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They Who Draw Out Our Caring

In a leap beyond our current time, beyond the vast and silent dark of the universe (but strangely within our very Here and Now), a gathering of enormous consequence took place. It was attended by a host of seraphim, mentor spirits, saints, completed souls, innocents, cherubs, and angels of all strata. In their midst—the Presence.

The Presence: a paradox of stillness and fireworks, whose Fullness filled every cavernous heart but made room for a void. The Presence was the one who removed pebbles from your path in case you tripped over them, but was obstinately silent when you needed direction.

Oh, the Presence! Source of all Spontaneous Play, who could pull off Pomp & Circumstance more breathtaking than an opening parade in a Cirque du Soleil show, but instead chooses our way and walks in familiar sandals.

That Seemingly Remote, that Beckoning Mystery—who listens wistfully as infants cry out their three-in-the-morning neediness, but withholds cradling and coo, in deference to new parents.

The Presence was known to walk out of meetings in order to eavesdrop on a campfire exchange of tall tales among hobos, truck drivers and footloose seekers. But the Presence came to this Meeting out of curiosity and regarded it with favor.

This Gathering was to confront a problem: human beings, at this juncture of eternity, lived in near total isolation. Without the connection of creature to Creator, humans would float away into extinction.

Sometimes, never having returned to that sense of original longing, the soul had to
retrace its steps
back to earth to
recover a semblance of its original state.

A sense of longing was sealed in every human heart from the day its soul was wakened. The Longing was a radar connecting the soul to its Home. But given the choices a being faced on earth, The Longing oftentimes muted itself. Sometimes, never having returned to that sense of original longing, the soul had to retrace its steps back to earth to recover a semblance of its original state. The returnees were in droves. And completed souls numbered only a few billion.

There was a time, neither earlier nor later, when Humans could be made aware of The Longing before it was lost completely. Mentor Spirits infused an awareness. Guardian Angels nudged and persistently stood their ground. In those days, Human Beings were open and receptive to visitations. But now—an angel in any form would be laughed at with utter disdain or considered to be a UFO to be shot down! What spirit could ease into a miracle in the face of disbelief? Miracles need an openness, no matter how hesitant; a receptivity with a dash of trust; and the singular focus only Loving delivers.

You see, love is the key. It opens the universe to that sense of longing. It is the bedrock for dreams, yearnings and secret songs, all of which evolve into The Longing. The connection is a floating strand linking the soul to the Presence. Mysteriously, the strand is both resilient as well as fragile, tangled like a kite-string above city lines, but freer than free when it soars. What keeps the strand intact, no matter the distance, is The Longing.

Moments were rare (but they occurred) when the whole of Heaven was in awe because some Humans would reel in the strand as if it were a ball of yarn till they were breath to Breath with the Presence.

To fall in love with the Presence is to mirror an "In-loveness" already in place. It is to say Yes to a Wooing more patient than time itself.

But, enough of pondering! Let us return to the reason for this Gathering . . . .

This august body accepted the challenge of preserving the connection at all costs. Their morale was at an all time low, and a sense of deep frustration exuded, but something had to be done to ensure that all of the human family would arrive home some day.

It wasn't a matter of "Well, too bad! They flubbed it. They're all going down the drain!" Or "That's what happens when they're spoiled rotten, they turn arrogant and won't listen anymore!" None of these comments (and there were plenty!) made any difference. They all knew that the Presence would dismiss each and every word with a flourish of "TOTALLY IRRELEVANT!"

The fact that Humans were showered with almost everything in order to ensure that the connection would never fade only heightened the feeling that a Great Intervention was required in order to "set them back on track."

Out of the Blue, one of the cherubs had an idea that the Presence found so delightful. The idea went into action almost immediately.

Simply, this: Instead of guardian angels and whispering mentors and prophets of doom, Cameo the Cherub said it might nurture The Longing and ensure the connection if one could find a way to put into the Human Being's space something to draw out their caring even when the heart was numb; even when Humans thought themselves too lofty, too beyond the pale, too ultra-cerebral. But especially during times when one was hurting and alone. When one felt useless and not needed. When the mirror in the morning flashed a neon sign that taunted you with "Who loves you? Who loves you?" All this, before you even brushed your teeth!

