Christmas Card 2019

Well here it is, February again!
Yes, it is earlier than usual this year.
The writing process is completely individual — mine is somewhat bulky and painstaking, as I grapple with words and mud wrestle with the angel. But what are we as creative artists if not willing to surrender our complete vulnerability?
So, while on one level it may seem absurd to be sending out a Christmas Card story some six weeks after Christmas, I feel that it is always a good time to share kindness and light and tidings of comfort and joy!
Please accept these good wishes as they are intended…
to lift your heart; to lift your spirit; to send you Light and Love in the midst of troubling and turbulent times…

“The TimeKeeper”
By Arnold J. Mungioli

The TimeKeeper was an old and wizened man; to look upon him, he might have appeared as a bum, like the derelict Old Man Gower in the Pottersville version of Bedford Falls.

He had so many gifts to give. He knew their once-value, and he himself had perceived them as becoming even more valuable with time, not less so. But he had aged, the culture had shifted, and he felt himself, ironically, a casualty of time itself.

These things happen similarly in all societies in which the technology gets ahead of the spirituality. It happened in Atlantis, Zealandia, Lemuria, and Mu. Truth is no longer valued and Orwellian Newspeak takes hold. The culture grows enamored of potential and dismissive of accomplishment. Technology accelerates, and the marketing of perceived obsolescence to the younger generations brings money-spinning profits. Aging, such a sacred human process comes to be frowned upon instead of revered.
It had been an unspoken perception that Time was a field that would never fall into disuse; yet digital time tracking was now built into the latest devices, and the artistry, which he had worked his life to perfect, had been tossed onto a junkpile with the horse and carriage trade, chamber pots, purple ink mimeograph machines, and videocassettes. Everyone was vying for jobs with the big corporation in the palace up on the Hill, packing and shipping conveniences to people who did not really need them. The delicate balancing work of the world inside a timepiece required a high level of skill, distinct focus, and single-minded attention to detail. As is always the case, in the skills one develops doing such demanding work as this — and the person it makes of you — one finds reward enough.

Eventually, the landlord outran him, and a flagrant notice of eviction was glued with permanent cement onto the magnificent Victorian etched glass window of the TimeKeeper’s door. In a life lived with such dignity — a life that flowed like libation, sudden discomfiture emerged like a thick fog, dense and abrupt. He was not the first person in this society, nor that day, whose exceptionally distinguished level of expertise had been rendered obsolete.

What was he to do next? Immersed in thoughts of what that might be (a very good thought) and how it could come to be (a less useful thought), a warm white light, with a slight green and purple radiance seemed to surround him. Courage welled up inside of him; he stood up, and proclaimed with resolve, “YES! I can go anywhere from here! All doors are open!” He took a step forward — any step forward is an act of faith — and he prayed with all his heart to find some meaningful new way to share his hard-earned gifts with the world; he set out upon a journey to have this prayer answered… He prayed for a way to unlock all that he had inside of himself. He was wise enough to know that the way to do that was by giving it away to others, but having just lost his shop, he secretly feared that others might not want what he had to offer. He prayed for a miracle.

After some time, he began to wander — a strange transition for someone who had spent his whole life so focused and motivated; he was a man who had never taken a step without intention. He was a Master of Time. Now, his cloak was growing tattered, moth-eaten, and timepieces dangled out of every tatty threadbare spot. He had begun to appear almost mythic. One got the impression that he was somewhat composed of timepieces and air. A tall, sinewy man, his coat was draped and long, as until what seemed a moment ago, he had been an esteemed TimeKeeper of significance and prestige. But one of the functions of time itself is that it brings new generations forward and quite suddenly the world may appear an entirely new place with new people boasting newfangled values; a new generation has taken your place, and out-of-date technology such as a prized timepiece, may be no longer appreciated — no longer respected — outmoded!
Each new generation brings new ways to tell time. The wristwatch had been a World War I trench invention. The pocketwatch itself only came into fashion in the 16th century. Before that, it was all clocks, and before that, sundials. This had happened to many before him, equally unprepared for the realities of time — likewise ironic.

In addition to so many splendid and shiny timepieces gently clinking like the ringing of the spheres, he carried with him even more magnificent, gleaming metaphysical gifts: peace, light, understanding, compassion, honesty, openness, willingness, kindness, love, acceptance, patience, humility, faith and the once-prized seeds of truth… Like his treasured timepieces, there were too many to count, and almost too many to carry, and he had not yet begun to plumb the depths of how many gifts he truly possessed. As with most of us, every kindness, every respectful encounter, every loving thought proliferates these gifts, and they multiply where they are welcomed.

