A Message From the Family: Heaven Can Wait

desert_sunriseNothing in physical reality maintains its form forever. This includes the shape of spacetime itself, if “shape” can be used to refer to a nonphysical, nontemporal probability construct in which the phenomena of energy and matter can form regular recurring patterns. Therefore degradation, delapidation, denigration, and devastation can seem stronger forces than those of re-emergence, recurrence, innovation, renewal, and resurrection. But “Death”, one of the Tarot’s Major Trumps cards, signifies not just endings, but the beginnings that spring from the endings. So a persistent, invasive terror of death, which at times in his life Mister Rand himself has felt, can actually hide a deeper terror: a terror of rebirth.

Stephen Levine, in his book, Who Dies?, observes that in his experience working with hospice patients, the persons who have been the most fearful of living are those who tend to be the most fearful of dying. For much of his life, Mister Rand has attempted to maintain a sometimes precarious existence on the borderlands of consensus reality—i.e., on the sidelines of life. This is because his early childhood experiences had taught him to expect that it was safest to be invisible. So he never developed the skills requisite for a thriving social life, and greatly feared intimacy, for the most nurturing person in Mister Rand’s childhood had also been one of the most abusive. Consequently, Mister Rand did not easily trust intimacy, as witness the fact that Mister Rand had only one romantic partner, the late Stuart “Alex” Lucker, who died two years into their relationship.

Since that time things have changed for Mister Rand. During his years in Santa Fe, attending a Twelve Step group for persons with eating disorders, he has learned to trust many of the persons he has met in his meetings, and some of them have become friends. In addition, his psychic work, and his … involvement with The Celebration, a leaderless Santa Fe spiritual group, has enriched his social life in ways he could only have dreamed of when he was younger and more frightened.

We say these things not to embarrass Mister Rand, nor to solicit pity for him, but to illustrate the limitations of fear-based thinking when considering all the richness of possibility that physical reality has to offer.

true_strength_is_nurturingIn your Bible it says of the story of redemption, “These things the angels themselves desire to look into.”  While in the original the Bible writers intended this sentence as a reference to the concept that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah or Savior of the world, we submit that it can also be employed to refer to physical reality itself—that unbodied spirits long to directly experience for themselves what life in physical reality is like.

What does physical reality have to offer that the nonphysical realities do not? This is an important question, because in your theologies, “Heaven”—being a reference to not only the intangible “afterlife” but also to the sky above your heads—is considered superior to “Earth”, the physical plane in all its manifestations. Yet there are some experiences only available in physical reality, and it is these experiences that the angels desire to look into. Some of these experiences include sensory experiences of light, sound, color, music, scent, texture, movement, and temperature; the pleasures of creativity through art; the pleasure of patient guided unfolding of a possibility as it changes into a reality; and the expansion of understanding triggered by incarnational experiences such as birth, sickness, romance, reproduction, child rearing, freedom fighting, [observing and interacting in love with animals, plants, and insects], and the recovery from illness. The experience of the passage of time itself is an experience that can only be enjoyed and benefitted from by those in physical reality.

rainbow_mosqueIn looking over our list, Mister Rand asks (. . .), “But is the joy that physical reality affords us worth the suffering it also affords us? What of the millions suffering unspeakable pain? How can smelling a flower offset the sheer weight of their dismay?” The answer, of course, is that a person dying of AIDS in a back alley needs consolation, water, food, medications, and supportive social interactions, not just the smelling of a flower. And since the hands of God are the hands of Mister Rand and those other spirits who have taken on flesh, seeking God’s will for assessing what help to give the dying person is the responsibility of Mister Rand and his acquaintances. For the joy of helping to relieve another’s suffering is another experience that only physical reality (and thought reality, its close sibling) can provide.

In the nonphysical realities, there is no sense of separation between Self and Other. Individuation does exist in the nonphysical, but it is individuation seen and felt always in its context of All-That-Is. In physical reality, where consciousness often appears limited to, or framed by, the brain organ, physical and emotional separation are regularly experienceable. So opportunities to reveal these separations as the illusions they are at core are precious, and if taken with care and awareness, yield exquisite experiential results.

So there is, in our opinion, a case to be made that Heaven is not superior to Earth; they are two sides of the same coin, different but equal. And Divine Love is present throughout both realities. Call upon It today to make Its presence known to you in your life as you really are just at this moment, and keep on calling upon it until you become aware of the answer. And we thank you for sharing today. •

— Channeled by Rand Lee, 11/2/16, 3:11:16 AM

My Landlord’s Dog

EPSON scanner image

My landlord’s dog is a white female American bulldog named Julie. She is 8 years old, and exudes sweetness and love to such an extent that nearly everyone who meets her tells my landlord, whom I’ll call Jim, “If you ever decide to give her up, I’ll take her.” I rent a room in Jim’s house, and when my cat Urdwill was alive, Julie accepted him as one of the pack; if anything, he, not she, was the more aggressive and territorial of the two.