Human beings crowed ad nauseam about possessing control of their lives and being self-sufficient. They thought that as long as salad bars and 7-11's were available, all that was required for them to survive the wear and tear of existence was to pay for a "take-out" order of grass, crunchies, health nuggets, and (yuck!) cheesey cottage.

Nurturing could not be extracted from
pre-packaged items- but only from...the impulsive squandering
of the precious self
to those whose hearts rang out with carols of "gimme" songs.

What eluded them was the fact that intake alone could not add a strand of hair to their head, nor loosen a bowel. It took Nurturing! Nurturing could not be extracted from pre-packaged items, but only from laughter and after dinner conversations, afternoon siestas, long warm hugs, a hand messing up your hair, your name said three times, glances that missed you, touches that squeezed, and the impulsive squandering of the precious self to those whose hearts rang out with carols of "gimme" songs.

"What are you called?" The Herald asked.

"Travis!" He barked.

"What kind of a name is that?" She turned and pointed to one mild looking critter, "How about you?"

"Mah Chile." She meowed. And before the Herald was about to comment, the critter whispered "It's original and it comes from the heart."

"It's a very fine name, little one." The Presence affirmed the choice. Everyone paused to ponder the originality of the name.

The Parade and the Roll Call began as all sizes and shapes presented themselves before the august body, and the variety of names attested to the love and caring poured out by the name-givers:

             Rambo.
             Nathan.
             Heidi.
             Hermie.
             Oscar.
             Tramp.
             Lady.
             Mino (short for The Me Nobody Knows).
             Sweetheart.
             Lassie.
             Chooch.
             Rusty.
             Dancer.
             Rusty Two.
             Kicker.
             Mickey.
             Roxy.
             Gravy
             Tutu
             Mr. Magoo.
             Seren.
             Dipity.
             Steffi.
             Rudolf.
             Geronimo.

"Don't worry, Princess," The Herald addressed another worried face as it stood attentively waiting for its cue. "Where you're going, winters are quite mild."

             Hugo.
             Muppet.
             Clarabelle.
             Polly.
             Mai Tai.
             Circe.
             Clarence.
             Hannah.
             Emma.

"Whoa—where are you off to?" The Herald caught hold of someone leaving the line.

"I'm gonna wait by the curb."

"No—no. Timing is crucial. You have to be exactly there when he sees his shoelace untied."

"Rrrf." It understood. So it gladly rejoined the line.

             Tigger.
             Tweety.
             Madcap.
             Conner.
             Mrs. Murphy.
             Pyewacket.
             Kenny.
             Maurice.
             Abbot.
             Quincy.
             Tisha.
             Minky.

And they were followed by the monosyllabicks who when called, trotted, hopped and sashayed to the beat.

             Rex.
             Jack.
             Sol.
             Jed.
             Joe.
             Blue.
             Max.
             Nick.

"Now some of you may find yourself unwanted. Maybe even abandoned. Some of you may end up with a broken heart. If you think you can't hack it, take one step to the right." The over-voice droned. But no one made a move.

             Spot.
             Black.
             Sam.
             Po.
             Rue.

Strange monikers were interspersed among the droll ones:

             Zardoz.
             Dobra Yutra.
             Two Toz.
             Ferbor Deux.
             Pilou.
             Sushee.
             Yrogue.
             Pudd'nhead.
             Makibaka.
             Khomeni.
             Bantay.
             Muning.
             Muymuy.
             Feetuy.
             Rin-Tin-Tin.
             Mañana.
             Etc.

Yes, even Etc. The Presence whispered to each one of them, and they went out of the gates on that special mission to draw out the caring and make a home in every human heart.

* * *

Among the many stories is Mah Chile's story. You see, she placed a request for an audience with the Caucus Group. She found herself in a true predicament. At seventeen human-counting years, and steadily advancing into Transformation, she observed her charge with great concern.

Instead of growing old graciously as she herself was trying to do, her charge was moving more and more in the direction of a realm away from the comfort of hearth and home. After returning from every trip, the Majeenow (for this is what her charge was called) was setting its sights on nomadic living. But what about me—Mah Chile thought—how could both of them be at this time in their lives so incompatible?

How to explain? The Majeenow, which is a cross between clusters of sweet pea and shifting red sands, had stumbled upon the puzzle piece of its existence—the discovery of which literally "blew its mind!" It was like brushing off dirt and seeing gold bars sticking out of the earth. Wouldn't any human being in its right marbles try to unearth this treasure?

