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Archive for October, 2010

Imaginary Interlude

I’ve been craving an Imaginary Interlude for the last few days. Anyone out there share my craving? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to arrive at the Pearly Gates we’ve all heard about all our lives. Me, too! I’m sure we all have an idea of what we would like for it to be, the people who might come to meet us, the sights and sounds that might vie for our attention. What follows is one admittedly ordinary woman’s imaginings of this yet to be experienced bliss.

Everybody ready? We are about to take off on a flight of fancy. The captain has lit the “No Smoking” signs, the flight attendants have shown us the oxygen masks and emergency exits and are now coming down the center aisle with drinks and snacks as we embark on our little excursion. We hope you will sit back and enjoy your flight with us today. You may recline your seats and feel free to move about the cabin.

There was soft, gentle music playing somewhere far, far away as he slowly became conscious of his surroundings, but it was unlike any music he had ever heard. There wasn’t really a ‘beat’ per se – just an underlying pulse – like a heartbeat but quieter and less distracting – overlaid by tinkling notes of ascending and descending order. The instruments didn’t sound like any he had heard, but the music was pleasant to the ear, soothing to the soul and relaxing to the body.

He felt light, buoyant – like a balloon tied to a little girl’s hand bouncing in the air currents as she skipped along behind her mother. It wasn’t just a lightness of the body; it was a breeziness of the soul, a buoyancy of the mind and emotions that was quite rejuvenating. He wasn’t sure where he was, but it was light here. He could see the light through his closed eyelids as his eyes moved around beneath them.

He thought that, perhaps, he should try to get up but he really was extremely comfortable floating free and unfettered. He didn’t feel a surface beneath him or the coolness of sheets surrounding him. He thought he was lying down, but he admitted to himself that he could have been very wrong. There was a weightlessness to his suspension – as if he was floating in an anti-gravity chamber in preparation for a trip on the space shuttle. For all he knew he was standing upright, his head thrown back and his arms extended to his sides as he had so often with the crowds screaming and chanting his name.

Trying to open his eyes a little at a time, he was surprised at the intensity of the light that permeated the space he occupied. He recoiled against it – and noticed that it reacted by becoming just a bit dimmer, as if the light itself had responded to his thoughts by snapping on a colored filter, but it was still radiant, brilliant. The illumination didn’t seem to originate in one location. Rather it seemed to be emitted by the space itself. He didn’t see a sun or a conventional electrical bulb, but the space glowed and vibrated with luminosity.

He appeared to be alone, but he still heard the strange music playing and wondered where it was coming from. He didn’t see any musical instruments or stereo speakers. “Maybe it’s just the music I’ve always heard in my head,” he thought but rejected that solution almost as soon as it entered. No, this music was not in his head; it seemed to pulse throughout his entire body. He felt it in the veins in his legs – a mild tingling sensation – and in his arms and spine. His hair seemed to be able to feel this music. How very odd!

As he turned his head, he noticed that the room was featureless; no corners or furniture interrupted the space, no ceiling or walls or floors or windows were evident. He had been right; he was lying down – or, perhaps, a better description would have been floating in a prone position as if he was levitating in one of his favorite magician’s shows. The thought occurred to him, “I wonder how I would stand up in here.”

Instantly his body pivoted so that he was more upright and could examine his surroundings in more detail. He almost felt that the featureless space he inhabited was responding to his thoughts. Light and comfort were the major features of the place. He couldn’t tell much more than that. He tried to step forward and found that instead of extending his leg, he floated a few feet and stopped again. How odd! He attempted another step and felt the same floating forward occur. It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, just kind of strange. Propelling himself forward again, he noticed a small speck against what might have been a wall of light.

As he tried to focus on the speck it grew larger and larger until he could almost distinguish a small figure approaching him, propelling itself forward as he had, but playing with it as if it were propelling itself forward on a skateboard or roller skates. His heart began to hammer in his chest and the speck froze, coming no closer. He stared open mouthed. He heard a small whisper in his head, “Do not be afraid. May I come closer?”

Michael nodded imperceptibly and the speck moved toward him with a little bit slower glide. He could make it out a bit better now. A small head and shoulders appeared out of the unfathomable distance that seemed to extend forever, two small arms and legs. It was a child, perhaps 6 years old with dark hair and blue eyes and a huge smile floating towards him. As the child approached, Michael knelt in order to be on his level. The boy finally reached him and stopped before him.

“Do you remember, me?” he asked hesitantly. When Michael shook his head, the boy continued. “You came to visit me in the hospital in New Zealand. I was sick and a very crabby because the chemotherapy they gave me made me puke a lot. I was crying and inconsolable because they were getting ready to stick another needle into me with more of the stuff that was making me puke. You put your hand on my head and said, “God bless you.” Then, you smiled into my eyes with such love that for a few moments, I was able to forget my misery and smile back. I came to say thank you for caring.” As he finished his little speech, the child wrapped his arms around Michael’s neck and then stepped back. Michael responded by caressing the small back with his large hand and smiling.

When the boy stepped back, Michael saw that another child had approached. She was about 10 years old and had beautiful dark skin and wide brown eyes. “We can see and understand you, though you don’t speak,” she said. “This is a healing chamber. It’s for those who come into this world harmed or hurt in some way. Lots of us have been here, ourselves. I was one of the children you invited into your beautiful home for a day of fun. We rode the rides and jumped on the trampoline and ran across a rope bridge and ate snow cones. I didn’t realize what a blessing that day would be until I got home and my mother’s boyfriend found me and …  well, I’ve wanted to thank you for caring ever since.” The little girl, too, enveloped Michael in a huge hug, squeezing him until he almost couldn’t breathe. Then giggling, she, too, stepped away and another child took her place.

Puzzled, Michael placed his hand gently on the next child’s head and stood. He was stunned to discover that a long line of children had materialized stretching far into the distance. They formed a chain of smiling faces that seemed to go on forever.  Returning to his knees, a boy approached who appeared to be no more than eighteen months old. He had blond hair and a round little tummy and was dressed in footie pajamas. The child stared at Michael and burst into tears. Michael enfolded him within his arms and rocked him gently against his chest as he hummed gently to calm the boy.

“His name was Craig Fleming,” he heard from somewhere nearby. Michael’s eyes widened at the name and he held the child tightly against his trembling heart as he continued to rock him and comfort him. Michael remembered the first time he had heard the name. It had been on the news. A mother had thrown her 18-month-old son and her 3-year-old son off a bridge and jumped into the water after them. She and the older boy had survived, but the youngest had not. Michael had been so moved by the report he had requested the family’s permission to attend the funeral. He had just never understood how such a thing could happen – how a mother could kill her own child. The entire concept had been so foreign to him that even though he had been embroiled in a very upsetting time in his own life, he had felt compelled to become involved with the surviving son by setting up a trust fund for his education. Michael continued to rock the tiny body against his heart and hum quietly.

Suddenly, a voice interrupted his thoughts – a voice that he would have recognized anywhere though he’d never heard it before. Its timbre was beguiling; its inflection and cadence were poetry. Though soft and gentle it resonated with power and echoed within the chambers of his heart as if he were in a cavern. “They wouldn’t let Me approach until they had all had their chance to see you and tell you how much they love you.” Then suddenly, the voice laughed and all of Michael’s discomfort in the strange, surreal surroundings dissipated. It was the sound of springtime after a long, cold, lonely winter while, at the same time, the sound of thunder and rain whipping against the walls and roof of your house while you are snug and warm inside beside a blazing fire. It contained every safe, comforting, warm, fuzzy, healing emotion ever held within a human heart.

Rising slowly to an upright position, he thought quietly, “I’m sorry I failed you. I tried so hard to follow your example, but the world wouldn’t let me take care of them. They thought that my motives … well, I won’t tell you what they thought. They didn’t see my heart.”

“I know what they thought, My Son. I, too, lived among them. They accused me, too. They killed me, too. Look into the eyes and smiles of these, my companions,” the voice resounded within his mind. Michael knelt again. The children, who had tired of waiting patiently for their turn, stampeded – all of them rushing towards him at once. They wanted to touch him, to talk to him, to thank him, to embrace and be embraced in their exuberance. As Michael drew them all in with his arms outstretched, they knocked him over and he landed on his fanny, floating up as they reached out for him. He laughed uproariously.

“Now,” he heard within him, “tell me again how you failed Me, My Son. These are only the ones who came home to Me. I have cherished them and healed them. Many remain back in your world and live productive, inspired human lives treasuring the memory of your caring heart within their own as much as these.”

“Now, my children, let me finish healing him and I will bring him to you. I promise. Run along and play,” the soft voice vibrated throughout the space. As the children faded into the distance, Michael rose from his floating position to greet a young man. His hair, too, was worn shoulder-length and curled teasingly around his shoulders. He had broad shoulders and lean hips and was dressed in comfortable-looking jeans with a voluminous white v-necked shirt with loose-fitting sleeves that could be tied at the wrists, if he so desired. His eyes were brown and lit with a humorous twinkle. His skin was an olive-shade customary to natives of the Middle Eastern Mediterranean region.  He appeared to be a bit taller than Michael, himself, but no more than six feet. His feet were bare. His smile was broad with straight, even teeth.

Michael immediately fell to his knees, placing his hands together in front of his face and touching his forehead briefly with his thumbs, he covered his face in the time-honored gesture of reverence and humility.

“Now, Michael, you have been on the receiving end of that kind of greeting. How did it make you feel?”

