Good Dreams

Good Dreams

 

“The old dreams were good dreams. They didn’t work out but I’m glad I had them.”

(Robert Kincaid – The Bridges of Madison County)

 

Riding up the snow covered mountain in North Carolina in March 1981, half-sick, I wondered how I was going to be able to get through Fidelio. A tenor friend had talked me into doing Pizarro- a part that clearly lies too low for me- at a festival in North Carolina on top of a mountain. I had to take the part since there was no other way to pay the rent. Singing sick had happened many times before but I always managed to pull it off. As soon as I got there I explained that I had taken a cold and needed two days rest before beginning rehearsals. I had a routine for beating a cold in a hurry when I was performing. It involved taking a double dose of cold medicine, and sleeping constantly. In two days I emerged for rehearsals. I am sure they would have docked my pay if they could have because the atmosphere was definitely tense until I began to sing. In the sitzprobe (rehearsal) all went very well and no one could tell my voice had gone through a cold. Then we staged the opera. The stage director gave me a ridding crop for a prop. I used it to the hilt to play the Gestapo-like character of Pizarro. The director looked a little stunned and said, “Man when you get a prop, you really use it.” My voice held throughout the performance and my one Pizarro was over. But I wasn’t pleased with it because I couldn’t project my voice well in the lower range. I learned the hard way, ‘never sing out of your fach.’ I never sang Pizarro again.

We were snowed-in on top of a mountain in North Carolina. If we wanted to get to the airport we would have to go down the side of the mountain in four wheel drives, which is what we did. I felt like kissing the ground when I arrived at La Guardia and quickly cabbed my way back to my cozy apartment and my beautiful Blue Persian cat, Jenny. On the long cab ride my mind wandered back to my beginnings in Missouri.

I was born with heart disease, specifically Coarctation Syndrome. Most people who are born with that do not live very long. When I was born the syndrome was not even well understood, and so the kindly old country doctor that served our family didn’t really know what was wrong with Joe-boy except that he could hear a heart murmur and knew that my immune system didn’t work too well. I had a lot of athletic talent but was never permitted to play organized sports because of my heart. I felt sort of like a leper as a kid. There was this mysterious thing wrong with me that kept me from doing what other kids could do.

Finally, in 1967 when I was 19 years old, our doctor advised me to go have the best cardiologists look at me. We packed up the car and drove to Houston Texas where the great Michael Debakey was practicing at Houston Methodist Hospital.

They found the coarc in the aorta (a weakened collapsed part of the aorta) and replaced it with some everlasting Dacron tubing. They left the stenotic aortic heart valve untreated for some strange reason. Perhaps it was just as well given the state of medicine then in comparison to today. Unfortunately, after 19 years, my body had grown small blood vessels in the lower half of my body and my kidneys had learned to request high blood pressure. So the treatment was far from complete. Still, it gave me something of a new lease on life and I was able to go to college and begin to dream dreams.

College was not such a tough choice for a kid who lived his whole life in Carthage, Missouri. My grandfather, Vernon Shore, had been a well-known Baptist preacher during the depression and afterwards. I felt pressured to move into his shoes, not knowing just exactly where my shoes were at the time. I graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Southwest Baptist University the next year.

Southwest Baptist University was a beautiful place, situated in rural Missouri near rivers and lakes, in a small town. I liked it right away. I had this funny idea that I wanted to take voice lessons as well as study theology. After all, I had always sung in choirs and it had been a great joy in High School. I drew a voice teacher named Nathan McCallister who was a bear with a very little brain, a Baptist church choir leader with a voice that sounded just right for the job. He heard me sing in the first lesson and announced that I had no talent. Instead of assigning me the standard early Italian songs that all singers cut their teeth on, he let it be known that I was not even ready for them. He assigned instead, “Stand-in’ on the corner watchin all the girls go by.” After one semester I decided voice lessons were not for me.

SBU had some fine scholars on staff in the theology department but these were hard times in the Southern Baptist Convention. There was a whiff of controversy in the theological air regarding Biblical interpretation. I wasn’t sure what it was all about but I knew that I wanted to tackle theology head on. I wanted to do my best. I was always one of the top students in class but I was slowly inching towards theological positions that would be called “liberal.” I was becoming a rebel within Southern Baptists ranks.

I still had music in my life. Even though I had given up on voice lessons, I had been accepted into the choir. I was happy but a bit timid because there were a lot of music majors in it with “real” talent. To make matters more intimidating, the director, Dr. Cowan, was a star. He had sung with the famous Robert Shaw Chorale. He let us hear his rich, bass-baritone voice from time to time and we were all convinced that only Ted Harris had a better voice in all of Missouri. Ted Harris was a Professor of Voice who had sung with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Harris commanded respect and more than a little awe. The year that I arrived at SBU, Mr. Harris was preparing a role in Jerome Hines’ sacred opera on the life of Jesus called I Am The Way, which was going to be performed in Los Angeles. I sat outside Mr. Harris’ door listening to the indescribable sounds coming out of his office as he rehearsed. I had never heard anything like those sounds. I just wanted to sit there on the floor and listen, and hope he would continue to sing. Later Jerome Hines himself told me that Ted’s voice was tremendous at Los Angeles, sounding, in Hines’ words, “like a canon.” No small praise coming from Hines!

A lot of good things happened at SBU. One of them was that I was elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities for my work in Drama. Another good thing was that I was licensed to preach. Part of the Bachelor’s degree program in Christianity involved a field guidance program. I went a few miles over to The First Baptist Church of Buffalo, Missouri and did a pastoral internship under Brother Glen Pence, the Senior Pastor. Actually, he was the only pastor. Back in those days churches had one pastor and a minister of music. We were trained to be the pastor for the church. An internship gave me the chance to feel what it is like to have responsibility for a whole church. They were simpler times back then, especially in a small town, but a pastor’s job was still largely the same. During the week you visited the sick, planned Sunday’s sermons, did a little pastoral counseling for people in crisis, taught a little Bible at Wednesday night prayer meeting, met with a few committees, and that was about it! That could be a lot, but many times it was not as involved and as demanding as a modern-day senior pastorate. Glen Pense liked modern scholarship and I fit right in with my liberal tendencies. I also did a little supply preaching at other churches and went out on week ends with revival teams from SBU, but things were not right with me inside. I wandered why I had never experienced a “call” to the ministry. My colleagues in theology could point to a specific “call” they had to the ministry. I tried to put it out of my mind. I was a scholar and scholars had things to do in the world. I would go to seminary to the most scholarly seminary Southern Baptists had to offer, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky. There I would find happiness as a great scholar, or so I thought! I graduated from Southwest Baptist University in 1970 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and Drama.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky was the jewel in the crown of the Southern Baptist Convention. As I packed everything into my 1961 Buick LeSabre and set out on the interstate, I knew I was going to more than a seminary. I was going to the best the Southern Baptist tradition had to offer. That’s what I thought then.

The campus was Southern beauty itself, situated in rolling, Louisville green. This was the Yankee Stadium for a Baptist theology student. This was the House that A.T. Robertson built. Scholars taught here, great men like Dale Moody, Professor of Systematic Theology. He had studied with Barth, Tillich and Brunner, and actually lived with Brunner. His academic robes were from Oxford. When the faculty donned their caps and gowns, Moody looked like the Pope himself, proudly clad in his bright red Oxford finest. Of course, the Southern Baptists wanted no Pope and they certainly would not have wanted a scholar like Moody, if they had. For these were the McCarthy witch hunt days. Fundamentalists were rising in numbers like a hundred year flood that no one could stop. There were not enough theological sand bags in all the country to hold back these flood waters. The Southern Baptist Convention was teetering on the edge of Civil War, and like any Civil War, it would be very unholy.

The fundamentalists within the denomination were fearful of all that Southern Seminary stood for. They distrusted modern scholarship. They wanted the old time religion where everyone knew his place! And they wanted every modern professor and student OUT of the denomination. As much as anything, the war was about political power.

No scholar at Southern really believed that their fortified walls could be breached. Scholars like Eric Rust openly jousted with the fundamentalists in the classroom. With his English accent he would play with the word itself: “’Fun-dam-mental-ist.’ I can see the fun in it, and I can see the dam in it, but I’ll be damned if I can see anything mental in it.” And yet, this bravado struck many of us as a bit forced, with just a tinge of worry in it. The fundamentalists had made a charge, years earlier, at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City. An Old Testament Professor, Ralph Elliott, had been fired because he taught that the stories of creation in Genesis were not to be taken literally!

Ralph Elliott had gotten his Th.D. at Southern under the venerable scholar Dr. Clyde Francisco. Francisco was a wacky, wonderful professor who sounded sort of like Goofy reading Hebrew because of his deep Southern drawl. He talked about “thuh Bauble,” (‘the Bible’) and punctuated his comments with a “Hyulk, Hyulk.” He was prone to Southern pontifications, as when he would say, “Nawh (Now) I don’t denawh (deny) that a stupid man can be saved.” (Grand pause ) “But I denawh that a stupid man can understand thuh Bauble, Hyulk, Hyulk.” When he would counter the fundamentalists, he would say “Nawh, some people say that thuh Bauble says what it means and means what it says. But that’s not true! Thuh Bauble doesn’t say what it means. It means what it means.” But he was truly a fine scholar and he did not suffer fools.

“Whawh, Ralph Eliott,” He would say, “All he did wuz take mawh notes and publish um! Hyulk, hyulk!” And yet it was Francisco who, in the darkest hours, showed the most compassion for the fundamentalist brethren, refusing to condemn or judge them, standing firm in his faith. Francisco knew love, not fear. None of his jokes were intended to be cruel. They but took the edge off for the nervous young troops about to go to their first battle.

We all wanted to believe that the power of reason would dispel mob rule. But the line would not hold. The gates would be breached. A lot of lives would be lost in that Civil War. None of us came out the same person we went in as. We had such hopes, such dreams. Most of us had a long heritage of family allegiance to the Southern Baptist tradition, but we also had a little grey matter between the ears and we were searchers and shakers. The history of Southern Seminary showed us, or so we thought, that there was a place within the denomination for a deep, engaging, scholarly questioning of the nature of God, man and the universe, which did not cancel out our devotion or piety. These great scholars, Moody, Francisco, Honeycutt, Rust, Claypool, and others all showed us that there was a place for us.

Who would have believed it, that Southern would fall, the last bastion, and the hordes would pile in over the broken battlements, set fire to the books, and lay waste to a hundred years? A mind is a terrible thing to waste. How about thousands, of them?

It was not that Southern was really all that ‘liberal.’ By most denominational standards she was still a conservative ship. But in the minds of the fundamentalists you would have thought we had entered a different world. Faith had lost to fear and the hangman was doing great business. Professors mounted the gibbet one by one, refusing to confess to the fundamentalists’ fearful creed. Their necks but snapped while their hearts were full and love showed no taint. Aye,’twas a good day to die. We would all live again. That’s where we had ‘um, you see? The fundamentalists don’t really, truly, believe in the meaning of “resurrection.” We do! They but occupy a bit of ground now, a row of barracks full of fears. Love won. Love will always win in eternity.

I entered Southern as part of the last class. We were a fine bunch, all testing our limits as far as we could and searching for a place to stand.

The one student who always competed with me for top grade was an interesting fellow named Lynn Fann. Some might have called Lynn an odd duck. He played opera in the dorm, morning, noon, and night and drove everyone crazy. He had no real, serious voice but would fancy himself an operatic tenor as he sang along to the records. He essentially introduced me to Grand Opera. The only kind of opera we knew in the Ozarks was the “Grand Ole Opery.” Still, as a university student I had been introduced to some great singers and this experience whetted my appetite for more. I listened to records of most of the great singers of the second golden age of singing there in the seminary dorm, including one great bass from the Metropolitan Opera named Jerome Hines. He stood out not just because of his wonderful bass voice, but because he was also an evangelical Christian who witnessed on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. These great voices I heard spoke to me. There was something about the sound of their voices that grabbed me and I began to listen to opera in my room while I studied theology.

I grew more and more empty inside in seminary. I wanted desperately to be a minister but I felt very much out of place, like I didn’t really belong there. It was 1972 and while I was at my most desperate I cried out to God for help. I actually heard an inner Voice say to me, “Your sermons can be your characters on stage. The stage can be your pulpit. The audience can be your congregation. Now go put feet to your faith.” I had absolutely no reason to believe this Voice. Baptists do not hear voices. Maybe Pentecostals do but not Baptists! I had taken no voice lessons.

Nobody heard any special singing talent in me of this magnitude. Remember my only teacher in university, Nathan MacAllister, had even refused to teach me because I was so untalented. I had no reason to think that I could ever get on a professional stage and sing Grand Opera. It sounded like a stupid idea! But at some level deep inside of me I must have believed it. I wondered why I had never really felt a “call” to the ministry, but this experience definitely fit the description of a “call” to sing opera. Eventually, after fighting seminary another semester, I left, got an apartment across the street and a job in a pizza restaurant. When I wasn’t working I was listening to opera. One day in 1973 I opened my mouth to see if I could make a sound like one of those guys on the records and out came the essential sound that I have today. A couple of weeks later a friend heard me singing as he came for a visit and said, “Wow, you’ve got quite a voice. You ought to enter the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.” I didn’t know what they were but I said. “Ok.” I sent off and got an entrance form. The first level of the competition was in Tulsa where I was supposed to sing five operatic arias. I knew none of course but I had records. So I picked out what I thought were the five hardest bass arias on the records and learned them by listening! Four were in Italian, and one was in Russian. Both languages I learned phonetically by listening. I can admit all of this now because the whole affair was such a miracle. In 1974 I went to Tulsa without a care in the world, sang without any nervousness and was easily named one of the winners. I seemed to be stepping into something that was very comfortable to me, something like a miracle.

People from Tulsa Opera were there and offered me beginning roles with their company as well as a scholarship to Tulsa University.

One of the judges was from The Santa Fe Opera which was also hearing singers audition for Apprentice Artists. Later I discovered that ten thousand singers across America were auditioning to become one of forty apprentices chosen for that summer season. An apprenticeship with The Santa Fe Opera was one of the most highly sought plums for a young opera singer trying to turn professional. The Artistic Administrator came back stage and said to me, “You haven’t applied to us but would you like to be an apprentice?” I didn’t even know what that was but I said, “Yes,” and my career in opera had begun. “This opera business is a snap,” I thought. Before going to Santa Fe, I made my debut with The Tulsa Opera singing a small but important part in Madama Butterfly alongside stars from The Metropolitan Opera. At Tulsa University I sang scenes from The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni, then packed up my old car and drove to Santa Fe in the summer of 1974 for a high profiled new beginning. When God opens doors, they open wide and people fall all over themselves to help you. But, as I would painfully find out later, when He closes those doors, no amount of pulling will open them.

When I won the Met auditions in Tulsa in 1974, representatives from Tulsa Opera Inc. offered me not only small roles with them but a scholarship to do masters work in voice at Tulsa University. Tulsa became a new home filled with supportive people who would become almost like a family. A voice professor from TU came back stage at the auditions and recruited me right then and there for his studio. I did not know at the time that he was trying to cabbage onto me to aggrandize his flagging studio. I found that out later as representatives from Tulsa Opera said, “Oh dear. You’re going to study with HIM? You need to study with Laven Sowell!” I had one or two lessons with the first teacher but I found them odd. He didn’t seem to have anything to say. I delicately changed teachers to Laven Sowell. Laven was chorus master at Tulsa Opera as well as Professor of Voice. He had his hand in all the vocal pies of Tulsa and everyone who was anyone studied with him. He was a large man with a jolly disposition and a big belly laugh. Everywhere he went he left a little of himself behind. His beautiful home displayed a love-affair with elephants. It was a fitting love affair for a large man with a large impact on life. Elephants of jade, stone, wood, all shapes and sizes, claimed his home as theirs. Students would bring him new elephants from all over the world when they sang in some far off place. Laven’s share of their spoils was a new elephant and pride in their accomplishments. He had heard me sing at the Met auditions so he knew my voice and was only too happy to get me into his studio. Laven said things to me that every teacher thereafter would say. “I don’t want to touch your voice. I just want to help you use it.” My voice came already to go. What Laven Sowell gave me, I have tried to give to all of my students since. He gave me love! He will probably be a little embarrassed to read this, but it is true. He gave me a lot of good musical and vocal knowledge as well, much of which I use to this day. Laven had studied voice with some very interesting characters and he therefore brought a very rich experience to the studio. As a young lyric baritone with a nice sporty instrument, he had toured with the Charles Wagner Opera Company. His voice still served him well and I wished he had used it more when I studied with him. He had sung small roles with Tulsa Opera alongside great singers from the Met before becoming chorus master. His experiences gave him a lot of stories to tell. Stories are important. They humanize an otherwise clinical study of voice.  Even though I came into the profession of singing with a technique given by God, I had a lot of wonderfully influential coaches and teachers who passed on their experience of singing.

