A Message from “The Family”: On Finding the Center

Mister Rand has given us leave to write about anything we wish, which means we have the task of writing about what he most wishes to hear, since “we” as such do not exist. He has struggled in recent months with a disorientation born of the shock of the Trump person being elected as President of the United States of America. This disorientation, as we see it, is threefold: first, a disorientation of context. The context in which Mister Rand has lived much of his life has betrust_meen one of the United States being at root a well-meaning, generous, adaptive and accepting country, one in which differences are at worst tolerated, at best embraced wholeheartedly.

That this United States has always existed more in intention than in reality does not lessen the impact or importance of this concept held by Mister Rand. He has always felt himself embedded in an America that was, at root, benevolent. To discover that beneath the surface of the mass consciousness there has always seethed a whirlwind of blame, judgmentalism, intolerance, sexism, and social class division has shocked Mister Rand’s idealism into stunned silence.

 Mister Rand’s disorientation is also a disorientation of safety. With the ascendancy of President Trump has, for Mister Rand, come an escalating sense of danger: a keen awareness of the unpredictable nature of physical reality, particularly as regards marginalized populations—gender nonconformists, artists/writers, the poor, the disabled, and those whose skin color does not conform to the standard American norm of heterosexual male Caucasianhood. Mister Rand is keenly aware now, in a way he has not been aware previously, that there are those who would wish him dead simply because he is gay, spiritualist, and possessed of Jewish ancestry.

Mister Rand’s third disorientation is one of purpose. The story Mister Rand has put faith in for many years is that each individual in physical reality is incarnated for a specific reasons or reasons: experiences [that] he or she needs for soul-growth; services that he or she has been called upon to provide to others; and individuals with whom he or she has agreed to collaborate in order to construct and create tools, templates, and systems reflective of the transcendent beauty of the human soul.

Now Mister Rand is uncertain of these matters. Chaos has appeared to ascend in power over him and others, and all bets, as it were, seem off. From our viewpoint, however, nothing has changed in physical reality at all. That is, the ascendancy of President Trump and his followers we see as part of a normal cycle of moral flux, a moral flux that has always existed just out of sight, or mostly just out of sight, beneath the mask of U.S. civil responsibility and ethics. Mister Rand is realizing that his center—the core beliefs around which he has built his worldview—is not one supported by current events. So he is tempted to jettison his core beliefs in the basic goodness of people and the benevolent oversight of Divine Love as idealistic and self-delusional.

To this we say, truth is truth whether or not it is believed by the mass consciousness, and truth cannot be denied forever. To paraphrase a 19th Century Christian writer, God is Love in all parts of Itself, and thinks nothing of Itself, but only of Its creation and how It can win creation back into Its loving embrace. And it takes a special kind of faith and courage to hold fast to this truth in the face of force, threat, and blame as manifested in the surrounding culture.

So to Mister Rand we say, Fear not, neither be dismayed; the vision you experienced in 2013 of the unshakeable, unlosable Love at the center of everything is still true. Open yourself up today to be a channel of that love to those around you, and you will experience small miracles of hope even in the face of death. And we thank you for sharing.

— Channeled Friday, March 17, 2017, 6:30 am MT, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.

On Giving Up Theology

MAJORTRUMPS.XII.TheHermitI tend to continually compare my idealized inner picture of the world as I feel it should be with the reality I perceive around me. As a result, I am usually disappointed, because physical reality has its own rules and patterns that often do not square with my idealized inner picture. In an attempt to discover and understand these rules and patterns, I have spent most of my life exploring different philosophies, religions, and lifestyles, hoping to find one that would feel like home.

The Good Boy

As a child, I thought by being “good” according to my familial value-set, I would be rewarded with the love, safety, and belonging that I craved. When that didn’t work, I asked my Dad to send me to a psychiatrist, because I felt something was wrong with me, and if I just fixed it, everything would be smooth sailing from then on. That didn’t work, either.

