,” Earl called out.  

The baby’s crying stopped. “Who’s out there?” the mother asked.  

“I’m here to watch the baby. You need a break about now, I think.”  

The door opened a crack, and the puffy, tear-stained face of a sixteen-year-old girl peered out at Earl.  

“Why should you be watchin’ my baby?” the girl asked suspiciously.  

“Because you need a break,” he explained.  “You’re fatigued.  I’ll watch Vanessa.  Go out and be with your friends for a while.  Be a child yourself again, if only for tonight.  All is well.  God is with us.”  

“I ... I ... I was shaking my baby!  How did you know? Are you an angel?  How did you know to come here tonight?  How come you know our names?  Who are you?  I was shaking my baby.  Oh, my God, I could have killed my baby . . .”   

Earl opened the door wide and made room for her to step out.  “Come back when you’re rested,” he said, and ushered her gently into the hallway.  Closing the door, he heard her running down the hallway.  After bathing and feeding the baby girl, Earl sat cradling the child on a ratty, overstuffed couch.  Vanessa cooed and smiled up at him, blinked her clear, brown eyes, and reached out with her tiny, perfect fingers to brush his face.  At the baby’s touch, a shock of vibrant life-energy enveloped the child and the man.  In her eyes he saw Vanessa’s future unfold in a panoramic display.  He saw the child in school, comforting her playmates; he saw a gentle, loving teenager become a gentle, loving woman; he saw wisdom and kindness flowing out from her in an endless stream; he saw the woman take her place in the world as a true spiritual leader; he saw her passing from this world, gracefully and without fear, at one hundred and three years of age.  He saw the whole world mourn.  He saw a soul of great beauty join the Source.  

Seven hours passed.  The mother came home to find Earl gone and Vanessa sleeping soundly in a clean crib.  Looking down at her beautiful baby daughter, Carol dropped to her knees for the first time since she was eight years old, and prayed that God would carry her through another day–that He would give her the power to raise her child safely.  A deep sense of tranquility stole over her as she spoke these words.  It moved from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, like a warm blanket being drawn over her.  Carol went to bed, looking forward to the coming day.  

Earl sat alone on a park bench and listened to the voices in the wind.  Ten thousand lonely, confused, angry and sometimes insane, voices.  Where would You have me go? he asked the stars.  The answer came, as he knew it would.  

“There’s a man on a bench down at Thirty-Second Street, who would like to meet you, Fred.”  Earl said to the elderly gentleman in the wheelchair.  Earl had stepped into the elevator just a moment before, and stood facing a white-haired man with two missing legs.  

“Who wants to meet me, and how is it that you know my name?” asked the man, looking up at Earl and adjusting the blanket that covered the stumps where his legs had once been.  

“A Vietnam veteran named Chuck,” explained Earl.  “He’s homeless and lonely and he wants someone to talk to.  You’ve got a nice home, you’re lonely, and you, too, want someone to talk with.  You should wheel on down there and introduce yourself.”  

“Just like that?” the old guy asked, “You want me to ‘wheel on down there’ and introduce myself?  There are tons of homeless, lonely people in this city, and you want me to go out and make a cold-call?  Give me a break.  Besides, who the hell are you?”  

Earl reached over and placed his hand on the man’s shoulder.  “You and he are a perfect match, Fred.  You’re both warriors.  You lost your legs in Germany, he lost his faith in Vietnam.  You’ll strengthen each other.  You don’t have to be alone any more.  Take this chance.  Thirty-Second Street, on a bench.  His name’s Chuck.  He’s holding a sign.”  

What was that all about? the man asked himself as Earl stepped off the elevator.  How did that guy know my name?  How did he know about Germany?  Why do I feel so wonderful all of a sudden?  

_________________  

Earl heard the woman being beaten.  He heard her cries for help.  He heard with his essence rather than with his ears.  He used this same essence to fold time and space into itself, to appear beside the enraged pimp.  In an instant, Earl caught the pimp’s arm in a viselike grip before he could strike again.  

“No more,” he said to the wild-eyed man.  “Your time is up.”  

“YOU! I killed you!”  the pimp spat.  “I saw you die!”  

“The spirit doesn’t die, Jimmy,” Earl replied as he folded the screaming pimp into an empty region of time and space where light does not exist and sound cannot carry.  