Michael replied, “Uh, a little uncomfortable. I didn’t think I was worthy of that kind of devotion. I tried to get them to stop doing it, but they didn’t understand.”

“Exactly, we understand each other well, don’t we?” Jesus announced. Bending to assist Michael, He drew him up to a standing position. “Please rise and let’s have a little chat.” As Michael rose from his knees, Jesus held out his arms to enfold him within them in a brief and tender embrace. “Will you walk with me, Michael, or are you still a bit disoriented from your journey?”

“No, I’m fine, I think,” he replied.

“Good. Now, to answer some of your questions. As Meghan told you, this is one of our healing chambers. She, herself, spent a considerable time here. It is designed to heal your body, your heart, your mind and your spirit for the next step of your journey. The vibration chamber will increase your vibration to a much more refined level. It will lessen your density or materiality, if you will, and bring you more in line with your spiritual vibration. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I think so. I think you are telling me that I’ve died and am being prepared to enter into heaven,” Michael thought.

Jesus laughed aloud. “Well, in a manner of speaking. But in another way, you have always been in heaven. What could possibly be more heavenly than the planet you just left? You, of all people, should understand that. And there really is no such thing as death. Let’s look at it more as a graduation. You have completed your courses in the physical world and have gained entry into the spiritual world. But, I guess, it’s as good an analogy as another.”

As they walked, Michael noticed that the chamber was taking on the appearance of a large country estate, similar to one he’d resided in during his holiday in Ireland. Rolling, grass-covered hills appeared so green that the color fairly vibrated in intensity. A cloud-dappled, azure sky could be seen in the distance and the sound of surf crashing against shore could be heard far off punctuating their conversation.

Jesus sat against a tree trunk, sensing that Michael was tiring easily. “There is no rush. We are not going anywhere. I want to talk to you about this idea of ‘failing Me.’ When and how did you ever fail me?” Jesus asked.

“I left the Jehovah’s Witness Church.” Michael replied. “But they gave me no choice. They told me I had to leave the church or I had to leave the field of entertainment. I felt strongly that entertaining was what I was put on Earth to do. They were asking me to choose between my faith and my soul. I couldn’t leave entertainment. It was what I was sure you had given me to develop and use to save the children and heal the world and benefit humanity.”

“And you were right. It was what you were born to do. But you always had a choice. Your physical apparatus was designed for the job it was intended for. Your heart, mind and soul were fused together in music and rhythm – and your body couldn’t help but follow. You made the right decision. If you had rejected the gifts you’d been given, your life would’ve been much more ordinary, but you wouldn’t have really lived it. You would have only gone through the motions and you would have been miserable because your soul would have known that you were not living the life God intended for you to live,” Jesus replied.  “You would have spent your entire life seeking that which you knew you were meant to be. Instead you chose to develop those gifts and use them to shine My love onto an entire planet while seeking the childhood that passed you by while you were otherwise engaged. That was the challenge you faced every day. You decided early on that the only way for you to experience that childhood was to give it to all the children who needed it, too. It was an ingenious solution and one that allowed My love to heal some of them, anyway … quite a few, actually.”

“Michael, religion is the box that humans try to fit God into. But God doesn’t like boxes. They’re too limiting, too restricting. God doesn’t fit conveniently into a box. She keeps escaping and wreaking havoc in the world. Your job is to pay attention to and encourage the havoc. In this time and this place in history, you were the havoc God was wreaking on the world. And you played your part expertly – with style and grace and zeal and dignity and great love. It is not important which religion you belong to – it is important that you have a personal, real relationship with your Creator – and you always had that. So, in this you did not fail Me.”

Jesus leaned back against the trunk of the gnarled grandfather of an oak tree. A squirrel ran rings around the trunk, chittering gaily as he went. Jesus looked up and smiled, “Yes, I know. You want to play, but this is an important conversation. Will you play with your friends until we are finished talking?” The squirrel retreated back up the trunk, chittering in a scolding manner as he ran along a branch and hopped over to another tree.

Jesus looked at Michael and noticed his eyelids drooping. “Rafe, I need you.” Michael heard echoing throughout the chamber. “Michael, you are still disoriented, aren’t you? Here, lean against me and close your eyes. We can talk while you rest. Let’s continue in this vein. In what other ways did you fail me?”

Michael rested against Jesus’ shoulder and followed his instructions, closing his eyes wearily. “I wasn’t able to heal the children – or the world,” he announced as his voice began to slur and he felt very faint. “I wanted to and I did everything I could to reach out to them. But they wouldn’t let me touch them with your love. They closed me off with their suspicion. They drove me away with their hatred.“

Jesus smiled wearily. “Yes, I was watching. You were too much for them to grasp in much the same way I was. They fear the things that are too good to be true; they can’t understand that they are worthy of God’s promises, but they have so much potential. They see themselves as the lowest sinners and fail to see themselves as the highest expression of God. It wasn’t your failure that you weren’t allowed to continue your mission of healing. As you saw all the children who came to greet you, you did so much good. When I was hungry, you gave me food for my body. When I was lost, you showed me the way. When I was ill or frightened, you created a space for My love to enter and heal my body and touched my mind with your love. When I needed diversion, you gave me music and joy for my soul and gave my heart wings. What more could you possibly think I expected of you, Michael?”

Without a sound, the most beautiful creature appeared before the tree they were resting against. Michael gasped in surprise. He’d never seen anything to compare to the beauty of this creature, but he couldn’t quite pin down the traits that made the creature so beautiful. His body tensed as he tried to stand. “No, Michael, you need to rest,” Jesus rebuked. “This is Rafe. She is an angel, an empath and my most skilled healer. He’s been called many names throughout the history of your world – Rafael or Raphaella, to name just a couple. I called him here to help you become more acclimated and less disoriented. As you can see, she is neither wholly male nor wholly female – and both at the same time so her appearance changes constantly to accommodate the purity of his being, so please don’t be alarmed by that.”

The creature called Rafe smiled brightly at Michael. “May I come closer? Will you allow my touch?” she asked in a sonorous voice that contained both the timbre of male and female characteristics.

Returning the angel’s smile, Michael nodded. Rafe touched the crown of his head and his forehead briefly, closing his eyes and wincing imperceptibly. Next her hand touched his throat, his heart, his stomach, his abdomen in succession. “I’m aligning your energy and removing blockages that your physical envelope produces. It should make you feel more alert and aware of your surroundings.” When she had finished, she sighed, “There! Do you feel better, now?”

“Yes, thank you,” Michael replied.

Rafe smiled again and looked at Jesus with a small smile. “He will need to be realigned every few minutes until his healing is complete. May I take him back to the pods to continue the process?”

Jesus shook his head imperceptibly. “No, thanks, Rafe. We need to sort some emotions and thoughts out first. Then, he will be more receptive to the healing that remains.”

Rafe nodded and smiled again at Michael. “Be welcome, here, beloved. And be well,” she said, folding her hands together and placing them at her eye level in a similar gesture to the one he had employed earlier. Bowing to the seated men, he vanished as quickly and quietly as he had arrived.

“Aow!” Michael exclaimed, “they really do exist! She is beautiful. But that male/female thing must get a bit tricky.”

Jesus laughed loudly. “Not here it doesn’t, but in the physical world, I’m afraid humans wouldn’t know quite what to make of Rafe – just like they didn’t know quite what to make of you. Your uniqueness was your greatest gift to them – as well as your greatest curse. I want you to know, Michael, that in no way did you ever fail me during your physical life. You were given an abundance of gifts to get the attention of the entire world. You could have used those gifts for harm or for greed or for selfish purposes, but you didn’t. You could have refused those gifts and followed the edicts put upon you by your chosen religion, but you didn’t. You always had free will and could have ignored what you felt you had been given to do, but you didn’t.”

“Instead, you developed your talents to the highest degree humanly possible. Then, you used those talents to get the entire planet’s attention and delivered strong, barely disguised messages of love and peace and unity. You used the music you were given with such beautiful, incredible zeal. Furthermore, you could have spoken of, sung about those ideals and then followed a dissolute lifestyle – as so many in your profession do – but you didn’t. You embodied the messages you delivered. You did all this and brought happiness and hope into the global consciousness. You made the entire world dance, Michael. You touched many millions with your love and compassion, fed many millions with your support of charities, healed many thousands of broken hearts, brought light and laughter into many lives that otherwise would have known only despair. When you have done this to one of the least of my brothers, you have done it to me. You did all this with joy and innocence, strength and courage, indomitable resolve, grace and style and always with great love.

“You took my words into your heart and lived them to the best of your ability – and always with the view of benefiting your fellow men and women – and I am so proud of you,” Jesus said with great conviction. “Now, we must take you back to the pod area and allow your healing to continue so that you can fully join us. I have many more of those you helped waiting to greet you and, you know, Michael, children don’t have a whole lot of patience.  I don’t know if you ever noticed, but they don’t stay quiet for long stretches of time. They will be storming the ramparts soon to take you off to play. You want to be ready so that they won’t be disappointed.”

As he rose from the ground, Jesus helped Michael to his feet and returned along the walkway from which they had come. Leaving the vibrantly green rolling hills and surf behind, they returned to the brightly illuminated area in which Michael had become aware. Jesus embraced him one last time before explaining. “This area is illuminated by the thoughts and prayers of all of us. The music you hear is really love energy aligning your energy to correspond with the emissions of the love of all of us. Basically, you are resting within our embrace as your spiritual body becomes attuned. So, please, relax fully and don’t worry about anything. Nothing can harm you here in our embrace.”

