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Archive for October, 2013

October 1 through October 9, 2013

With the winding down of the Katherine Jackson vs. AEG Live wrongful death suit and the emotional ups and downs we have all been subjected to as a result of the testimonies and evidence presented, I, for one, am more than ready for an emotional “up.” Therefore, this installment will be an imaginary interlude. Please sit back and fly with us at With a Child’s Heart. The captain has activated the ‘fasten your seat belt’ and ‘no smoking’ signs and is going through the take-off checklist. Thank you for flying With a Child’s Heart.

Imaginary Interlude – Writing the Dream

I dream of Neverland as it was when you still lived there – of being invited past the wooden gates embellished with beautiful floral wreaths and bearing the slogan “Once upon a time” – past the huge gilt and wrought iron portal to your magical kingdom, delicate yet sturdy. In my dream, the train whistle still blows, the calliope still accompanies the rotation of the magnificently-crafted carousel and your name still crowns the gateway. The benevolent king still rules his fabulous kingdom.

I walk in the outer gate unmolested and saunter unhurried down the long curving drive which you traversed so often when returning from tours and meetings and travels. Did those gates welcome you as they welcomed me? Did your heart flutter in your chest as Neverland embraced your return as does mine? As I approach the second gate, the massively ornate doors swing wide and it seems that time stands still inside. The world holds its breath and even its elliptical orbit seems to be interrupted, its trajectory and velocity slows and you come forward to welcome me into this haven of peace built with so much loving intention that it still seeps through every molecule and blade of grass, even eight years after you left it for the final time.

Here, the serenity is so deep – layers deep – fathoms deep – so that even if something should disturb its epidermis, serenity lies beneath and flows exuberantly to heal the breach like sap flows to heal a tree or blood flows to heal a wound. This healing cannot be defined; nor can it be stopped. It is an autonomic response to trauma. It permeates through the skin almost by osmosis, enters the lungs in waves of flower-drenched fragrance, quiets racing hearts, calms restless thoughts and chases cares away with the warm breath of a gentle breeze playing with stray strands of hair and shirt tails while carrying butterflies and seed spores along effortlessly to pollinate the next generation of beauty extending as far as the eye can see or the heart can imagine.

Here, your joy in your beautiful desert oasis shines brightly in the opulent, thickly-planted flower beds and quiet ponds, the fantastically pruned topiaries and water features which whisper their songs on the gently moving air, the green lawns and flower-dotted meadows, and from your face as you usher me forward, your eyes twinkling merrily in welcome, and tell me to feel comfortable and be free. I feel your excitement as you give me an abbreviated tour, pointing out items of interest – the animal enclosures and amusement park rides, the arcade and bumper car pavilion, the carousel and flamingo ponds.

The entire place breathes enchantment, magic, endless possibility — teaming with life and love. Your wide, toothy grin is contagious, lighting up the whole area like a candle flame lit in a dark room, pulling me in like a magnet. Our eyes meet and before long we are standing toe-to-toe, silently drinking in the energy that surrounds us. It is filled with promise and potential. You take my hand and we walk together, your long strides shortened consciously to match my shorter ones. Words are superfluous as we approach a beautiful, picturesque lake, crossing a magnificent stone bridge that harkens back to days of yore, almost Romanesque in construction and style. The banks of the lake are bordered by a grassy verge that extends to the very edge, deeply shaded by majestic trees. The lawn is soft and cushions the feet like a deeply-padded plush carpet of iridescent green. Water rises from spouts in the middle of the lake, shooting ten feet high and cascading down to splash happily into the quiet pond. The sound of the cascade carries on the light breeze, soothing and restful, and we stop to rest on a waiting bench in appreciation.

