(This time around, Soul has returned to the Great Hall to visit her guardian angel, Epheniel, to discuss her attempts to commune with the Universe.)
After settling into a comfortable chair facing my beloved angel, I glanced around her conference room and then squeezed my eyes. After a long moment, Epheniel broke the silence.
“Soul,“ my angel began, concern filling her face, “are you all right? Perhaps we should do this another time when you are not suffering from an ailment?”
I opened my eyes and grinned. “Nope, I’m fine. I’m just trying to sear the memory of this room into my brain so that I can better recall it when I return to my life. One of these days, I pray the veil before my eyes will drop and I will feel our connection when I’m on the Earth plane.”
My exquisite angel smiled and nodded. “How is your life going these days?” she asked, knowing full well how it was going. I narrowed my eyes at her, but let it pass. She continued, “If memory serves me, I believe you wanted to learn to meditate.”
I nodded. “Well, you know me. I pretty much play by the rules, so I figured in order to meditate, I needed lots of stuff.”
“Yeah, you know. Stuff like books and how-to-meditate tapes – the sort of thing that could help me soar through the cosmos.” I paused and narrowed my eyes. “You really want me to tell you all this even though you lived it with me?”
Epheniel smiled and nodded. “Speaking aloud helps you process,” she replied. “Besides, I love hearing your version.”
Again, my eyes narrowed. Your version? But, I let that go as well, congratulating myself on how highly evolved I must be getting to so easily overlook celestial digs – loving digs to be sure, but digs nonetheless. I took a deep breath.
“Hmmm, let me think.” I paused for a moment, gathering my thoughts. “Okay, first, I carefully selected the day in which to commune with the Universe.”
An angelic eyebrow arched in confusion. “Is a Tuesday better than, say, a Thursday? This is news to me. Maybe I should take notes. You never know when I might need this information.” Instantly, a beautiful white quill pen, equipped with an oversized white plume, appeared in one hand and a plain steno pad in the other. She opened the pad to the first page and jotted something down. “Go ahead, Soul, I’m ready.”
I glanced at her, wondering if she was serious or pulling my leg. Her face read the former, but my experience with her tended to move to the latter. I sighed and continued. “I read lots of how-to books, listened to countless meditation tapes, and waited for a day when I was physically exhausted.”
There went the eyebrow. Again. “Why would you want to be exhausted? I thought you wanted to meditate.”
I nodded. “My cosmic plan was to capitalize on hitting theta state right before drifting off for a much-needed nap. Yes, indeed, I thought I was ready to cosmically commune.”
Epheniel interrupted me with the raised plume. “Had you experienced theta state before?”
“A couple of times before drifting off to sleep, but those weren’t planned. Logic told me to make sure I was tired before consciously trying to achieve theta state. I’d also read about it in countless books as that place between wakefulness and sleep, so I thought that might do the trick. So to speak.”
I thought a moment before continuing. “Hey, remember those Lives of the Saints books that I loved and inhaled as a child? The ones with the pictures of all those saints with upturned faces?”
“HOLY SMOKES, SOUL!” boomed a voice right behind me, no doubt startling me out of at least one of my celestial lives. “What is it with you and upturned faces?”
I spun around, wondering how Michael might be garbed. He did not disappoint. The archangel was wearing a pair of scruffy jeans, sandals and a black Grateful Dead t-shirt, emblazoned with a top-hatted, grinning skeleton. His hair was pure Jerry Garcia – thick and dark and curly, framing his face. He idly twirled a pair of soft brown wire-rim sunglasses as he returned my questioning gaze.
“What?” Michael asked, turning around to give me a complete view. “Were you expecting me to appear as a prancing pony or something?”
I giggled. “Only with a a pink tutu and a plumed headdress. You’re quite the Deadhead angel today. Jerry would approve!”
“That’s because Jerry does approve!”
My jaw dropped. “You know Jerry Garcia?”