The Majeenow did. And in its heart it held up The Longing.

But the discovery and its aftermath contradicted the directive that Mah Chile was given regarding the Majeenow. What to do, what to do? She fretted.

You name a togetherness and they were behind it. Their mantra was "Commitment."
Without it,
they claimed,
all bets were off.

All this, the Caucus Group absorbed while waiting to complete their quorum. Soon Parallel and Phooey appeared. They were twin spirits who infused Togetherness in all earthly partnering, be it marriages, law firms, room mates, buddyships, soul mates, long-time companions, discipleship, and so forth. You name a togetherness and they were behind it. Their mantra was "Commitment." Without it, they claimed, all bets were off.

The quorum was complete. They reviewed the directive. It stated in a footnote that ". . . the Majeenow arrive at the Stage of Shedding, to rise as it were from still waters, dry as a cuttlebone with not a whistle of dewdrop clinging. In the fullness of that stage, The Longing would erupt." But here was the stinger: "The Majeenow, by virtue of Mah Chile's commitment, would remain rooted until the plans of His Heart were revealed."

All was going according to the fine print until the Majeenow began drifting towards a nameless landscape. The "call" became insistent and haunting like a flute song wafting from a dark forest. It sent a ripple through Mah Chile's body.

If the Majeenow upped and left now or any time soon, how could "the plans of His Heart" be revealed?

Mah Chile's own Transformation was at stake. She needed more time, but her tenure was up. Some intervention had to take place to hold the Majeenow down.

The quorum felt a deep sympathy for her plight. This was no ordinary partnering. Their togetherness weathered numerous location changes, separations, entrances and exits by various personas, and untold traumas. Mah Chile had the sole responsibility to lead the Majeenow on towards the Stage of Shedding. Here they were, almost there! She sobbed at the thought of the Majeenow's fate without her.

"Don't! Don't—" Cameo tried to stop her crying. Too late! It only took a teardrop or two—and sure enough, the Presence was felt by the group. Mah Chile nestled, meowed away her blues and purred in the bosom of the Presence. She listened very carefully. Then slowly, her sad eyes lit up.

The quorum agreed on the best way to implement this Intervening Plan.

Mah Chile would have two more human-counting years to remain with her charge. The job of seeing to it that the Majeenow stayed put was placed in the creative hands of Linger who headed a motley group called the Brigade of Holy Distractions. Then the Presence released Elusiveness and Insistence to fuel the Majeenow's dream-state.

* * *

The Brigade ransacked trunks and barrels full of assorted distractions. More containers and boxes were brought in from Heavenly Retention. Each time a potential distraction was held up, Linger nixed it.

"Hindi puwede 'yan! You put that down!" Esteban, the custodian caught two brigadeers tossing a lottery win back and forth like a frisbee.

"Don't youse all see—" Linger said while perched on a barrel. "Dem ole distrakshuns ain't gonna cut da mustard. Dis sharpie will size 'em up an' walk away. We needs distrakshuns like, uh, uh, subtull ones—guaranteed eyepoppers to make um stay put!"

"Subtull?! Subtull? Oh, you mean subtle ones."

"Das wha' Ah sez!" Linger grinned.

"How 'bout Miss Saigon—anything and everything connected with the show?" A cherub volunteered.

Linger thought a bit. "Jus' might be a pasta-bill-tee! Lessee. . . British Air, uh, too much! Hmm, United—not bad!"

"Why don't we rrreally rrrev up an asthma attack?" Linger recognized Raconteur's voice.

"Give us a break, will ya!" Theodore complained.

"That's it—I say, let's break a leg!" A voice from the corner piped up.

"I say a short-term document discovery!" Solo volunteered.

"Short-term?! Whoever heard of that one!" Came an unbelieving retort.

"Labing dalawa, labing tatlo—" Esteban caught each returned item being tossed and carefully checked his inventory.

While all this was going on, Linger's mind was clicking. "Hmmm . . . Ah tink you got sumpin' dere." He backtracked to the one in the corner. "A bum leg, like ole times. Only more excursh—excursh—"

"Excruciating?"

"Das wha' Ah sez!" He got down from his perch.