Earl looked down at the beaten, discarded woman below.  “Wanda,” he whispered, “it’s time to go home.”  

"Mr. Beasley-By-The-Way?  Izzat you?  You come to help Wanda again?  Why you wanna help me?  I ain’t nothin’ but trash, just a ho, all used up and beat to shit.  It ain’t no thang, really.  Jimmy take me back when I get my face fixed.  Where’d he go?  Mr. Beasley?  You lend me some money get my face fixed?  Ain’t no man gonna pay for dis mess, that for sho.”   

Earl helped Wanda to her feet.  They stood there in the dark for a moment, in silence.  Wanda focused on Earl’s face.  “You’re an ANGEL, aren’t you,” she stated, all trace of accent gone.  

“We’re both angels, in a way, and in a way, we’re both something else.  The trick is to recognize both sides and to choose one.  Are you ready to choose?” he asked.  

“I signaled Jimmy to come and rob you, Earl.  I did it knowing that he was crazy enough to kill you in the process.  That was me who called the ambulance, but that doesn’t make me innocent.  I’ve done horrible things.  I think I’m pretty well lost.  God wouldn’t want me.”  

“Would you want God?” Earl asked.  

“Yes, I’ve always wanted God,” she replied.  

“Then let’s do God’s will and see what happens,” Earl said and took her hand.  Together they walked down the street, hand-in-hand, looking for people to help. 

__________________  

The man on the hospital bed looked lifeless.  He was shrunken and wasted, a mere shadow of what he had once been.  Earl stood beside the bed, took one of the cold, frail hands into his own, and looked deep into his alternate self.  He saw himself as a child growing up.  He saw himself being picked on at school and at work.  He saw how his decisions and his environment had molded him into a naive, self-centered fool.  He looked upon himself with love, forgiveness, and with understanding.  “Earl,” he said to himself, “there’s a lot more work for us to do, and you can’t be laying around all day long in a coma.”  With that, he leaned closer . . .  

__________________  

“This is a miracle!” the doctor yelled out as he examined Earl the next day.  “A complete turnaround!  One day you’re 90% gone, and the next day your color has returned, you’re at an ideal weight, you’re healthier than you were before the attack and there is absolutely no sign of tissue damage!  I have never in my thirty-five years of practice ever seen or heard of such a thing before!  We’ve got to get the press in here!  We’ll be on television!  This is magnificent!  Mr. Beasley, what can you tell me about this?  Why are you cured?”  

“Uh,” Earl stuttered, I haven’t a clue what’s happening here.  The last thing I remember was being stabbed in an alley.  I remember a lot of pain and an ambulance.  I remember hearing a baby cry and seeing a fight somewhere.  Or maybe that was a dream.  I think I dreamed.  Do people dream when they’re in a coma?”  

“There’s little chance that you could have dreamed while you were in that coma,” the doctor said, “all of the instruments showed that your brain had almost shut down.  Like I said, this is one for the books!  Are you ready to go public?  Take some more tests?  May I call a friend of mine who runs the local newspaper?”  

“Please, doctor, no more tests, no publicity.  I’m sure there’s an explanation for all this, but right now I just want to go home, if you don’t mind.”  Eventually, the doctor relented and Earl was allowed to leave the hospital.  As he walked down the street, his mind kept returning to the crazy dream he’d had while in the coma.  Dreams can certainly take you to some strange places, he mused.  It had all seemed so real!  So vivid!  And he had changed.  Things were very different.  Having come so close to death, he no longer had any fear of any kind.  He felt as if each day was a gift, and that every moment was a spectacular opportunity to live life to its fullest.  Though he still had a strong desire to help people, he no longer felt the need to pass out books or pamphlets.  There had to be a better way, and he intended to find out what it was.  

Walking was a profound pleasure.  For somebody who’d been dying only a week ago, he felt magnificent.  The sky was so blue, the air so clear . . .  

The wheelchair almost hit Earl as he rounded the corner.  In it sat a happy, white-haired man with no legs, talking a mile-a-minute to the bearded fellow pushing his chair.  The two seemed oblivious to everything except their private, animated conversation.  They were obviously the best of friends.  

God is with us,” Earl said aloud, to nobody in particular.



Dear Website Visitor,

Thank you for reading my writing exercises and mini-stories.  

(And, please understand that I don't necessarily believe everything I write:)  

Mark Selman



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