He came upon a grieving widow, the pieces of her broken heart she carried in a wicker basket lined with flower petals, exposed and vulnerable; the handle she held tightly with both hands. Instinctually, he put his hand upon her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.
“Why?” she asked him, her voice quivering, “Why should I be given this time? I don’t want it. It is too painful and, God forgive me, I wish that it would just go away!” She burst into tears. “It has been over a year and everyone told me it would get easier, but it hasn’t. We were together 49 years, and I never knew any kind of adult life without my spouse. What am I supposed to do now?”
The old TimeKeeper thought for a moment about what he might have to offer the woman. Then, he handed her a rare gold coin of notable worth — the item of the highest monetary value, he gave away first, and to someone he had only just met.
“You see?” he asked as he gently helped to release her hand from the wicker handle, and placed the coin into it, “It has value — great value — both sides of it, not merely one side without the other. And so it is with your love — boundless and unending value! Both sides of it — the joyfulness of your relationship and the time you spent together all these years, and also the bittersweet grief that you now feel with your special someone gone from here — two sides of the same coin, just as the one you are now holding.
If you can only find a way to not resent the grief but to appreciate from whence it comes, that it is simply the flip side of that same love that you share…
The widow, touched by his earnestness, thanked him politely, although tears continued to gently flow from her eyes. He could not help feeling that he had solved nothing for her, but took solace in that he at least offered all that he could. Sometimes, just taking someone’s hand is gift enough.

He approached in his wanderings a twenty-something youth. The youth had but one question. Oh, there was much prattle and the bluster of youth, of course, but it all boiled down to this singular enquiry at the core of all their chatter and lure: “What can you do for me?”
The old TimeKeeper was actually delighted by the question and assured the youth that he had a wealth of gifts to give: experience, impassioned expertise, hard-won battle scars of love, wisdom… His decades of intricate repair work had left him with a very good sense of how things work. Still, the youth could not have been less interested. They had all that and more instantly accessible in the mobile device that had replaced their right hand and melded directly into their wrist. They had the freedom to choose their preferred pronoun, and although they had absorbed very little of anything in their relatively few years of life, they had already established that they had no use for any of it. They knew blissfully little of those who went before them who had fought to pave the way for their right to use their pronoun of choice.
The old TimeKeeper, undauntedly sought to be of help, searching the folds of his long coat until he found the one enigmatic timepiece that ran backwards. It was inscribed with the words of George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
He offered it to the youth who did not reach out their one remaining hand to accept it. “I have the time here,” they commented snarkily, staring back at the technological device fused to their wrist, from which their eyes barely diverted
“Take it,” the old man advised them. “It is worth much.”
It did have a high monetary value, being forged of prized metals and inlaid with precious gems, but that was not the value to which he was referring. The sparkle of it caught the eye of this youth and they took it from him. As they stared at the face of it, with its hands moving in reverse, it subtly instigated the opening of their mind to the idea that there may very well have been something before this moment, which gradually led them to an understanding, and from that even some appreciation, that there were lives before their life.
They had been quick to let the old man know that he was worth less than they. And the old man felt the barb of this and searched his soul to discern any moment of his own adolescence when he might have been as arrogant and unintentionally cruel. He was not guiltless himself, of course, as it is somewhat human nature that each new generation tends to take for granted the hard won freedoms that the generation before them fought and died to make possible. Just ask any of the suffragettes — so dignified they stood and fought in their white uniforms with green and purple sashes! Now in the non-physical realm, having crossed over in their fight to attain the right to vote, ask them what they think of the one-hundred-and-twelve million members of the voting age population of this country who chose not to exercise that right in the last presidential election. The suffragette souls whose divine and courageous energy, unbeknownst to him surrounded the TimeKeeper everywhere he went, could not make sense of this flagrant abuse of freedom. In the physical realm, they had fought to share their gifts — they understood full well the value of their perspective and their voices and their vote, in spite of a male-dominated government which viewed them as property and attempted to withhold their rights. And so, it makes sense that they collectively serve as the patron saint of anyone fighting to make a path to share their gifts in a society that, without any reasonable justification, deems them in any way worth less.