Esteban began his chant. "Bato, bato sa langit. Ang matamaan, huwag magagalit—"

"What about children?" Someone suggested. The chanting stopped.

"Wha' bout chillun?" Linger was caught unaware.

"The Majeenow is putty in the hands of 3-year-olds!" They all chorused.

* * *

Mah Chile purred in contentment as she headed for her afternoon snack. She was told that she would be the reason for the Majeenow to reach the final level of the Stage of Shedding. The Majeenow would willingly let go.

One balmy winter afternoon, both of them would take a ride (Linger himself would drive the Red Top Cab.) At Cherrydale, she would warm to the Majeenow's caress, would hear the reassuring "G'bye, Thank You. G'bye, Thank you." That familiar face would be the last image Mah Chile saw when her sight faded. For, she too would rise from waters, dry as a cuttlebone with not a whistle of dewdrop clinging—into her own Transformation.

Not even
the flashing light
at the Request Desk
could nudge
a sleeping seraph.

In the midst of all that was happening, the Presence "stretched," yawned and before long, a blissful snoring could be heard. Soon all of Heaven settled into a glorious nap. Not even the flashing light at the Request Desk could nudge a sleeping seraph. But on duty, Jollicant picked up the urgency and stared at the worded plea.

Sometimes being specific when asking for things is a big help. Otherwise, left up to Heaven, the gift is bound to startle anyone.

* * *

The hotel was two blocks behind him when Lawswun noticed his shoelace untied. He knelt down to knot them when he felt a presence in front of him. He looked up to an expression of a smile in a pair of benign brown eyes. His immediate reaction was to freeze. Where did you come from? He thought. But the source of the smile sniffed at him with a wet nose and gave a small whine. Lawswun stood up and looked down, and then decided to back away slowly from this unexpected friendliness.

He glanced over his shoulder. Each time he stopped, the follower stopped but kept a distance. After two blocks, Lawswun decided it would never do to be followed around. So he waved his hand, and lowering his voice, he addressed the stray: "Go away! Scram!" to no avail. The only response he got was a wagging of the tail.

As he neared the center of the town, it was clear to him that he was stuck with company. By now, they were both walking side by side. When he entered a store, Lawswun looked down at his companion without a word, half-expecting him to walk on. When he came back out, he found him patiently waiting. Once again, they resumed their walk. Lawswun was slightly disturbed by the bonding that was taking place. But he felt proud when he received approving looks from passersby who acknowledged their togetherness. He became aware of a strange sense of belonging—one on one.

At a street corner, while waiting for the lights to change, his companion broke away to greet a kindred spirit. The two sniffed at each other, tails wagging. Hurry, Light, Lawswun urged. He didn't want the two of them following him. But as soon as the light turned green, his companion darted in the direction he was heading and caught up with him after a short block—an obvious declaration of its preference. Lawswun was taken back by all this and could discover no reason for its instant devotion.

In a short while, they arrived at an open fenced parking lot area. He chose the sidewalk while his companion paralleled him on the other side of the fence. They now strolled with the fence between them. At the end of the block, Lawswun bolted away, but his companion was trapped by a wall in front of its nose and the running fence on its side.

As he covered the distance between them, Lawswun kept hearing the barking, punctuated by a yipping and a sad howl. Why was he feeling as though he had just betrayed—and, worse, abandoned—the only thing in the world that seemed devoted to him? What an impossible situation!

Earlier that morning, Lawswun had joined a throng in Sunday worship. All that he had prayed for was contained in one yearning. Is there someone out there meant just for me? If so, could you please hurry, God?

None of the denizens in Heaven knew what "Hurry" meant. "Please," they understood. But Hurry was not a viable concept. They were just as perplexed by the term Coincidence. Each life crisscrossed another for a specific purpose. What was coincidental about that?

Just think of that one person who enters your life from out of nowhere and for no seemingly apparent reason. Or that stranger who retrieved an innocence you long discarded, and handed it back to you. How about the time, in our sheer contentment, when someone came along who plugged up a hole we never even knew existed! All of them were written into the Plan before Time began.

For within
that cosmic choreography,
wild and
combustive happenings
take place...

What we are all invited to is a Coinci-Dance. For within that cosmic choreography, wild and combustive happenings take place—all for that one reason—so we might retrieve a trace of The Longing.