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please. The captain has lit the “Fasten Your Seat Belts” sign in preparation for landing. Please return your seats to their upright position and stow and lock your dinner trays in the seat in front of you. The weather at our destination is a cool 65 degrees with clear skies and a light breeze. Thank you for flying with us today.

This Imaginary Interlude has been brought to you by With a Child’s Heart. We hope you will plan your next interlude with us.

Jan

 

 

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Blessed In You

Charmed boy
Blessed with
Abundant joy
Only stage-lived
Savage whirlwind
Beat-driven
Passion given
We were blessed
In you

Awkward teen
Wanting only
To remain unseen
Forced by
Talent uncontainable
Performing feats
Unforgettable
Spot lit
Hit after hit
We were blessed
In you

Young adult
You exult
In impossible dreams
Achieving
The unattainable
A flame
Unsustainable
Lightning
In human form
Short-lived
Born to give
We were blessed
In you

Mystic, sage
You came of age
Thunder roaring
On a stage
Comet soaring
In a cage
Supernova
Implosion pending
Shy, retiring
Never ending
Pressure
To give us more
Emptied
To your very core
We were blessed
In you

Unlikely messenger
All of us
Willing passengers
On flights of fancy
Thinly wrapped
In songs and dancing
Morality plays
Brighten our days
Laser-like vision
Unerring precision
Broadcasting strobe
Spanning our globe
We were blessed
In you

Sleeping
The world ignored
Poisoned pens
Your spirit gored
Can you forgive
Our blindness
Misunderstanding
Our unkindness
How atone
For our silence
Left alone
Bereft of your presence
We were blessed
In you

Too late
We recognize
The light
Residing
In your eyes
God’s Glow
Our darkness
Extinguished
Your spark
Your radiance
Your brilliance
Vanquished
We were blessed
In you

For forty years
Oceans filled
With silent tears
Now stilled
Quiet
On the stage
No lightning
No thunder
No supernova
In the wings
Awaits
God’s lost Angel
Finally found
We were blessed
In you

The beautiful boy
Gets to play
Stars your baseballs
Planets home base
For games of tag
And hide and seek
At last you rest
Behind the moon you peak
You gave us your best
Michael
Have no regrets
We were blessed
In you

Now
Without your leading light
We have your example
To light our night
Your words still shine
To guide our way
Your smile will always
Light our days
Your eyes still beckon
From beyond
Our hearts ‘tho broken
Will carry on
Your banner of LOVE
Will heal this world
We owe you
That much
Be blessed, dear one,
In us

Jan

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Heal the World

While many people have espoused the concept of facilitating lasting, meaningful change in our society, few have been as outspoken on the subject as has Michael Jackson. While quite a few celebrities go out of their way to donate time and money to worthy causes (Bono, Angelina Jolie and George Clooney come to mind), seldom has one individual (famous or otherwise) made as substantial a contribution to alleviate suffering on a global basis as Michael Jackson. Furthermore, none has given of himself to the extent of opening his home to ill and deprived children or visiting kids in hospitals and orphanages in every city in which he played during his much-publicized world tours as has Michael Jackson.

I’ve often wondered if there was a way to estimate these much-less-media-covered-and-hyped events and visits. Reading a couple of very touching and inspirational stories compelled me to take a stab at it.

But first, if I may, let me give a brief recap of one of the stories that has led me in this direction.  Little of what follows is a direct quote from the story I read because I have not been able to contact the author for her permission to reprint her comments posted on line. However, hopefully, my brief recap will give a general feel for her circumstances.

This is the story of a young adult, who in 2000 at the age of fifteen was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer and who was scheduled to begin chemotherapy. She had been told about Michael’s habit of opening Neverland Valley Ranch a couple of times every year for anyone to come in and play with his toys (God love him!) and was informed that one such occasion was scheduled the week prior to starting her treatments. She recounts the process of convincing her parents and her doctors to allow her to go, her trip, and her entry through the gates and winding drive through the estate to the parking area near the amusement park during which she describes a feeling of “peace” descending over her. (*Please see note below.) She and her family were asked by one of the staff members to sign-in in the visitor’s book, given armbands and told that, occasionally, Michael Jackson would come out to visit with his guests. Then, they were told to ride anything they wanted, eat anything they wanted, play any of the games they wanted and to enjoy themselves at Michael’s expense.

There’s a place in your heart
And I know that it is love
And this place could be much brighter than tomorrow
And if you really try
You’ll find there’s no need to cry
In this place you’ll feel there’s no hurt or sorrow
There are ways to get there
If you care enough for the living
Make a little space
Make a better place

Heal the World
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me

This young person goes on to describe riding on the rides for hours and stopping to eat popcorn and cotton candy at a small table with her parents when they noticed that all the other attendees were rushing toward a particular section of the park. She describes a smiling, laughing Michael Jackson being stampeded by children jumping and laughing and trying to touch him and hug him as he walks toward the picnic area with a huge umbrella shielding him from the bright sunlight. As the group approaches, she and her family rise to meet him. Her mother introduces each of them to Michael and tells him how much they are enjoying themselves at his beautiful home and about her daughter’s condition. Michael approaches the young cancer victim, places his hand on the top of her head, and says, “God Bless You.” At his brief touch, she feels that same feeling of peace overtake her that she felt as her parents’ car entered the grounds.

Later as they prepared to leave Neverland, one of Michael’s staff approached and handed her father a note inviting the family to stay for dinner – with Michael and his children. After dinner and a tour of some of the amenities the family had not gotten to see earlier, Michael asked if he could pray with them. They agreed, he did and the young person describes his prayer briefly in the following terms: “After dinner he asked my parents if it would be ok if he prayed with us and of course they said yes. I had never and still to this day have never heard anyone pray the way he did. At fifteen years old it made me cry.” When the prayer ended, she looked at her parents who were also reduced to tears by the occasion. Michael gave her mother a telephone number at which he could be reached asking that they keep him up-to-date on their daughter’s condition. The family was surprised the following week to receive a phone call from Michael checking on her.

If you want to know why
There’s a love that cannot lie
Love is strong it only cares for joyful giving
If we try we shall see in this bliss we cannot feel
Fear or dread
Stop existing and start living
Then it feels that always
Love’s enough for us growing
So make a better world
make a better world…

Heal the world
Make  it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place
For you and for me

Once again, during the phone call, he had requested that the family call to keep him apprised of the teenager’s condition.

When the family entered the hospital on the day that chemotherapy was scheduled to begin, they were called into the doctor’s office and sheepishly told that their daughter no longer had cancer – that all the customary scans and preliminary tests done prior to chemotherapy had shown no cancer of any kind. The doctor had no explanation for this sudden, surprising (miraculous?) change in the girl’s condition. The family called Michael immediately upon returning to their home; it was a tearful conversation on both ends. But that was not the end of their relationship with their benefactor; he continued to call two or three times a year to check on how they were doing. Michael asked the family not to divulge their story to anyone; he didn’t want the young lady’s life to be turned into fodder for the media machine which hounded him throughout his entire life. She respected his wishes for ten years, even after Michael’s unexpected death, until she visited a website on which many fans were leaving comments. There she felt moved to break her silence. Though she and her family admit that they never saw him again, the young victim’s cancer has not returned and she continues to lead a healthy, productive life with a precious memory tucked away in her past.

And the dream we were conceived in will reveal a joyful face
And the world we once believed in will shine again in grace
Then why do we keep strangling life
Wound this earth, crucify its soul
When it’s plain to see this world is heavenly
Be God’s Glow!

After reading this story on one of the websites I frequent, the thought occurred to me, “I wonder how many such stories there are that haven’t, yet, been told.” The question got me to thinking. I, of course, had read other stories of what doctors, themselves, have called miraculous recoveries after visits to Michael Jackson’s beautiful estate and from parents who recount his visits to their child’s bedside during one of his little-publicized invasions of hospitals around the world after which their children recovered from their illnesses. Such accounts trickle into the fan community fairly infrequently, but garner a lot of attention when they are released by those who witnessed the events.

Michael Jackson admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he invited children from Make-a-Wish Foundation, Dreamstreet, and Starlight to his ranch for a day of fun and magic about once every three weeks. Others have stated that each of these organizations was invited on alternate weekends so that almost every weekend children were being hosted to rides, movies, games, hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy; this would multiply my conservative figure below by three! And this doesn’t count the incidents like the one described by our young cancer victim above when the gates were just flung open and all comers were welcomed or the visits by inner city schools, the family days when Michael’s employee’s families were given the run of the estate or the once-per-year occasions when he opened the gates and invited his neighbors in Santa Maria to share his vast acreage all expenses paid. So, my figures are extremely conservative, but let’s just see where we get.

Every three weeks (rounded to one visit per month for ease of calculation) for at least the years 1990 through 2003 would equal 15,600 kids who visited Neverland Valley Ranch. My calculations are as follows: 12 months times 13 years = 156 times a conservative estimate of 100 kids per busload. There is evidence that these visits commenced earlier than 1990 and lasted into early 2005 and Michael referred to times when there were as many as 500 “baldheaded kids … they all have cancer … and they’re running around and … It make me cry happy tears that I was able to do that for them. It makes me so pleased inside,” as he told Oprah in 1993. Okay, so a minimum of 15,600 children invited to Neverland Valley Ranch over a 13 year period – and possibly many more. If, as some have stated, there was a busload of kids there every weekend – Make-a-Wish one weekend, Dreamstreet the next, Starlight the next – we would have to multiply that figure by 3 which would equal 46,800 children!  This does not include the special friends like David Smithee or Ryan White or Gavin Arvizo (who experienced just as “miraculous” a recovery after his visits to Neverland, although I hate to include him in these figures because he turned on Michael so horrifyingly. I can’t help but feel that Michael would not take back his healing so I must include him here.) Those are just the Neverland visits; this figure doesn’t count the hundreds of hospital beds he stood beside while their occupants opened his gifts from 1987 through 2003 when touring.