Laden with so many valuable gifts, and guided by one of the most profound spiritual forces of all of time, he found a gigantic old sack — strong, made of the heaviest canvas — or perhaps the sack found him. He began to put all of the metaphysical gifts he possessed into the sack. The more he tapped into, the more he found; they multiplied unendingly as such gifts do, and the sack grew quite bulky and heavy, for the old man was quite correct in his valuation that he had somewhat inestimable gifts to share. It is remarkable how little physical space the most vital and momentous spiritual gifts actually take up. They are each infinitesimal — what’s tinier than a mustard seed — and yet, when filled with so many of them, the sack appeared Brobdingnagian in size, chockfull and bursting. This frail sinewy man hoisted the heavy sack six or seven times his size upon his back and carried it around that he might offer his gifts to others. One need no further proof of those in the non-physical realm aiding and abetting us at every turn than to see even one such physics-defying feat — so many happenings occur in any given day unexplainable in our philosophy, unless we acknowledge the help of non-physical beings. Some refer to these non-physical helpers as Angels, others call them “Grandmother” or ‘Brenda” or “Elaine;” still others say, “God” or “Fairies” or “the Universe” or “Sarina” or “Erika” or “Cuzzin Alice” or “Maya Angelou”… In this case, “Elsie Howey” may have been a more accurate appellation for the white light with the green and purple radiance. In any case, it went unnoticed, perceived more indistinctly as what may have been a cloud drifting away from having blocked the sun, making possible a sudden blinding brightness. No one noted that there was not a cloud in the sky that morning. One thing is certain: those who live with awareness and acknowledgement that those in the non-physical realm are not some other place, but here with us, seem to have a better time of things in this world than those who resist and deny such obvious and palpable occurrences.

He proceeded through towns and villages with his gargantuan sack of gifts of the spirit upon his back, offering them generously to anyone with whom he came in contact. Passing through a train station, he caught sight of a woman in a dark corner wearing a filthy, shabby quilted coat, hunched over, and struggling to read an unusually large and heavy book with a cover of tooled iridium. Her past had formed a dark cloud over her, and she refused to let go of it, holding tightly to a rope, which kept her tethered to it. She sat in the dense darkness of her resentments.
The old TimeKeeper reached into his sack and offered her the gift of light.
“What the hell you doin’?” she snapped at him. Then standing and holding the inordinately heavy book over her head with two hands, its metal cover reflecting the full spectrum of the blinding light in every direction, barking loudly she railed, “What kinda’ perv are you? What, you think I’m homeless? I work! I got a job! Go talk to your mutha’!” The old TimeKeeper, embarrassed, politely took his leave.
It was surprising really, how many people seemed to decline his kind offerings, some coolly, others in distress.
The woman in the filthy, shabby quilted coat, however, grabbed after the light as he walked away. In reaching to snatch the light, she dropped the heavy book with a clangorous thud and let go of the rope — the dark cloud evaporated and the rope fell to the ground. In the din of the train station’s hustle and bustle, the presence of so many women passing by all of whom seemed to be wearing white — or some combination of white and purple and green — went unnoticed.
She managed to get just enough of the light, and she was most glad for its illumination. She retrieved the heavy book, and began to read sitting upright, tall and proud. Letting go of the dark cloud of her past released her from her resentments and freed her to receive the book’s new ideas. Seeing her filthy coat in the light, she exclaimed, “I gotta’ wash this coat! This a fashion coat! Coat needs a good cleanin’!” She showed up for her life differently from that moment forward, but it was not given the TimeKeeper to know what his offering of light had set in motion.

In the night, the old TimeKeeper would meet other vagabonds and lost souls, ostracized by their village for one reason or another — usually for their disobedience to the Hill. Each of these homeless people wandered the night with an equally gargantuan sack on their back — filled with creativity and truths and life lessons and hard won simplicities, dictionaries, and the kind of humility it takes a lifetime to learn — but none of them were able to give any of these invaluable treasures away to a new generation of people who spent their time obsessed with videos of cats and shaved genitalia, and each night the sacks they carried remained just as heavy and oppressive as the night before, their loads barely lightened. The suffragettes walked among them, unseen, eager to help ease their burdens in any way that they could, though from the non-physical realm to the physical realm, there can be only impalpable communication. Yet, when combined with an individual’s desire, willingness and embracing of their own gifts, this is enough to create Miracles.
Those from the non-physical realm who wander with us in the night — Brenda and Elaine and Cuzzin Alice and Maya Angelou — all know this.
All prayers are answered.
All prayers are answered.
All prayers are answered.