Bible College

My father died suddenly, and I had a psychological snapping experience: I converted to Fundamentalist Christianity. I found a community of Bible-believing Christians who were really trying to live their faith. I did my best to follow the rules, which entailed giving up sexuality, dressing conservatively, and accepting the doctrine that I was bad through and through, a sinner deserving of eternal punishment in Hell. I even went to Bible College at my pastor’s urging and with my family’s money. But in the end, I found that no matter how hard I tried, the Fundamentalist doctrinal system was not for me the doorway into the unconditional love I’d been craving. I would pray and pray and confess sinful thought after sinful thought, but I never felt the love of Christ we sang about in chapel.

Coming Out

After that, I got into looking for love big time. I lost weight and sought out other gay men. I figured as long as I stayed slim, placed enough personal ads, and had sexual encounters in which I put my partners’ sexual needs before my own, the Universe would reward me with a longterm lover. I did find a lover, Alex, and we were together for two years, working as psychics, before his sudden suicide put an end to our earthly relationship. But if truth be told, having a lover did not satisfy me either. Almost as soon as Alex and I had moved in together, I had started gaining weight again in an unconscious attempt to put a shell of protection around myself. Inside I was still convinced I was ugly, unloveable, weak, bad, and a failure at being a man. Furthermore, I had failed to save him, so I was a failure as a partner as well.

Opening To Channel

After my lover’s death, I tried to practice, and expand upon, the the spiritual system Alex had channeled. I began doing trancework myself, and gradually, as I got better at opening my heart and mind to spirit, I felt a measure of that peace I had been seeking as long as I stayed in trance. But you can’t stay in trance twenty-four hours a day and function in physical reality. When I wasn’t channeling, I still found myself miserable, lonely, and scared.

Twelve Steps

After bulking up to over 360 pounds, in 1998 I got into a Twelve Step program for compulsive overeaters. I followed that system’s rules and procedures, and worked the Twelve Steps, a series of introspective spiritual surrender exercises. Suddenly, I started for the first time sensing a Higher Power’s benign presence around me, and lost half my body weight in 2 years. So there I was, thin again, and guess what happened? Despite my spiritual progress in the program, I still felt ugly and unloveable inside. So I left my Twelve Step program, and, increasingly tormented by the fear that the Universe was just an unconscious meat machine with no Divine Love, no survival of consciousness after death of the body, and no inherent purpose, I started overeating again. I ended up regaining all but around 60 pounds of the weight I had lost.

Letting Love In

Last November, at 302 pounds, I finally gave up the idea that any single system of philosophy or psychiatry or theology or spirituality was going to save me from my internal pain. I realized, finally, on a deepest gut level, that I had been embracing systems in an attempt to gain some control over my life.  So one day I threw up my hands and said to Divine Love, “I give up my illusion of control over my life and death. I open my heart to You fully. I realize that all the love and safety I had been seeking in a constantly and inexorably changing physical reality is only found in You. Please fill me with Yourself.” Then I went about my normal business.

But a few weeks later, something unexpected happened. While leading a group of clients in a Heart Chakra meditation, I suddenly had the first of a series of spiritual experiences that left me breathless with a genuine, transformative awareness that Divine Love is real—and not only real, but unconditional, for It is complete in Itself and needs nothing from me, only seeking my good. And the Love felt familiar—it felt like home. I thought, “How could I have forgotten You’ve been there with me all this time and I never noticed?” It was that real. Again, the high did not last for more than a few months. But in the course of it I started a love relationship with another gay man. When the Divine Love high wore off, all my incest trauma crap came rushing up, and I was forced by my escalating terror to terminate the romantic aspects of my relationship with him. I thought, “How could I have been so stupid as to think my so-called Divine Love experiences were real? The atheist materialists must be right. Spiritual experiences are just brain farts with no inherent meaning.”

Love and Flesh

celloatSarajevoIt’s been several months since my breakup with my lover and my fresh cascade of self-disappointment. I’ve calmed down a bit, and have realized a few things. Just as I had tried for years to immerse myself in systems and communities so I would not feel ugly and lonely, I had been trying to stay in the high of my visions so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain that physical reality often triggers in me. I had become, in a sense, addicted to spiritual bliss. I was using spiritual bliss to numb my pain and keep me in a protective shell where nothing could touch me, exactly the way I had once used sugar. I was trying to use spiritual bliss to protect my heart chakra from pain.