Michael stated in several interviews that he was accustomed to visiting hospitals in every city in which a concert was held during his world-famous tours; and his statement is corroborated by several eye witnesses like Frank Dileo and Kenny Ortega. So, based on that information, let’s try to estimate how many similar stories could be   garnered from kids he had visited in hospitals and orphanages as he strode across our world. Once again, the figures are extremely conservative. They are calculated on an assumption of one hospital or orphanage per city (although there were occasions that he stayed in the same city for as many as six or seven shows and probably visited more than one hospital or orphanage during his residence) and 100 beds/children per hospital (although most major children’s hospitals accommodate far more than 100 beds). So, with that assumption, let’s see where we get.

BAD tour (September – 1987 through January 1989 a minimum of 54 cities = 5400

Dangerous Tour (June 1992 through November 1993 – a minimum of 43 cities) – 4300. Add to that a rough estimate of 100 children in at least one orphanage in Bucharest Romania because I have film of that visit (looked like more than 100 but we can stick to the rough estimate) = 4400

HIStory Tour – (July 1996 through October 1997 – a minimum of 56 cities = 5600

Michael Jackson and Friends Benefit Concerts – Munich and Seoul = 200 children in these two cities.

A very conservative estimate, then, would total 31,200 children. A less conservative estimate (multiplying the 15,600 who visited Neverland Valley Ranch by 3 as explained above and for which there is adequate corroboration) would result in a total of 64,200 children whom Michael Jackson ministered to in some way (either visited in hospitals, orphanages or invited to his home for a day of fun!) Holy Cow! 31,200 to 64,200 children!!

Now, I can hear the skeptical left-brainers out there tut-tutting and asking, “What’s the point of this post? Do you believe that Michael Jackson healed that young lady? Or the kid who later accused him of terrible things? Or any of the others?”

I would have to answer the same way I believe Michael would answer that question. I believe God healed those children; I believe God has the ability to heal all things. Another name for God is L*O*V*E – unconditional, ever-fresh, all-encompassing, all-forgiving, pure, unselfish, L*O*V*E!! The kind of love that doesn’t see disease or scars or amputated limbs or ugliness, but sees right through the outer shell into the soul – the kind of love that doesn’t pity or judge but just loves from the deepest part of the heart. The kind of love that Michael Jackson was so very, very good at (and most of the rest of the world must demonize to fit it into some kind of stereotypical category in order to understand) made space for God’s hand to reach out and heal the young lady in the above story and the young boy who later turned on him like a rabid wolf and any of the countless other stories which haven’t yet surfaced. That those stories exist, I have absolutely no doubt.

I believe, further, that Michael Jackson opened a door, “made a little space” (within his heart and within our world) for healing to occur by purchasing 2700 acres in “God’s country” (otherwise known as the verdant hills of the Santa Ynez valley), building a home for himself and all those ill and deprived children he invited in which every blade of grass, tree and flower was nurtured with “love enough for us growing” and gently encouraged with soft, beautiful music to be the best little blade of grass, tree or flower it could be. The result of such love is visible and palpable. One can see the life force (love) in the vibrant colors, in the richness and lushness that literally jumps off our computer screens or the photographic paper upon which photographs are printed, the feeling that even the rocks which lined the pathways knew that they were loved, the sense that the tree branches in which he was customarily cradled to meditate and receive inspiration anxiously await his return. This return to the Garden of Eden was his plan, although he may not have been able to articulate that plan in so many words when he was building Neverland.

(*)A place where L*O*V*E – and only love – reigns would permeate the atmosphere that one breathes, would change the energy in which one participates, would alter the state of mind of one entering that place. Such a place would radiate harmony and beauty, would emanate peace and serenity, would literally breathe the life force (love) into the surrounding hillsides. (Why, I believe even the ozone layer above this Garden of Eden would be less damaged, would be denser and thicker and more protective.) The destruction of such a paradise would be a sin against humanity and our world of terrifying proportions; evicting humankind from that garden through “the knowledge of good and evil” for a second time would be an appallingly insensitive, inhuman act which will be atoned for by those guilty. Just such a place has the world lost in Neverland Valley Ranch; I pity the poor, stupid, unfeeling, insensitive brutes who were responsible for its violation, who invaded its peace, harmony and serenity with their hatred, bigotry, suspicion. And I weep for the locale, itself, which absorbed so briefly the unconditional love of one man (and must, still, hold a vestige of remembrance of that ambience, even now.) Imagine what an army of such men could accomplish for our world!

Then, I believe that Michael Jackson invited God into that space to heal the many children who entered the gates, including the author of the story (and the one who turned on him so viciously) with three words, which he used for almost every conceivable occasion, “God bless you.” The man scattered God’s blessing around as trees shed leaves at the approach of winter – or like most of us shed profanity – and he sincerely meant them when he said them. Michael used the phrase to mean “thank you,” as a greeting, when anyone around him sneezed, when he embraced the dancers, singers, and band members during rehearsals, when one of his collaborators achieved what he was asking in performance. He was comfortable with it, he used it consciously and well, and God heard him – just as He heard Jesus!

Michael’s faith was much larger than the proverbial mustard seed and attracted God’s intercession as Jesus told his disciples would happen. For this closely parallels Jesus’ life. He, too, disavowed any responsibility for the miracles he performed; he told his disciples that they were his Heavenly Father’s doing and that with faith “greater than this shall you also do.” Michael took Jesus’ words to heart and he lived them as few have been able to manage in a very long time.

Now, back to our calculations. If just one child per thousand discovered that their cancer had miraculously disappeared, the figures above would render somewhere in the neighborhood of 31 to 64 stories of unexplained recoveries not yet heard. Once again, I feel this is a very conservative estimate. So, let’s look at 10 children per thousand who might have experienced a lessening (however brief) of their physical symptoms which would render 310 to 640 partial healings that haven’t surfaced. Perhaps, 100 per thousand experienced a reduction in their anxiety level, a sense of peace or calm at his touch, or an attenuation of the fear with which they viewed their ongoing treatments; a trust that God’s plan for them was perfect (another kind of healing, less tangible, perhaps, but no less important which could easily have resulted from a visit and blessing from Michael Jackson) which would calculate to 3,100 to 6,400 stories to which we can still look forward.

In addition, there are stories of other kinds of healing.

One of those is the story of Annie Salijevic which is given a prominent place in the Official Michael Jackson Opus. Annie is a young lady who, at the age of seven-years-old, found herself stranded in Sarajevo, a war zone at the time. She was introduced to Michael Jackson’s music by the U.N. Peacekeeping Forces stationed on her block, one of whom allowed her to listen to his cassette recorder and headphones. She asked if she could borrow the recorder for the night and she recounts, “For the first time in months, I slept through the night” because Michael’s voice and accompaniment drowned out the sound of the grenades and sirens which had become the soundtrack of her life. When she awoke the following morning, she found a note next to her bed that said, “Keep it,” along with the Bad and Thriller cassettes. These became her security blankets to be taken out when she was frightened or lonely, fairly regular occurrences considering the appalling conditions in which she was living. Michael’s music “cheered” her and silenced “the noise from outside.” At the time, she had no idea who Michael Jackson was, but he had already touched her very deeply through the gift of the U.N. soldier.

She and her mother were accustomed to receiving packets from the U.N., but really looked forward to the ones from “Heal the World Foundation” because she knew they contained more than bad wheat and rice. In these packets were blankets and toys as well as food and medical supplies. It was only much later that Annie found out Michael’s part in those cherished packets; that it was his foundation (supported by most of the receipts from the entire Dangerous Concert Campaign) which had been responsible for the warm blankets as well as the only toys she had owned since the fateful night she had landed in Bosnia to visit her relatives.

Finally, Annie and her mother escaped the war zone and fled to Germany. They began to pick up the pieces of their lives in this new culture until Annie got word that Michael would be performing in Germany and she and her mother managed to get tickets. She considered herself fortunate to have a third row ticket for his HIStory Tour. At the end of the concert her mother herded her toward a back entrance to the stadium where she saw her idol up close and personal. Her mother got his autograph; Annie, too shy to approach closely, watched him smile, wink and greet her with a “Hey, Cutie,” as he touched her head gently before being rushed to his waiting vehicle from behind her mother. She cherishes his involvement (albeit from afar) in her life from the age of seven.

How many Annie’s are there whose stories haven’t made it into publication? How many starving Ethiopians received food from the USA for Africa caravans as a result of the We Are the World song and video release? How many dying Africans received medical supplies? How many HIV/AIDS victims received drug cocktails? How many young African-Americans realized the dream of a college education as a result of Michael’s ongoing support of UNCF scholarships? How many attended concerts and felt the love that filled those stadiums to the clouds during his performances, found solace or responded to a curiosity that wouldn’t be denied? How many millions fell in love with a beautiful little boy in a fringed vest and pink hat on the Ed Sullivan Show and stand now, forty years later, devastated by the facts and figures in this post?

What an amazing legacy the man left! Heal the World? Impossible, you say? He gave it a darn good shot! The impact the man had on the world is staggering when one considers all the branches of his humanitarian endeavors!