In assessing the things that Laven Sowell gave to me, I could describe many musical items and vocal tidbits. I don’t mean to say that they weren’t important. They were. But I am looking back now at the truly wonderful things given, and they are not a relaxed jaw or five and nine tone scales. Laven Sowell cared about me and he shared himself with me. I will always carry something of him within me. I have tried to be as good to my students as he was with me.

I want to clarify something at this point. At the time that all this was happening I did NOT have the same perspective that I have today. I was inside a whirlwind! I was still deeply shaken by what seemed to be my failure in theology. Actually there was no failure in anything. I had just been “called” to sing opera. It may sound like it was all easy but it wasn’t. My ability to understand the things of the Spirit had never been developed. I didn’t want to tell anybody about hearing this inner Voice. I didn’t want to think about it! It was easy to run away from the pain of what happened in seminary by just immersing myself in a new profession, and that is what I did. I did not consciously think about viewing my characters as sermons, my audience as my congregation, or my theatre as my church. I just went to work being an opera singer. I know that is hard to understand now that I could have been so stupid, but everything had happened so fast. It was going to take me time to sort things out! The young man that studied in Tulsa with Laven Sowell was confused, and therefore insecure, posturing a little with an arrogance that anyone could have understand as circumstantial if they had chosen to look closely, and he was bursting with an incredible amount of talent and promise. Some people came alongside and chose to help me. Wonderful people in the Tulsa Opera Guild arranged for my introduction to the arts in Tulsa and made sure I could eat regularly! Thank you!

Jeannette Turner, the Director of Tulsa Opera, was a wonderful woman who mothered me and introduced me to “The Maestro.” Maestro Carlo Moresco was the conductor for all Tulsa Opera productions. Along with Tony Stivanello who staged, costumed, and made-up the cast, he was the head of “Instant Opera.” “Instant Opera” made it possible to mount operatic productions in regional companies all over America in just one week! One week for everything: sets, costumes, rehearsals for orchestra and principals. In seven or eight days the curtain could go up! That kept production costs down so that regional companies could afford to have opera in their cities. The geniuses behind “Instant Opera” were old Italian maestri like Carlo Moresco and Toni Stivanello who had a huge set and costume shop on Long Island which could supply all of Instant Opera’s needs. The local company supplied a chorus master, like Laven Sowell, and a local chorus which learned the music well in advance. Jeannette Turner called the artist managements in New York and hired the lead singers who had done their parts so many times they did not need more than a week’s rehearsal. Small parts were done by local singers, like Laven Sowell, who learned their parts well ahead of rehearsal week.

Instant Opera is usually spoken of derisively these days. But I would like to speak in its defense. Instant Opera allowed opera to spread all across North America to cities which otherwise would not have had it. It gave young singers like me a chance to sing alongside great artists and learn by doing. It gave America a taste of the Italian tradition in singing and it gave the audience more than its money’s worth! Today it is in vogue to mock Instant Opera because it did not give the new stage director cult full sway over a cast for six weeks. Let me tell you. I have been a part of that scene and many times the opera we produced in Instant Opera was a better artistic product than what came out of a narcissistic stage director intent on using the stage and everyone on it to showcase his own little, and I mean little, mind! Instant Opera kept opera an essentially vocal/musical art form which it is historically. It kept the vocal/musical art of the individual singer front and center. People do not come to opera to see the beautiful sets, or to see the acting, although both are nice to see. They come for the vocal/musical art of the great performer. The sets and costumes can be beautiful. The acting can be great. The singers can be young and slender. But if there are no great voices being used artistically, opera as an art form will die! Only dilettantes do not understand this. Unfortunately, there is a whole forest of them running the opera world.

Maestro Moresco ruled by complete intimidation, the old Italian way of insuring that quality in the art-form would continue! He made his entrance from the back of the auditorium with a trench coat, the collar up around his neck, hands in his pocket, looking like something out of The Godfather. He was Don Corleone! You didn’t cross him! He had been in America many years but had learned only about ten words in English. When he needed to tell the orchestra to “mark” a particular section in the score, he lacked the words, so he would scream at them, “Sign, sign, sign.” How he screamed at the orchestra! When they dissatisfied him, he would shout, “Peegs! You play like-a peegs!” He knew every note of the orchestral score by memory and could solfegg the entire opera. He would cue the orchestra from the “si bemolle.” I was scared to death of him. I thought he might have me taken out and shot if I missed the cue. The old Italian conductors could be counted on to give you a clear beat with the baton and a clear cue. There was no prompter in Instant Opera except The Maestro, and you no-a-wanta-miss-a the cue. The Maestro could turn you to stone with one glare of his eyes from the podium! Opera was serious business to the Italians. The “new” conductors often had unclear beats–cake mixing in a circle was a favorite, or the constant up and down of a confused wrist intended to make us look elsewhere for clarity! Bruno Bartoletti was such a “new” Italian conductor. Famous as the conductor at The Lyric Opera of Chicago, he could not be bothered to conduct in a pattern. He looked sort of like a bird with a broken wing as he curved his wrist towards himself and conducted everything up and down, never making eye-contact with the singer and never demeaning his position by giving even a hint of a cue. All of that music stuff was our business as the singers! None of that pretentiousness characterized “The Maestro.” His beat was clear. He kept perfect eye contact with everyone on stage and he never missed a cue! I don’t know how he did it, but everyone felt the gaze of the Maestro’s eyes. Once in a rehearsal of Madama Butterfly, for my debut in 1974, I was singing the musically tricky part of “The Bonze” and made a mistake in my entrance. The Maestro stopped the music. There was utter silence. I have never been so terrified in all my life. Finally the silence was mercifully broken by the coach, Marienka Michna, who literally leaped between The Maestro and me, begging for another chance. I got it right the second time!

Later in New York, in the early 1980’s, after The Maestro had been ousted in Tulsa by the new director, I coached some of my Verdi roles with him. I loved him dearly! Why, you might ask? What did The Maestro give to me? Let me tell you. The Maestro generously gave himself to me. He gave me the entire history of Italian singing. No words can describe the love of opera which he passed on to me. The Maestro was a heritage and he gave it to me probably without even knowing it. In his time a conductor grew up in the theatre, learning its entire art before he went to the podium. He even learned how to play the anvil on stage in Il Trovatore! He learned the art of singing as well as the art of making an orchestra sing. Moresco was the past, in a very good sense. As I observed him, worked with him, coached with him, he gave me that past. He gave me Tosi and Mancini, Lamperti, Garcia and Marchesi. He gave me Caruso and Ruffo, Stracciari and Granforte, Toscanini and Boito, Tebaldi and Del Monaco, Corelli and Bastianini. He gave me the sun of Italy in the middle of the Midwest! And he gave it all to me in his arm! As that arm moved during my coaching’s, The Maestro spoke. The Maestro gave. Thank you Maestro!

I never turned into a great conductor, although I have taken the baton from time to time and conducted this or that piece fairly well, but I have never forgotten the Maestro’s arm! If, while I am teaching you, dear ones, I begin to move my hand like the conductor I am not, please understand. It is the Maestro I am remembering. I will try to give myself to you as thoroughly as he and others like him gave themselves to me.

The Metropolitan Opera Auditions were a national search for new operatic talent conducted in stages. The district level was for all singers in the state. Three or four winners were chosen to go to the regional level which comprised several states. One winner from each region in the US and Canada went to New York to the Metropolitan Opera for the National Semi-Finals. Ten winners were selected to appear at the Metropolitan Opera for the National Finals. In the earlier years, one person would be selected from the ten to be given a contract with the Met, but that practice had changed. The Met was no longer interested in hiring people that way. The National Finalists were usually given scholarships and sent on their way out into the operatic world where the prestige of being a National Winner or Finalist would hopefully contribute to career building.

In 1974 I had won the district level in Tulsa and I expected to win at the regionals in St. Louis. I was sure my voice was better than everybody else’s and victory had to be certain. In fact, absolute fame and fortune had to be certain! I knew nothing about taking care of my voice or preparing for a contest. I expected my voice to be there whenever I wanted it and at top form. On the very day of the regional competition, I got up early, had no breakfast, and drove my old car 350 miles to St. Louis. There I expected my miraculous voice to knock everybody down the way it did in Tulsa!  By the time I arrived in St. Louis, my body was dehydrated. My voice was dry and crackly and I felt none of the power I had felt in Tulsa. Undaunted, I went out on stage to sing, expecting to bowl people over! I thought I sang well, but nothing happened. Nobody paid me any attention. Some soprano went on to win and go to New York for the next round. I was infuriated! The judge was a soprano from the Metropolitan Opera named Lucine Amara. I was furious with her and shot her daggers with my eye contact. She returned a nice smile. (Five years later we would be friends and colleagues but not this day!) What had happened? I thought this opera business was supposed to be a snap! Licking my first real wound I drove back to Tulsa to prepare for my first season at The Santa Fe Opera.

The Santa Fe Opera was an oasis in the desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico. John Crosby’s father had made millions in the Cuban sugar trade under Battista and he bought an opera company for John.  It was a beautiful setting in that magical New Mexico desert. The theatre was open air so the magic of the New Mexico night mixed with the opera. When Madame Butterfly pointed in the distance to “Nagasaki” she pointed to the lights of a real city in the desert shining through the back of an opera stage. Santa Fe had made a name for itself in the opera world by staging unusual works in this beautiful setting, using a combination of established and young singers, and having the best apprentice program in the world. Forty apprentices were chosen from over ten thousand singers who auditioned annually. Our main function in the summer season was to provide the chorus for all the operas, but we also sang small parts, served as understudies for the principals, coached with staff, took voice lessons and learned stage movement. The theatre was situated in the middle of a large ranch which also housed rehearsal stages, halls, a swimming pool, and the Crosby ranch house itself. Apprentices were paid virtually nothing, around $400 per month, out of which one had to pay all living expenses, including housing!  I had dreams now of doing something with my voice and with this art-form called opera. But the dreams were not clear yet.

The staff voice teachers for apprentices were a husband and wife team named Andy Field and Audry Langford from The Cantica School of Voice in London. Richard Gaddes, the Artistic Administrator, had been an accompanist for them in their studio and he had brought them over. Santa Fe always kept an English connection. Audry Langford had sung as a coloratura soprano at Covent Garden in the distant past. Now she had a lady bass voice, about three octaves lower than she used to sing. Age had sadly not been kind to her. She looked sort of like one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Andy was a soft spoken man who had never had a major career, but he had sung some oratorio in England. Together they taught a type of voice production which was essentially empirical (that is, it did not employ mechanical and acoustic information) and which claimed to desire the “freedom” of the voice. “Freedom of the Voice” is the ubiquitous philosopher’s stone of voice teaching which all methods claim! I drew Andy as teacher and found him a sweet, supportive man. He liked my voice very much and compared it to the great bass- baritones he had known in his youth, Covent Garden stars like baritone Paolo Silveri and bass Boris Christoff. Like Laven Sowell, he said, “I don’t want to change your voice. I just want to help you use it better.” Also like Sowell, the main thing that Andy Field gave me was love and encouragement. Andy professed amazement that I had only just started singing. I sounded, he professed, as though I had been singing leading bass-baritone roles for years in the world’s great opera houses!

With classes in stage movement, languages, make-up, I began my new life in the theatre, thinking very little indeed about God!

In the fall of 1974, when I returned from my first season at The Santa Fe Opera, I found Tulsa changed. Jeannette Turner had retired as Director of Tulsa Opera and the winds of change were in the air. A new director was hired who wanted “ensemble opera” as opposed to Instant Opera. Most regional companies were attracted to a new American national opera-form which wanted young, attractive singers, obediently flexible in rehearsal, good diction, obedient to the stage director’s every whim. America’s “ensemble opera” was both good and bad. It was good in that it wanted bigger budgets for regional opera companies and better quality of acting on stage. But it was bad in many other ways. It began a “new” look at opera as an art-form that did not need great singers. Mediocre singers would do just fine if they were attractive, moved well and had good diction! Ensemble Opera thought it could attract the television and movie audience if it just boosted the visual quality in opera. The moguls of Ensemble Opera thought that if opera were to survive into the 21st century it had to change. The problem was that they were willing to change it away from the essential vocal/musical nature of opera. After all, they thought, most Americans are ignorant of the vocal quality standards implicit within the heritage of historic opera. Give them young, attractive, slender singers (if less talented vocally) on a well-dressed stage and drain off some of that television/movie revenue for “opera,” and if the moguls happen to get rich in the process, well this is America!

As you can imagine, one of the first things Mr. New Director did was to fire The Maestro. Mr. New Director was a soft mannered, slick talking fellow, affable, so sincere. He sold it to the Board. The Maestro was gone. Jeannette Turner telephoned Tulsa Opera from her retirement and inquired, “What’s going on there?” She was summarily informed by an underling: “Jeannette, we are going to do things differently now.” That was the last contact she had with the opera company she had nourished. She died not long later. The diagnosis may have been cancer but I know it was because of a broken heart!

Mr. New Director acted towards me very differently than Jeannette had. To her, I had been the darling young discovery with all of this talent. She and the good ladies of the Opera Guild had found me out in the cabbage patch of life and were only too happy to bring me in, dress me up and show me off as a “find” for Tulsa Opera. Mr. New Director played along with the program for a while as though he had inherited me along with the furniture but it was obvious his heart was in a very different place. Mr. New Director provided a new experience for me in opera, opposition! That should have given me pause had I maintained any spiritual discernment. God had opened doors for me and people had fallen all over themselves to help me. Now, all of a sudden, here was a powerful man who stiff armed me! What did that mean? It meant that God was trying to get my attention. I was not learning. Instead I became even more prideful and offended that ANYONE would dare oppose me. MY voice was obviously superior and that should be fully respected by all!

These were really days of learning, not chastening. My arrogance as a young singer was just a posture I took to protect myself from going insane with all this talent suddenly heaped on me. I was going to have to learn about good and bad administrators in opera, and my karma would bring them to me.

I was preparing to enter the Metropolitan Opera Auditions again in 1975 with a view towards winning the whole thing. I was commanding my voice much better than I had in the previous year and I had learned a lot of literature. When it came time for the district round again in Tulsa, I found myself with a bad cold. A “little Voice” which I had almost forgotten said “Wait until next year.” Hum…What was that voice? No matter. I wanted to do things my way. I entered anyway, singing over the cold and easily winning the district level again. This time it would be different at Regionals. I took with me to Kansas City a group of supporters from Tulsa for my very own cheering section. For my position on the program, I drew last place, number 13. Last place is a tremendously advantageous position because it gives you the last word. The worst position is first place. Nobody remembers you by the end. I sang Macbeth’s aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” with a long sustained high A flat.” I felt very good and it seemed to be my night. The judge, the Assistant to the Artistic Administrator at the Metropolitan Opera, sent word back stage that he would like for me to sing an aria which was not on the list. I politely refused and sang the aria on the program. I brought the house down in Kansas City and was named the winner. Some of my competitors were singers of some acclaim in the region, like baritone James Ditsch, a student of the noted teacher, Paul Sommers, at The Conservatory of Music in Kansas City. He was highly favored. Ditsch later told me he went over the list of singers with Sommers, asking about each one, and when he came to my name, Sommers told him, “Oh, don’t worry about him. He doesn’t have much of a voice.” I had sung for Sommers once in 1974 before entering the Met Auditions for the first time. Apparently he had not liked my voice then because it was not bright enough to suit his taste.  After the contest I saw Sommers in the hall and spoke to him. He looked sort of sheepish and said, “I have to admit it. You really brought the house down.” His star, James Ditsch did not even place. The next morning, Feb. 23, 1975, the most respected critic in the Midwest, gave me a review in the Kansas City Star comparing me to one of the greatest of past baritones, Lawrence Tibbett.