The panorama of lake and fountains occupy the foreground of this idyllic scene, backlit by a blue, cloud-dappled sky. Mountains rise in the distance, their crowns silhouetted against the deep azure, their sides golden, radiant in the mid-afternoon sun. Swans float upon the lake, white feathers reflecting the sunlight and gleaming brightly; they appear motionless, yet, they move across the water with rippling wakes following behind them, as if propelled by some kind of invisible magic propeller.

We sit in companionable silence, observing this pretty, pastoral scenery for moments that drift contentedly into eternity. How beautifully tranquil!

Here, I find a respite that no amount of sleep – or lack thereof – can diminish — a peace that owes little to a lack of noise or activity but more to a far less explainable lack of restlessness or urgency … or desire to be anywhere else. To touch this peace – here in this special place – is a privilege beyond what words can adequately convey. Here, everything is just as you left it – yesterday.

You turn your incredible deep brown, heavy-lidded eyes in my direction and suddenly a new kind of fire lights their depths as a smile of such tender yearning steals across your features.

“Let’s go for a ride!” you exclaim breathlessly as you jump up from your perch on the bench.

Neverland Water Feature

For my part, I could have sat and basked in the beautiful, timeless glow of our communion for the rest of my life quite happily, but I rise slowly, following your lithe, agile body as it skips, almost running, towards the waiting, swan-shaped rowboat moored along the bank in back of where I was sitting. Across the verge and along the shoreline a wooden dock juts out into the lake, almost hidden from view by opulent plantings that appear to have sprouted from a child’s hand exuberantly flung in every direction. Statues of children frozen in play seem nearly ready to come alive along the lakefront, their bronze patina contributing to the illusion of motion clearly depicted in their lines and the drape of their clothing.

With much more grace and agility than I could ever hope to muster, you hop into the waiting vessel as you chuckle and call out to me, “Untie the lines and climb aboard.” Untying the lines presents few problems, but climbing aboard is a completely separate issue and accomplished with far less dexterity than you displayed while you wait patiently, crossing your arms and shaking your head.

Finally, most of me is inside the boat and the remainder is unimportant. You push off and row to the middle of the lake, unconsciously humming a bouncy tune, occasionally interrupted by clicks and grunts formed deep in your chest, under your breath. Then, you ship the oars and sit in the floor of the boat, stretching your long legs out beneath my seat and clasping your hands behind your head. With a loud sigh, you lean back against the seat you have just vacated and close your eyes against the glare of the sun’s reflection on the still surface of the water.

On the bank, we hear a rustling as two beautiful deer approach the water for a drink. One displays a massive rack of antlers so weighty that it’s a wonder he can hold his head up at all; his companion, a pretty, dainty little doe whose hoof falls remind of the Joffrey Ballet on opening night, watches him adoringly. We hold our breaths enthralled as the two lovely creatures lower their heads to lap at the clear, cool water. When satisfied, our two visitors bound off through the trees undisturbed.

A quick movement attracts my attention out of the corner of my eye; I turn to catch your index finger wiping a glistening tear from your cheek as it trickles from the corner of your eye. “I love this place,” you murmur shyly, looking away in a vain attempt to hide your emotion.

“Yes, Michael, I know,” I whisper, feeling helpless to ease your discomfort. “So do I. That’s why we’re here – to redeem your beautiful home from the web of sin that has been woven around it – to prize it back from the hounds of hell and heal the unbearable pain their invasion caused you.”

You nod, sit back and close your eyes again, undisturbed by the bright autumn sun from which you are no longer required to hide. Aimlessly, we drift, drawing closer and closer to the spray of water from one of the spouts in the middle of the lake until, finally, the droplets splatter us, causing me to jump and you to open your remarkable brown eyes.

Your face in repose reminded me of chiseled marble, a hybridized version of David and the Blessed Virgin in one of Michelangelo’s famous sculptures, its perfectly symmetrical features ethereal, incandescent, translucent, transcendent. But as you grab the oars to direct the boat away from the spray, they lose their chiseled perfection and take on an animation that breaks my heart with its beauty.