Be God’s Glow, indeed!

Jan

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Music’s Takin’ Over

Music is a teacher
That can teach you right from wrong
If you listen closely (well)
There’s a lesson in the song
Music is a doctor
That can cure a troubled mind
Listen to the music (say it again)
The rhythms and the rhymes

(‘Cause) Music’s takin’ over
Music makes you dance
Music’s takin’ over
Just give music a chance (say it again)

Music is a comfort
When you’re all alone
Just turn up your music
And you don’t need nobody home
Music is a power
People depend on every day
They make their decisions
By the records that they play

Let’s dance, let’s dance, let’s dance
Music is a sound
That makes the boys and girls get down

The Jacksons Goin Places 1977

I’ve been toying with the concept of the 1960’s a lot lately. It was an era in which those of us who spent their teenage years were convinced that we could change the world; that we could and would make it a better, more peaceful, more loving place; that we could affect meaningful alterations to our society.

Remember back with me. It is 1964 and teenagers in the USA were glued to little transistor radios with one earplug (no stereo or surround sound back then) every second they weren’t in class or could escape their parents’ voices telling them to turn “that noise off.” I remember my little transistor radio was my friend, my constant companion. It was a convenient size to place under my pillow and I could approach a sleep state listening to Dick Biondi on WLS in the Chicago suburbs playing the current hits. In 1964, it was Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence and the Beatles I Want to Hold Your Hand and She Loves You (yeah, yeah, yeah)!! We were watching Elvis Presley and The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and trying to figure out how to get tickets to see them in person.

Our music was important to us; it shaped us as much as we shaped it at the time. We memorized the lyrics to Eve of Destruction and Hey Mr. Tamborine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn. We wrote them in our notebooks instead of taking notes on whatever subject the teacher was lecturing on. We sang along with He Ain’t Heavy; He’s My Brother and Bridge Over Troubled Water. We were a generation which considered itself more socially aware than any generation in history. We were tuning in to the social consciousness vibe transmitted over the radio waves by Woodstock artists in our thousands … and tuning out the reality of the world we were growing into with psychedelic drugs and music. It was a world we wanted no part of.

We didn’t want to be like our parents. We wanted more. We didn’t want to be slaves to the materialist mentality that they had bought into; to be imprisoned in their ‘keep up with the Jones’s lifestyles.’ The Monkees sang Another Pleasant Valley Sunday about life in ‘status symbol land’ and we sang along. We wanted a peaceful planet, a healthy planet. We wanted all to be considered equal regardless of skin pigmentation or creed. We wanted to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem. We had dreams – dreams of equality between men and women in the workplace and in the home, between Caucasian and African American and Oriental in opportunity, between Christian and Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist in respect and dignity. And we wanted to be involved in creating that utopia. We were the counter-culture, the rebels, the ‘me’ generation.

The Vietnam War was raging and many of our contemporaries had a one-way ticket to that particular hell. I remember reading the names in the newspapers … names of young men who wouldn’t be coming home … and feeling a deep sense of ‘we have to do something to stop this madness.’ Police were shooting protesting students at Kent State University, college students were chaining themselves to trees to stop the senseless destruction of our planet, flower-children were marching in Haight-Ashbury to the beat of Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit and the Rolling Stones’ Color It Black.

Do you remember? I do. Although I didn’t march off to Woodstock, I wanted to dance naked in the mud to the beat of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jimi Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower. I shared a sense of solidarity with the marchers at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the Black Panthers who were arrested for crashing that party. I wanted to march with Rev. King in Alabama and the “Million Man March” in Washington, D.C.

Now, forty years on, I look back at that time and wonder what happened to those dreams of social revolution? How could all those good intentions have melted into mediocrity and conformity? Did the generation that had every intention of changing the world into a safer, more healing place succeed? Well, I think we changed the world, but I’m not so sure it was for the better.

The ‘sexual revolution’ seems to have made great strides. Where most adults would have rather been boiled in oil than talk about sexual matters with their own children, let alone in front of television cameras in the 1950’s, from the middle 1960’s on sex was ‘fair game.’ People talked about it on television shows with little or no hesitation, advertisements promoted sexual aids and gels, feminine napkins, sexually transmitted diseases and their cures, and pills to increase a man’s potency. It even got so blatant that a wealthy, prominent, talented young man was asked during an internationally-viewed television interview in front of 90 million or so of his best friends if he was a virgin. And his shy reply that he is a ‘gentleman’ was roundly criticized as evasive – as if that was a bad thing in this situation! He had a right to be evasive. This is not public information and never has been. I don’t remember my mother ever asking me that question! When did such information become public domain? I must have missed that!

So, we seem to have spearheaded a more open attitude toward our reproductive abilities and tendencies. Unfortunately, violent or deviant tendencies have also increased, using children to appease these appetites has become epidemic, particularly in religious institutions, and we’ve produced a scourge known as AIDS. Is this an improvement? I’m not so sure.

We burned our bras, but did we also burn our morality? We have more teenage pregnancies in this country than in any industrialized country in the world resulting in more grandparents raising their grandchildren because the kids’ parents are not mature enough to take care of themselves, let alone their children. Every day, we are regaled with another horrifying story of children being abducted, tortured or killed, entering schools with automatic or concealed weapons, and injuring themselves or their friends emotionally, psychologically, or physically. The violence hasn’t stopped. It has increased in frequency and intensity. The unimaginable has occurred … more than once. Mothers have thrown toddlers to their deaths from bridges; children have killed children and teachers in their schools. This is not the world we wanted to create.

What happened to those ideals and halcyon dreams of justice and parity that we espoused with such vigor? Some might answer that we grew up, leaving those dreams behind in our race to climb that corporate ladder we so abhorred during our teen years or make our mark in the world, to take our rightful place in the society our parents inhabited. But that implies that the world we found … and to which we so objected … is not able to be changed; that we are just here killing time and are not expected to improve the society in which we live.

Perhaps, that is the prevalent view. However, it is also the easy way out. Such an attitude carries with it no responsibility. It negates the very fact of who we are. For if we are NOT here to change the world, exactly what IS our purpose? If we are just taking up space and air and skin for a few decades and then we check out, why bother being responsible, kind, just, loving, fair? We can’t change our world anyway. Why should we not kill or steal or bear false witness against our neighbors or the celebrities we lift up on pedestals and then turn those pedestals into instruments of torture when we tire of them? What’s the point of life? Why are we here at all? Such an answer does not fit with society’s agreed upon cultural mores.

We are taught from an early age that our actions do affect those around us; it is important to be honest, truthful, generous, helpful, and kind to those less fortunate than ourselves. This is the way our society has been structured. It is supported by our religious dogmas, parental strictures, legal system, and cultural norms.

Toward the latter part of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, a young, 10-year-old boy entered the scene and those of us who were accustomed to listening intently to the lyrics of songs were captivated by his easy, unconscious grace and effervescent, bubbly personality. The joy with which he sang enthralled our auditory senses; the energy within his movements fascinated our visual senses; the passion he injected into his live performances, even at 10-years-old, amazed and mesmerized us. The idealism and innocence and breathless wonder he brought to his life reminded us of our own forgotten idealism and innocence, lost somewhere in the process of ‘growing up.’

He sang lyrics like, “You and I must make a pact. We must bring salvation back. Where there is love, I’ll be there.” And “Maybe you and I can’t do great things. We may not change the world in one day, but we still can change some things today in our small way.” And “With a child’s heart, go face the worries of the day. With a child’s heart, turn each problem into play. No need to worry. No need to fear. Just being alive makes it all so very clear.” Those of us who came of age in the 1960’s, who were accustomed to hearing between the lines and analyzing the lyrics of the songs that we grew up with, who had committed ourselves to dreams of a better life for our progeny and improving the world we inherited from our parents sat up a little straighter and paid attention. But he was just a kid to our worldly, oh-so-sophisticated 20-year-old selves.

Fast forward just a couple of decades. Now, that same massively-talented young boy with our dreams in his voice is an even more massively- and multi-talented grown man. He has survived the crackling voice traumas of adolescence when most child-singers are brought face-to-face with the reality that their voices have changed; they can’t sing anymore. Not so in this case; his voice has matured, but remains a crystal clear, bell-like tenor through that trauma. At the expense of a childhood which, somehow, passed him by and through hard work, perseverance, unshakable faith, dedication, and incontrovertibly prodigious talent, he has risen to the very top of his profession. His recordings sell in the mega-millions on a global scale. His concerts are called “global love-ins” by fellow popular actors and entertainers during award shows (coincidentally shaking the moth balls out of a term made popular in the midst of our counter-culture of the 1960’s.) His films are eagerly anticipated by people in every corner of the planet. Still, he retains that idealistic and innocent wonder in life he expressed so well when he was 10-years-old.

Yet, withal, he is relentlessly scrutinized and cruelly criticized for everything imaginable, as well as for some things unimaginable from a sane point of view. His facial features, his skin shade, his appearance, and his lifestyle are favorite topics for monologues on late night talk shows. His fashion sense, his childlike heart, his love for children, his fabulous multi-acre home in the verdant hills of Santa Barbara County to which he invites children of all races and socio-economic backgrounds for a day of fun and magic are analyzed by psychologists and legal pundits who have never had the privilege of speaking one word to or with the man.