“One could close the eyes and imagine what it might have been to hear Lawrence Tibbett when he was in his early twenties. A Verdi baritone. No doubt about it.” John Haskins, The Kansas City Star

I didn’t think any more about that little voice that said I should wait until next year. The next round was the National Semi-Finals in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. I had never been to any city larger than Tulsa, but I had tunnel vision and felt ready to head on up to the Big Apple. The only problem was that when time came to fly to New York, I had a pretty bad cold again! No one had ever told me not to fly with a cold and I thought I had to go, so off I went. On the flight to New York I blew my nose many times, thinking nothing of it. When I got off the plane at La Guardia, I was as deaf as a post! Infected mucous had blown back into my ears and the compression of the cabin had sealed it in there. The Met sent me immediately to the best laryngologist in the whole world, Dr. James Wilbur Gould, who treated all the Met stars. He told me that my vocal cords were alright but my hearing would only come back gradually. He could not tell if I would be ready for the Semi-Finals in a week. He put me on Erythromycin and prednisone and wished me good luck. The Met people were very nice. “If you want, you can come back to the Semi-Finals, next year.” There were those words again! I suddenly remembered the internal Voice telling me in Tulsa to wait until next year. So what do you think I did? Did I say, “Yes, I’ll go back to Tulsa now and return next year”? I’m sorry to say I didn’t. I wanted to do things my way. I stayed and tried to coach with the Met coaches without being able to hear. The day before the Semi-Finals, my ears popped open and I could hear again. But I had lost a lot of time and confidence. Who should show up at the Gala Concert but Lynn Fann from seminary days! We had occasionally written since seminary and he had shown up to see this miracle of my voice which he still couldn’t quite accept. I sang well in the Semi- Finals, though not as well as in Kansas City, and received a grant from the Met National Council. I had also made the cut and was one of the Final Ten. Now I had a week to coach my arias with the Met’s best coach, Maestra Alberta Masiello, who would also play for me at the finals. Miss Masiello, as she was called–she hated ‘Maestra’- had been a mezzo soprano with a brief career many years ago at the New York City Opera. I don’t remember exactly what cut her career short but I seem to remember that she suffered from excessive stage fright. Since the 1950’s she had been the best coach at the Met., knowing the Italian repertoire commandingly. Every conductor at the Met respected Miss Masiello tremendously. If I thought Maestro Moresco was intimidating, Miss Masiello gave the word new meanings! She smoked those little cigars incessantly, even while coaching, regardless of the singer’s pleasure or allergies! Her mezzo soprano voice had descended to the depths of a foggy lady bass in which she intoned commands. She never smiled. She never once said anything complimentary, but she would eat you alive for any mistake. Moresco was a pussycat compared to her! I sang my best arias for her and hoped for something nice. Instead she looked down at the piano and intoned somewhere around low C, “You need Italian badly. Go see Maestra Cozzi!” I was stunned. Nobody had ever complained about my Italian before, not Moresco, not anybody at Santa Fe. I felt deflated like I was back to square one.

I went to see Maestra Cozzi who ushered me into her quaint apartment at the Ansonia Hotel. She treated me in a grandmotherly way. I expected her to bring out tea and cookies. She began her Italian lesson speaking to me as if I were about four years old. I left in an hour thinking I had been to the Twilight Zone. Miss Masiello never said anything about my Italian after that. In fact she never said anything except that she did not want me to sing Macbeth’s aria because “the high A flat is not written and otherwise it only goes to a G flat.” It was my decision to make, not hers, and something inside me told me that I had to sing Macbeth’s aria. But I let her talk me out of it. Inside, my funny little feeling was getting worse and worse about all this. Miss Masiello wanted me to sing The Prologue to I Pagliacci and Valentin’s aria from Faust. Once, while singing The Prologue, I held the high G at the end a long time, and Miss Masiello stopped. With a stern look on her face she snapped, “No, if you hold the high G that long I will come down without you! You may hold the A flat!” I let her rough manner eat away my confidence. The Prologue was jinxed!

There were singers at the Met then who saw me as a winner who could get a contract. One of them, tenor Douglas Alstedt, took me aside and said, “I think you really have a shot to get a contract. Go for it.”  The Finals were a Gala Concert to a sold-out Metropolitan Opera house. They were to be broadcast live on radio all over the US and Canada! The Gala started at 2:00PM. That means I should have gotten at least eight hours sleep and awakened by 9:00AM. Instead I got up about 11:30AM and did very little vocalizing. I arrived backstage at the Met to find my own dressing room with my name on the door! I went in and tried to warm up but a lot of the voice was not there. It was not working the way it had in Kansas City. Everything about this trip to New York had thrown me. I was not quite ready for it. That little voice made sense when it told me to wait a year. I simply had no experience of how to awaken and enliven the voice for a matinee. I walked into the wings to await my turn and there was Doug Alstedt to wish me luck. I walked out on that enormous stage and felt totally alone. This was not like Kansas City. There when I walked out, power walked out with me. At the Met, on that stage at that time, I was just Joe Shore. I tried to start The Prologue but only about one third of my voice came out. I blustered my way through it. Finally the last climactic page came where I always had excelled. The climax is on a high A flat, the ultimate note for a baritone. Most don’t even have it. But I had it, just not on that day. I went up for the A flat and tried to hit it and it cracked! I got off of it quickly and went on. The final note was a high G, almost as high, and I hit it and held it a good while. Miss Masiello did not come down without me. The audience cheered but I knew I had lost. This was not the voice that had won everything for me. In the wings Doug Alstedt tried to make me feel better. “Don’t worry about that,” he said, “MacNeil goes out there and does that all the time.”  The second aria went better but still not up to my standards. As you have guessed by now, The Met offered a contract to another singer, a young lyric soprano. I went back to Tulsa feeling utterly defeated and deflated.

Wouldn’t you think I would have gotten the message by then? Some part of me must have gotten the message because, thereafter, I began to pray before I would go out on stage. I don’t mean a nervous prayer like, “Please don’t let me crack anymore!” Rather, I would have a quiet time in my dressing room and I would pray a prayer that came out of me, like this: “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, flow through me like water through a pipe so that the people may see you through me.”

All that God had done for me had been His response to my prayer for help in seminary. Even though I was going to have to learn many things the hard way, that little prayer I prayed in my dressing room kept me going. I can truly say that after that I never let an audience down. My voice never failed me, and God was able to use my voice to affect people in a deep way.

I went back to Tulsa in May of 1975 to a hero’s welcome. But I didn’t feel like a hero. I felt like an “also sang,” and my voice was not an “also sang.” I had to prepare to go back to Santa Fe for my second and last season as an apprentice in the summer of 1975, hopefully to leapfrog into the status of artist. Being one of the ten National Finalists in the Met Auditions in 1975 definitely helped my image at Santa Fe. I was given good roles to understudy and even a small but good role in the regular season. I got to play the part of the Grandfather Clock in Ravel’s, fantasy opera, L’Enfant et les sortileges. I was inside of an enormous grandfather clock with its weight suspended on my shoulders by straps, dancing around as I sang high F sharps and G’s!

That year I decided to live alone. I found an adobe cabin next to the Pecos Wilderness area and set up housekeeping with my Blue-point Himalayan cat, Ali Baba. The cabin was thirty miles from the opera but the drive was worth it. My Buick LeSabre got rid of those miles in no time. It was hard on Ali Baba though and I thought of getting him a playmate. One of the apprentices had a Chocolate-point Himalayan that he was going to have to give away because of allergies. I got Mocha. She was the beautiful cat of my dreams, but she had not been spayed and was just coming into heat. One night I left to go to the theatre and I accidentally left a window open the tiniest crack. When I got back Mocha was nowhere to be found. I grabbed a flashlight and began a search for her that lasted a good portion of the night. When I got up in the morning I found her. The neighbor’s dog had dragged her body back to his yard. Apparently, that night she had managed to get out the window-how I will never know–and follow her instincts. A pack of dogs had chased her and killed her. When I saw her body, all torn up, I just lost it. I started screaming and crying.  I am narrating this because this experience became a “substitution” that I used for years to bring to life Rigoletto’s discovery of the body of his little girl, Gilda. What happens to us in life is what we use on stage to make the stage come to life.

At the end of the season, the apprentices performed an evening of operatic scenes. There I did my first Rigoletto, performing the most difficult scene of the opera. Act 1 scene 2 contains the duet with Rigoletto and Sparafucile, the aria, Pari Siamo, and the long duet with Gilda. It is surely the most difficult scene for Rigoletto. Eugene Kohn, who later became famous, conducted. Friends from Tulsa came to see it. James Sullivan, director of the Arizona Opera, was also there and he hired me for my first major role as an artist. I was to perform “Tonio” in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci.

As I drove back to Tulsa, I knew I was also driving back to say, Good-bye. It was time to move on up to the Big Apple, and slowly but surely there began to develop in the back of my mind, a dream of doing opera my way. I dreamed of opera where the singers acted as well as actors on stage or screen and sang with the beauty and power of the great singers of the golden ages of singing. I dreamed of making people’s lives better because they had seen opera.

In the fall of 1975 I made the big move to New York. Tulsa had cradled me and brought me along, but now was the time to head on up to the big time. As in everything else, I was helped by my unseen Friend. Things just seemed to fall into place. Lynn Fann, the same friend who introduced me to opera in seminary, had introduced me to his friends in New York who shared an apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan near Columbia University.  By the time I was ready to move to New York, one of them was ready to vacate, leaving a vacancy for me. The terrible job of searching for an apartment in New York was spared me. It was an acceptable area, on the border of safety. I loved being right next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I spent many days meandering through the beautiful chapels much the way I had meandered through the garden during childhood. It seemed that everything was being arranged for me, including the proximity of this wonderful cathedral.

One of the first things I did in New York was to arrange for an audition with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera, that operatic basso par excellence who had provided me with the model voice during my seminary years. In theological seminary my fellow student, Lynn Fann, had introduced me to opera. I had never really heard it before. In Carthage we knew about the “Grand Ole” Opery but that was about it. I listened to all of the great singers of the second golden age of singing with Lynn. Something in their sound made me sit up and pay attention, especially the singing of the great bass, Jerome Hines, partly because he was also a Christian who would sing at the Salvation Army on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. His voice and his life became a model for me. Now in 1975 I was going to get to sing for him. My old teacher from college, Ted Harris, had been instrumental.  Ted told me that Hines’ opera company was going to be auditioning for a baritone to take the place of Met baritone, Calvin Marsh, for a production of Hines’ opera on the life of Jesus, I Am The Way, to be staged in April 1976 in Columbus Ohio. Ted arranged for me to talk to the stage director, Derek de Cambra, a spunky, enthusiastic fellow with a British accent who had a love for beautiful singing. I was to go over to New Jersey to audition directly for Hines himself. I was finally going to meet the wonderful singer whose voice excited me so much in seminary. In those days I was not really nervous. I was excited and ready to go. My voice could do anything and I could pound on it for hours, if necessary, and it would still be fine for the next outing. I prepared my benchmark arias that had won the Met auditions for me and took a train, then a bus, to the New Jersey audition site. It was a small room to sing in.  Hines was seated only a few feet from me. Still, I went eagerly to the task and sang Macbeth’s last act aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” which had won for me the Midwestern Finals of the Met Auditions, interpolating a long, sustained, high A flat at the end. Hines was visibly impressed and began talking about his recording of Macbeth with Leonard Warren. He was warm and cordial but every bit the opera star that I expected him to be.

He talked several minutes about great baritones he had known and how favorably my voice compared. I could not have asked for a more favorable review from one I idolized so. I got the part and began preparing the role. The baritone I was replacing, Calvin Marsh, was a Met baritone with a huge voice, beautiful color, commanding range, and a veteran. He was a tough act to follow. My voice was much different than his, darker, almost a bass-baritone compared to his, yet more lyrical because of youth. My old college teacher, Ted Harris, was to sing the bass part of the villain, Eliakim, one of the chief priests (a fictitious character), who conspires with Judas to capture Jesus. I was going to get to see two dreams come true, to sing with my teacher and my idol.

In the spring of 1976, after performances of “Tonio” in I Pagliacci in Tucson with the Arizona Opera, and a cross-country concert tour for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts, I headed for Columbus Ohio, my ego beginning to inflate from the heady rushes of early successes. I still heard the inner Voice, but I did not remember “who” or “what” it was, and I certainly was not cultivating a habit of reliance on it for guidance. At times I would do what it said, and at times I wouldn’t.  Each time I obeyed, I was amazed at the eerie way in which things fell together for my benefit.

For example, In 1975 I had made the finals of the highly prestigious WGN-Illinois Opera Guild Auditions of the Air in Chicago but had not won. The Voice told me in strong “words” that if I entered again in 1976 I could win them. I entered and easily passed the first two rounds. The auditions director, Dick Jones of WGN Radio, Chicago, really liked my voice and thought my singing had improved over the previous year. Some time later I was notified that I was to sing in the finals at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. There was only a small problem. I was in the middle of a cross-country concert tour with a trio, performing from town to town. I discussed my feelings about the audition with my colleagues, Roger and Debbie Lucas, and they were supportive in anything I chose to do. The Voice was very strong that I had to find a way to go to the finals, and that I would win. The trio’s schedule just worked out that we had a day’s travel, no concert, on the day of the finals. After our performance in Pueblo Colorado I caught a flight to Chicago, got into the hotel about 4:00AM for five hours sleep and showed up at the stage door of the Chicago Lyric Opera House at 11:00AM, ready to sing. I sang my first aria, “Cortigiani vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and was pleased with the way it went. But for the next round, the judges got to pick an aria from my prepared repertoire. I “knew” that if they picked the prologue to I Pagliacci, I should be one of the two winners chosen. The Voice told me that I would be the second winner. The judges chose the prologue. I sang it with full gusto, including a resounding high A flat, and left the stage feeling good. I could not stay for the end of the auditions. I had to run to the airport immediately to catch a plane to Traverse City Michigan to rejoin my concert trio for a performance that night. When I arrived in Traverse City, I called back to Chicago and found that I had been named the second winner.

Wouldn’t you think that experiences such as these should have been enough to teach me to listen to that inner Voice and always obey it? Apparently they weren’t, because I didn’t. I still thought my rational intellect was the most important part of me to listen to, and I liked the heady rush of the ego as I saw my name up in lights, doing things my way, with my voice.  I soon began believing all my publicity and was convinced that I belonged in the Tsar’s court in old St. Petersburg and that by divine right, of course.

By the time I arrived in Columbus Ohio in April 1976 to begin rehearsals for I Am The Way, I was full of it, and I don’t mean the way, the truth, and the life, but a substance with a lot more unpleasant odor to it!  I had just gone up to my hotel room and unpacked when the telephone rang. It was one of the other cast members who wanted to come up and say hello. I felt mildly irritated at being disturbed but magnanimously allowed him to come up to the room. He was a very down to earth fellow; full of something I had once known, not too long ago, sincerity and thanksgiving. He was singing the tiny part of “Thomas”, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. He literally had only a couple of lines to sing in the whole show! His face beamed with joy as he described his pilgrimage from the Deep South, at his own expense, just to sing his two lines. By the time he finished visiting with me I had begun to feel very ashamed of myself for the egotism I had allowed to grow inside me, replacing my gratitude to God for the voice I was given. I was making my own ego world-view of specialness, rather that viewing my voice as a gift to give to others. I prayed. I apologized and asked for renewed innocence. The Voice was right there. It had gone nowhere. Only I had changed. The Voice said, “Just keep on going the way you are going now and I will have you sing for Presidents and Kings.”  It was a startling message! By this time, I was supposed to go down to the lobby to meet the Director. I grabbed my score and headed for the elevator. No sooner had I reached the elevator than did the doors open. Inside it stood Jimmy Carter. He extended his hand saying, “I just wanted to shake hands.” We rode down to the lobby together in silence. You have to understand that in April of 1976, Jimmy Carter, running for the Democratic nomination for President, was still a long-shot. Nobody thought he would get the nomination and nobody dreamed he would be elected President of the United States. As we exited the elevator, I watched him go, and said another quiet “thank you” to God for his faithfulness, and for the internal Voice which always spoke for truth, on my behalf. I knew Jimmy Carter was going to be President of the United States. And maybe if, just if, I did what the Voice said, kept on going the way I was going, then I might even get to sing for him!