I realize now that my visionary experience of Divine Love last fall was not a brain fart, or withdrawn because I am a sinner. I know that that Love still exists whether I feel it or not. And because It is Truth as well as Love, Love refuses to be used by me to close my heart to my own pain and the pain of others. Love knows that, ultimately, I am safe; and that, ultimately, I will learn to keep my heart open to It even when I feel lost and abandoned. And I do not have to learn in isolation. Divine Love is expressed not only in visions, but through people, animals, and Nature as well. Recognizing Divine Love in the world around me is now my stated goal, and my prayer.

How have you experienced Divine Love? I would like very much to hear your story. •

A Message From “The Family”: On Ghosts, Aliens, Spirit Guides and Hauntings, Part 1

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And we thank you for sharing.

On the subject of ghosts and spirits much has been written, yet Mister Rand is desirous of our thoughts on these subjects. So we share what we know of them from our perspective as conduits [to the nonphysical worlds]. From the perspective of the nonphysical self, ghosts spirits, aliens, and hauntings all derive from individual need for those experiencing them to connect to their Greater Self and the transfinite aspect of the superpersonality.

That is, a ghost for one person may meet that person’s specific need for experience; as may an alien UFO sighting or a spirit guide manifestation. So in a sense, every person’s experience of the unseen is slightly different from anyone else’s experience of it.  This is not to say that these experiences are bogus or aways generated by the fears and hopes of the experiencer. Sometimes they are, but not always, particularly in those cases when multiple experiences of very similar phenomena have been recorded by people who differ greatly from one another regarding their beliefs in the occult or the spiritual or the Woo Woo Land as some may individuals term it (<-this is a joke.) So we may organize the different experiences of spirits, boojums, fairies, pookahs, redcaps, trolls, dragons, Grey Men, demons, elves, and so forth according to which spoke on the Wheel of Creation they correspond to.

Spirits of Passion: What we may term “spirits of passion” are other-worldly beings generated by sexual frustration; that is, thought- and feeling-forms arising from the experiencer’s passionate desire to merge with a human being the way that experiencer remembers having merged with All-That-Is before birth. Such spirits may take the form of fantasy sexual figures, sex gods and goddesses from mythology, lovers the experiencer has enjoyed (or wishes s/he had enjoyed) in the past, or even animals. In many cases the experiencer is led into an Underworld by such a spirit, or appears to be; or feels the spirit physically present during sexual self=manipulation; or has a dream in which such union takes place. Such spirits are normally thought-forms, and the extent to which they appear frightening or malignant is usually a sign of the experiencer’s own attitudes towards his or her sexuality and sexuality in general, formed in part by culture and in part by molestation or sexual abuse in childhood or young adulthood. It is in fact during young adulthood that such spirits of passion are most often manifested, for this is a time of enormous outpouring of sexual energy within the nervous system and cells of humans.

Where such spirits appear to take on deviant forms, or forms that mock the accepted morality of the experiencer’s religious training or upbringing, they usually mask a desire below the consciousness of the experiencer to satisfy the feelings of the body without the guilt, shame, or moralizing associated with such feelings. This does not mean that all sexual urges should be acted upon. Some, such as pedophiliac fantasies, or rape fantasies, would if acted upon cause harm to others, and this is not acceptable if one wishes to rise above consciousness levels of Force, Threat, and Blame and embrace creative, joygiving consciousness levels of Acceptance, Understanding, Giving, Loving, and Knowing That One Already Has all that one needs. However, all such images ought to be interacted with, particularly if they are disturbing to the experiencer; and counselors can be useful for this.