He is now facing a society that has so far surpassed the idealism and naivete` of the 1960’s that it doesn’t want to admit that it once shared it. Or is that society just envious of the fact that he had survived childhood with the child still intact, as almost all of us failed so dreadfully to do? The fact that he doesn’t want to ‘grow up’ in this world we all inhabit becomes a source of endless amusement; that he continues to represent youth, to speak for youth, to champion youth, to donate time and attention as well as money to youth is seen as ‘sinister’ when viewed through the lenses of the myopic-glasses we are all forced to wear as part of our maturation process. Where we buckle to this societal pressure to conform, he stands firm in his innocence, lack of guile and quotes the Bible as his authority. His adherence to an outdated faith in the power of the individual to make meaningful and lasting changes in the world, in developing his art and his person to their fullest possible potential and his encouragement to all of us to do the same is seen as an ‘evil influence’ on our young people. Was it him that changed? Or was it us?

He’s still singing, though, sometimes with that same effervescent joy, but, often his songs are overlaid with a more melancholic or angry tone. His lyrics, however, are still reminding us that “if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change” and “heal the world, make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race” and “We got streetwalkers walking into darkness. Tell me what are we doing to try to stop this?” And, most importantly, “We are here to change the world.” And “You can change the world. I can’t do it by myself. You can touch the sky. Gonna take somebody’s help. You’re the chosen one.” And “They say the sky’s the limit and to me that’s really true. ‘Cuz my friends you have seen nothing. Just wait ‘til I get through.” And “They’ve gotta hear it from me. They’ve gotta hear it from you. They’ve gotta hear it from us. We can’t take it. We’ve already had enough.”

With his ethereally lovely or grindingly-gritty tenor (for he was equally dexterous in both depending on the needs of the song and the occasion), his spiritually-reflective compositions in print and music media, short films which enabled him to give full flight to his nimble imagination, natural law-defying dance moves, and his uncanny command of stagecraft, he got our attention. He gathered us together from all walks of life, all age groups, all denominations and socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. He united us and he brought us joy. He made the world dance. He gave us back the courage of our convictions, reinstated our belief in our own worth – and in our purpose – as well as reinstating our hope that change could be realized with faith and love, and inspired us to set goals and follow our dreams. That’s his so-called ‘evil’ influence.

More to the point of this article, for those of us who came of age during the era described, he reminded us of the commitments we had made and vows we had taken as our high school sweethearts were marching off to the overgrown, Agent-Orange-ridden jungles of Vietnam. He was the answer to our prayers! He restored to us our faith that we could “stop this madness,” that regardless of how small … change is change. He rekindled in us the desire to relive those teen years when we wanted to dance naked in the mud (although now we just wanted to dance in the aisles at one of his live concerts or performances … naked had become optional at our age) and walk hand-in-hand with a million others in support of what were, in our youth, considered radical ideas. He reiterated by his words and his life well lived that miracles happen to those who expect them and who believe that they are not only possible, but unavoidable, with L-O-V-E. He proved this point with the many miraculous recoveries he witnessed as a result of ‘coating’ ill children with the power of his enormous monetary donations, positive thinking, prayer, and love.

With many of us, he didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. We counter-culture alumni were ready for his advent on the scene of popular music; we were prepared by our youthful wanderings in our psychedelically-painted VW vans pumping Foxy Lady through the speakers. He was the answer to twenty long years of prayer for a hero to embody our dreams and recruit our re-commitment to the ideals we had given up in growing up.

However, now we ‘flower-children’ are joined by millions of young people the world over who grew up in different countries or eras, but who recognize in the music, dance, and performance something that speaks to their souls, too. The teenagers of the 1960’s are the mothers and fathers of young adults who celebrated their teen years by trying to learn the ‘moonwalk’ in the 1980’s and who are now the parents of children born in the 2000’s – and each of those generations is listening to the SAME music, sung by the SAME lovely or gritty voice. We are unified in being entranced and enchanted by the same smooth backwards glide that captivated the world over 30 years ago and, more importantly, the same spiritually uplifting messages thinly dipped in infectious rhythms, conscious lyrics, and exhausting performances.

Do you see the potential in that statement?  Our grandchildren are just becoming infatuated with the same boy we fell in love with – the one in the pink hat and purple fringed vest on the Ed Sullivan Show singing, “you and I must make a pact. We must bring salvation back.” We “Aquarians” have been multiplied exponentially. Where our parents were bombastic in proclaiming, “turn that noise off,” we are asking our grandchildren to “turn it up.”

The consistency of the message over four decades is enough to give one pause. The relevance of the message is breathtaking to this counter-culture alumnus and still very much up-to-date. The universality of the message is awe-inspiring. It’s the same message that has been espoused by our religious leaders from time immemorial … L-O-V-E … for ourselves, for our neighbors, for our children, for our planet. The elegance and timing of the message would send one, like me, who came of age in the “Age of Aquarius” into a serious head-scratching quandary as well as self-reflective reminiscence. For we were a generation that knew in our bones the ‘magic’ each of us possesses within our own hearts and the miracles we could initiate for ourselves and for our society. We just needed a little reminder.

Where, perhaps, we graduates of the ‘flower child’ era were not enough to form critical mass and turn this planet in a new direction in the 1960’s, now we are joined by our children … and our children’s children … in recognizing not just the talent of that young man, which would be remarkable enough in its own right, but his genius and his social and ecological relevance to a planet on the brink of implosion through apathy and neglect. We are a peaceful army of millions worldwide!

And we are here to change the freakin’ world, doggone it!

In this inter-generational bond of unity is our strength. We can and must come down on the side of peaceful coexistence on our planet — tip the scales toward social and planetary responsibility – before we don’t have a planet to be responsible for or our society destroys itself in its own ignorance and disregard for its most vulnerable.  We wouldn’t be the first society in history to do so; there are stark lessons to be learned from our past. This is the challenge we were all put on earth at this time in history to face. Where do you stand?

I’ve often asked myself, “Why me? Why was I so attracted to Michael Jackson? Why was I so drawn to his voice, performance, and uncanny ability to allow the music to express itself through his body with movements so unerringly timed that a hearing-impaired person could experience the same magic his hearing friends were dancing to; he could see the music. Why did his innocent shyness so fascinate me and his playful personality so enthrall me and his impish grin so mesmerize me and his incredible generosity so goad me?”

I was prepared for Michael Jackson’s arrival through a youth devoted to music that mattered to me, personally, and to the culture (or counter-culture, if you prefer) which I claimed as my own. It was music that encouraged self-reflection and compelled an entire generation to be willing to be agents of change. I prayed for his advent through all the years of listening to and repeating those mantras. (See A Song is a Mantra on this website.) The elegance of the plan is mystifying in its simplicity. I was called through a belief in dreams that encompassed a societal and cultural revolution aided and abetted by music during an era when we were all expressed by the songs that gained and held our attention. From the first record my parents bought me (45 rpm, if you please) and my first Hi-Fi record player (another Christmas gift that year), I was being propelled toward where I stand now at 60 years and counting, mourning the demise of the first truly international musical icon and philanthropist, a massively misunderstood and misrepresented visionary who always possessed the ability to speak directly to my soul (intercession by clergy not necessary or desired, thank you) and who, I am convinced, somehow, still calls for me to serve his agenda of ‘healing, pure and simple.’ Thankfully, I am not the only one he is calling.

My seven-year-old granddaughter begs me to play ‘Moonwalker’ and the ‘Dangerous Short Films’ for her almost every weekend and when we travel in the car, she shyly asks, “Grandma, do you have your mP3 player with you? Can we listen to Michael Jackson?”

Listen closely. You might hear him calling to you, too. You may not have exactly the same back story that I have, but the next song you hear may initiate a curiosity that you may not understand. If you act upon that curiosity and investigate, you, too, might find yourself a victim of an insatiable, uncontrollable curiosity to learn more. If you feel that magnetism which he, somehow, still exerts from across the chasm over which he has passed, please don’t discount or dismiss it – or him – as some ‘sinister’ force or ‘evil’ influence. That’s what the world wants you to believe. The establishment always needs to make change agents into demons because they threaten their very existence. Instead, listen to your heart; investigate for yourself; form your own conclusions; and make that change!

Jan

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Bodhisattva

I stand just beyond your reach
My purpose now only to teach
Less tangible, but no less real
I can still see, hear and feel
Your love from across the chasm
I am not a ghostly phantasm
Out of sight behind a shimmering weave
How could you think I could bear to leave?

Bathed in a torrent of your tears
Aware of all of your wounds and fears
Silence masked in the roar of the beach
As breakers of sorrow crash against the breach
Echo the thunder of your hearts breaking
Buffeted in the wind of your sigh’s making
Unseen by thousands of eyes
Humbled by your heartfelt cries

I am free to stay or go
I choose to stay so you will know

I walk with you, whisper in your ears
With my kiss I silence your tears
Can you feel me? I cradle you in my arms
Rock you against my breast, keep you from harm
Each and every one intimately known
My love for you has never flown
I promise you, you are not alone

My heart has always beat in tempo with yours
I’m here behind invisible doors
You never have to ask Will You Be There
Just know I am … and we can share
This wondrous planet where we can play
Reach out for me, I’m not far away

In the moment of my death
The instant of my last breath
I knew I couldn’t leave you behind
God whispered to me within my mind
“Welcome home, My Beloved Son,
I am well pleased.  Your race is won.
I am proud of you. You helped them see
The many different colors and faces of Me.
With every breath you tried to aid
You’ll never know the lives you saved.
Come home to me, my arms await
To enfold you in love at the gate

But you are free to stay or go
You may choose to stay so they will know.”