“Absolutely. We’re good buddies and jam together whenever we can.”
My eyes narrowed. “And what instrument do you play?”
Instantly, he was seated at a drum set. A pair of drumsticks appeared in his hands, and he flew through an impressive riff.
I shook my head. “Why am I not surprised?”
His twinkling eyes narrowed, as the drum set and drumsticks faded from view. “Seriously, let’s get back to you. What is it with the upturned face thing?”
“Perhaps it’s a by-product of my Catholic grade school experience. I spent a lot of time reading about saints and angels back then. They all seemed to have that upturned face thing going on – at least on their book covers.” I lowered my voice. “Truth be told, they also looked more than a little boring to my ten-year old self, but hey, who was I to judge? Obviously, they’d made it into literary immortality, as well as heaven. I found that I couldn’t read enough about them – and as many books on faeries, as well.”
“Saints, angels and faeries,” Michael mused. “Not bad reading material for a ten-year old.”
“I was just going to tell Epheniel about my first meditation attempt. You’re more than welcome to stay and listen – unless there’s some world crisis that needs your immediate attention.”
“There’s always a world crisis, but I am an expert at multi-tasking. I’ve always got time for you, Soul – and every other human who asks for me.” He perched on the edge of a nearby chair. “Go ahead,” he said. “This should be the highlight of my day.”
I smiled and chose the high road – again – and continued the story. “I lay on the bed and tried to relax, hoping to shut down my racing mind. As soon as I settled, our dog, Barney, apparently thought that Mom looked ‘way too lonely there on the bed, so hopped up to join me, smashing his eighty-five pound furry frame against mine. I was confident that I would be able to handle that situation once he settled down and drifted off to sleep, but the dog obviously had other plans. Apparently, it was time for his personal pedicure.”
“Whoa!” Michael interrupted, as his sunglasses went flying across the room in his excitement. “You gave your dog a pedicure? I thought you wanted to meditate.” The sunglasses reappeared in his hand again as he awaited my answer.
“I did want to meditate, and since it is obvious that you are not one with dog, I’ll explain. Occasionally, some dogs gnaw their nails, and in order to get into a good position for this activity, the aforementioned dog must balance the rest of his weight on one leg, which happened to be digging into the human-type person next to him. In short, the situation didn’t look promising for any cosmic communication.
“Apologizing profusely as I sought to move him slightly away from my person and earnestly avoid his Don’t you love me anymore, Mom look in his eyes, I settled in once again. I was feeling pretty darn smug at this point because I had remembered to turn on the room fan to block out house noises. I decided that I would try to chant my way to a meditative state. After having read several suggested mantras in different books, I tried one on for size. As the chant continued for a couple minutes, I realized that the sound went from sounding something like nnnnhna-ahhhhhm-nhhhhhn...nnhn-ahhhhhm-nhhhhhn...”
Epheniel raised her hand to slow me down so she could take notes.“Nnnnnnhn-ahhhhhhhhm-nhhhhhhhhn? That sounds interesting, Soul. You got that in a book?”
“Yes,” I replied, “but it soon changed to I know the phone is going to ring. I know the phone is going to ring.”
“Did you get that from a book, too?” Michael asked. “Maybe you should try, ‘Nannna nahhnna, nannna nahnna,...”
He nodded at Epheniel, who took up the tune. “’Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!’”
I glanced from one angel to the other, dumbfounded. “Is there any song you guys don’t know?” They grinned at each other and shook their heads. “Actually, I chastised myself for not assuming the correct frame of mind, although I can’t for the life of me figure out where I might have picked up that kind of attitude, do you?” Epheniel smiled serenely and gracefully motioned with her quill to continue.
“Anyway, I took a firm hold of myself and said, Stop that and get back to the business at hand! Apparently feeling hurt and suffering from my earlier rejection and quite possibly wondering why Mom was emitting these decidedly weird sounds, Barney decided to plop a proprietary paw upon my chest, so there went the chanting phase of my meditation for the day. I sat up and looked him squarely in the face. ‘Okay, dog, I’m yours. What do you want?’ He sniffed and hopped off the bed. ‘Great. You want to get out of the room. I can do that.’ As I let him out, I thought, Aha! This’ll be a piece of cake now.”