During rehearsals of I Am The Way, I met many wonderful people who were going to stay with me throughout the years as close personal friends. The rehearsal period itself was rewarding because, in addition to the good staging by Derek De Cambra, Hines himself did some of the dramatic coaching, working with the singers on subtle acting points, “camera angles”, Chris Lachonas, a veteran, called them. This stayed with me my whole career as I tried to use a style of acting that was as suitable for television as it was for the stage. The music of I Am The Way, all composed by Hines himself–an extraordinary feat for a singer, not trained in composition–shows a little of every role he ever sang.  The scene called “The Woman at the Well” shows a lot of the playfulness of the Bohemian characters in Puccini’s opera La Boheme, which Jerry sang many, many times. In fact during the bleak years at the Met when Rudolf Bing was trying to force him out, Jerry was cut down to one performance a season of “Colline” in La Boheme. Still, he stuck it out and had a renaissance long after Bing had retired. The scene called “The Last Supper” showed a lot of Wagner influence, especially Parsifal, in which Jerry sang the role of “Gurnemanz.” I did not view this negatively.  It seemed inescapable to me that if an opera singer were to compose an opera, it would inevitably show the influence of everything he had sung. The music he composed was beautifully full of sweeping melodies and well constructed scenes. The image of Jesus bothered me as a “liberal” theologian. I thought of it as a literal, Sunday school character, based on an evangelical literal reading of the Bible. What gave it an impact was Jerome Hines himself! There was that enormous, richer than rich, bass voice with incomparable grandeur, being used in the role of Jesus. What more could anyone ask for?  In 1976, Hines was 55 years old and his voice was still at the peak of his powers. He sailed through the performance with ease and assurance. I used every second as an opportunity to listen, observe, and learn, how he made an entrance, how he related to the other characters on stage, and most of all, how he sounded! In one scene called, “At Bethany,” my character, “Simon Peter”, sits right beside Jesus as he sings the Lord’s Prayer. Looking up at Jerome Hines, hearing that enormous voice so close to my ear, I gave thanks to God for His incredible ways. And then the performance was over and the company packed up to go back to New York, the singers back to their other careers. I went to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to sing with the Symphony and prepare for my first Rigoletto in the fall of 1976 for the Houston Grand Opera. As a young singer, I had no rational reason to believe I could sing this, the greatest of Italian baritone roles, but the Voice said that I could do it and I had agreed when I got a letter from the General Manager asking me to do the part. The letter came “out of the blue,” and I knew, even then, that this was something I was destined to do.

The Hines Company performed I Am The Way only once a year. The following year, 1977, Calvin Marsh returned to the role of Simon Peter, leaving me without a role. Not to be outdone, I suggested to Jerry that I play the role of the heavy, “Eliakim,” the chief priest who conspires with Judas. Jerry had always had difficulty casting it because of the way it was composed. As I was told the story, originally, the role had no aria. But when Jerry approached the great basso, Ezio Flagello, to sing the role, Flagello refused unless an aria were written for the character. Ever the one- upsman, Hines said, “All right. I’ll compose you an aria, but it’s going to be so hard you won’t be able to sing it.” The result was Eliakim’s long aria which is loud and very high for any bass, ending on a long, sustained high F sharp, not territory that basses like to hang around in, even a great bass like Flagello. He never sang the part again, and Jerry went through bass after bass trying to find someone who could sing it. I suggested that I could sing it. Even though I was a baritone rather than a bass, I had enough richness in the voice that I could carry its heavy insinuations. Learning my own one-upsmanship I said, “but you have to transpose the aria up one half step for me.”  Hines laughed and agreed, so off I went to Birmingham to sing Eliakim, following in other years to different cities.

In Cleveland in 1978, I was rehearsing the big aria with Hines himself at the piano, accompanying. After I finished, Hines was silent for quite a long while. Finally he said, “I wish we could have recorded that. I’ve never heard anyone sing my music the way you do.” It was the most wonderful tribute I could have been given by this man whose singing meant so much to me, and who I had come to love so dearly. Some years were difficult. Two years later, November 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta I had a dangerously close dovetail of engagements. I ended a string of performances of “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Arizona Opera, the evening before dress rehearsal for I Am The Way.  The Director was confident of my ability to do the role without rehearsal by this point, so I flew from the desert of Phoenix right after the last performance of La Traviata to the November cold of Edmonton! I was exhausted and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon with the dress rehearsal at 8:00PM. Still, I felt ready to go, and during one scene I interpolated a high B flat! For the non-singers reading this, a high B flat is the pinnacle note for a tenor, and is virtually never attempted by a baritone. Once, the Met’s star baritone, Sherrill Milnes, had recorded a high B flat, but I don’t recall him ever singing one on stage. Why did I do it?  Because I could! It was that much ego, nothing deeper. Hines was in the audience for the rehearsal and he let me know what a good note it was. I was happy, justified in my specialness. But the next night was performance. There would be no day off for rest as was usually the case, and I desperately needed a day off for rest. Edmonton in the winter is colder than anything I had ever experienced! It is so cold that the water particles in the air freeze into ice crystals which can cut your lungs when you breathe! I had known cold in Missouri but nothing like this, and I was coming straight from balmy Phoenix. My body was in shock and tired.  That night after rehearsal I slept very poorly. I was too tired to sleep and wished that I had brought along the singer’s friend, “restoril”, to induce a good night’s sleep. But I hadn’t. I lay tossing and turning all night, finally drifting of to light sleep early towards dawn, only to be awakened early by the maid who did not want to believe the “do not disturb sign” posted on the door.  Furious at her for disturbing my specialness, I screamed at her from the bed to get out and tried to go back to sleep, all to no avail. I was up. After two pots of coffee I began to vocalize a little and did not like what I felt. That afternoon was no better. Still, the show must go on, and my voice had never really failed me before…except on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera when I had muffed a high A flat. Still, I was seasoned now, and I had not cracked on a note in public in the six years since. Staying with my typical performance schedule, I found the nearest steak and potatoes around 4:30 PM and began to tank up for the evening performance. That evening I sang the difficult aria OK but the voice still seemed off, stiff and thick.  More importantly, my tenacious clinging to ego specialness had cut off my ability to hear the internal Voice that guided me in everything. The time in the scene came where I had interpolated the high B flat the night before. Should I do it again, in performance? As soon as the question flashed through my mind, I heard the internal Voice say “No.” What the hell? I would do it anyway! I went up for the special high note, hit it…and it cracked! Not to be outdone, I tried to regain it and it cracked again!! The curtain mercifully descended and I made my way, like a scalded dog, as quickly as possible through the labyrinths of back stage corridors, eyes to the floor, to my dressing room. I was mortified, disgraced. I, Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, had cracked on stage! Standing in the hall, barring my refuge into my dressing room was Hines, in costume as Jesus, making his way to the stage, enormous grin on his face, laughter ready to commence at any moment. He began to chuckle, “That just makes you human,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. But remember from now on; when you crack a note, get off of it and let it go. I remember when Set Svanholm, at the Met, cracked on the high B flat at the end of ‘Celeste Aida.’ He cracked and tried to get it back and cracked again, just like you did.” Somehow it did not make me feel better. I brooded. How I brooded. I spent the night in the dressing room trying to avoid all conversation. My specialness had been wounded and I was not eager to address any  re-shaping of my image. Years later, Hines said to me, “You know, I was glad to hear you crack on that high B flat because it proved to me you were human. You always sang like someone who wasn’t human.” I took it as a compliment. But for fourteen years he never let me forget that I had cracked on a high B flat. I never let myself forget it either!

I did Eliakim again the next year in Allentown Pennsylvania, and it went extremely well, but then I stopped singing I Am the Way. I told myself that I was tired of singing the villain and performing in such an “evangelical” spectacle. But wasn’t it really because I had cracked on a high note and injured my feelings of specialness? In the intervening years, I missed my friends terribly. I missed Jerry. I missed I Am The Way. During the years of 1982-1990, a lot of water went under the bridge professionally. I performed new roles at new opera houses, but there was some lesson I was not learning. Things were not going the way they were supposed to go. The performances got better and better artistically, but the engagements were getting fewer and fewer. I thought I knew what the world was supposed to be like, but I didn’t!

Then in 1994 I found myself near death. The internal Voice returned with great strength. I had a four-month-long life review as I waited, near death, for the Canadian medical system to put my name at the top of the list for surgery. Back in my hometown of Carthage my father went into the hospital at the end of June for what was supposed to be a minor surgery repair of a hernia.  Something told me however that this was the end of the line for Dad. The doctors gave us a progressive litany of worsening prognoses. Finally, they told the family that he was not leaving the hospital.  I knew that part of him had faith in a life after death, but I also sensed that part of him was very frightened because he felt that he had failed in some important aspects of his life, one of those being in his relationship with his son. Those failures tore at him very deeply. Involved in my own near-death struggle I could not go to Missouri to be with him. We braced ourselves for the fact that he could die at any time. But I had much unfinished emotional business with Dad which I did not want to leave without closure. I also wanted to help him in his final hours.

I prepared a special time when I would be alone in the house, and began to pray for Dad. I asked God to let him know that I forgave him for all the things between us that he held against himself. I asked God to tell Dad I that it was all right for him to let go and go on if that is what he needed to do,  but if he was supposed to fight and stay with us, that was all right too. I wanted him to know that I supported him in his decision, one way or the other. For some reason it was important to me to sing my prayers for him. I do not know how long this final song lasted. It might have lasted an hour or two. I had little sense of time as I was doing it.

My son, Tom, was to have his birthday in just two days, and I really did not want Dad to die on Tom’s birthday. So he didn’t. Tom had a wonderful birthday. Dad died the following day, July 10, 1994. The night he died, I had an archetypal dream about seeing someone off on a ship. It was Dad. The next morning I thought that he had passed over. Sure enough, he had. I was somewhat disappointed that I had not had a full parting vision but I knew he understood now that everything was OK between us. I just missed the good-bye. Finally, two days later, in the early hours of the morning of his funeral in Missouri, I awoke in the spirit while my body was fast asleep. You can call it a dream if you want but it was not a dream. I was in a very special kind of railroad station looking for Dad. I was pushing through enormous crowds of people who were waiting to board this train. I was in a great hurry as I knew this train was about to leave. Then I saw him from behind. I knew it was him. I called to him, “Daddy, Daddy.”  He turned around with a big smile all over his face.  I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I remember the feeling. I looked into his eyes. I remember those eyes. He was young and looked somewhat differently than in life, but there was no mistaking him. All of the cares and worries, doubts and fears, insecurities and self judgments, were gone from his face. Instead, there was this pure love, all throughout him which gave him his new substance. I hugged him and said, “I love you Daddy.”  He squeezed me. I remember that squeeze, and he said, “I love you too.” And then he made a little joke just to make sure I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this. He knew I would remember it.  He said, “You see, I’m a little thinner now than I used to be.” He was now spirit, not flesh. Then he boarded that train. A few hours later his funeral was conducted in Carthage.  Even though I could not be there, we had our farewell.

Around this same time, I got an unexpected phone call one day from my old friend, Derek de Cambra, Jerry Hines’s stage director for I Am The Way. He said that the company was doing I Am The Way in Benton Harbor, Michigan next year, 1995, and would I do the role of Eliakim again. The Voice shouted “yes,” and I immediately agreed. I was so happy to be back in I Am The Way. Jerry had done a wonderful job in keeping his voice all these years. He would be 74 years old in 1995! What a miracle to keep his voice! Few singers had accomplished that. No basses, to my knowledge, had done so.  I was happy, truly happy, to be back in I Am The Way. The Holy Spirit was that Voice which always spoke for truth and He must have something there for me to do, something for me to learn, some service for me to render to others, I thought. I could not know more at that point. I began to restudy the role of Eliakim and sing it back into my voice. The last time I had sung it had been the fateful performance in Edmonton! That was out of my mind now like a bad joke. I saw the silliness of the ego’s distorted view of things. I just wanted to go back to old friends! This time I took with me a young voice student who had heard all of my stories of the great singers of the previous era, called the Second Golden Age of Singing. I was passing on my love of singing and my love for Jerome Hines to another generation.

When I arrived in Benton Harbor it was indeed like a reunion with long lost friends. How I loved them. How they helped me to remember the Light. Jerome looked like a sight for sore eyes. Even his slight infirmities of age could not make him look old to me. But he was not singing in rehearsals and I could tell he was worried about his voice. He and I got together for an afternoon of vocalizing the way we had done in earlier years. They were wonderful times for me, learning experiences, as I observed this supremely great singer go through the vocal calisthenics necessary to sing grand opera. But this time Hines’ voice was not working. The whole cast knew it and we were all worried.  Jerry had been in trouble before vocally and always made it through the performance. One time in Cleveland we finished a final dress rehearsal about 2:00AM. Jerry wanted to go out to an all night restaurant near the lake. It was mid winter and freezing cold in Cleveland. But what Jerry wants, Jerry gets, so off the whole crew went. I noticed that Jerry was not even wearing a coat, and I said, “Jerry, what’s the matter with you? Put a coat on!” “Ah, let your body breeeeeathe,” He vocalized in Hinse-ian tones.  “I don’t need a coat!” We went to the restaurant and had a feast. The next morning Jerry called the conductor to his hotel room in a panic that his voice didn’t feel good for the show the next night. He even looked at his own vocal cords with a homemade device and saw that they were pink and swollen.  Ever inventive, Jerry had taken two dental mirrors and welded them together with just the right curvature so that he could look at his own vocal cords! Panic ensued within the Directoral staff, but we all, Jerry included, managed to pull the show out of the fire.

This time in Benton Harbor was different. There was something seriously wrong with Jerry Hines’ voice.  We made it to the final dress rehearsal. I had already counseled myself to end the “infamous” scene on a lower pitch than the interpolated high B flat! I would sing a high F instead, which is plenty high and would give me no trouble. I would not entertain any notions of interpolating ego notes.  I had learned my lesson!  Hines watched the rehearsal from out in front. At the end of my scene He came up to me and said, “Good job, Joe, but I was really a little disappointed that you didn’t take the high B flat!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He wasn’t joking.  He was serious! I made a joke of it and said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask HIM,” pointing upwards.  “It’s HIS voice. I’m just the caretaker of it. I’d have to get the OK from HIM.” Jerry smiled and went back to observe the coming scene.  We made it to opening night. Hines limped through the performance, sounding ill, while the rest of the cast did a fine job. I ended my scene on the high F and all went well. We had one day of rest and then a Sunday matinee at 2:00PM. Matinees are difficult for all singers. We are accustomed to preparing our voices for an 8:00PM curtain, not 2:00PM! I hated matinees. In my earlier days of incessant bravado I had plunged into them full voice, thinking nothing of it. In the fall of 1979 I had performed the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth with the Arizona Opera Company. We finished the dress rehearsal about 2:00AM, and like Hines, I wanted to go out and get something to eat. I ate a huge plate of rare prime rib. By the time I arrived back at the house where I was staying, my gluttony was telling the tale. I threw up everything and continued to throw up for an hour. I got to sleep about 5:00AM., got up at 7:30AM, went to the theatre at 8:30AM and performed a “matinee” at 9:30AM of Macbeth for school children. It was one of the best performances I ever gave! But I still hated “matinees.”