For the past few days I have been caring for Julie. About 4 days ago, Jim was taken to the hospital, where he has been ever since, with a cracked pelvis from a fall, a deep upper leg infection, and urinary difficulties. Jim is a very large man, and it took a four-man team of paramedics and firefighters to transport him from the upper tier of the bunk bed where he sleeps down to the gurney they had waiting for him. When I spoke to him on the telephone yesterday, he sounded disoriented and frightened. In his deep bass voice he said, “I’ve never felt so helpless before.”

I can believe it. Jim is 74, with a lifetime of international sales, business ownership, and professional rugby behind him. When I met him, about 2 years ago, he had been reduced to spending most of his time in a chair in front of his large screen TV, watching sports programs. I learned that some years back he developed a brain embolism that impaired his hearing, eyesight, balance, short term memory, and completely erased his sense of smell, which in turn has reduced considerably his ability to taste anything. A Type Two diabetic, and a heavy nighttime vodka-and-cranberry-juice-cocktail drinker, he is also a hoarder. Nearly every square inch of his house is filled with sports equipment, boxes of books, clothing, heaps of old bills and letters, tools, memorabilia, and trash, and the yards around his house sport several huge, inoperative vehicles, including a chartreuse van and two trucks, one of which has a mobile hot tub attached to it. (In the Seventies, Jim used to drive this rig around Santa Fe, renting it out to partying hippies.)

Despite his brain damage and short term memory loss, Jim notices at once if anything new appears in his vicinity, or if anything is thrown away or moved from one spot to another. “Is that your towel on the washing machine?” he asks. “Did you move that [tiny scarlet] tag from the desk to the side table?” Severely depressed, he goes to bed around midnight and gets up around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. “It just doesn’t seem worth it most days to get out of bed,” he told me.

Jim is on Medicare, and has had a string of caseworkers who come by now and again, disappear, and are replaced by new caseworkers. This is not because Jim is a difficult client to deal with; he is remarkably sweet tempered for a man with his background and in his condition. It’s because New Mexico, one of the poorest states of the Union, does not allocate much money to social services, and typically caseworkers are paid little, overworked, and overscrutinized by middle management longtermers anxious not to lose their jobs. Still, it’s a good thing Jim has Medicare, as he tells me he will be in hospital for at least another week, and in the meantime I am more or less in charge of taking care of Julie. “She misses you a lot, Jim,” I told him. “I miss her a lot, too,” he said, and his voice broke.

I find myself grieving, for Jim’s pain, certainly, but also for my own. My father, pictured above, was a big man, too, with a bass voice, and like Jim had little liking or talent for asking for help. Tonight I miss my father keenly. I was scared of him, much of the time, and angry with him, much of the time, and yearned for his approval and acceptance all of the time. He filled the house I grew up in with his presence just as Bill fills this house with his, and after my father died, of the last in a string of heart attacks back in 1971, the house loomed vast and empty without him in it.

I have no reason to believe that Jim will die, not this time, anyhow, though the events of the past week are clearly a wakeup call for him: change your ways of handling your pain, or make a humiliating, and possibly protracted, exit, stage right. But however long he is in hospital or rehab, and however many changes must take place in his house for it to accommodate his new fragilities, for now, I am here with his dog Julie; and our hearts, both hers and mine, are aching. •

 

 

 

 

On Mother’s Day

MAJORTRUMPS.IV.TheEmpress

neolithic fertility goddess figure

For those of us whose mothers physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused us—whether overtly or covertly—Mother’s Day can be a joyless experience. So I prefer to think of Mother’s Day as a holy day dedicated to recognition of the nurturing face of the Divine in all its manifestations.

Years ago, when i was visiting the shrine at El Santuario de Chimayo, I wandered into the back of the shrine, where a large metal fenced in area was hung with thousands of pieces of paper bearing the photos and/or prayers for relatives of pilgrims. The statue of La Conquistadora in the chapel had depressed me, as war goddesses always do, and I was feeling low in general because of the condemnatory homophobia of the church hierarchy.

As I stood there, my forehead pressed against the fence, I noticed that a stream ran by the place where I was standing. All at once I received a very strong impression of a female energy saying to me, “Don’t listen to those old men on the hill. From my womb you came, to my womb you shall return. You have a right to be here.”

Another time the Great Mother appeared to me was in a dream. I dreamed that I was standing in a kitchen facing a screen door opening to the outside world. On the other side of the screen were a group of wild animals, led by a giant sow, all gazing at me. When I looked into the sow’s eyes the message came to me, “Please don’t forget us.”