There were so many who benefitted from what he had to give, and although the suffragettes could guide him in directions toward those who needed what he had to offer, to see to it that he would receive acknowledgement or even to know the effect of the gifts he gave was beyond their sphere of influence. By now, for the most part, he had learned to give without concern for such rewards or recognition, and he found that the gifts he offered — these things that for so long it had seemed no one wanted — turned out to indeed be the perfect gifts for so many. The world continued to change and evolve, as the flagrant abuses of the big corporation in the palace up on the Hill and the actions of the government it had bought instilled in the people The Great Awakening; and as his belief in the value of the simple gifts he had to give endured unwaveringly, he created a path in the world where there had been none — his own desire path, of sorts. This is faith. And it was his faith that began, slowly, imperceptibly at first, to lighten his burden. This is the very best of Life. As Tolstoy put it, “Add your light into the sum of light.” Although some nights he felt more like Kafka who, legend has it, responded to Tolstoy’s precept, “What light?”

A middle-aged couple he encountered complained that they had raised their children who had now left and gone off to lives of their own. What were they to do now? How were they to start over this late in life? Could they possibly continue what they had been doing way back before they had a family, now that it was so many years later? They were attached at the hips like conjoined twins, facing in opposite directions from one another, and they were spinning incessantly, around and around as if they were the center axis of a wheel on its side spinning in perpetual motion and getting nowhere.
Clearly, they had lost direction. They had successfully completed such a significant phase of their lives, and now had no idea which way to turn.
The old TimeKeeper found for them in the folds of his tatty coat, a very beautiful antique compass with the most exquisite etchings on its face, inlaid with dazzling gems.
“Find your Direction,” he told them. “Choose any direction and sojourn forth. Take a risk and move from what is familiar — that is the only way to get somewhere new.” He then added, “Most importantly, however you point this, take a step. Once you have initiated that, you will know what to do.” In speaking these words, it occurred to the old TimeKeeper that this was what he himself had done. By showing up for his own life, he was able to help countless others to show up for theirs. And the world spun more healthily on its axis as a result. The couple stopped spinning, turned, joined hands, and pointing the compass, they moved forward side by side and hand in hand together.

Just because someone is in need of a particular gift does not mean that they will be willing to accept it. How often have we ourselves prayed for something so earnestly, and when it has shown up in our lives, perhaps only slightly disguised, rejected it out of hand? Such is human nature.

It was late one Christmas Eve. The old TimeKeeper, roaming with his sack on his back through a pando of splendiferous trees at the foot of the Hill, encountered a discordant thirty-something man. A commodities broker, he was tense beyond reason, in a panic about his future, his stocks, his position and career with the big corporation in the palace up on the Hill, and too distressed about all that he had not yet been able to make happen for himself to think about Christmas. He was incapable of living in the present moment, always recording what was happening to hold onto it as the past, or obsessing about a future not yet arrived. There was the cacophony of clanking treasure chests filled with coins and lots of prized crap that he dragged with him everywhere he went — they floated in the air behind him, as their long metal link chains extended from his ankles.