This time was different. Hines was in real trouble. On his day off he had gone to a doctor to have ultra sound therapy performed on his larynx, but it was to no avail. He seemed totally laryngitic.  There was no understudy. Jerry would have to go on or we would have to cancel the performance, which meant financial disaster. Jerry went on but he barely made it through his first big scene of “The Woman at the Well.” My scene as Eliakim was next and I sailed through the aria better than ever, holding a long sustained high G towards the end, finally ending on an optional low F sharp.  The infamous scene was next, but I was not nervous, I had already decided not to interpolate the high B flat. I had sung the high F the previous performance and it had been more than sufficient. As Mary Magdalene sang her long monologue, I sat back in my throne-chair and played with the character, Eliakim.  Finally the end of her aria arrived.  I had two beats before I was to sing the infamous words which ended the scene, “Is the whole world gone mad!” Usually those two beats fly at you like the wind and you have just enough time to take your breath and sing the notes. But this time, time itself seemed to slow down. Those two beats became an eternity.  What was I to do with all this luxury of time? The Voice said, “Take the high B flat.”  I could not believe it. There was plenty of time for an argument. “What? I’m not doing that again! No way.” The Voice was very clear, “Take the high B flat.” Something I had learned made it easy for me to agree. I went up for the high B flat. It was not only there, it was there in spades!  I held it forever. This time there would be no scalded dog, hiding his head as he crept through the halls to his dressing room.  Slowly and happily I walked off stage as my colleagues said things singers say to one another after a good job: “Wow, what a note!” “Holy cow, what did you eat? I want some of it.” On my triumphant way down the hall I passed Jerry’s dressing room. The door was open. He sat disconsolate at his make- up table. I could see that he was worried and afraid of the next scene coming up. It was the “At Bethany” scene and he had to sing the Lord’s Prayer aria which had always given him trouble, even in good voice. I walked into his room. He smiled faintly and said, “So the B flat worked tonight?” Without thinking I said, “I sang that high B flat for you so that you would know that if I can sing a high B flat, without cracking, you can make it through this next scene!” His face dropped and showed his true feelings of insecurity. “But how am I going to make it through it?” He said. “Dear God,” I thought, “what am I supposed to say to this man, my hero and mentor?” The words came tumbling out my mouth without any thought, “Just go out there, breathe deeply and don’t push!” Those words seemed to rally him. “All right,” he said, and headed for the stage. During the scene, the Voice told me to position myself in the wings, unnoticed by the audience, but in such a way that I had clear view of the stage. The Voice said that I was to pray for Jerry to be given strength. I did, and I saw that it was helping him get through the scene. Finally he made it to the big aria, Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer. Hines did what I said. He breathed deeply, taking many more breaths than he needed, and he didn’t push! He made it through. As the curtain descended, a happy Hines almost collapsed into the arms of his colleagues as they congratulated him. “I just did what Joe Shore told me,” he said, “And it got me through.”

For the rest of the opera, since my character does not appear with Jesus, I stood in the wings and prayed for Jerome.  He gained in strength. During the difficult “Last Supper” scene, the Director came into the wings with a look of worry on his face, “He’s struggling,” He said. “Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “He’s going to make it through just fine,” And he did.

I knew why I was supposed to go to Benton Harbor. It was my love for Jerome Hines that was the lesson. That love is the love Jesus would have us learn. It is the same love I received from my grandparents and parents. It is the love that God gives us. Receive it. It is there, waiting for us to grasp it in every learning experience, and every experience is a learning experience. Had I learned my lesson earlier and not gotten off course, I am sure I would have gotten to sing for Jimmy Carter! Nevertheless, I sang for Congressmen, Senators, Governors, the Russian Diplomatic Mission to the UN, and Consuls to several countries.

Months later, the Voice told me to call Jerome and let him know that I not only wanted to perform the role of “Simon Peter” again, but that I was supposed to. I knew Jerry would understand. I made the call. It just so happened that the Hines Company was going to be doing I Am The Way in June 1996 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but the role of “Peter” was already taken by one of Jerry’s students from OMTI (Opera Music Theatre International). “Put me on standby,” I said, “You never know. This guy may not be able to do it.” He agreed. A short time later, the Director called me with the news that Mark Delavan could not do the part and it was mine. Twenty years had passed since I sang the role of “Peter,” but I knew it. Jerry was in fine voice. This time, my character sat at the Last Supper table with Jesus. As I looked at Jerry I knew that the love I have for him is the message of Jesus, that we should love one-another even as He loved us; and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The circle was complete.

 

More Thoughts on Journey to the Christ

Journey to the Christ: The Road to Enlightenment

 

It would be helpful if we agreed on what the Christ is. Some think it is Jesus’ last name, “Jesus Christ,” like Joseph Shore. Some think of it in the narrow terms of literal minded Judaism, the “Moshiach,” or in Greek, “Christos,” but none of these meanings serve any real purpose. Just what is the Christ? You had better want to know. The Christ is the only real part of you. It is the Love that God created as you, and nothing you can do can change it one bit. It is real and eternal and it is the Mind God shares with you. A Course in Miracles gives us a clear picture in its section called “Clarification of Terms.”

 JESUS – CHRIST

“There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, which God alone established in reality. Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs. God does not help because He knows no need. But He creates all Helpers of His Son while he believes his fantasies are true. Thank God for them for they will lead you home.

“The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Saviour because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

“In his complete identification with the Christ, the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him,” Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true. He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

“And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still, to be at one with you.

“Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

“Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognised. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

“There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son. And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.”(ACIM, Clarification of Terms, 5.)

**********

Every time you have a loving thought it is shared with God through the Christ Mind. You DO know the Christ every time you love, but you have not identified with the Christ as your only Mind. You still think you are an individual mind (and body) with all sorts of “personal” wants and goals. Thus your self is split off from your Self. The little self is an illusion but how we cling to it. We have to learn many lessons in order to give up the little illusory self.

I know the Christ. The Christ is the love of God. If you read my messages/essays in my group The Pleroma, or on FaceBook, you will hear the Christ speaking to you. My messages are “channeled” through the Christ Mind. These messages come through me like water through a pipe. After I have written them, my little self reads them, and tears flood my eyes. I am ready to give up little “Joe Shore” but what more must I do to identify with the Christ Mind completely? I am on the trail of the Christ. I am willing to do my lessons and if they take a hundred more illusory lifetimes, I will go to class and do the work. But I have seen Heaven’s gate. I have felt the Christ in me. I have done and am doing His work to save God’s son. I see the goal post in sight. I want to be the Christ, so that Joe Shore no longer lives but Christ lives in me. I have accepted Jesus’  mission to flood this illusory world with the Love of God.

I wrote a little letter to my ego this year. Here it is:

“Letter to my ego from a Higher Me: ‘Joe….Joe, listen.’ Think of being on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Yup, that’s you. There are some things I need to say to you. You know I think you are an illusion and you think I want to get rid of you. I know that sounds pretty frightening to you. But let me tell you something, Joe. ‘I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.’ You were perfectly made for me to learn the lessons I needed in this lifetime. Yes, you could be harsh and authoritarian, but you could also be informative, inspirational, and daring. You were the image of the Aries for all his strengths and faults. I guess you probably miss all the intellectual debates you used to have, and the authority you held as a theologian and then a university professor. Those positions perfectly fit you. But they could not last because you had more lessons to learn. I forgive you your faults and I thank you for your daring, inspirational, actions. You are going away but fear not. You are going away with my love and thanks! Thank you, Joe. You were the best, brightest, most talented of your generation. Accept this truth and this love, and don’t worry about tomorrow. It will all be OK.”

Still, my willingness does not obviate all the lessons I must learn to be the Christ. I’ll bet some of you think that Jesus’ disciples went to heaven and stayed there! Well, they didn’t. They had MANY lessons to learn. They understood Jesus so poorly. They have been reincarnating and learning their own lessons. The real “Saint” Paul now lives a life today as Nick Bunick.( http://www.nickbunick.com/) Obviously, he needed more work. When he wrote, “Now no longer I live but Christ lives within me,” he was apparently quite mistaken.

I have had lengthy periods in which I identified with the Christ Mind in me. The longest was six weeks last year. I shared it with you:

“A stillness has come to me

“A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely, nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.

“The Glory cloud of God will fall on us. Be grateful that it will fall. Nothing in all your life has prepared you for anything like being under the Glory cloud of God. You will not be able to stand. The body cannot stand in the Glory of God. In the Glory cloud there is the weight of holiness and as much as our spirits belong there, the body does not! The body will groan, shout, and travail under the Glory cloud. But your spirit will never want to be any other place than in the Glory of God. We belong in the Glory cloud of God. We are the rays of His Glory. When the Glory cloud falls the spirit remembers its true home. We know then that we are not a body, but a spirit and a part of the Great Spirit of God. The holiness we feel under the Glory cloud is our holiness as well. But the body can only groan or bark like dogs. In the Glory cloud we speak the language of the Spirit. No human language can work in the Glory cloud.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.

“The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.

“I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.

“I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”

“I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.

“Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, ‘Jesus why am I up so early.’ I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! Peace.

That was my sharing with you. For six weeks the Christ Mind was almost totally me. It was the culmination of my life. Eventually, though, I faded back into Joe Shore, more loving, of course, and with higher gifting, but Joe Shore nonetheless.

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies. The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Let us leave the world of unforgiveness behind and live in our Love and our Song. The Song is not formal music. It is the eternal call to Home that the spirit hears in every rock and leaf, every grain of sand, every child’s face, every dog and cat’s response to our love for them. The Song is in you. I hear you singing it so sweetly. Oh precious Jesus how the world sings the song you know so well, the song of Oneness in praise of the Love that we are. The world that was created by fear and anger we can now view through the eyes of newness. No longer must we see the world as separate factions fighting one another. We have forgiven the world of strife we created. Forgiveness now rests on our brows and on the world’s. Now can we see Heaven’s reflection made so perfect in the world. Now that Love has come into aching hearts, the need for time is almost gone. The One Song sings beautifully throughout a world which knew it not and all creation gives thanks to you and to the Creator. Now do we see the steps to Heaven’s gate on which you stand. Now we have no need for the world which served us so well with lessons to be learned. The time for learning is over. The time of the great rejoining has come and every tiny part of all universes has come to join the One Song we sing. And tears of joy come in recognition of the vast ages of time we have entered bodies to remember our eternal Self, One with the Creator, AND WE ARE ALL THE BELOVED. Gently do Heaven’s doors open to receive back its One Son. Gently does the Creator’s arm reach out and gather His Son back to Himself. Less than a tiny moment was taken to heal the tiny mad idea that seemed to set the Son on His long journey. The time for time is over. Now in eternity does all-encompassing Love flow unimpeded through a universe of spirit created by the Song. Forever shall we flow. And shall our little days as individuals be lost forever in Oneness? Oh no, dear ones. Every loving thought you ever had, every loving deed, is perfectly remembered within the Christ Mind that flows through Heaven. And now we say Amen for the time of learning is over and the time of rejoining has entered eternity, with you my loved ones, with you, and you, and you, and you, with your animals and children and every thought of love that lighted your little mind as an individual. Home safe we are, and we shall never leave again. No more dreams will enchant us. We are Home. Love has found itself at last…at last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness

Happiness is a sign that Love’s Presence has been felt. Blockages have been removed and Love’s Presence has come into awareness. In this dualistic world people search for happiness in all sorts of unproductive ways: acquisition of stuff, money, fame, other people, and none of these things work to bring happiness. You would have to find something that has no opposite to become happy, wouldn’t you? Everything that has an opposite is temporary and subject to change. Now I could step forward and tell you that real Love is that which has no opposite because it is eternal and carries God’s nature, but will that help you to experience it? Probably not. But let’s say for the moment that we can agree that if you found this Love which is all encompassing and has no opposite you would also be happy. So happiness is no longer the issue. Love is the issue, but not as the world knows it. That is attachment and subject to time and change. So then you would surely ask me how you can find this Love and I would tell you that you must look inside you. That may mean nothing to you. You may think I mean for you to examine the body! I could step forward then and ask you if you have ever seen behind your eyeballs, or bitten your own teeth? You would think I am either mad or obscure and you would walk out the door. But as you leave you will see very beautiful trees with just a whisper of wind in their top branches. You would see my garden where bees frolic among the flowers and earthworms trundle through the soil. You would smell the fragrance of the flowers. The chatter of your mind would stop and you would be still. In that stillness there are no blockages to the awareness of Love’s Presence. You would feel yourself to be a part of some whole. You would soon see that you are not a body, and just as quickly you would sense yourself to be the immensity of my garden. The branches of the trees are a part of you. The flowers, the bees, the worms, are all a part of you. And just so you will really get it, a hummingbird glides in and hovers right in front of you. He hovers and waits until you finally feel this experience as Love’s Presence and your eternal Self. Now the whole experience of the whole has given you the experience of Love which has no opposite. It does not come from doing anything. It is your natural inheritance, while all along you thought you were a body full of mostly water! You will laugh now at the silly idea that you could somehow be limited! You will sense your immensity and within that is true happiness. It will follow you wherever you go. People will ask you what is different about you. They will ask you to be their guru. You just smile and bless them. They will find their own immensity in time. But now you know that happiness was never the issue of your search. You needed to know who you ARE. That’s all that matters, just to know who you ARE. Until you get it, life’s lessons will continue, as long as you need them. They were made for you.

Getting this thing called Enlightenment

“The Holy Spirit’s function is to take the broken picture of the Son of God and put the pieces into place again. 2 This holy picture, healed entirely, does He hold out to every separate piece that thinks it is a picture in itself. 3 To each He offers his Identity, which the whole picture represents, instead of just a little, broken bit that he insisted was himself. 4 And when he sees this picture he will recognize himself. 5 If you share not your brother’s evil dream, this is the picture that the miracle will place within the little gap, left clean of all the seeds of sickness and of sin. 6 And here the Father will receive His Son, because His Son was gracious to himself.
T-28.IV.9. I thank You, Father, knowing You will come to close each little gap that lies between the broken pieces of Your holy Son. 2 Your Holiness, complete and perfect, lies in every one of them. 3 And they are joined because what is in one is in them all. 4 How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God’s Son! 5 THE FORMS THE BROKEN PIECES SEEM TO TAKE MEAN NOTHING. 6. FOR THE WHOLE IS IN EACH ONE OF THEM 7. AND EVERY ASPECT OF THE SON OF GOD IS JUST THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER PART.” (ACIM T.-28.IV 8-9)

What would it mean if we really got this? How would we change our relationship to the planet and all its seemingly separate things? If we really saw that every rock and tree, every blade of grass, every animal, every person is a part of the Son of God, would we ourselves not be changed? We would also see ourselves as Holy, as part of God’s Son, and the “WHOLE IS IN EACH” of the parts. Like a hologram which contains the whole within it, every byte of sensory data we call “the world” contains the whole of God’s Son! How holy is your cat and dog? How Holy are your children? How holy is this planet? When we see that, we won’t want to abuse anything!!! And UNTIL we see that, we will go on with the abuse until the planet is destroyed!!!!

So this thing called “enlightenment” is not just some abstract concept for Eastern eggheads!!!!!! It determines whether this planet continues. Let us look at it from both sides of the mind, wrong-mindedness and rightmindedness. In wrong mindedness we began as the One dreaming Son believed the ego’s lie that he had in fact separated from Heaven and was now fearfully on the lamb from an angry God who wanted to destroy him for his “sin” of leaving Heaven. In fear the Son ran out of his Mind, “so to speak” and dreamed up a physical universe in which to hide from God. As He enters it (“Big Bang” indeed) he shatters into all the pieces of the universe, and in this dream, he seems to evolve into more and more complex creatures in which to hide from God.

Lesson 241 in A Workbook for Students tells us: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. But eyes deceive, and ears hear falsely. Now mistakes become quite possible, for certainty has gone.” The senses were made to deceive! So in this kind of perception (wrong mindedness) we began in this universe, forgetting the Truth of Oneness, exchanging that Holiness for the separateness of fragmentation, out of fear!!! So when we see the world as a “thing” for us to exploit, we are acting in fear and the destruction of the planet is inevitable with fear. Fear causes us to be more and more defensive and defensiveness invites attack. “If I defend myself I am attacked.” Defenses will inevitably kill the world….and that would make no difference at all except for the fact that we can attain to “right minded perception.” The Holy Spirit came with the Son into this universe and He whispers to you and me the Truth of Oneness we are afraid to hear. Skilfully He moves us to forgive our brothers, not to hold grievances, not to have attack thoughts, and little by little we can climb back up that ladder of consciousness we came down on. This is the true ascension!! We can go back up the ladder, and then the world changes in perception to a shining reflection of Heaven, so beautiful we would love it as we love God. This is the Salvation of the world and God has given us the job of saving it, not by judgment or evangelical proselytizing but by the offering of our minds to God, ceasing our attack on him by individualization and sporting uniqueness. Who could do that when you have an experience that everything is your brother and a part of you? The animals are not less than you. I once heard a very spiritual man say a very wrong-minded thing. He said that animals lack the capacity to know beyond their senses! I was so amazed! I thought, my God this man has never had a relationship with an animal! Animals transcend the senses all the time! Create a holy space by quietness and see how quickly the cat becomes a Buddha! Take a dog to a suffering child and see how quickly the dog begins to cure the child. Do your best meditation, climb as high as you can on the ladder of consciousness and you will discover the mind of your cat has followed you there!! The idea that only man can become enlightened is a very clever trick of the ego, designed to make some broken parts of the Son of God more important than others. Then you open the door to “specialness” which the ego loves and which is based on fear, not Love.