My angel spoke up sweetly, as her steno-jotting continued. “A piece of cake? Another new spiritual phrase perhaps?” When Michael guffawed, I ignored both and continued.
“Time for a meditation tape! I thought. “And soon I’ll be out there, conversing and soaring with you guys.” I even briefly wondered if I should take a travel sickness pill, but decided against it.” I heard and pointedly ignored an audible sniff. “The tape came on and a soothing voice directed me into a beautiful woods. I stepped into the woods in my mind, but then abruptly stopped. Wait! Is there poison ivy in here? You know I’m not crazy about poison ivy. Stop! I chastised myself. Stay with the tape. There is no poison ivy in the celestial realm woods, so just calm down, walk into those darn woods and get highly evolved.
Eyebrows raised, Michael glanced at Epheniel and mouthed the words poison ivy? Epheniel only shrugged and put quill to steno pad. I ignored both and continued.
“Okay. So I settled in again and listened as the voice moved me farther into the cool, dark forest. I was doing pretty well and thinking myself pretty highly evolved – that is, until the phone rang. I groaned and reached for it.”
Michael’s face wore a deadpan, Deadhead expression. “Was it the celestial realm?”
“No, it was not the celestial realm. It was a highly-evolved window replacement representative, quite certain that I was interested in replacing my windows and could he please come out and discuss it with me at my earliest convenience? I thanked him for his concern, told him my windows were fine and hung up. Unfortunately, when the phone had rung, I had jumped to answer it, but had forgotten to pause the tape. By the time I returned to the bed, the soothing voice had not only traipsed through the woods, but had reached nirvana – without me. I sighed and turned off the tape. But, before I crawled back onto the bed, I removed the phone from my room. Minor setback, I assured myself. No problem.”
“No problem,” agreed Epheniel. “Go on.”
Apparently, Michael had found his Was it the celestial realm question highly amusing. He repeated it several times, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh. I sighed, and waited for him to finish enjoying his bizarre sense of humor before I continued. Needless to say, the wait was long, but when he finally got himself under control, I continued.
“After firmly closing the bedroom door – again – I once – again – settled onto the bed. Obviously, the chanting and the meditation tape had not brought the desired results, ...”
Epheniel smiled sweetly. “Obviously.”
I gazed at my angel’s face. Did I sense a bit of attitude? Once again, I let it go. “So my mind scanned to Meditation Phase 3: counting backwards.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Michael replied. “How’d that work for you?”
Without trying to decide if the archangel was messing with me – again – I continued. “Well, I slowed down my breathing and started with number four. With each exhalation, I dropped a number. When I hit one, I repeated the countdown again. I was doing pretty well and was thinking that perhaps I should get out of teaching and into the meditation business, when just as quickly, I realized that I was not focusing on my task at hand: inhale-4-exhale, inhale-3-exhale, inhale-2-exhale, inhale-1-exhale seemed to be morphing into the grocery list on my kitchen table: inhale-4-containers-of-yogurt-exhale, inhale-3-loaves-of-bread-exhale, inhale-2-gallons-of-milk-exhale, inhale-and-a-partridge-in-a ...,” Another sniff from the Deadhead archangel turned into a definite snort. “Okay, okay, so the counting didn’t exactly work for me. I recognized the fact that I am an intelligent, flexible adult capable of creative problem solving. It was obviously time for a new tact.”
“Obviously.” Michael was now engulfed in laughter. “Oh, Epheniel,” he finally gasped, “this is such great fun! Don’t you just love humans?”