* * *

If you had to design how someone would enter your life, you would probably dress the occasion to suit your fancy. So how was one suppose to react when a "someone plopped" into her lap? Because that's how Princess felt (even though she didn't have a lap). Lettranz Shey came from nowhere. One day it wasn't there. Then, the next day and the following, it was.

Not long after, Lettranz Shey became part of family. Princess would hear the familiar putt-putt of the four wheeler, witness the careless and crooked parking, and know that her own frenzied greeting, which usually called a sense of dread in other visitors, wouldn't faze Lettranz Shey.

You'd think that by now Princess would recognize the stranger by a different name. Not so. You see, Princess saw not an alien, nor a foreigner—but an enigma. So the moniker remained.

One winter, the family made plans for togetherness—time away from home, leaving Muppet and Princess in the care of the stranger. This arrangement was no different from past arrangements with neighbors, so the Princess and Muppet took it with a yawn.

Well, it was a lopsided arrangement (in a sense) because Muppet would be locked indoors and deprived of the chance to sneak out when no one was looking and the door had been left ajar. Princess, on the other hand, would remain outdoors, probably sleeping out as well because no one would be home to let her out in the morning.

Once a day, everyday, Lettranz Shey would arrive to prepare their supper and replenish their water supply. Muppet and Princess had company long enough for the duration of a sit-com and the time it took for mail to be sorted out. Then, letting Princess out for the night, Lettranz Shey would climb back into the four wheeler and go putt-putt till the next evening.

However, this one particular evening would be different. The winds of winter decided tonight was show-off time. They called in the North Pole Gale, who decided She hadn't blown by these particular suburbs in a while, so this might as well be the night. So together with the Canadian Rear, they fancied themselves with long flowing gowns, and they raced through the trees and rattled windows and had a ball, knocking down plastic garbage cans along the curb. Some other gales were having a puffing contest with TV corrugated boxes and computer containers, sending them flying from block to block.

Princess huddled in the corner of her shack and tried to hide her nose under the mound of army blankets. Maybe breathing warm air would warm one all over. At the sound of the wind, she shivered. A branch or twig was torn off a tree and landed noisily on her roof. She wondered if her roof would fly out from above her. Think positive, think warm, she coaxed herself. Did they mean "wild" winters or did she hear "mild" winters? She couldn't remember.

After a while, Princess decided a fast run around the yard or maybe two laps around might warm her. But of course, it didn't. If she stayed out any longer, her breaths would form a smoke of ice, so she dashed back into her shack, circled her space three times and kicked the army blanket over her rump.

Suddenly, she sat up in attention. Is it tomorrow already? Can't be. I'm hearing things. She put on her best growl. Grrrr—but she stopped. It was the familiar putt-putt! It returned? She barked happily and heard the reassuring voice and the jingling of keys as she watched the front door being opened.

Once in, Lettranz Shey walked over to the sliding door leading to the garden and called out: "Psst! C'mon, girl! It's ten below." Princess dashed up to the deck and shyly entered. The warmth of the room was cool compared to the fire that suddenly blazed in her heart. She looked up at this rumpled vision, whose open coat revealed a pajama top. She jumped up and planted the cold cheeks with a slobbering of kisses.

"'S awright! 'S awright! I'm staying."

Princess took the couch. In the dark, she stared across the room at the figure on the La-z-Boy recliner, covered by a coat. If I was human—she whined to herself—I'd tuck you in under the warmest quilt.

The snoring was music to her ears.

* * *

Heaven's exuberance spilled over and reverberated in remote and forgotten places.

That night the joy in Heaven reached exultation levels! Such unpredictable caring! Heaven's exuberance spilled over and reverberated in remote and forgotten places. In the badlands, the wild cacti bloomed and bloomed—crazily out of season! In the deep green of the rain forest, a new strain of butterflies fanned out, their emergence in colors bluer than the bluest sky. In the Sahara, it rained after a seven-year drought and the raindrops continued to pelt the sand dunes until oases of every shape and size sprang up.

I know a little about that sense of exuberance.

I also know about the ache. It is a yearning crying out from some forgotten well within the hidden heart. If I could understand it, if I could do something about it, if I could run away from it-but I can't. Can't run away from my own self. Myself that feels traces of The Longing. This longing for You.

© N.G. Ray

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