We must get this! We must do our lessons. In eternity it does not matter. This little crazy idea was corrected in an instant in eternity, but it is playing itself out in the eons of time. In time, it makes a difference whether we extend love or fear. It makes a difference if there is a beautiful planet called earth where we can learn our lessons by taking on these dreamy bodies and living out our little dramas so we can undo fear and experience love’s presence.

 

The Light of Heaven

I am thankful that these thoughts I share with you, were shared with me by a great Teacher, Tara Singh, and though I have added my own expression and my learning to it, I wanted to give thanks to him. Namaste!

Suffer the little children…We are coming into a season where we idolize a babe in a manger, his parents poor, his circumstances low. There was not even a room left at the Motel 6 for him, so he and his parents stayed outside in little more than a cardboard box would be today. We are asked to look at this child as the unique Son of God and we expect each year to receive from this some answer to our personal and social questions about life. But what if EVERY child were thought to be the unique Son of God. The word “unique” keeps us at arms length from that child. It separates us from him and we never get those answers we long for. Let us see that child as every child. A Course in Miracles offers us a different vision of every child. Every child comes here for one of two reasons, depending on OUR mind. If our minds are wrong, every child comes here hiding from God out of guilt, assuming a physical body to escape the pursuing God s/he fears. If our minds are right, every child comes here as a fresh Light, the Light of Heaven, and would come here to share the facts of Heaven with us. The facts of Heaven are innocence and peace, guiltlessness and love. Every child brings the Father’s touch to the fearful world that hides from Truth. The child is Holy and brings Holiness to the fearful world. The child comes first to the parents who called to him and it is to them that he would first try to communicate the facts of Heaven. He wishes to instruct his parents in the Truth of things, to teach them God’s ways, Heaven’s ways. But the question is whether the parents are prepared and willing to learn from the child; or do they think of the child as “theirs,” as something they have a right to condition with the ways of the earth? Invariably that is what happens, isn’t it? The child comes fresh with the dew of Heaven and would teach his parents the holiness they have forgotten. They were children too and their parents beat the remembrance of heaven out of them, teaching them fear and suspicion, a terrible sense of lack and separation, a loneliness that nothing can dispel. They have forgotten the facts of Heaven, which are their facts too! So will they see the holiness of the child and be still? Will they learn from the child the things they have forgotten? Or will they see the child as needing their guidance in the fearful things of the world? The child comes from Heaven and you would make a citizen out of her and have her saluting flags! Is that not the abuse of holiness. Can we learn from our past mistakes now and see the Heavenliness of things, all things, but certainly children? There is a Knowledge of who we are down deep in us that we cannot completely forget, try as we may. It comes out of us in stories and myths and makes us unwilling to call the world home. Thank God!

When my daughter was about three years old, I spoke with her calmly and frankly and asked her if she remembered Heaven before she came to be my daughter in this body. Children will happily tell you if you ask in love. She said, “Well there I was in Heaven, minding my own business, when an angel came up to me and said, ‘Look down there. Joe and his wife are going to have a baby. Would you like to be it?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ and then I jumped and the next thing I knew I was a baby and they were holding me and saying ‘Look how cute the baby is.” She told this story in a manner of fact way that was very disarming. When her brother was about the same age, I saw him approach my daughter and say, “Tell me again about Heaven. I am beginning to forget!” And forget we almost do, so indoctrinated are we in the ways of the world. The world is the place WE made. Heaven is the universe that God created. It is the Home we long to remember fully. The key to awakening into that remembrance is the awareness of the awesome holiness of all things, and yes, certainly all children. Who will cherish the child as the messenger from Heaven? Who will dare to look at the terrible ego need involved when we see the child as “mine.” “This is something I made.” The fact of it is that children do not come “from” parents but rather “through” them. They are not ours to claim, nor are they ours to indoctrinate in the strange ways of the world. They come through the parents, accepting the vibration of them, agreeing to share that vibration with their own, and then they begin their own path of remembrance. If the parents were ready they could learn from the child. If they had made space for the child and counted it as holy from the first moment of their awareness of conception, then a great event could take place. Learning the ways of Heaven from the child would be as cool water to a scorched earth, torn from God’s Oneness by the mad thought of separation. The Light of the child would dispel the darkness of the world’s illusions with its little mad ways. Then we wouldn’t need to keep looking at Jesus in the manger every year, trying to remember all that we have forgotten. Every child is Jesus and every parent potentially Mary and Joseph. If we could see the holiness of children, it would come out of the remembrance of our holiness. Then, who could fail to cherish the child? Could there ever be child abuse? Could there ever be child abandonment? Could there ever be children in poverty? Obviously not!! We would remember ourselves as Children of God, all brothers, all parts of the One Spirit that God created like unto Himself. Every child would give us the chance to remember ourselves as God created us!!! What a gift!!! But WE think WE have to bring gifts to the child! Invariably, what do we bring but the things of this world? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, the things valued by THIS world! We begin immediately to encapsulate the child into the world! Is this not a tragedy? Is this not the ultimate abuse? In three or four years the child will have forgotten Heaven and see only fear, loneliness and lack!! But if we had made a space for the holy child that was coming to us, could we not then protect them from the madness of the world? If for, say, the first five years we could keep the child in the fullness of Love’s Presence, not exposing her to the ideas of the world, the child might grow up without learning fear and reaction. But how often does this take place? We are so worn out, we just want to get a baby sitter and have a few drinks! We were not prepared for the child because we just thought she was “OURS.” And soon, she will be three years old and a citizen saluting flags and entering child beauty contests!! Is there any wonder then that we so idolize Jesus in the manger!!! Let just that ONE child be holy. All of the other children will be OURS and we will teach them to be just like us!!! Can we not now see the tragedy of the world we have made in our mad attack on God? Thank God it is a tragedy that will end for it is only a long dream. In Truth, nothing but God and His Creation exists! We will awaken from fear eventually in time. In Truth no separation from God ever occurred or could occur. In Truth no world exists! Only in Time does it appear otherwise and time is temporary just as the school bell eventually rings and children return home. The child awakens from the bad dream and sees that it was not real.

At this Christmas time, allow yourself to awaken to the awareness of Love’s Presence. Forgive and set aside all of the little blocks you have made to keep such Truth out of your vision! Love the little children; the child of the world and the child in you. We are all just used and abused kids! We too came here as emissaries of Heaven, bringing the Light of eternal Truth to a dark place in the mind that believes itself to be separated from God and on the run from him. We too tried to teach our parents the holiness of all things, and they just claimed us as “theirs,” and made us do as they said. We have been here so many times trying to light up this dark place!! We have need of our own holiness. Let the “holy” child bring this memory back to us to stay a while, long enough to awaken the world from its long dream!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping and baby

Which Option Do You Choose?

If I were speaking to a room full of a hundred people interested in spirituality and I said this to them, how would they respond? How would you respond? So here is the speech.

Were I to tell you that you could choose one of these options which one would it be?

One option would be that you as an individual do not truly exist. Instead you are a part of the Mind of God, undifferentiated, you are a part of the Light of God. You are part of the Ocean of God’s Love. You are just as God, spirit, not physical and you are not an individual, distinct, unique, with plans and goals of your own. You are a part of God, which is all-encompassing Love and Light for all eternity.

The other option would be that you ARE an individual and you are unique with your own opportunities to prove yourself. You have a soul which will live forever as an individual, but while you are on Earth, you sing the song, “I did it MY way.” The universe is a real artifact separate from you and you as a unique individual get to go out and explore it! Go to shopping malls! Buy new jeans! Get a car. Buy a house. Marry a hot guy or girl!

These are the two options. Which one would you choose? (I have actually done this so I know what happens! smile emoticon ) Most people pick the second option and as a reason they say, “It sounds boring to just be a part of God’s Light for all eternity.” Some people say, with a defiant tone, “I AM an individual, UNIQUE, and I can be whatever I want to be. Who cares about God!!” There may be one or two people who will choose the first option!!

From the point of view of A Course in Miracles, this shows how our minds have accepted the idea of separation. The Course tells us that the Son of God made the same mistake! He fell into a little dream that somehow he could be different from His Father. This all happened in the mind. There was no world yet. But when the idea came to him, he forgot to laugh at it. He took it seriously and that is the first split of the mind from Oneness. The Son now thinks he is outside of Heaven observing God and into his mind there come two voices: the first one is loud and brash. “Look what you have done? You have left Heaven! God gave you everything and you have just spit in his face! You have stolen the crown jewels. You have SINNED against your Father and do you think he is going to let you get away with this!!! He is going to hunt you down like the dirty dog you are and he is going to annihilate you! So you better scram, get out of here as fast and as far as you can and hide!”

The second voice is calm and quiet. It says, “Nothing has in truth happened. You just fell into a little dream. You can wake up now.” The first loud voice we will call the “ego” and the second quiet voice we will call the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit counsels the sleeping Son just to wake up and find himself as he must forever be, a part of Heaven sharing the Mind of Christ with his father. For some reason we will never know, the Son chose to believe the ego and when he did he chose the emotions of the ego; fear, sin and guilt. So the Son runs out of his mind, so to speak, and dreams (though he thinks he creates it) a physical universe which he enters by the Big Bang. But after the Big Bang, the Son splits into zillions and zillions of pieces of stuff: star dust, matter, planets, star systems, and life forms, including you and me. The Son would have lost all memory of his true state were it not for the fact that the Holy Spirit came with him into this universe as a memory of truth. Now each life form thinks itself independent and separated just as the ego thought caused it. The Course tells us that the body was made as a place God could enter not! The dreaming Son, made insane by the lies of the ego, now fears himself to be an individual, separated from God, living out a life based on sin, fear and guilt. Part of the ego’s lies makes him believe he is forever separate, forever UNIQUE, forever his own person, that this physical universe is his home and that he is A BODY, not a mind or a spirit. The ego creates worlds of special people, unique people, good people, bad people and tells his “creation” that duality is just the way things ARE. “It’s a tough world out there. You gotta get yours! I got mine!” The ego’s thought system rules the world it made:

specialness, good and bad
uniqueness for the individual
the body as the altar of “truth”—shopping malls, modern life, the pop world, the good world, the bad world. Conflict, war, aggression, depression et al–these all come from the ego’s thought system of separation.

So you can see why most people take the second option!!! It is the fall-out from the Son’s original mistake (IN HIS DREAM ONLY; It could never happen in Truth). Nothing real can be threatened! The Son cannot truly be different from his father. He cannot be an individual and hide in a body! That’s just a bad dream!!!. The way to awakening from the dream is to treat each other as brothers, to look for what we have in common, without proclaiming our “uniqueness,” which is a real illusion; to forgive some individuals who you think have wronged you, because it has not really happened in God’s world. As we forgive, we cast away grievances we have held; we begin to show more Light from the inside. We begin to be the Light of the world. We see ourselves as spirit, not bodies, and we hear the call to go Home to our true reality. We get weary of being individuals. We just want peace and Love. We have been running from a god we created out of our ego minds. We begin to feel the tug of Home pulling at us, like we were little kids and had been away at camp for a month, but now we just want to hug our mom or dad and drink hot chocolate. We HAVE been in this dream a long time and we do yearn to go home. In the time it has taken you to read this, perhaps you will revise your choice of the two options. Maybe somebody will break through and say “YES, I want option number ONE. I want to go back into that ocean of Love that is my Home. I will gladly hand over this silly little idea of Joe Shore as a unique individual and rejoin Oneness!

NOW THE GREAT PART is that this has already happened in Truth. It all got resolved in an instant in eternity, but now that resolution is playing itself out through the billions of years of “Time.” So NOW, we can do what the Son forgot to do, LAUGH at the silly, mad idea, that any part of God could break off and observe the Whole, outside of which is nothing; LAUGH that any part of God could hide in a body! LAUGH at the thought that you could be an individual and find something more interesting to be than GOD!!! grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon

Joseph Shore's photo.

Gratefulness

Gratefulness is one of the gifts of awareness. It is given to those who know silence and encounter the Holy Instant. Gratefulness remakes our perception. Where once we saw a sinful world, gratefulness shows us the children of God, lost as in a dream, perhaps, but sons of God nonetheless. Gratefulness remakes us from the inside out. In gratefulness we would find the ability to let loose old grievances we have held. How long we have held them and clung to them as though they were precious gifts, but now the tears of awareness come and show us the hurt that confused our minds. We can let go now. Every grievance we held against others was an attack on God, as surely as though we were storming the Kingdom with the deeds of war. Thank God, none of our attacks on God, can change Him. The Love that He is cannot be threatened. It cannot be avoided either, for there is no place in Truth where this Love is not. It is all-encompassing just as His will is all-encompassing and will be done. His Will is that you be just as you were created by Him. Made of His Love, sharing Himself to make you, you are a chip off the old block. You and I are the Love of God. That is all we are! Everything else is a little dream we fell into and stayed there but an instant. And now, in this Holy Instant, we have remembered who we are and must forever be. We are the Love and Light of God. When we have all remembered, the world will vanish as the illusion we made as a place that God could enter not, and we will find ourselves, not as bodies, but as rays of Light in the corona of God’s Presence. But for this moment, languor a while in gratefulness that your fears were wrong, that the world is not a terrible place where tortured and wounded creatures come to die. Bathe a while in this gratefulness and be remade.

Father we are coming Home. So long have we been lost in this dream of separateness. So long have we clung to little dreams of sin, fear and guilt. We are as your little children Father, your little toddlers who wandered into a fearful land and grew up almost forgetting you, almost forgetting who we are. But we could not forget your Love for we are made of it, and we had to see it sometime. We are coming up your steps Father as fast as our little toddler feet can carry us, longing now only for your embrace and our eternal Home.

Joseph Shore's photo.

I Would Be Your Son Today, Father

We all start out this life full of hope and the strength of youth. We never start out intending to hurt someone. We never think of failure. We are filled with the energy of becoming and that is as it should be. But along the way, we do make mistakes, and people end up getting hurt. If we are fortunate, we will have friends to encourage us and urge us on to new sights. When the autumn season comes to your life, it seems like the whole journey has taken only about five minutes! You look back with some remorse and wonder what good have I really done? How much love did I really put into this world? And with that question, a list comes to your mind of all the people who were brought to you so that you could help them. So many names on that list….and so many you (and I) failed to help. Before winter comes we must make up for lost time and love like we have never loved before. Every soul that is sent to you that you might help them, cherish, and stay pure. Love them so…Love them with all the love you can channel. “Yes Father, I would be your Son today and carry your love to all who are lost and foundering in this world. Forgive me all my illusions today Father, for I would be your Son and extend only your Love to all my brothers.”

 

The Peace that Stays

Peace is here…within. It can be found. It has not been lost to the Mind which God created. It can be covered up and overlooked, but it cannot be lost. When the mind joins with the heart in quiet, Peace comes. It comes in every moment the mind remembers a love not of this world. It is here in Christmas because we ask the Prince of Peace to come at least this one time of year, and he is faithful. He comes into the minds of his brothers. He came very early to you. As a child when you so looked forward to Christmas, when everything sparkled with innocence and expectation, when you decorated the tree, when you made candy with your mother, when you loved your pets just a little more and gave them treats, when you opened your presents and were overcome with joy. The Prince of Peace delighted in delighting young hearts and minds at Christmas time. But this Christmas Peace is available all year long. You remember it during those times you sat on your mother’s lap and felt so comforted and loved. You remember it from the love of your pets. They looked you in the eye and made you remember a Love that is not of this world, and Peace was there. As you grew older, Peace did not age, but was there in calm reflection of the good in all things, and the blessing itself of your life. Peace has always been there. It has always been the Truth of you. It never knew any illusion about you, but always saw you as God created you. And it is waiting for you tonight both to remember and to pass it on to a brother who has forgotten it and thinks himself alone and abandoned. Love you brother and awaken the Peace within him that you may know it better yourself. The Christ child is here within. He is you as God created you and must forever be. Nothing God created tarnishes or fades. Only the world that is passing away knows such illusions. Let not this Peace pass away from your mind, but stay in it, even as illusions come and go, Peace stays.