I am firmly convinced that environmental abuse—industrial pollution and despoiling of habitats—threatens ourselves and many other species with extinction. Often such abuse arises from Force and Threat based thinking on the part of corporate heads, who believe that anybody strong enough to take what he wants deserves to enjoy the spoils of victory no matter who else or what else it harms. Sometimes such abuse appears to arise from the trauma of growing up poor in rural areas where only the hardest physical labor results in bare subsistence living; in such cases, it is easy to view the Earth as an enemy and animals as either potential foodstuffs to be harvested or rivals for dwindling resources. Sometimes such abuses arise from the blinders which a privileged urban upbringing often places upon the wealthy; to such persons, “real life” is the concrete and glass of the city, and rural life is a kind of theme park rather than the source of all air, water, and food essential to human life. And sometimes, environmental abuse may serve as a “safety valve” for intense personal anger over abuses suffered in childhood.

I grew up in the New England countryside. I spent hours as a boy wandering our woods. I seldom encountered any animals or heard any birds, the latter because (he confessed to me years later) my severely abused older brother—who demonstrated in other contexts a marked sensitivity towards and caring for animals—had a habit of shooting and killing as many birds as he could find. “It was either that,” he told me, “or shoot Mom and Dad.” (A decorated Viet Nam conflict veteran and lifelong alcoholic now in sobriety over 18 years, my brother has set aside his once-hoarded firearms, recognizing that possessing them did not actually make him safer and stronger. So healing is possible, and I honor him for embracing it one day at a time.)

Anti-pollution and environmental exploitation activism is crucial if we are to rescue the Earth, its animals, and ourselves from Force and Threat consciousness run riot. But while we address corporate malfeasance, let’s not forget that corporations are run by individuals, and that a successful environmental protection campaign must also seek to re-educate the individuals responsible for voting in corporate practices that are harming life on Earth. Identifying and reaching such people can be very difficult, as they frequently view anonymity and freedom from personal accountability (“It’s nothing personal; it’s just business”) as some of the privileges enjoyed by the ruling class. But we must persist in showing these people that there is no such thing as an impersonal business decision where the health of the Earth and its creatures is concerned. •

 

Aftermaths

MAJORTRUMPS.XXI.DeathOne of the most painful things about the death of a beloved is not how much difference it makes in one’s days afterwards, but how little. My sweet 14-year-old cat, Urdwill (a.k.a. Burd), was as much part of my day and night as any close family member might have been; but I still have to get up in the morning as usual; shower as usual; make my basic three daily meals as usual; go to my Twelve Step meeting, counseling sessions, and supermarket as usual. I spent part of this week repotting sweet peppers and tomatoes I am raising from seed; shmoozing with my landlord’s sweet American bulldog, Julie; accessing and returning my friend Lee’s car, all as usual. How, I ask myself, could I have gotten over my pet’s demise so quickly? “You never really loved him, that’s how,” the Accuser whispers.

Of course that is not true. The mourning that began with wails of grief has simply shifted, that’s all, downsized itself, gone largely underground. My rented room feels empty, now, without him. When I am out chatting with a friend I think, “Oh, I had better get home now, Burd will need his dinner,” then remember that Burd’s dinner is no longer my concern. When I come back to my landlord’s house and unlock the outer door, I automatically check the area around my feet to see if Urdwill is crouching there, ready to spring past me into the street. At night, whenever I would wake (and I wake up several times a night), Urdwill would be there, ready for affection, action, food; I sometimes nearly tripped over his black-furred body, invisible as it was in the darkened room. The relaxation of my hypervigilance concerning him—the relaxation issuing directly from his death—has been a relief. But it has also been a source of enormous feelings of guilt. How, I ask myself, could I be so heartless as to feel relief over Urdwill’s passing? “You never really loved him, that’s how,” the Accuser whispers again.

Such accusations would have no power to affect me were there not a long, old history behind them. In Ireland, where they had lived for six or seven years, my mother died of alcoholism in 1991, a year after my younger brother Jeffrey, her caretaker, died of AIDS. I hated my mother for having emotionally and sexually abused me, and I felt as liberated by her death as I had felt devastated by my brother’s. It took years before I could acknowledge my love for the part of her that was good and kind, and feel any  grief over her passing. “You could have saved her from drinking herself to death,” the Accusers whispered at the time, but this was a lie easier to shrug off; I knew by this time that alcoholism is a progressive illness, and that she had not been willing to do the 12 Step work that could have helped her find relief from it. The Accuser’s other whisper, “You could have saved Jeffrey from dying of AIDS by insisting he return to the USA for treatment,” was harder to shrug off. At the time in Ireland, so strong were the laws against birth control that one needed a doctor’s prescription even to buy condoms in Ireland; AIDS treatment was even more primitive and limited by public prejudice than it was in the US, where our present cocktail of meds had not yet become available.