Spirits of Belief: Spirits of belief are spirits that come in response to the experiencer’s desire for understanding the true values of life. Often such experiencers are religious people who are losing their faith, and so they experience visitations which seem to shore up their faith and strengthen it, according to these experiencers’ needs and symbols. Other spirits of belief come to inspire intellectual understanding by facilitating the explorer’s perceptions of connections among otherwise seemingly disconnected phenomena. So for the first spirit of belief, the spirit of faith, the experiencer might encounter a visitation by a religious figure or icon that is common within his or her belief field. In the [case of the] second spirit of belief, the experiencer might experience feeling filled with creative or philosophical certainty, as though a Greek Muse had descended upon him or her and granted him or her momentary genius. (For most people are geniuses, though they may not know it.)

Spirits of Strategy: Spirits of strategy are messengers from the past or future or an alternative present, that is, one that exists in another space-time continuum parallel to the one in which you find yourself as you read this. Some spirits of strategy take the form of the experiencer’s ancestors; others, as figures from science fiction. Other spirits of strategy have messages from the past self [or a self] in another incarnation. During past life regressions, the being is a spirit of strategy that appears at the bottom of the rainbow staircase to lead the regressee into a past life useful for him or her to know. During future-castings, a spirit of strategy may appear as a guide showing the way to a desired future, or a warner-away designed and determined to help the experiencer avoid a possible future that would not fulfill his or her desired life purpose. We call these spirits “spirits of strategy” because a strategy is a roadmap for getting from where one really is to where one really wishes to be, and once cannot devise, understand, or execute such a strategy unless one has made peace with the past.

Spirits of Harmony: Spirits of harmony are in many ways the most emotionally fulfilling of the spirits to be experienced. Angels, maternal figures, goddesses of mercy such as Kwannon, Jesus, the Shekinah–figures of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and love often fall into this designation. Often these spirits are experienced in the Dream State, during prayer, or during meditation, but their effect is always to reassure, calm, and support peace within the heart of the experiencer. Spirits of harmony can be resisted, and when they are resisted they may take frightening forms symbolic of the experiencer’s resistance to acceptance and growth in the area represented by the symbols involved. But as soon as such frightening forms are confronted, and it is demanded, “Who are you and what do you want?”, they dissolve, revealing behind them the loving presence that was there all along.

Mister Rand experienced such a spirit of harmony one day when he was driving back from a twelve step meeting. He felt a spiritual presence around him that seemed to wish to crush him into obedience or conformation with a moral value that Mister Rand did not recognize as valid. So Mister Rand [thinking the spirit making itself known was from the Creator of All or God) cried out, “You made me a homosexual. So if you want a relationship with me, you must accept me as a homosexual, for that is what I am.” And immediately the feeling of the presence shifted to one of unconditional love and acceptance. Mister Rand had confronted his own self-rejection, and his thought form, which had been masking the true Presence of Love, dissipated.

NEXT: Spirits of Action, Support and Communication. 

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Surprised By Joy

It’s 12:36 in the morning on St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m sitting at my desktop computer typing this because it’s been too long since I’ve worked on this blog and my restless legs syndrome is keeping me awake. In the room here with me, watching a video on his laptop computer, is John, my new friend and lover.

It has been so long since I had been able to open my heart to any kind of intimacy that when I met John it was like a bolt from the blue. Only a week before we met, I told an acquaintance quite seriously that I knew for a fact that I would never have a partner again in this life. I was too screwed up, too fat, too old, and too arthritic for any gay man to find me attractive. Tonight, here is John, broad shouldered and hairy with a child’s huge eyes and the beard of a conquistador, smart, funny, sweet John, who finds me beautiful and makes my skin sing when he touches me.

beautiful_coupleSome spiritual experiences not too long ago gave me visions of divine Love and made me realize that only this eternal Love is enough to fill the holes in my heart, the holes I have been attempting to fill for years with food, religion, overwork, and counseling. So I decided to make seeking connection with this Love my focus from now on. I asked my Greater Self to open my heart fully to all the love available, and now here is John, astonishingly, improbably, fond of me and I of him.