“I’m sorry,” you sputter. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

I laugh and tell you, “Nor should you be. I don’t melt. At least, I don’t think I do. Do dreamers melt?”

“Is that what this is – a dream?” you ask sheepishly. “It feels so real!”

I thoughtfully reply, “Yes, it does, my dear – real and perfect in its splendor. What else this side of heaven could possibly feel so real and perfect?”

“Ah, but you forget. I’m not ‘this side of heaven,’” you laugh gaily.

“I wish I could forget that,” I sigh. Your reminder threatens to overwhelm me in melancholy until I realize that I am living my dream – that nothing the world of reality could offer could possibly compare to these few moments spent with you in this beautiful setting — and the wind of gratitude for the grace of this perfection blows sadness out of the water, grasping my mood from its abysmal fall like a mountain climber grasps the hand of his companion who has slipped over the edge of a deep precipice.

A safe distance once again from the water spout, you put the oars inside the boat and make to return to your seat on the floor.

“Isn’t that seat a little hard to lean against?” I ask and pat my lap, inviting you to rest against my legs.

Shyly, you maneuver your long legs around to rest in the opposite direction and lean your back against my legs, your head upon my lap.

“Am I too heavy for you?” you inquire.

“My dear,” I respond, “you weigh nothing – less than nothing.”

“Okay, but let me know if you become uncomfortable,” you demand.

My response, “As if …” is carried away by the breeze only to be drowned out by the sound of the train whistle in the distance.

With your head and shoulders leaning comfortably against my legs, you close your eyes again and sigh. The spray from the spout has wet your hair a little and tendrils cling to your forehead and temples. I brush them away gently, hoping that you don’t mind, but you don’t stir. You breathe deeply in a regular, unhurried rhythm, your chest rising and falling in slow, gentle waves as the ripples from the fountain spout rock the small skiff and the swans, curious about these intruders, pass by, haughtily ignoring the other occupants of their lake. The warmth and beauty of this place and time wraps us in a blanket of indescribable contentment that could only be possible here.

“Can you feel it?” you ask quietly.

“Oh, yes, Beloved, I feel it,” I reply.

“This is why I built this place,” you state vehemently and unequivocally, “to share that feeling with everyone who came here. God is so present here in that feeling. It’s what was destroyed when they came in here and brought their ugliness.”

I think a moment before answering. “No it wasn’t, Dear One. You know better than that. Love can’t be destroyed; God can’t be chased away so easily by ignorance. He abides here very strongly because you invited Her and She has waited through long years and oceans of tears – yours and ours – to welcome you home.”

You turn and gaze up at me, your eyes full of questions you don’t know how to ask and whose answers your corporeal self of twenty – or even five – years ago would not have understood. But you just smile that slow, seductive smile – the one that grown, mature women want to mother and teenagers want to seduce – the one that re-hangs the sun in the sky and strings the stars and moon like fairy lights on the breast of the night.

“That sounded so familiar,” you sigh quizzically, “There was a déjà vu moment, but I know I’ve never heard it or read it before. Can you explain that?”

With a little laugh, I reply, “I don’t think so, Michael. At least, not without you thinking that I’m a total crackpot.”

“Try me,” you command.

“Well, okay, you asked for it. But it’s a long story. You better get comfortable,” I answer.

Sitting up, you grab the oars and steer the boat back to the shore, alighting from the bobbing vessel to dry land with an unconscious grace and litheness bordering on weightlessness that I can only envy. After tying the boat up, you turn to help me navigate the gap between the boat and the dock, which has taken on an unnatural resemblance to a chasm of frightening proportions.

“We’ll go to one of my favorite little hideouts,” you say excitedly, “if it’s still here. I don’t ask many guests there because most people don’t seem to understand. I hope you will.”

Finally, we stand beneath a gnarled California oak, its boughs laden with late summer foliage on the cusp of changing to autumn raiment.