“Abba, I cannot leave them
See how their world works to deceive them
Can you not hear their cries?
How their hearts recoil from the lies
They still need my help to weather their storms
They still need my presence ‘tho they can’t see my form
My work is not yet done, my contract unfulfilled
I have not healed them, they are still ill
The error of their ways I showed
It takes time for the seed I planted to grow

Am I free to stay or go?
May I choose to stay so they will know?”

I tried so often
To tell you how I felt
My love for you beyond measure
I poured it into all I said and did
To bring you joy, to bring you pleasure
Help you escape the vicissitudes of life
Aide you through your struggles and strife
Give you hope when darkness closes in
Light your way through your valleys of sin
My quest for perfection was not for my glory
But for His … And yours

Did you really think I could leave?
Didn’t you know I would linger
Arms outstretched to welcome you home?
I am not just a dancer, a singer.
Didn’t I tell you I’ll always be there
Just call my name, you are not alone
Don’t walk away and we will share
Right here on Earth, our beautiful home
Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
A new consciousness, a higher purpose for man
Much more in line with the prophet’s plan
Heaven can wait, you are my life
As you always have been
‘Tho invisible and Speechless
I speak now from within.

Listen closely
My voice still reminds
Through the music I left you
In your hearts
In your minds

I am free to stay or go
I choose to stay and bring you all home.

Jan

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SHOUT!

Ignorance of people purchasing diamonds and necklaces,
And barely able to keep the payments up on their lessons,
And enrolled in a class and don’t know who the professor is,
How low people go for the dough and make a mess of things,
Kids are murdering other kids for the fun of it,
Instead of using their mind or their fist, they put a gun in it
Wanna be a part of a clique, don’t know who’s running it,
Tragedy on top of tragedy you know it’s killing me.


So many people in agony, this shouldn’t have to be,
Too busy focusing on ourselves and not His Majesty,
There has to be some type of change for this day and age,
We gotta rearrange and flip the page,
Living encaged like animals and cannibals,
Eating each other alive just to survive the nine to five,
Every single day is trouble while we struggle and strive
Peace of mind’s so hard to find.

Chorus
I wanna shout, throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout
You know it makes me wanna shout,
Throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout, c’mon now

Verse 2
Problems, complications and accusations
Dividing the nations and races of empty faces
A war is taking place.
No substitution for restitution, the only solution for peace
Is increasing the height of your spirituality.
Masses of minds are shrouded, clouded visions
Deceptions and indecision, no faith or religion, how we’re living.
The clock is ticking, the end is coming, there’ll be no warning,
But will we live to see the dawn.

Bridge
How can we preach, when all we make this world to be
Is a living hell torturing our minds.
We all must unite, to turn darkness to light,
And the love in our hearts will shine.

Verse 3
We’re disconnected from love, we’re disrespecting each other
Whatever happened to protecting each other
Poisoned your body and your soul for a minute of pleasure,
But the damage that you’ve done is gonna last forever.
Babies being born in the world already drug addicted and afflicted,
Family values are contradicted.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, the pressure’s building and I’ve had enough.

“This is not your ordinary record,” the track begins. Truer words were never spoken.

Apparently, recorded for the Invincible release that was so overshadowed by controversy in the United States (analyzed in more depth in Render unto Caesar on this site) and co-written by Cylph and Crystal, the song was released in Europe and the rest of the world as part of a maxi-single with Cry (another beautiful collaboration between R. Kelly and Michael.)

I ran across the song by accident.  It is touted as a remake of an old Isley Brothers song, but with a modern twist. I guess so!

What I do know is that Shout is one of the most unusual Michael Jackson songs I’ve ever heard. The sound of the song is frenetic; the feel of the song is urgent and angry; the beat is fast, industrial, mechanical. Michael’s voice is delivered in a very low range in a staccato manner – each word almost punched into the industrial feel of the track – indistinguishable (if possible) from the mechanical drum and bass beats. There is very little actual singing involved in this song. There are no soaring background vocals in six or eight part harmonies, no lilting melodies one laid over the other to create a tapestry of vocal perfection that one can only find in Michael’s music. Michael raps! And he raps well! And he raps very, very fast!

At first hearing, one wonders exactly what Michael is so angry about. Normally, Michael’s anger hurts me because I am so very aware of the pain which produced it. However, his anger in Shout is justified and accentuated by the lyrics and an in-depth study of them clearly illustrates Michael’s concern for many of the social issues our society faces on a daily, even hourly basis.

As a matter of fact, I have heard talking heads and anchor persons call Michael Jackson “an angry young man” and wonder aloud what he could possibly be angry about! Are they kidding? Well, let’s see what Michael Jackson could possibly be angry about. Perhaps, twenty-five years of lies, scandals, innuendos attached to his name have caused him to be a bit upset. Maybe being accused of horrible things when all he ever wanted was to heal every child he encountered and kill all the bigotry, hatred, intolerance he experienced in his too short life raised his ire. But that’s another post.

This song illustrates a departure for me. Usually, I am attracted to the soft side of Michael – the warm, squishy, fuzzy, cuddly Michael. I love the sensual beats of You Are Not Alone and Lady in My Life and Fall Again. I do love the boogie songs, too – the ones that make your head “bob” in time, but the soft side of Michael vibrates and resonates within my soul. There is nothing soft about Shout!  Yet, I love the song a lot.

Within the song, Michael comments on issues facing the world in very bold, direct, unmistakable language. He talks about economic snobbery, school violence, educational apathy, self-absorption at the expense of spiritual enlightenment, social irresponsibility, drug addiction, national and denominational divisiveness, corporate and media enslavement. The topics covered are very cutting-edge, current, topical for our social and media-prevalent culture.

We’re disconnected from love, we’re disrespecting each other
Whatever happened to protecting each other?


What, indeed? Currently our news is overtaken by the stories of children killing themselves because other children bullied them on social websites or in their schoolyards or in text messages. Major news outlets are asking questions like: How could this be happening? Where are these children learning this? Where are they getting this? And they sound like sincere questions. Are they serious?

I think it’s safe to assume that our children are getting it from our media – from news outlets, from tabloid journalists, from television broadcasts. Let’s not forget the role of the parents in this discussion. Let me illustrate my point.

Children are not unaware of the world around them. They are observant. They are sponges. They learn by example – not by what we tell them or teach them in Sunday school classes on Sunday mornings – but what they see around them on a daily basis.

They watch Simon Cowell bully contestants to the point of tears with words that are not meant to be constructive or instructive in any way. They are not meant to enhance the receiver’s performance, but to belittle, degrade. If it increases ratings dollars it’s considered a juicy little side effect. They watch the hosts bully plus size contestants on the Biggest Loser not to build strength or encourage lifestyle change, but to call names, to dehumanize, to poke fun at and make a laughingstock of the contestant. They watch their mothers and fathers come home from work and plant themselves in their recliners not to be educated or uplifted by their television viewing, nor to be entertained by the talent being offered, but to laugh along with the audience when Simon ‘lights into’ one of the less personable of the auditions. And they connect the dots. This is entertainment?!?

I wanna shout, throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout
You know it makes me wanna shout,
Throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout, c’mon now

We live in a ‘reality show’ universe. If you don’t like what’s on one channel, you can choose to jump to another but it is showing the same thing in different dressing. If it’s not Biggest Loser, it’s Survivor or Bachelor or the many that MTV and VH1 show in their lineup.  The days are long gone when you could turn on MTV or VH1 and be entertained by your favorite musical artists performing their latest hits. There are no variety shows anymore. There are no real sitcoms. There are no uplifting programs like Touched by An Angel, whose weekly exploits taught us something, made us think about our belief system, spoke to our souls. There is nothing but the reality show genre on television anymore, except PBS and HBO (and HBO is worse with its violence and sexually explicit material.) These are the only choices available.

Well, perhaps, I was a bit too hasty. We can always watch the 24-hour news cycle on CNN or MSNBC. And what do we see there? We see public figures being verbally mauled, laughed at by perfectly coiffed and manicured anchors with white hair to increase our comfort level and respect and to lend them credibility that they don’t deserve. They spend much of their hourly time slot bullying politicians like our rock star president, for example … or Tiger Woods for his infidelities. Our children are sponges. They are not stupid. They hear the media hype surrounding people like Lady Diana Spencer, whose larger humanitarian efforts should have made her an inviolate advocate of the downtrodden and an alluring role model for young women – and Michael Jackson, whose talent was so huge that it couldn’t be contained and whose countless contributions to our cultural story – leaving completely aside his gargantuan humanitarian donations – should have made him the perfect role model for our up and coming young men, especially young men from minority backgrounds.

Unlike some of our sports heroes who publically reject the ‘role model’ stereotype as too limiting, he was willing to accept that responsibility and to make of it a thing of limitless freedom, creativity and strength. He was willing to sublimate his ego to the greater good of humanity. Not many of us are so selfless. Was he admired for his sacrifice? Were children encouraged to look up to him, to learn from him? No, he was vilified for his uniqueness; he was ridiculed and scorned for his appearance; he was accused for his piercing, aching concern for sick and disadvantaged children. In other words, he was bullied by every news anchor and outlet in the world! And our children saw and heard. Because, after all, that’s entertainment! That’s news!