The old TimeKeeper went into the folds of his coat and reached for a timepiece — and what is a timepiece after all, if not a tool for bringing our awareness into the now, and as The Course in Miracles says, “[Now], the present moment, is the closest approximation of eternity.”
On the face of this timepiece were written the faded words remaining from its original, now somewhat worn, abstract inscription,
“previous to next
left to right
…all things”
It now faintly read,
“That’s all you have to do, the old TimeKeeper advised him.”
Raising his voice and laughing with maniacal disrespect, the young stockbroker retorted, “Do you know what I’m worth? Do you know anything at all about money!? Look at you, you old bum! I buy cities when I want to, and I sell them right back to the people from whom I bought them for double what I paid!” The treasure chests were flying up behind him now, taught on their chains, like kites beginning to pull upwards.
“Oh, I am sure that you are worth a great deal,” the old TimeKeeper answered, offering respect to man who had done nothing to earn it. As the treasure chests manacled to his ankles floated high up into the air behind him, the TimeKeeper reached out to help the man stand so that his praise of monetary wealth would not leave him flat on his face. “But what good to you is a city if you cannot live there?”
“’HA! I am worth way more than ‘a great deal,’” the young stockbroker retorted a little too violently, ignoring the TimeKeeper’s kindness. One might have begun to notice more than a trace of alcohol on his breath, as one of the treasure chests unable to fly up any higher behind him burst, releasing coins clanging everywhere. “I am worth a king’s ransom! And you are worth less!” Another treasure chest burst in the air, raining coins, which clanked and resounded with the man’s ire onto the forest floor. He then added, “And this faded broken watch — what is this piece of crap — it is worth as little as you!” and he dropped it on the ground stomping it with his A. Testoni $38,000 dress shoes, the chests rattling with discordance.
The old TimeKeeper was hurt by the man’s action, but he could see that the damage done to him paled in comparison to the pain he saw the young man going through. He believed his gifts to have value — especially his timepieces, and most especially the vintage pieces with inscriptions. To him they were worth way more than the man’s A. Testoni shoes.
“Old watches!” the young stockbroker exclaimed. “Crap!” and he grabbed at the TimeKeeper’s coat and tore it from him, pushing him to the ground and laughing sadistically as he stomped on the coat, destroying many of the infinite timepieces contained therein, and with them, the TimeKeeper’s entire sense of identity. The old TimeKeeper had the wisdom to know that there was no fighting against this tortured man’s unquenchable hole of want. There would be no comeuppance for the criminal because, in societies in which the technology has gotten ahead of the spirituality, it is little about right and wrong; the lines are drawn between rich and poor. He would somehow survive this, and he had lived enough by now to know that forgiveness is the way. Knowing that, of course, does not mean that one arrives at it easily, but it is the way. And the process of forgiveness has much to teach us, whether we make it all the way there or not.

The man who had been only thirty-something a moment ago — isn’t time the strangest construct? A moment may pass like thirty years and thirty years may pass like a moment — as he railed in his pain and stomped about in his obscenely expensive dress shoes, was suddenly twice the age he had been only a moment ago. Sometimes it happens that way, and this was a phenomenon that the old TimeKeeper and the suffragettes understood better than most — every moment in the same moment. The now-old man, with fewer treasure chests pulling on the chains behind him, none of them flying, none of them as full, and all of them heavy on the ground manacled to his ankles, railed about how he had worked his whole life as an executive commodities broker at the big corporation in the palace up on the Hill, and now raged at having been abruptly let go from his job! “They took everything from me and now at my age, they ousted me, those bastards!” (He had finally learned to be in the present moment and the value of now, if only by being jolted into it.) The suffragettes cringed, as their spirit child Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. has written about in The Dance of Anger, both “bitch” and “bastard” are curse words for women and men that both serve to degrade women. Upon hearing his choice of word, the suffragettes wailed at the century’s lack of progress, and their collective anger materialized in the form of a yawning gale force wind, which compelled the now-old man to dance with his remaining treasure chests clanking about on his chains like Jacob Marley.
He denounced what he called “those crooks in the government,” once his great allies, for having raised his taxes and given the banks all the power so that now, like everyone else, he had to pay them exorbitant fees to hold his money — although in his case, these were fees he had helped to institute.

It was true for everyone now. A pound of butter had cost five cents not all that long ago! And now the big corporation in the palace up on the Hill demanded eight dollars for that same pound of butter! This did not in any way benefit the farmers who milked the cows and churned the butter, as they were still struggling. The old TimeKeeper and the suffragettes knew this. Harriet Lerner and Leo Tolstoy and Maya Angelou knew this. The now-old man had never given a thought to the farmer. He only knew that in that same period of time that butter went up sixteen thousand per cent, his extortionate salary did not increase at that same rate to keep up with it! So, though rich, he was now less rich, and the concept of being worth less made him angry. The lids on the few treasure chests to which he was chained now began to clank open and closed in a lugubrious and unmelodious disharmony… ‘Dis harm money!