In the end I have been forced to the conclusion that my brother, my mother, and my beloved cat Urdwill had their own paths to follow, their own stories, and their own Higher Powers. I have been asked by Spirit to accept that I, like they, am a student of Love rather than a master; and that no matter what the Accuser says, I could no more have rescued my little brother from AIDS than I could have cured my cat’s cancer. The only power I have is in the here and now: the power to choose Love right now, today. •

A Message From “The Family”: On Pets

Rand.UrdwillMister Rand is today facing the possibility that his pet feline, Urdwill, may have more cancerous tumors growing upon his body. They may be malignant or they may be nonmalignant, but in any event Mister Rand’s cat is not eating, although he is drinking water. Mister Rand is remembering all the pets, and all the humans, he has lost to death over the decades, and has been showing great signs of anxiety, guilt, and shame, because part of himself feels (1) that males should not feel such feelings, (2) that he ought to have “saved” his transformed loved ones from death; and (3) that his future spiritual belongingness–whether “God” accepts him after death or not–depends upon his being perfect in all his thoughts, words, and deeds. He even believes that we may be fictions, or worse still, Satanic messengers sent to draw him and those who read his blogs away from the One True God. Mister Rand does not believe any of these things consciously. But all selves exist within the Self, including younger versions of the self, and all their voices sometimes sound within Mister Rand’s heart at once, contradicting the quieter voices of his reason and spiritual insight.

Mister Rand has vowed, when ever it is Urdwill the cat’s true time of leave taking the body, never to have another pet, because he says he “cannot bear” the thought of watching another pet die, or worse still, causing their death by having them euthenased by injection at a vet’s office. Mister Rand says that his grief is too great to bear, since (as he is aware) his grief over losing a pet is also grief over his losses of all the animals and humans in his life (and other lives as well, though he may not know this consciously). There are times when he even feels guilty over having a pet at all, both because of the impact pet-rearing can have on the environment and because he wonders whether it is good for an animal to be shoehorned into a human’s life rather than be permitted to live out its lifespan in a natural environment. Yet even in these things he knows the truth: that there are no natural environments, for your world has been made and remade by Humans repeatedly over the millennia; that in the “wild,” animals live a much shorter time than in “captivity;” and that humans can bring enormous comfort and fun into a domesticated animal’s life.

Mr. Urdwill has lived a reasonably long life for a cat of his size and genetic makeup: 14 years by Mister Rand’s present count. For all but 8 months of those years, Mister Urdwill has roamed free within his territory, Mister Rand’s backyard. He has enjoyed much fresh air, sleeping under datura leaves, chasing toads, terrorizing Mister Rand’s dogs (<-this is a joke>).

[Broken off because of need to take Urdwill to vet; resumed early next morning]

The purpose of the communion between “pets” and humans varies from pet to pet and human to human. Why did Mr. Urdwill choose Mr. Rand as his human companion that day at the pound in 2002, when Mister Rand, following an image of a black cat that had persisted in coming to him, visited the pound and experienced the black Abyssinian mix cat open the door of its cage, walk out, and sit upon Mister Rand’s foot? Mr. Urdwill wished freedom from enclosure. And freedom from enclosure is what Mister Rand gave him, for most of the years of their time together. Both cat and human also wished love, for all beings wish love, even rodents, which humans frequently despise because they closely resemble humans in some of their habits; and lizards, which being “cold blooded” are thought to have no need for love, only sex and food. It is just that Love takes different forms amongst different beings.

What Mister Rand really wants to know is, did he love Urdwill and his family and friends who have passed, truly love them “enough” for God to forgive him for not having been perfect? For having resented and quarreled with his beloved younger brother who died of AIDS in 1990? For having hated his abusive-seductive mother, who nonetheless had loved him in her way and he had loved her in his? For having heeded his lover Alex’s psychic command not to enter Alex’s room the evening of Alex’s suicide, when Mister Rand had returned from a gig the both of them had been scheduled to lead? We say, Yes, you have loved truly. Yes, you have expressed this love at times imperfectly. That is because one purpose for incarnation, the great task of incarnating in physical reality, is to learn to integrate the Divine Love at one’s core with one’s physical self and circumstances. And all students perform imperfectly—they are learning.

Mister Urdwill’s life is drawing to a close due to cancer and complications therefrom. Grief is difficult for many humans to express and bear, for it makes them feel weak and vulnerable and foolish in the eyes of other adults. We ask for all who experience grief over the loss of a companion animal or human relative or friend that you pray for Divine Love to help you forgive yourselves for being students of Love rather than masters thereof. And we thank you for sharing. •

— Channeled April 14-15, 2015, Santa Fe, New Mexico