Of course I know nothing lasts forever in physical reality. Forms change, constantly and inevitably. But divine Love does not. No matter whom you have loved and lost, no matter how empty your heart feels due to past pain and loss, no matter how many loved ones have been swept from your embrace by time or illness or disaffection or death, divine Love will always be there, ready to fill the open heart again. Openheartedness is not for sissies. It can hurt a lot. But it also makes joy possible. Ask for it. Call it up from within you. Take the risk. For no matter what happens, ultimately you and I and everyone is safe.

The ex-wife of a friend of mine came up with this variation on a familiar nursery song. I often imagine my Greater Self, my divine Lover, singing it to me when I am scared and sad:

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock;

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,

And I’ll be there to catch you, cradle and all.

— Copyright 2014 Rand B. Lee.

To Blame

ImageTo Blame is the fourth least creative level of consciousness after To Control Absolutely, To Force, and To Threaten. As To Threaten focuses the soul’s attention on the future, thus inhibiting balanced creative action in the face of fear, so To Blame traps the soul in the past. Persons focused on the consciousness level of To Blame cannot stop hating, and therefore can never be free of those forces that have hurt them.

To Blame consciousness not only traps those focused within it, forcing them to relive over and over again the hurts of the past; it also erodes, slowly but surely, their sense of proportion and responsibility, until the original hurt and its perpetrators loom larger and larger in the consciousness until they become a sufferer’s Higher Power. To Blame consciousness also erodes one’s sense of responsibility, tempting the soul to attribute all its travails to the persons and incidents who have harmed it, therefore robbing the soul of its power to make positive choices.

Does this mean that we must crush our anger over wrongs done us and throw ourselves with gritted teeth into the arms of forgiveness? Of course not. The only way to forgiveness is through anger: acknowledging it; using it to help us take positive steps to extricate ourselves from harmful situations and people; and when we feel safe enough to do so, slowly beginning to permit ourselves to soften around our anger and the memories that gave rise to it. Eventually the hurts become part of the landscape of the inner self, like the soft eroded hills of the Appalachians, which once, eons ago, were massive and forbidding.

The flip side of To Blame is To Accept Blame One Does Not Deserve. Unjust guilt feelings and the shame that accompanies them can drive people to suicide. Abused children and spouses frequently blame themselves for their abusers’ actions; rape sufferers have often been accused of “asking for it” because they were dressed in a sexually appealing way when they were violated. Religious groups regularly target specific fringe populations as particularly hateful to God. And when members of such fringe populations internalize that hatred, accepting that censure, terrible things can happen.

My former pastor, a kind and brilliant man who ran the Evangelical Presbyterian Church I once belonged to, committed suicide because he was homosexual. He was not a child molester. He had not hidden his attraction to men from the board of elders who oversaw his stewardship of the church, and had vowed a celibate life. He had continued to pastor his congregation with wisdom and prudence, and was known in the larger community for his work in comforting dying AIDS patients. But in the end, his acceptance of our religious group’s censure of homosexual desire killed him.

To Control Absolutely, To Force, To Threaten, and To Blame are the four least creative consciousness levels. And they are not static; once the consciousness starts to collapse, it tends to keep going. People who blame others tend to be easily threatened. Fearful people tend to turn to force to protect themselves. And violent people engender violent societies in which individual freedoms are eventually abrogated entirely.

How does one stop the collapse of one’s consciousness into less and less creative levels? How does one lift oneself out of To Control or To Be Controlled, To Force or To Be Forced, To Threaten or To Be Threatened, To Blame or To Accept Blame One Does Not Deserve?

NEXT: To Accept With Intent To Learn.

The Emperor’s New Clothes: A Message from “The Family”

The Emperor Essence, the Manifesting Doer.

The Emperor Essence, the Manifesting Doer.

In physical reality, things change. This is both the gift of physical reality and its curse. Only in physical reality (and its immediate support structure, thought reality) can sadness, grief, pain, fear, hatred, anger, and envy be experienced, for only in these realities is the consciousness so frameworked that it can only with difficulty maintain awareness of its immortality and abundant nature.