When Jesus came……

When Jesus came……

During my years with medium David LeBaron at his little Spiritualist church in Seattle, nothing was more stunning in seance than the materialization of Jesus. David LeBaron was a great physical medium. That means that spirits could manifest physically through him. Sometime they only partially manifested as a gaseous form, but other times they manifested as solid as you or me, and in that form I have walked arm and arm with them in a partially lit seance room. One year I was going through a painful lesson. David knew I had to go through it but he loved me and wanted to ease my pain if he could. He underwent two weeks of meditation in order to manifest a High Master named Adriotis of Atlantea. One Sunday afternoon in seance, David’s Spirit guide named Hilda, called me to come up to the cabinet where David sat in trance. She said that this High Master was coming through for me. He materialized as solid as a brick, wearing robes made of light. Lights flashed all over him as we walked around the room arm in arm. He gave me assurance that I would get through this painful ordeal and that there was a divine plan for me which I would still fulfill. Then his physical body became gaseous and disappeared through the ceiling.

As impressive as that was, something else happened that same year in Sunday afternoon seance that would top it. It was Easter. The week before, David had prepared us that Jesus might materialize to us in seance because he usually came every Easter. That was my first Easter with David and the church in 1994. We were not long into the seance before Hilda told us that “the Master” was coming. He materialized semi-solid in flowing white robes. I cannot over-emphasize the impact that this had on all of us. We were all brought up into a higher dimension that was so loving, we were possessed of love for one another and for the Master. He let us come to him and feel his robe. It was made of light but it still had texture. As we felt it, we could feel the pattern of it, where there were stitches. He spoke in ways that Spiritualists will understand. He said that he did not die for our sins. He said that He agreed to go to the cross to show us that death does not exist and that we are made of spirit to live forever. His presence inundated us with his Love. His voice was so loving, so calm, so assuring, we lost all sense of human lack or anxiety. Another reason I remember it so well was because, as he manifested and spoke to us, David was permitted to awaken from trance and join us as we talked to him. There we were, his sheep, having gentle conversations with him. And then he said that he would see us again and dematerialized. David went back to his cabinet and tried to go back into trance but could not. We all just sat there, immersed in Love, talking to one another. This experience showed to me the heights of Spiritualism and Spiritism. It showed that God and us are not separate. We are not in truth different from Him. We are cut from His cloth. We are emanations of God and we are here remembering who we are.

I was with David for three more Easters. Each time, Jesus came.

Jerome Hines and My Story

This is part of my story of being a young opera singer in New York.

In the fall of 1975 I made the big move to New York. Tulsa had cradled me and brought me along, but now was the time to head on up to the big time. As in everything else, I was helped by my unseen “Friend.” Things just seemed to fall into place. Lynn Fann, the same friend who introduced me to opera in seminary, had introduced me to his friends in New York who shared an apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan near Columbia University. By the time I was ready to move to New York, one of them was ready to vacate, leaving a vacancy for me. The terrible job of searching for an apartment in New York was spared me. It was an acceptable area, on the border of safety. I loved being right next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I spent many days meandering through the beautiful chapels much the way I had meandered through the garden during childhood. It seemed that everything was being arranged for me, including the proximity of this wonderful cathedral.

One of the first things I did in New York was to arrange for an audition with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera, that operatic basso par excellence who had provided me with the model voice during my seminary years. In theological seminary, a fellow student, Lynn Fann, had introduced me to opera. I had never really heard it before. In Carthage we knew about the “Grand Ole Opery” but that was about it. I listened to all of the great singers of the second golden age of singing with Lynn. Something in their sound made me sit up and pay attention, especially the singing of the great bass, Jerome Hines, partly because he was also a Christian who would sing at the Salvation Army on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. His voice and his life became a model for me. Now in 1975 I was going to get to sing for him. My old teacher from college, Ted Harris, had been instrumental. Ted told me that Hines’ opera company was going to be auditioning for a baritone to take the place of Met baritone, Calvin Marsh, for a production of Hines’ opera on the life of Jesus, I Am The Way, to be staged in April 1976 in Columbus Ohio. Ted arranged for me to talk to the stage director, Derek de Cambra, a spunky, enthusiastic fellow with a British accent who had a love for beautiful singing. I was to go over to New Jersey to audition directly for Hines himself. I was finally going to meet the wonderful singer whose voice excited me so much in seminary. In those days I was not really nervous. I was excited and ready to go. My voice could do anything and I could pound on it for hours, if necessary, and it would still be fine for the next outing. I prepared my benchmark arias that had won the Met auditions for me and took a train, then a bus, to the New Jersey audition site. It was a small room to sing in. Hines was seated only a few feet from me. Still, I went eagerly to the task and sang Macbeth’s last act aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” which had won for me the Midwestern Finals of the Met Auditions, interpolating a long, sustained, high A flat at the end. Hines was visibly impressed and began talking about his recording of Macbeth with Leonard Warren. He was warm and cordial but every bit the opera star that I expected him to be. He talked several minutes about great baritones he had known and how favorably my voice compared. I could not have asked for a more favorable review from one I idolized so. I got the part and began preparing the role. The baritone I was replacing, Calvin Marsh, was a Met baritone with a huge voice, beautiful color, commanding range, and a veteran. He was a tough act to follow. My voice was much different than his, darker, almost a bass-baritone compared to his, yet more lyrical because of youth. My old college teacher, Ted Harris, was to sing the bass part of the villain, Eliakim, one of the chief priests (a fictitious character), who conspires with Judas to capture Jesus. I was going to get to see two dreams come true, to sing with my teacher and my idol. In the spring of 1976, after performances of “Tonio” in I Pagliacci in Tucson with the Arizona Opera, and a cross-country concert tour for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts, I headed for Columbus Ohio, my ego beginning to inflate from the heady rushes of early successes. I still heard the inner Voice, but I did not remember “who” or “what” it was, and I certainly was not cultivating a habit of reliance on it for guidance. At times I would do what it said, and at times I wouldn’t. Each time I obeyed, I was amazed at the eerie way in which things fell together for my benefit.

For example, In 1975 I had made the finals of the highly prestigious WGN-Illinois Opera Guild Auditions of the Air in Chicago but had not won. The Voice told me in strong “words” that if I entered again in 1976 I could win them. I entered and easily passed the first two rounds. The auditions director, Dick Jones of WGN Radio, Chicago, really liked my voice and thought my singing had improved over the previous year. Some time later I was notified that I was to sing in the finals at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. There was only a small problem. I was in the middle of a cross-country concert tour with a trio, performing from town to town. I discussed my feelings about the audition with my colleagues, Roger and Debbie Lucas, and they were supportive in anything I chose to do. The Voice was very strong that I had to find a way to go to the finals, and that I would win. The trio’s schedule just worked out that we had a day’s travel, no concert, on the day of the finals. After our performance in Pueblo Colorado I caught a flight to Chicago, got into the hotel about 4:00AM for five hours sleep and showed up at the stage door of the Chicago Lyric Opera House at 11:00AM, ready to sing. I sang my first aria, “Cortigiani vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and was pleased with the way it went. But for the next round, the judges got to pick an aria from my prepared repertoire. I “knew” that if they picked the prologue to I Pagliacci, I should be one of the two winners chosen. The Voice told me that I would be the second winner. The judges chose the prologue. I sang it with full gusto, including a resounding high A flat, and left the stage feeling good. I could not stay for the end of the auditions. I had to run to the airport immediately to catch a plane to Traverse City Michigan to rejoin my concert trio for a performance that night. When I arrived in Traverse City, I called back to Chicago and found that I had been named the second winner.

Wouldn’t you think that experiences such as these should have been enough to teach me to listen to that inner Voice and always obey it? Apparently they weren’t, because I didn’t. I still thought my rational intellect was the most important part of me to listen to, and I liked the heady rush of the ego as I saw my name up in lights, doing things my way, with my voice. I soon began believing all my publicity and was convinced that I belonged in the Tsar’s court in old St. Petersburg and that by divine right, of course.

By the time I arrived in Columbus Ohio in April 1976 to begin rehearsals for I Am The Way, I was full of it, and I don’t mean the way, the truth, and the life, but a substance with a lot more unpleasant odor to it! I had just gone up to my hotel room and unpacked when the telephone rang. It was one of the other cast members who wanted to come up and say hello. I felt mildly irritated at being disturbed but magnanimously allowed him to come up to the room. He was a very down to earth fellow; full of something I had once known, not too long ago, sincerity and thanksgiving. He was singing the tiny part of “Thomas”, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. He literally had only a couple of lines to sing in the whole show! His face beamed with joy as he described his pilgrimage from the Deep South, at his own expense, just to sing his two lines. By the time he finished visiting with me I had begun to feel very ashamed of myself for the egotism I had allowed to grow inside me, replacing my gratitude to God for the voice I was given. I was making my own ego world-view of specialness, rather that viewing my voice as a gift to give to others. I prayed. I apologized and asked for renewed innocence. The Voice was right there. It had gone nowhere. Only I had changed. The Voice said, “Just keep on going the way you are going now and I will have you sing for Presidents and Kings.” It was a startling message! By this time, I was supposed to go down to the lobby to meet the Director. I grabbed my score and headed for the elevator. No sooner had I reached the elevator than did the doors open. Inside it stood Jimmy Carter. He extended his hand saying, “I just wanted to shake hands.” We rode down to the lobby together in silence. You have to understand that in April of 1976, Jimmy Carter, running for the Democratic nomination for President, was still a long-shot. Nobody thought he would get the nomination and nobody dreamed he would be elected President of the United States. As we exited the elevator, I watched him go, and said another quiet “thank you” to God for his faithfulness, and for the internal Voice which always spoke for truth, on my behalf. I knew Jimmy Carter was going to be President of the United States. And maybe if, just if, I did what the Voice said, kept on going the way I was going, then I might even get to sing for him!

During rehearsals of I Am The Way, I met many wonderful people who were going to stay with me throughout the years as close personal friends. The rehearsal period itself was rewarding because, in addition to the good staging by Derek De Cambra, Hines himself did some of the dramatic coaching, working with the singers on subtle acting points, “camera angles”, Chris Lachonas, a veteran, called them. This stayed with me my whole career as I tried to use a style of acting that was as suitable for television as it was for the stage. The music of I Am The Way, all composed by Hines himself–an extraordinary feat for a singer, not trained in composition–shows a little of every role he ever sang. The scene called “The Woman at the Well” shows a lot of the playfulness of the Bohemian characters in Puccini’s opera La Boheme, which Jerry sang many, many times. In fact during the bleak years at the Met when Rudolf Bing was trying to force him out, Jerry was cut down to one performance a season of “Colline” in La Boheme. Still, he stuck it out and had a renaissance long after Bing had retired. The scene called “The Last Supper” showed a lot of Wagner influence, especially Parsifal, in which Jerry sang the role of “Gurnemanz.” I did not view this negatively. It seemed inescapable to me that if an opera singer were to compose an opera himself, it would inevitably show the influence of everything he had sung. And the music he composed was beautiful, full of sweeping melodies and beautifully constructed scenes. What gave it an impact was Jerome Hines himself! There was that enormous, richer than rich, bass voice with incomparable grandeur, being used in the role of Jesus. What more could anyone ask for? In 1976, Hines was 55 years old and his voice was still at the peak of his powers. He sailed through the performance with ease and assurance. I used every second as an opportunity to listen, observe, and learn, how he made an entrance, how he related to the other characters on stage, most of all, how he sounded! In one scene called, “At Bethany,” my character, “Simon Peter”, sits right beside Jesus as he sings the Lord’s Prayer. Looking up at Jerome Hines, hearing that enormous voice so close to my ear, I gave thanks to God for His incredible ways. And then the performance was over and the company packed up to go back to New York, the singers back to their other careers. I went to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to sing with the Symphony and prepare for my first Rigoletto in the fall of 1976 for the Houston Grand Opera. As a young singer, I had no rational reason to believe I could sing this, the greatest of Italian baritone roles, but the Voice said that I could do it and I had agreed when I got a letter from the General Manager asking me to do the part. The letter came “out of the blue,” and I knew, even then, that this was something I was destined to do.

The Hines Company performed I Am The Way only once a year. The following year, 1977, Calvin Marsh returned to the role of Simon Peter, leaving me without a role. Not to be outdone, I suggested to Jerry that I play the role of the heavy, “Eliakim,” the chief priest who conspires with Judas. Jerry had always had difficulty casting it because of the way it was composed. As I was told the story, originally, the role had no aria. But when Jerry approached the great basso, Ezio Flagello, to sing the role, Flagello refused unless an aria were written for the character. Ever the one-upsman, Hines said, “All right. I’ll compose you an aria, but it’s going to be so hard you won’t be able to sing it.” The result was Eliakim’s long aria which is loud and very high for any bass, ending on a long, sustained high F sharp, not territory that basses like to hang around in, even a great bass like Flagello. He never sang the part again, and Jerry went through bass after bass trying to find someone who could sing it. I suggested that I could sing it. Even though I was a baritone rather than a bass, I had enough richness in the voice that I could carry its heavy insinuations. Learning my own one-upsmanship I said, “but you have to transpose the aria up one half step for me.” Hines laughed and agreed, so off I went to Birmingham to sing Eliakim, following in other years to different cities. In Cleveland in 1978, I was rehearsing the big aria with Hines himself at the piano, accompanying. After I finished, Hines was silent for quite a long while. Finally he said, “I wish we could have recorded that. I’ve never heard anyone sing my music the way you do.” It was the most wonderful tribute I could have been given by this man whose singing meant so much to me, and whom I had come to love so dearly. Some years were difficult though. Two years later, November 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta I had a dangerously close dovetail of engagements. I ended a string of performances of “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Arizona Opera, the evening before dress rehearsal for I Am The Way. The Director was confident of my ability to do the role without rehearsal by this point, so I flew from the desert of Phoenix right after the last performance of La Traviata to the Nov. cold of Edmonton! I was exhausted and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon with the dress rehearsal at 8:00PM. Still, I felt ready to go, and during one scene I interpolated a high B flat! For the non-singers reading this, a high B flat is the pinnacle note for a tenor, and is virtually never attempted by a baritone. Once, the Met’s star baritone, Sherrill Milnes, had recorded a high B flat, but I don’t recall him ever singing one on stage. Why did I do it? Because I could! It was that much ego, nothing deeper. Hines was in the audience for the rehearsal and he let me know what a good note it was. I was happy, justified in my specialness. But the next night was performance. There would be no day off for rest as was usually the case, and I desperately needed a day off for rest. Edmonton in the winter is colder than anything I had ever experienced! It is so cold that the water particles in the air freeze into ice crystals which can cut your lungs when you breathe! I had known cold in Missouri but nothing like this, and I was coming straight from balmy Phoenix. My body was in shock and tired. That night after rehearsal I slept very poorly. I was too tired to sleep and wished that I had brought along the singer’s friend, “restoril”, to induce a good night’s sleep. But I hadn’t. I lay tossing and turning all night, finally drifting off to light sleep early towards dawn, only to be awakened early by the maid who did not want to believe the “do not disturb sign” posted on the door. Furious at her for disturbing my specialness, I screamed at her from the bed to get out and tried to go back to sleep, all to no avail. I was up. After two pots of coffee I began to vocalize a little and did not like what I felt. That afternoon was no better. Still, the show must go on, and my voice had never really failed me before…except on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera when I had muffed a high A flat. Still, I was seasoned now, and I had not cracked on a note in public in the six years since. Staying with my typical performance schedule, I found the nearest steak and potatoes around 4:30 PM and began to tank up for the evening performance. That evening I sang the difficult aria OK but the voice still seemed off, stiff and thick. More importantly, my tenacious clinging to ego specialness had cut off my ability to hear the internal Voice that guided me in everything. The time in the scene came where I had interpolated the high B flat the night before. Should I do it again, in performance? As soon as the question flashed through my mind, I heard the internal Voice say “No.” Oh well, I would do it anyway! I went up for the special high note, hit it…and it cracked! Not to be outdone, I tried to regain it and it cracked again!! The curtain mercifully descended and I made my way, like a scalded dog, as quickly as possible through the labyrinths of back stage corridors, eyes to the floor, to my dressing room. I was mortified, disgraced. I, Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, had cracked on stage! Standing in the hall, barring my refuge into my dressing room was Hines, in costume as Jesus, making his way to the stage, enormous grin on his face, laughter ready to commence at any moment. He began to chuckle, “That just makes you human,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. But remember from now on, when you crack a note, get off of it and let it go. I remember when Set Svanholm, at the Met, cracked on the high B flat at the end of ‘Celeste Aida.’ He cracked and tried to get it back and cracked again, just like you did.” Somehow it did not make me feel better. I brooded. How I brooded. I spent the night in the dressing room trying to avoid all conversation. My specialness had been wounded and I was not eager to address any re-shaping of my image. Years later, Hines said to me, “You know, I was glad to hear you crack on that high B flat because it proved to me you were human. You always sang like someone who wasn’t human.” I took it as a compliment. But for fourteen years he never let me forget that I had cracked on a high B flat. I never let myself forget it either!