I looked closely at my guardian, only to find her laughing, as well. I peered at her. I strongly suspected that they were laughing at me, not with me since I was not laughing. That thought brought more laughter from the angels. Gazing at both entities, I sighed. Definite attitude. In response, they worked to get themselves back under control, and I picked up the tale – again.
“It was at this point in my meditation that Barney felt extremely lonely in the hallway outside my bedroom and jangled his collar until I once again dragged my bones from the bed to reopen the door to admit him back into the room. One look at my decidedly non-angelic glare sent him to the floor, where he curled up, giving me his But I love you so much I can’t stand being away from you look.
A plaintive sigh from Epheniel interrupted my thoughts. “I just love dogs.” I gazed at her, wondering if she was serious.
“I love dogs, too, but this one was doing his best to keep me from cosmic communication. I decided that it was now time to try the Concentrate-on-Each-and-Every-Limb, Thinking-Them-Light-Enough-to-Float Technique. Just as I was thinking that I might drift off into the celestial realm, one of my four delightful children came into the house, walked down the hall and closed her bedroom door behind her – loudly.”
Another sigh. “I just love children, too.”
“I love ‘em, too,” Michael chimed in, “But for different reasons. They’re dirty and loud and smelly and curious as they discover their exciting world.” He sighed. “There’s nothing like playing with dirty, loud, smelly, curious kids!”
What’s with all the sighing around here?
I cleared my throat, hoping it might help refocus my angelic audience. “No problem, I told my hopefull limbs. She’s in her room. Hang in, there, toes – you’re next on the float list.”
SLAM! There went another door in the house. “Which one of my kids doesn’t know how to quietly shut a door?” my elbows demanded. “I wanna float, too!”
Michael exploded in laughter this time, no pretense of stifling present in the room. Whatsoever. “Floating elbows?!” He turned to my guardian angel. “Did you get that one?” When she nodded, the archangel continued. “Good thing you came in. I need to get caught up with all the new earthly jargon.” He glanced at my angel, who was busy jotting on her steno pad. “Floating elbows? What’s next?”
Gathering what remnants of dignity remained within me, I continued, pretending not to have heard his question.
“’Where’s Mom?’ boomed a new voice. ‘Does anybody know where Mom is? MOM?!’ Slam! I sighed heavily and looked at my watch. An hour had passed since I had made the decision to meditate and I was as earthbound as ever. It had sounded so good at the time.”
“So you didn’t commune?” Michael asked, his face the epitome of innocence. “Not even with the floating elbows?”
“No, I didn’t commune,” I answered a bit tersely. “But after that experience, I do have some questions about those books I used to read. Just how many kids did those saints have? Were nannies involved? How many had dogs who preferred to worship their mistresses from anear? Did those holy souls teach all their children how to shut a door so that the saintly mother-type person in the adjoining room could commune with the Universe?” I stuck out my lower lip. “Why couldn’t I be one of those guys on the mountaintop this time around?”
Epheniel stopped her note-taking and put up her hand. “Pardon me? Guys on the mountaintop?”
“You know, the guys in the pretty-colored robes, chanting amidst the mists of a Himalayan mountain?” I sighed. “Just think. No dishes, no lesson plans, no meat loaf – just happily chanting and communing with the Universe.”
“Have you considered that perhaps – just perhaps – you might learn to commune as you do those dishes, write those lesson plans and make those meat loaf dinners? Soul, when we made your Life Chart, you did not ask to remove yourself from the earth realm, but to spiritually thrive as you are ensconced within it.”
“No mountain top, huh? I think I’d like that sort of thing, you know.”
“I know, Soul. No mountaintop. Maybe next time around.” She paused, placed the pen and steno pad on the tale and gazed into my eyes. “Now, tell me, Beloved. What did you do?”
“Well, I got up from the bed and went on with the business of living. Before you even ask, the lesson learned that day was that while I may not have communed with the universe, at least I know my dog loves me. And you know, over the course of time, space and dimension, there’s a lot to be said for that.”
(Excerpt from This Time Around – https://www.martyboyle.com – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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