‘You’re not afraid of heights, are you?” you ask, stopping briefly to let me catch my breath.

Huffing a bit from the unaccustomed exertion of our headlong flight across the manicured grounds, I reply, “Not that I know of.”

“Good,” you laugh gaily. “Can you climb or do you need help?”

“I think I can do it, Michael,” I say, a little daunted by the hugeness of the tree in question and still a little winded.

You begin to clamber up the trunk of the ancient tree into which metal rungs have been embedded to ease your ascent, towards what looks like a giant bird nest big enough to accommodate two or three human-size birds. Reaching the nest, you settle yourself cross-legged on the softly padded wooden platform perched in the bowl formed by the fork of two huge branches.

Hesitantly, I grab a rung at about head height and place my foot on a lower rung to begin my ascent.  As mountain – or California oak – climbing was not included in the curriculum of my twelve years of parochial education, it takes me a little longer, but eventually I am sitting next to you on the platform and breathing heavily.

“You’re going to have to quit smoking, you know,” you aver with a smile.

“Michael, are we going to talk about my vices,” I ask nonchalantly, raising my eyebrows Groucho Marx style, “or what I said down at the lake and why it felt familiar to you?”

Chuckling, you respond, “Okay, I guess discussing your vices could get kinda dicey.”

This time, it is I who chuckles. “Oh, you have no idea,” I tease. “But let’s get back to the subject. Back a long time ago – almost twenty years ago, to be exact – while you were touring the world on your HIStory campaign, I wrote some stories that I intended to support you and bring you some comfort. These stories also had the added benefit of helping me to get to know you. They were our courtship.”

“Yes, I remember. We talked about this before,” you say, adjusting your long, lean legs into a more comfortable cross-legged position. “One of them was about an angel.”

“Right! That one was called Angelique, but I found working with an angel as a leading lady was a bit daunting, limiting, especially when it came to more … uh … intimate scenes and storylines,” I whisper shyly.

“Hee hee hee, do you mean ‘sexy scenes?” you ask in a low murmur, followed by a rolling purr.

“You know perfectly well what I mean,” I proclaim with a light slap at your knee. “Stop teasing me! I couldn’t get your character to overlook the fact that she was an angel and, like any self-respecting neophyte novelist, I wanted to explore that side of your character. So, to solve the problem, Angelique lost her wings (which were a remarkable component of her biology … remind me sometime to tell you about them) and became a very human reporter by the name of Bunny– but in reality Angelique and Bunny were both me – a highly-stylized and admittedly idealized version of me – but me nonetheless. I was trying to populate your life with loving companions and imagining what it would have been like to be one of them. Do you forgive me?”

You laugh. “And you say you have no imagination! You were imagining a new world for me – dreaming out loud – so that I would be protected and surrounded with love. There is nothing to forgive in that. It’s using your focus to create and I felt your support. Now, tell me about this reporter. Why did she have to be a reporter?”

I smile. “It wasn’t planned that way. That’s just the way it turned out. I was flying by the seat of my pants and holding on for dear life. In hindsight, perhaps, because it was the one thing I knew you were guaranteed to object to – the one type of person you would not be able to trust – and that distrust would build drama into the storyline. But that explanation is only applicable in hindsight. You have to understand that I didn’t think about it a whole lot. I let the story write itself – like you always let the music write itself. I didn’t plan it all out ahead of time or compose an outline showing the plot twists and peaks and valleys. I just sat down with a pen and paper – or my computer – and started writing. The plot twists and dialog just happened naturally – organically.

The funny thing is: when I was writing these stories, I was so involved with them that I was living them. I would go to work and raise my girls, help them with their homework and fix family dinners, but my mind was totally involved in the story I was creating. I was living the dream that I was writing. I could feel how the characters would talk and I could feel their emotions – their joy and playfulness, their pain and sorrow – their distrust and shyness were all happening inside me and those emotions permeated all the nooks and crannies of my life. It was really wonderful; my every day, lackluster, workaday world was pushed to the back burner – or put on automatic pilot might be a better way of expressing it – while I lived and breathed your air for a time, if that makes any sense.”