Such awareness limiting frameworks are necessary in order to keep the self focused in space-time. For spacetime is the most highly energetic of all realities, and thus takes the greatest concentration to focus upon. The plane of the One, on the other hand, where there is no differentiation and no change, is utter stillness and calm. The only effort required to focus upon the plane of the One is to simply let go completely.

Wandering through space-time, the self encounters many individuals who enrich and challenge its assumptions about reality. Such a person was karl Deke Von Uhl, a gentleman of Mr. Rand’s acquaintance who last night began his transition from identification with his physical self: that is, he died. The vectors that helped him die were AIDS and cancer, and he was attended by his longtime partner, Todd Parker.

Why do we mention these men here in this context? Mr Rand did not, after all, know either of them well. Mr Karl he had known in Santa Fe as a client and then, much later, as a friend; Mr Todd he has not met at all. Yet last night’s transition triggered in Mr Rand a desire to know why, given all Mr Rand’s experiences as a psychic and channeler with worlds of the unseen, he still fears death? And why, when he has sensed Mr Karl’s energies around him, more alive than ever albeit not physical, part of himself is still saddened?

Grieving the death of a loved one is not a betrayal of spiritual insight, but a natural human animal reaction to loss of continued experience of the loved one’s voice, touch, scent, breath, body. Wedded as he is to a noble animal body, Mr Rand is outfitted with an ego whose job it is to keep him in spacetime long enough for the balance of the multiverse to be maintained. One of the tools the ego employs towards this end is sex. Mr Rand thought that Mr Karl was very sexy, and although there was never sexual contact between them, for Mr Karl was partnered and had sexual tastes differing from those of Mr Rand, Mr Karl embodied the Tarot Essence called the Emperor, the most physical of all the faces of the Divine. And Emperor Essence individuals have the root chakra as their central chakra, which means that sex is usually very important to them. More than sex, Mr Karl was passionate about the sensual beauty of life: his lover’s body, the power of music (he was a professional musician), art, literature. The ugliness of life he also found beautiful, and embraced.

Mr Rand admired these powerful life energies in Mr Karl as much as he admired Mr Karl’s physical form. And so, since Mr Rand has always struggled with loathing of sexuality and physicality, the few interactions he had with Mr Karl always imbued him with fresh sense of enthusiasm for spacetime experience.

In the last weeks of Mr Karl’s earthly experience in his body, Mr Rand was privileged to offer Mr Karl spiritual and emotional support through Mr Karl’s transition process. In this Mr Rand was balancing his inability to offer such support to his lover Stuart “Alex” Lucker, who left physical reality by his own hand in 1988. Mr Todd was happy to allow Mr Rand access to Mr Karl and last night thanked Mr Rand for his encouragement.

Where is Karl Deke Von Uhl now? He is in the process of expanding the awareness of himself from physical reality through thought reality and into the causal plane or physical planning state, where he will become aware of his entire life just completed and will review how that life added, or did not add, to the balance of his experience as a whole. When Mr Karl has completed this process, he will choose whether to adopt a new physical persona or to remain in the nonphysical (or both). Should he choose to adopt a new physical persona, Mr Karl, the Emperor, will take on a new set of clothes, whether it be in the physical universe Mr Todd and Mr Rand presently occupy or some other. And so the multiversal balance will continue to be fulfilled.

Yet for Mr Todd, and for Mr Rand to a lesser extent, there is grief; and not only for them, but for hundreds of other individuals whose lives Mr Karl touched and challenged and enriched. So although Mr Karl did not complete the great works of writing he envisioned as his purpose, he left many fine writings behind him; and more than this, he gave a visceral life-affirming love to many who knew him. And so in no sense can Mr Karl’s life just past be considered any kind of a waste.

And so, Mr Karl, warrior and poet, live long and prosper; and in the light reaches thou shalt become music until the Earth summons you back into Her embrace once more. And we thank you for sharing. •

Stuart In the Sky, With Diamonds

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The week after my lover Stuart died, I took our wolf-dog, Kaz, out into the wintry New Mexican woods. Snow had softened the ground’s harsh clays. The sun was shining brilliantly off the white-clad junipers and little piñon trees. Kaz led me in a romp-and-tumble over the hills and down some arroyos until we both ended up, limp and panting, in a valley floored by a frozen brook.