Amidst the discordance, and in an instant, or not, an older, rather formidable woman in sensible shoes was kicking the old TimeKeeper on the ground. “I used to run a videocassette rental store. It was a very successful business, and then, Time made me obsolete! I worked hard to build that business into a chain of stores! Who do you think you are!?” Another man, older, burly, and stout with white hair and an unusually gruff voice, leaned over and punched him. “I’m a skycap! My entire livin’ was checkin’ bags at the airport, curbside, and wheelin’ them on carts to the luggage checkpoints inside — sometimes to the gates! I made a good and honest livin’! Then, overnight it changed and the next mornin’ everyone arrived at the airport with wheeled luggage, walked right past me, all cocky, and puttin’ me outta’ business! The new kids doin’ my job don’t have any idea what a good livin’ we used to make helpin’ people with their bags! Now, it’s a pittance!” The battered old TimeKeeper on the ground felt a high-heeled shoe in his face. “I devoted my life to raising my special needs children — four of them! And now they are grown yet still at home! What am I supposed to do with my shelved dreams!!!?” The mob had risen against him as if he had become Time itself. Other voices called out: “Why am I aging like this?” “My body aches; my face is growing wrinkled!” “I am losing hair on my head and growing hair everywhere I don’t want it!” “Why am I forgotten!???” and even, “Why can I never find the right size lid to any pot, and when I find a lid, I cannot find the pot that matches it!??”

“There’s an app for that!” they shouted over the crowd, holding up a hand — well, not a hand exactly, but a mobile device fused to where a hand might have been! “You can scan and register your pots and your lids and stop blaming everyone else for your problems!” The familiar voice of the youth continued, “And if you look back at history, your bodies are wrinkled and losing your hair because we are living longer than ever before! There are folks who have paved the way for you, just like there are Heroes like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Pay It No Mind Johnson who made sacrifices so that I could have a better life!” Then they added, “I have learned, as Maya Angelou put it, ‘History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.’”

A couple approached the woman who ran the Video Cassette business. “You brought entertainment to people in the comfort of their homes. Do you remember what an innovation this was back then? We do! Story and Delight came into our living rooms at the push of a button! Thanks to you, we no longer had to wait until ThanksGiving next year to see The Wizard of Oz! We had it on demand for the first time ever! This was a BlockBuster innovation! Now there are new directions possible.”
They flashed their jeweled compass.
“You can take that unique gift that you offer anywhere — this gift of bringing entertainment to people! Now people don’t even need to be at home anymore to watch a movie! They can watch whatever movie they want whenever they want, wherever they want — even in a freakin’ airplane! Literally — sitting in a chair in the sky!!!
Just think of the directions you could bring it in now! You can bring Story and Delight right into people’s hands! Do that! Follow it in a new direction. Do not allow new technologies to stop you. Rather, embrace them so that they may advance you! Doesn’t matter if you know nothing about it! Take a step!”
They held out the compass and the three of them walked off together.

“I got Light!” a shrill voice was heard over the crowd! A woman stood up in a long rather fabulous burgundy quilted coat.
“That Coat is Fabulous!” the youth told her.
“What, you think I’m homeless? I work! I got a job! Go talk to your mutha’!” she blurted back at them. Then she held up above her head with both hands a large book with a heavy cover of tooled iridium and shone her light at the precious metal, so that it would reflect out into the crowd. “Now take a look at yo’selves!” she carped at them. “Buncha’ nasty people! Go talk to your muthas’!”
The Skycap approached her, referring to the large book with the heavy metal cover, he asked “May I help you with that, Ma’am?”
“Ma’am? Who you ‘Ma’amming!? I ain’tcho’ Ma’ammy!”
“It just seems like maybe you could use some help. It looks heavy. I’d be happy to help you to hold it up. If you adjust your arms slightly, it won’t feel as heavy.”
“You know all about physics, huh?” she commented, with a Cheshire cat smile. “This here Iridium — one of the heaviest metals there is. I gotta’ master’s degree in chemical sciences.”
“Well, I have been balancing and rearranging unevenly distributed weight onto narrow bars with wheels for decades, and I know how to balance heavy things and move them safely” he assured her.
“There is so much threatenin’ this planet today,” she reminded him. “You could probably figguh out what to do wit dem blocksa’ Arctic ice breakin’ up and movin’ down into the watuh. We sho’ could use a gentleman with yo’ skills!”
Another woman approached them holding her broken heart in a wicker basket with both hands. She told them, “Where your deepest passion meets the world’s deepest need, therein lies your calling!”
Then she walked toward the woman with the shelved dreams and embraced her. “You reach up to where you’ve shelved your dreams and you take them back off the shelf, and move forward with all that you have learned and all of the new skills you have developed from raising those children with such love. It’s all just two sides of the same coin. We know how to love! We are SuperHeroes! We can do more now than we could back when we started our journeys. We weren’t born knowing how to love. We learned it, slowly and painstakingly — now we just need to find the strength! Find the courage! Travel forward, and further!”
Seeing the woman’s broken heart in pieces in her wicker basket, the woman with the shelved dreams, opened her purse, and showed the pieces of her broken heart. The light radiating from their two powerful hearts, doubled the light reflecting off the iridium cover.
“What’s in that book, anyway?” asked the youth.
“That’s Anna Karenina,” she told them. “I minored in Russian Literature.”
Then, warming up to the youth, she asked, “You like to read?”