“Of course, it makes sense,” you exclaim. “You’ve read books and heard me talk about seeing the outcome of any situation that concerns you in your imagination as you would want it to be and living as if that outcome was your reality. This description confused you. You didn’t understand how to make that work. You wondered and worried about how to do that for years, but you were already doing it when you were writing your stories. You just didn’t realize what you were doing at the time. As usual, you were making things more difficult than they have to be – a common human failing. But how does that explain my sense of familiarity back at the lake?”

“Oh, dear,” I respond, warily trying to choose my words carefully. “Well, when I wrote these stories, as I said before, you were engaged in touring with HIStory. You had weathered the first set of allegations and the second was still several years away. Bunny helped you clean the contagion of the first set from Neverland with her instinctive, spiritual love. Perhaps, what I said rang a bell in you. It sounded like something Bunny would say, even to me. And one of the outcomes that I prayed for – sincerely and incessantly – back then was that, by some totally incomprehensible means – at some level – you would know and experience the love and comfort and spiritual support she represented.

I was convinced that you would know that you are loved and supported – if not on a material, physical level, then, at least, on a spiritual level – in the dimension in which we are ONE your essence would experience that ONENESS and draw comfort from it.”

“Yes,” you whisper. “And, as we’ve said before, it was your faith that made it real for both of us. What happened to make you lose that faith?”

“Oh, Michael,” I sigh in response. “I remember that time as being so productive, but in many ways, I guess my memory may be a bit distorted. I ran across an old journal today from the beginning of that dark period that we’ve discussed so often before, which apparently had its roots in 1998/1999 when I was so involved in writing short stories starring Michael Jackson. At the time, I was working in an educational department at the university and a new chairperson was hired to be my boss who had no respect for women, in general, and even less for those who held administrative positions under his direction. He was rude, crude, demanding and ignorant along with arrogant and he made my workday a living hell on a daily basis. He thought he knew everything and made me feel small and stupid just by walking in the door in the morning. My workload doubled during his tenure because he thought he knew how to do things that I had been accomplishing for years and would not take my advice. Therefore, I had to do everything his way and, then, redo them the right way. What’s more, he belittled me in front of my co-workers. He took great pleasure in humiliating me. I hated going to work in the morning and often left the building in tears, rehashing and reliving all the little humiliations of the day and trying to figure out how I could have changed any part of it all.

Eventually, after a year and a half of his tenure, I left the educational department and got a job in the vice president’s office of the same university. But that year and a half had a huge impact on my view of the world, on my faith in our ONENESS and, especially, of myself and my abilities. I told myself that I was stupid for thinking that anything I did or didn’t do could affect your life in any way – on any level — and, as a result, I blocked myself off … and locked myself away … from any spiritual relationship that we had shared. I adopted the world’s view that had, finally, battered down my resistance and told myself I was delusional – that such things are not possible – that it was all in my imagination.”

“And there’s that word again – the one that we’ve discussed so frequently in our conversations. Imagination is nothing to be scoffed at; it is the building blocks of the universe – the erector set of reality. But, yes, I understand,” you say sympathetically. “That’s how I felt when I was working with my brothers on the Victory Tour. I had gone from the studio with Q and Rod and Bruce, who all treated me and my ideas with respect and worked hard to make them come to life even better than I imagined them on the records to being one of six brothers – and one of the youngest of the six – who had no respect for me at all, didn’t share my complete devotion to perfect execution and were only in it for the money – all of whom were controlled and beaten down by a father who had no respect for any of us except when it came to lining his immeasurably deep pockets. It was a hard adjustment to make and the planning and ticket sales scheme was a major fiasco. The promoter they had hired didn’t have clue one and alienated me from the starting gate. That kind of domination squelches creativity, and when the people around you won’t even listen to your ideas, your faith in anything, including yourself, becomes difficult. Don’t beat yourself up over it; be gentle with yourself.”