Our children hear Jay Leno and his tasteless jokes at others’ expense, his nightly monologues that poke fun at celebrities whom we love to elevate to pedestals – and then turn those pedestals into instruments of torture – into crucifixes – upon which we impale our fallen heroes (and even those who haven’t fallen or who fall only in the sick imaginations of our very vocal media) when we tire of them. They listen to the talking heads tearing these people apart in the most publically humiliating way it is conceivable to do – while offering absolutely no ‘proof’ or ‘unimpeachable source’ to back up their claims, their lies, their scandals. They watch their parents as they return from work and compose themselves in their living rooms with a large scotch and soda in their hands as mom prepares microwavable meals in the kitchen. They hear the lies and the psychological bullying on-air, the name-calling, the degrading commentary, the dehumanizing opinion being reported as factual – regardless of having little basis in fact – as they sit at the kitchen table and do their homework.

Gee, I wonder where they get the idea that that kind of behavior is acceptable in our society. Then, they go to school and they repeat the behavior (because that’s what kids do) and one of their little classmates commits suicide because these bullies-in-waiting are modeling the ‘entertainment’ they watch and hear nightly on the ‘news reports’ that are little more than scandal sheets run amok. And our reporters spend their hourly time slot examining this phenomenon and asking where our children are getting this kind of tutelage … where they are learning to do this?

From US! They are learning it from US! And we have to stop it before any more of our children decide to commit suicide to make the pain they are living with daily in their schools stop!

Michael knew this side of human nature intimately. It appalled him; it angered him; it saddened him; it ate him alive; it killed him!

Kids are murdering other kids for the fun of it,
Instead of using their mind or their fist, they put a gun in it
Wanna be a part of a clique, don’t know who’s running it,
Tragedy on top of tragedy you know it’s killing me.

In September 2010, a pedagogical and humanitarian organization by the name of the Voices Education Project (http://www.voiceseducation.org) released a new educational curriculum that takes direct aim at this problem. The Words and Violence curriculum contains in-depth reflective readings, poems, case studies and tools to educate our children of middle school through college ages regarding this very topic. While I agree it is important that our children learn the value of the words they utter and the violence those words can do to young impressionable psyches, it’s not the most important thing our society should concern itself with.

We need to work on an educational vehicle for on-going professional development activities for our media, parents and teachers. Because we can’t presume to instruct our children on this issue until we have educated ourselves regarding the harm we are doing to our progeny.

Clearly, children see through hypocrisy! They will throw our words right back in our faces if we try to sit them down and explain to them how bullying is wrong and unacceptable in our society while our television viewing and movie theaters and evening news programs teach them the exact opposite. Or, their eyes will glaze over as they do when we are trying to teach them proper sexual practices when their schoolmates have been experimenting with sexual activity since fifth grade and have told them all about it – and what fun it is – and that their parents are too old to understand the urges they are feeling! It’s a sure sign we have lost them!

How can we preach, when all we make this world to be
Is a living hell torturing our minds.
We all must unite, to turn darkness to light,
And the love in our hearts will shine.

Michael knew that these are not life-lessons that can be learned once a week on Sunday morning. These life lessons need to be lived! The lyrics of this song speak directly and without skirting the issue to this phenomenon! Do we want to see the end of bullying in our schools? Do we want to see the end of children taking their own lives because they believe they are not worthy of love and acceptance as they are?

Then it is incumbent upon us – all of us – to remove those same behaviors from our prime-time television lineup, from our 24-hour news cycle, from our movie theaters, and from our late-night talk show hosts’ monologues!! And we had better do it quickly! And to hell with freedom of speech in this instance! No one has the freedom of bullycide … and that’s what it has come down to … freedom to commit homicide by bullying. Martin Bashir, Anderson Cooper, Diane Dimond, Nancy Grace and all the other so-called purveyors of news do not have a license to kill our heroes – nor do they have the license to teach our children to kill their peers by modeling them!

Freedom of speech is a coveted commodity in our world. Nations which do not enjoy this inalienable right are watching our example and learning from us. It is my fervent prayer that we all make our advertising dollars and our Nielsen ratings decisions based on mutual respect for all of our fellow human beings, including our children.

Jan

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The title of this post comes from a line in a wonderful book of poems. I want to thank my friend, Gerri Stone (author of Freeing the Heart, a lovely book of verses that are Michael-inspired and dedicated, currently available from Amazon.com) for reminding me that a poem does not have any iambic requirements or rhyming prerequisites. It does not punch a time card nor does it have obligations or expectations which it must meet.

The only description by which a poem must be defined is: does it free (express) the heart of the poet – does it give that heart wings? If the answer is yes, then it has met all the prerequisites which could possibly be expected of it.  If it also resonates within the heart of the reader, then it has exceeded those parameters that might have been arbitrarily applied to it by critics whose opinions don’t matter worth a hill of beans anyway.

By that definition, I am inexplicably drawn to something I wrote back in the late 1990’s. Actually, I feel a bit dishonest in that claim. I mean, I did write it – but something or someone else was at the helm during the writing process. I so totally understand Michael saying that it was hard for him to take credit for writing his songs. He felt that they had all been created somewhere in space – or in the spirit world – and had just come through to him. That is exactly the same phenomenon I experienced while I was writing this story. It’s a story about what might have occurred if Michael Jackson had just happened to meet an angel. His companion she called herself; he called her Angelique.

Angelique played many roles in the fictional story in which she was the co-star. She was comforter, confidant, friend, companion, playmate, philosopher, sage, instigator of deeper thought, explainer of esoteric principles. She was Michael’s conscience … and mine, I guess. In all her roles, she represented unconditional love in all its guises and for several months while I was writing her she was me … or was I her … I never was quite sure which way that went.

I can tell you that I lost myself entirely several times in writing Angelique. The experience of writing this story was similar to being led at a fast pace through a trackless forest by an invisible hand – by an angel, if you will. I felt that I could not lag – that I had to keep pace or be left behind. My fingers couldn’t fly fast enough to keep up with the words leaving them! The best thing I could do was get out of the way and let whatever was happening happen – whoever or whatever was leading to take over and do it. The result was eye-opening, cathartic, personally and spiritually uplifting. I felt strongly that the story had a purpose … or, perhaps, a better way to say that is that it was purposeful. Few people have ever read this story that came through me – except me – but each time I do I am grateful to have been given such a gift.

Angelique, the story, was one of the vehicles through which I formed and sustained a lasting, personal, spiritually-fulfilling relationship with Michael Jackson. Angelique, the entity, was also the tunnel or channel through which I sent all my love and support for Michael’s mission and for what I perceived at the time as his personal relationship with the magical, spiritual, invisible world about which I was writing. So, the story had a lot of meaning for me, then – and still does today so many years later.

At one point in the story, Michael became curious about why he deserved his own personal angel, why he was worthy of such love, what made him so special. Angelique explained the joy he occasioned in the heavenly realms in these terms:

Few in your world have survived childhood with the child intact. Seldom has one of your species remained open to the magic and the mystery, the unexplained and the unexplainable side of life as you have, beloved. Once or twice in each generation someone comes along who has the ability to remain free of the conditioning his or her social and cultural norms impose and allow the invisible world to enter their hearts and minds, but they are very rare. They may open the door occasionally to allow the spiritual world access to the physical, but in their fear of the unknown and unknowable, they close and bar the door at night. Even more rarely will one of you open the doors and windows and allow the breeze of my world to sweep their house clean and leave it refreshed as if a spring breeze had sprinkled fragrant flower petals in its passage. More rarely still, perhaps once every millennium, one of your species will remove the door and lock, install a revolving door and allow the spiritual world free access to and from the physical world at will.

You, my dear, you cause such joy, delight and pride in the heavenly realm. You are the answer to all our prayers – the rarest of the rare. You do none of these things. In your openness, your exuberance, you tear down the doors, the walls, the roof and the windows. Then, you erect a satellite dish on a revolving pole to attract every wandering, uplifting spiritual thought or energy that floats by within a 50-mile radius of your house. When you have collected those healing, loving, comforting thoughts, you offer yourself as an open-channel receiver/transmitter for those energies. Standing with your legs akimbo, your arms outstretched to your sides and your head thrown back, you expose every square centimeter of flesh – each and every cell and hair follicle to absorb that spiritual energy. Then you spin and kick, hurling the spirit that has filled you to overflowing around you in an agony of joyous abandon– as a dog sprays water droplets after a good soaking – transmitting it undiluted to your audiences.

That was for you, Gerri. “Praying on Stage,”  “Saying ‘Yes’ to a Divine Presence which accompanied him always.” Indeed!

I find it interesting that so many of us – diverse and individual as we are – see so much the same thing when we view Michael. It also astonishes me that I was aware – that I saw – that I knew – and then let that vision fade in the life circumstances I faced at the turn of the millennium. How could I have done that?

The Divine Presence to which he always said ‘yes’ – even when that presence tore through him as violently as a hurricane assaults the shores of an island – this has so much to teach us all in how we live our lives. None of us would ever consider saying ‘no’ to our Creator; the very thought is unthinkable. But we never say ‘yes,’ either. Instead we give a conditional ‘yes’ … yes, but don’t mess with my carnal phantasies … yes, but don’t disturb my vices … yes, but don’t make me stop abusing the substances or things that bring me pleasure. This is so different from Michael’s heartfelt, unqualified, exuberant ‘yes and I know that your plan for me is perfect” or “yes and I trust that you will use me with great love” … or “yes, and please make me an instrument of your peace” … or “yes, and thank you for touching all these through me.”

It is my prayer that those who have not opened their hearts to this man will do so and in so doing will know as we know the treasure we had who walked among us with humility and grace and such irrepressible style … as well as the priceless childlike, trusting, alchemical being we have all lost.

Jan

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