Was this the miracle the old TimeKeeper had prayed for so long ago — a new way to share his gifts and for people to accept them? Sometimes miracles come wrapped in the most unexpected packages — Barbed Wire, Challenging People, or Kicks in the Shins…

He found the strength to lift himself up off the ground, barely steadying himself, his leg damaged pretty badly.
“All of you,” he addressed the crowd in the light, “just think of the possibilities!”
He reached for his coat, and from the pocket he grabbed a large handful of the seeds of truth. He held out his palm and welcomed another yawning gale force wind of the suffragettes which took the seeds and spread them across the land. The seeds instantly germinated and produced green grass and redwood trees and the brightest most colorful flowers of truth across a world that had grown blighted from the perfidy, treason and faithlessness which came from the Hill. The people had stopped noticing the barren fields of mendacity that had defined their landscape for way too long now. Suddenly, all was green again, bright and baroque. The seeds of truth are powerful seeds. And, time being what it is, in a moment, all may be restored.
“You have not been thrown out of a job or denied a dream! The world’s transformation now requires precisely the gifts you have all spent your lifetimes developing! If The New York Times had considered its business to be newspapers, we would all have perished by now — we would not even have survived this far! But somewhere, somehow, some descendants of Adolph Ochs figured out that their business was not newspapers, it was journalism. And they carried on, and back at the beginning of this last century, they saved the world! Or at least kept it from perishing! We all must keep moving forward!”
Then he added, “Even me!”

The old TimeKeeper bent over and took up the gold circle of the watch face from the fragmented pieces on the ground; he handed it to the now-old man whose coffers were now bare, yet still he was shackled to the empty treasure chests, linked by the fetters on his ankles. The worn inscription on the watch face still read,
“That’s all you need to do,” he whispered, patting him on the shoulder. And he left them all with that, donning his shredded threadbare cloak and whatever timepieces and broken pieces were left him. Though he now possessed fewer timepieces, he had grown to understand that time itself was infinite and abundant, and something to be treasured even more than the mechanisms constructed to record and measure it, although they be made of gold, rare metals and precious stones.

There was suddenly illuminated a path of light — bright morning light of purest white, with a green and purple glow — which led the old TimeKeeper safely out from the pando forest into a new day. As he walked into the light, his seemingly broken leg was healed with each step forward, and the timepieces and pieces of timepieces still sounded the ringing of the spheres. He moved forward as he always had — in faith. The old TimeKeeper gave heartfelt thanks for the life that comes, not as a whole, but in little pieces called people.
By accepting the value of his own unique gifts, and by no longer fearing them, he was able to help others and change the world. That gift he had with time proved quite helpful, as well. His gifts were simple and relatively small, but his acceptance of them and his willingness to give them away made them powerful forces for change. He continued forth, learning as we all must, that from self-acceptance — from faith — much good can come. Once somewhat broken, he had picked himself up with a prayer in his heart to unlock all that he had inside of himself and find some meaningful new way to share his hard-earned gifts with the world…He had prayed for a miracle.
Once again, the Universe had given to him something way beyond anything that he could have imagined for himself. He wandered in eternity, accepting all that he was, giving all that he had, and loving openly…

It was the brightest morning light, even though the time was midnight. The TimeKeeper then noticed this most unusual and brilliant light seemed to be emanating from a single magnificent dazzling bright star blazing up in the sky.
He followed the star.
He had grown to trust that time brings nothing but Miracles!
There are angels everywhere!
And Now…this moment… is the closest approximation of eternity in our experience.
All prayers are answered.

# # #

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  1. Richard Stafford

     /  February 8, 2020

    Thank you, Arnold, for this enchanted story! I loved it and will always try to remember “answered prayers” love and peace, Richard S

  2. Catherine L Matthews

     /  February 29, 2020

    Thank you, as always, for your from-the-heart stories. Always look forward to them – regardless of when they’re sent. xox Cathy M.


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