Your remarkable eyes cloud with the memory of your humiliation and I am astounded afresh at how expressive they are of your emotional state.

“Yes, Michael,” I affirm, “you do understand. I wonder now how much the constant degradation, the negative, judgmental mindset of this ‘boss from hell’ contributed to my feelings of uselessness and lack of control in my inner climate as well. It’s just one more reason I was living in the stories I was writing and how satisfying I found them … until, one day, the flow just stopped and I found myself unable to write anything. Being made to feel stupid all day, five days a week, makes one feel stupid and useless the rest of the time as well, especially when one’s family and friends find your absorption in your fantasy world confusing and are waiting for the bio-chemical imbalance which caused it to end and whatever kind of phase you were going through to be over.

“Yes, it’s the lie that everyone believes … and what you believe you become,” you say.

“Add to the mix the fact that you are enjoying a relationship that no one, including yourself, understands and makes absolutely no sense at all, even to you, and you have a perfect storm of negative energy that takes over your life completely. I think unless you are an enormously strong-willed person, eventually all that humiliation and depression builds up and wins out, blocking off any claim on constructive energy, faith or purpose. You spiral down into a state of immobility, paralyzed by a lack of self-esteem and self-worth that is constantly reinforced by everyone around you. And, as a result of all that negative energy, you block yourself at every turn – tell yourself ‘you can’t’ and ‘that’s impossible’ – and sabotage any attempt at finding a way out of the prison in which you’ve locked your soul’s creativity.”

I sigh, laughing nervously. “How long can a person go on believing in something as illogical as this spiritual connection which is so antithetical to the so-called knowledge of everyone else in the world with its scientific, sane, rational, adult mindset – and its reams and reams of so-called evidence? I thought I was all alone – had no idea if there was anyone else in the world who was having similar experiences or thoughts … or that my prayers and intentions were hitting their mark. It was only a year or so ago that my friend confirmed that knowledge by recounting your videotaped interview with her outside your hotel. I knew you had lots of fans out there. I mean, at the time, you couldn’t stand on a street corner anywhere in the world and throw a stick and not hit a Michael Jackson fan, but fans who were sharing a spiritually-based relationship? Those were a little harder to come by.”

“You were not alone. I am here with you. Though we’re far apart, you’re always in my heart,” you sing. “Didn’t you believe me?”

Drawing the Dream

“Of course, I believe you. That song just immobilized me with its beauty.” I exclaim. “It haunted me. But, although its lyrics were so appropriate to my situation, I hadn’t yet made the connection that your beautiful song could possibly be the answer to all my prayers. To my knowledge, there is no precedent for such a thing. Who could have believed that it wasn’t just another love song like so many others?”

You laugh uneasily. “Just a love song? Of course, it’s a love song. There’s no ‘just’ about it. It was for all of you – to be applied as needed – and as often as needed – to each of your individual lives and circumstances in which you were feeling alone.”

“And I was feeling so alone at the time and living in a world of my own creation until that world dried up and I couldn’t find it again,” I mumble thoughtfully. “Well, I can honestly avow that I never thought of it that way back then – that such a thing as a dialog – a conversation – could occur between two people so widely separated in every conceivable way. No wonder the song turned me every which way but loose. I loved it … viscerally … the first time I heard it – and I went on loving it during all of the ensuing years. I credit that song with keeping me somewhat sane and alive during the terrible summer of 2009. There is just no panacea like the sound of your voice, Baby.”

“Somewhat?” you inquire teasingly.

“Yeah,” I laugh deprecatingly. “Well, my sanity has long been a matter of opinion. I’m not totally sure I want to wear that straight jacket. In my world, sanity is way over-rated and a corset far too restrictive to wear comfortably on a more than occasional basis. It doesn’t allow you to breathe!”