I was in that state of heightened awareness that often accompanies deep grief. I’d hardly eaten for a week. For all the two years Stuart and I had spent together as lovers, best friends and channelers, his sudden death had taken me utterly unprepared.

He had developed ARC after having been infected with HIV in an accident at the Key West lab where he’d labored as a medical technologist. We had assumed that either AIDS would kill him some day or old age would. The former had seemed less of a possibility as, one by one, his ARC symptoms had gone into remission. We’d put it down to clean living and the effects of our metaphysical researches. (This was before advances in medical science provided AIDS patients with chemical cocktails designed to bolster immune response.)

But I had found him one morning anyhow, body cold, vacated, and neatly arranged on his bed. The medic who examined Stuart after I had called 9-1-1 later told me that Stuart’s death had been a reaction to a painkiller he had taken for an abscessed tooth due to be extracted the following Monday.

I came to a different conclusion. A month before Stuart had told me he had had a “dream” in which he had gone into a coma and I was sitting by his bed in the hospital. After his death, it struck me that, consciously or not, he had been warning me that he was planning to commit suicide. I still believe this to this day.

That winter afternoon in the valley, I hunkered down and watched Kaz nose cattails. Gradually the sunlight seemed to take on personality. It seemed to shine not on me but for me, and I knew, abruptly and impossibly, that the sunlight was Stuart, somehow. He seemed undismayed that I had been calling him a selfish bastard all week.

You must understand that I am not given to visions. My psychic experiences tend to be quiet, undramatic, noticeable mainly because I have trained myself to recognize them when they occur. Stuart was the visionary. Every time he surfaced from a deep trance channeling session, he said to me, “It’s so beautiful there, where I was; one of these days I’m just going to stay.”

In the valley, dusk fell. I called Kaz, started carward, and in my altered state got lost in the shadowed streamcourse. Nothing looked even remotely familiar to me. The moon came out, and there was Stuart again. Guard-dogs barked at a farm. I felt afraid. I glimpsed mental images of barbed wire, German uniforms, German shepherd dogs pulling at leashes, and myself at a dead run for a clipped fenceline. In my fantasy memory, Stuart was there, saying, “Through here!” He pushed me ahead of him so that it was he, not I, whom the dogs brought down.

As I have said, I am not given to visions. That night I asked the sky, “How do I get out of this arroyo?” A prominent star winked, then burned steady. By its light, I spied a side-track I had not noticed before. Following the track, Kaz and I found ourselves back on the road we had taken from the spot where I’d parked our station wagon.

Stuart again. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Up to that time, Stuart’s death had been the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me. This has changed in the years since. Since that winter I have climbed the years to sixty-two. I have lost Kaz, to a hit and run driver, and three subsequent dogs, one to old age, one to liver failure, and one to cancer. I have lost friends to AIDS, including my beloved little brother; lost my teeth, my health, my career in horticulture, my self-respect, and most of my financial resources. And since Stuart’s death I have never had another lover. I have kept love at arm’s length from fear of having to go through a loss like that again.

Stuart’s death was the most terrible thing that had ever happened to me. But I am certain that it was not the most terrible thing that ever happened to him. The night in the arroyo taught me that. I’m certain that death, for Stuart, had been an explosion of joy.

I drove home that night with Kaz’s paw on my right shoulder. Three months later, on an empty road near our house, some guys broke Kaz’s back with their speeding truck and I had to say goodbye to him, too. I buried his body in my rented garden, between the French tarragon and the double coreopsis. For two weeks I had nightmares that somehow the vet’s needle hadn’t put Kaz out of his misery; that somehow I had buried him alive; that he had awakened, stifling, with dirt in his lungs. Of course it was I who felt buried alive: trapped in the physical plane, unable to get free of the pain and horror of it.