Your eyes cloud with a memory before you speak. “I can so relate to how you were feeling. It’s also how I was feeling in the last few months of my physical life. The big wigs at AEG were not respectful of my process and while Kenny and Travis were fine, the pressure from the ‘higher ups’ was a constant presence that could not be ignored. It’s hard to battle that kind of negative energy. That’s why I told you to block off any negative energy that is coming at you.”

“How do you block it when it is coming at you from all sides, Baby?”

“I don’t know … obviously … because I was unsuccessful at the end. Perhaps, just trying to go back to the stage when I had not fully recovered my faith and balance was not the best idea. Their respect for me was apparent when they were negotiating and courting me, but once they had me it was no longer required. But I do know that love is the only answer. You have to love and forgive those who are sending those waves of distressing energy and you have to love yourself enough to be sure of your abilities, confident in your strength and determination and not allow them to define you according to their set of definitions. That can be hard at times. It sounds to me like you experienced that in spades.”

You smile shyly and look to your right where a squirrel has run along a neighboring branch and now stands frozen, staring at you as if to say, “What are you doing in my tree?” Slowly, so as not to frighten him away, you extend your hand toward him in welcome, your long, elegant fingers gracefully relaxed. The tiny creature just glares at you for another second or two and then turns and scurries away, his strident, scolding chittering following in his wake. You mark his passage with your luminous eyes.

“Now … see?” you say quietly, “why can’t we be more like him? We invaded his territory, but he felt no need to attack or start a war. He is perfectly willing to share the bounty and shade of his tree. Did you hear how he scolded us? I love that! We can learn so much just from observing nature instead of always trying to tame it. We should probably go down now. You need help?”

“No, thanks, Baby, I got this!” I say looking down at the precipitous drop which appears from my vantage point to compare favorably with the Grand Canyon but which you seem to have breached with ease. “Just make sure you’re not under me, Michael. I would so hate to squish you like a bug if I should fall.” Your laughter bubbles up from the ground, echoing through the leaf-laden branches of this magnificent example of California oak.

Finally reaching the ground, which I accomplish with far less skill and dexterity – forget about grace and dignity – than you displayed, we stand together staring deeply into each other’s eyes for a moment without speaking. The heavily flower-scented air is moved by a refreshing breeze from the lake and bird song seems to envelope us as the shade from the canopy shields us from the slowly-setting sun. Soon, the train whistle sounds in the distance carrying a reminder of time and space – both of which seem to have been suspended during our all-too-brief visit.

“I guess we should start thinking about getting you back,” you suggest.

I just sigh deeply. “It has been such a beautiful afternoon, Michael. I can’t thank you enough for inviting me. To sit with you in your Giving Tree has been a dream of mine for so long.”

“See? Dreams really do come true,” you excitedly proclaim. Grasping my hand tightly, you begin to walk across the park-like expanse towards the stone bridge we seem to have crossed in the opposite direction such a short time ago.

“But we never got to ride any of the rides,” you exclaim disappointedly.

I laugh merrily. “And did you notice, Beloved? I didn’t throw up once. We’ll just have to save something for my next visit.” In the middle of the bridge, I stop and lean against the wall that stands at about hip-height to me. “I don’t want to go back to that world, Beloved. It can be so very disappointing.”

Holding your arms out to me, you gather me to your breast, holding me tightly against my disillusionment. “I know,” you whisper in my ear, “but it is also so very beautiful. Have faith, my little secretary. Not everything is as it appears. Watch for the ripples. Look always for the ripples.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching our destination. It’s a sunny, 65 degrees on the ground. The captain has activated the seat belt sign. Please return your seats to the upright position and make sure your tray table is locked into the seat back in front of you. Thank you for flying With a Child’s Heart. We look forward to serving you again.

Jan – October 10, 2013

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