I did Eliakim again the next year in Allentown Pennsylvania, and it went extremely well, but then I stopped singing I Am the Way. I told myself that I was tired of singing the villain. But wasn’t it really because I had cracked on a high note and injured my feelings of specialness? In the intervening years, I missed my friends terribly. I missed Jerry. I missed I Am The Way. During the years of 1982-1990, a lot of water went under the bridge professionally, new roles at new opera houses, but there was some lesson I was not learning. Things were not going the way they were supposed to go. The performances got better and better artistically, but the engagements were getting fewer and fewer. I thought I knew what the world was supposed to be like, but I didn’t! Then in 1994 I found myself near death. The internal Voice returned with great strength. I had a four-month-long life review as I waited, near death, for the Canadian medical system to put my name at the top of the list for surgery. Back in my hometown of Carthage my father went into the hospital at the end of June for what was supposed to be a minor surgery repair of a hernia. Something told me however that this was the end of the line for Dad. The doctors gave us a progressive litany of worsening prognoses. Finally, they told the family that he was not leaving the hospital. I knew that part of him had faith in a life after death, but I also sensed that part of him was very frightened because he felt that he had failed in some important aspects of his life, one of those being in his relationship with his son. Those failures tore at him very deeply. Involved in my own near-death struggle I could not go to Missouri to be with him. We braced ourselves for the fact that he could die at any time. But I had much unfinished emotional business with Dad which I did not want to leave without closure. I also wanted to help him in his final hours.

I prepared a special time when I would be alone in the house, and began to pray for Dad. I asked God to let him know that I forgave him for all the things between us that he held against himself. I asked God to tell Dad I that it was all right for him to let go and go on if that is what he needed to do, but if he was supposed to fight and stay with us, that was all right too. I wanted him to know that I supported him in his decision, one way or the other. For some reason it was important to me to sing my prayers for him. I do not know how long this final song lasted, quite some time I think, maybe an hour or two. I had little sense of time as I was doing it.

My son, Tom, was to have his birthday in just two days, and I really did not want Dad to die on Tom’s birthday. So he didn’t. Tom had a wonderful birthday. Dad died the following day, July 10, 1994. The night he died, I had an archetypal dream about seeing someone off on a ship. It was Dad. The next morning I thought that he had passed over. Sure enough, he had. I was somewhat disappointed that I had not had a full parting vision but I knew he understood now that everything was OK between us. I just missed the good-bye. Finally, two days later, in the early hours of the morning of his funeral in Missouri, I awoke in the spirit while my body was fast asleep.
I was in a very special kind of railroad station looking for Dad. I was pushing through enormous crowds of people who were waiting to board this train. I was in a great hurry as I knew this train was about to leave. Then I saw him from behind. I knew it was him. I called to him, “Daddy, Daddy.” He turned around with a big smile all over his face. I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I remember the feeling. I looked into his eyes. I remember those eyes. He was young and looked somewhat differently than in life, but there was no mistaking him. All of the cares and worries, doubts and fears, insecurities and self judgments, were gone from his face. Instead, there was this pure love, all throughout him which gave him his new substance. I hugged him and said, “I love you Daddy.” He squeezed me. I remember that squeeze, and he said, “I love you too.” And then he made a little joke just to make sure I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this. He knew I would remember it. He said, “You see, I’m a little thinner now than I used to be.” He was now spirit, not flesh. Then he boarded that train. A few hours later his funeral was conducted in Carthage. Even though I could not be there, we had had our farewell.

Around this same time, I got an unexpected phone call one day from my old friend, Derek de Cambra, Jerry Hines’s stage director for I Am The Way. He said that the company was doing I Am The Way in Benton Harbor, Michigan next year, 1995, and would I do the role of Eliakim again. The Voice shouted “yes,” and I immediately agreed. I was so happy to be back in I Am The Way. Jerry had done a wonderful job in keeping his voice all these years. He would be 74 years old in 1995! What a miracle to keep his voice! Few singers had accomplished that. No basses, to my knowledge. I was happy, truly happy to be back in I Am The Way. The Holy Spirit was that Voice which always spoke for truth and He must have something there for me to do, something for me to learn, some service for me to render to others, I thought. I could not know more at that point. I began to restudy the role of Eliakim and sing it back into my voice. The last time I had sung it had been the fateful performance in Edmonton! That was out of my mind now like a bad joke. I saw the silliness of the ego’s distorted view of things. I just wanted to go back to old friends! This time I took with me a young voice student who had heard all of my stories of the great singers of the previous era, called the Second Golden Age of Singing. I was passing on my love of singing and my love for Jerome Hines to another generation.

When I arrived in Benton Harbor it was indeed like a reunion with long lost friends. How I loved them. How they helped me to remember the Light. Jerome looked like a sight for sore eyes. Even his slight infirmities of age could not make him look old to me. But he was not singing in rehearsals and I could tell he was worried about his voice. He and I got together for an afternoon of vocalizing the way we had done in earlier years. They were wonderful times for me, learning experiences, as I observed this supremely great singer go through the vocal calisthenics necessary to sing grand opera. But this time Hines’ voice was not working. The whole cast knew it and we were all worried. Jerry had been in trouble before vocally and always made it through the performance. One time in Cleveland we finished a final dress rehearsal about 2:00AM. Jerry wanted to go out to an all night restaurant near the lake. It was mid winter and freezing cold in Cleveland. But what Jerry wants, Jerry gets, so off the whole crew went. I noticed that Jerry was not even wearing a coat, and I said, “Jerry, what’s the matter with you? Put a coat on!” “Ah, let your body breeeeeathe,” He vocalized in Hinse-ian tones. “I don’t need a coat!” We went to the restaurant and had a feast, whooped it up in grand fashion. The next morning Jerry called the conductor to his hotel room in a panic that his voice didn’t feel good for the show the next night. He even looked at his own vocal cords with a homemade device and saw that they were pink and swollen. Ever inventive, Jerry had taken two dental mirrors and welded them together with just the right curvature so that he could look at his own vocal cords! Panic ensued within the Directoral staff, but we all, Jerry included, managed to pull the show out of the fire.

This time in Benton Harbor was different. There was something seriously wrong with Jerry Hines’ voice. We made it to the final dress rehearsal. I had already counseled myself to end the “infamous” scene on a lower pitch than the interpolated high B flat! I would sing a high F instead, which is plenty high and would give me no trouble. I would not entertain any notions of interpolating ego notes. I had learned my lesson! Hines watched the rehearsal from out in front. At the end of my scene He came up to me and said, “Good job, Joe, but I was really a little disappointed that you didn’t take the high B flat!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He wasn’t joking. He was serious! I made a joke of it and said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask HIM,” pointing upwards. “It’s HIS voice. I’m just the caretaker of it. I’d have to get the OK from HIM.” Jerry smiled and went back to observe the coming scene. We made it to opening night. Hines limped through the performance, sounding ill. The rest of the cast did a fine job. I ended my scene on the high F. All went well. We had one day of rest and then a Sunday matinee at 2:00PM. Matinees are difficult for all singers. We are accustomed to preparing our voices for an 8:00PM curtain, not 2:00PM! I hated matinees. In my earlier days of incessant bravado I had plunged into them full voice, thinking nothing of it. In the fall of 1979 I had performed the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth with the Arizona Opera Company. We finished the dress rehearsal about 2:00AM, and like Hines, I wanted to go out and get something to eat. I ate a huge plate of rare prime rib. By the time I arrived back at the house where I was staying, my gluttony was telling the tale. I threw up everything and continued to throw up for an hour. I got to sleep about 5:00AM., got up at 7:30AM, went to the theatre at 8:30AM and performed a “matinee” at 9:30AM of Macbeth for school children. It was one of the best performances I ever gave! But I still hated “matinees.”

This time was different. Hines was in real trouble. On his day off he had gone to a doctor to have ultra sound therapy performed on his larynx, but it was to no avail. He seemed totally laryngitic. There was no understudy. Jerry would have to go on or we would have to cancel the performance, which meant financial disaster. Jerry went on. He barely made it through his first big scene of “The Woman at the Well.” My scene as Eliakim was next. I sailed through the aria better than ever, holding a long sustained high G towards the end, finally ending on an optional low F sharp. The infamous scene was next, but I was not nervous, I had already decided not to interpolate the high B flat. I had sung the high F the previous performance and it had been more than sufficient. As Mary Magdalene sang her long monologue, I sat back in my throne-chair and played with the character, Eliakim. Finally the end of her aria arrived. I had two beats before I was to sing the infamous words which ended the scene, “Is the whole world gone mad!” Usually those two beats fly at you like the wind and you have just enough time to take your breath and sing the notes. But this time, time itself seemed to slow down. Those two beats became an eternity. What was I to do with all this luxury of time? The Voice said, “Take the high B flat.” I could not believe it. There was plenty of time for an argument. “What? I’m not doing that again, no way.” The Voice was very clear, “Take the high B flat.” Something I had learned made it easy for me to agree. I went up for the high B flat. It was not only there, it was there in spades! I held it forever. This time there would be no scalded dog, hiding his head as he crept through the halls to his dressing room. Slowly and happily I walked off stage as my colleagues said things singers say to one another after a good job: “Wow, what a note!” “Holy cow, what did you eat? I want some of it.” On my triumphant way down the hall I passed Jerry’s dressing room. The door was open. He sat disconsolate at his make-up table. I could see that he was worried and afraid of the next scene coming up. It was the “At Bethany” scene and he had to sing the Lord’s Prayer which had always given him trouble, even in good voice. I walked into his room. He smiled faintly and said, “So the B flat worked tonight?” Without thinking I said, “I sang that high B flat for you so that you would know that if I can sing a high B flat, without cracking, you can make it through this next scene!” His face dropped and showed his true feelings of insecurity. “But how am I going to make it through it?” He said. “Dear God,” I thought, “what am I supposed to say to this man, my hero and mentor?” The words came tumbling out my mouth without any thought, “Just go out there, breathe deeply and don’t push!” Those words seemed to rally him. “All right,” he said, and headed for the stage. During the scene, the Voice told me to position myself in the wings, unnoticed by the audience, but in such a way that I had clear view of the stage. The Voice said that I was to pray for Jerry to be given strength. I did, and I saw that it was helping him get through the scene. Finally he made it to the big aria, Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer. Hines did what I said. He breathed deeply, taking many more breaths than he needed, and he didn’t push! He made it through. As the curtain descended, a happy Hines almost collapsed into the arms of his colleagues as they congratulated him. “I just did what Joe Shore told me,” he said, “And it got me through.”

For the rest of the opera, since my character does not appear with Jesus, I stood in the wings and prayed for Jerome. He gained in strength. During the difficult “Last Supper” scene, the Director came into the wings with a look of worry on his face, “He’s struggling,” He said. “Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “He’s going to make it through just fine,” And he did. I knew why I was supposed to go to Benton Harbor. It was my love for Jerome Hines that was the lesson. That love is the love Jesus would have us learn. It is the same love I received from my grandparents and parents. It is the love that God gives us as His own. Receive it. It is there, waiting for us to grasp it in every learning experience, and every experience is a learning experience. Had I learned my lesson earlier, had I not gotten off course, I am sure I would have gotten to sing for Jimmy Carter! Nevertheless, I sang for Congressmen, Senators, Governors, the Russian Diplomatic Mission to the UN, and Consuls to several countries.

Months later, the Voice told me to call Jerome and let him know that I not only wanted to perform the role of “Simon Peter” again, but that I was supposed to. I knew Jerry would understand. I made the call. It just so happened that the Hines Company was going to be doing I Am The Way in June 1996 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but the role of “Peter” was already taken by one of Jerry’s students from OMTI (Opera Music Theatre International). “Put me on standby,” I said, “You never know. This guy may not be able to do it.” He agreed. A short time later, the Director called me with the news that Mark Delavan could not do the part and it was mine. Twenty years had passed since I sang the role of “Peter,” but I knew it. Jerry was in fine voice. This time, my character sat at the Last Supper table with Jesus. As I looked at Jerry I knew that the love I have for him is the message of Jesus, that we should love one-another even as He loved us; and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The circle was complete.

hines and i, 1995 i am the way

Our Lives Are Planned

Our lives here are planned to give us the lessons we need to learn. WE planned them with guidance from our Higher Self and the angels. We also planned for alternate time lines based on different decisions we could make at crucial places within the script! Some of you may think you are living on plan B or C or even Z. Well you may be. You gave yourself wiggle room in this life to make different choices. So instead of beating yourself up for that “wrong” choice you made, see it as just an alternate choice. Regardless of how attached we may be to one particular time line, the details of our lives here are not the point!!! This is a holographic training school. The details are not the point. Our choices and our intentions are the point because they show the errors in thought we came here to undo. So, whatever time line we are on in our scripts, let us learn our lessons so we can go HOME. Summer camp is just great until it begins to last forever!

Someday Joe-Boy will take us fishin’

“Someday Joe-boy will take us fishin’,” Lena Ritchie said to her husband, George. It was four o’clock in the morning and grandmother had put a nice breakfast on the table for us. We needed a good start of the day for our fishing trip. I had slept over at their house so we could get a good early start down to Oklahoma, to the Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. I was eight years old.

When I was about seven years old, grandmother and grandpa introduced me to the wonders of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in nearby Oklahoma. For years they had been going there to the promised land of fishing, bringing back huge catches of crappie, blue-gill, catfish, and white bass, all for table fare. Having survived the great depression, they were determined never to go hungry again. A huge freezer chest of frozen fish from Grand Lake made it seem unlikely. And yet, like our river adventures, the important thing was really to go to the lake and be there.

At Grand Lake, no convenience was denied a fisherman. Large in-door, heated fishing docks, with theatre seats for comfort, were situated over key areas for crappie and other pan fish. Cedar trees were suspended from the docks to entice the cover-minded crappies to huddle there in schools, unaware of the fate which awaited them. It was a grand invention for a Grand Lake. Grandmother and grandpa introduced me to these holy haunts with a fervor reserved otherwise only for the garden.

Fishing with my grandparents was the purest form of Love I learned as a child. Most days you could not have gotten me out of bed at 3:30AM if you lit a fire cracker under my bed, but knowing we were going fishing, I eagerly went to bed with my grandparents and the chickens around dark and jumped out of bed when I heard the alarm at 3:30AM. Grandmother would fix breakfast while grandpa and I loaded the car with our fishing tackle.

“Someday Joe-boy will take us fishin’ George,” Grandmother repeated. “You betcha,” said grandpa as he reached for his coffee. They drank the most terrible coffee: Folgers, or Maxwell House, percolated in what is now an ancient contraption. They drank it black and I drank it with them. Maybe eight years old was just a little young for coffee, but I drank it! Grandmother packed a lunch for us and put plenty of that coffee in thermos bottles for us and off we went. It was so exciting to start off on our journey while it was still dark, the crickets still chirping, and the neighborhood still asleep. We drove the old highway to Joplin to a bait shop where we got our minnows, worms, and catfish bait. The best thing I knew about Joplin as a boy was that it wasn’t far from Grand Lake! Grandpa liked to drive old highway 60 through the big town of Seneca Missouri on route to Grand Lake. Grandmother and I might be nodding off but grandpa would loudly announce, “We’re now in Sen-ee-kee,” and we would pop to, knowing that the lake was near. Outside of Seneca there was a fork in the road and we would have to decide if we were going to go to Twin Bridges fishing dock or on down the lake to Ice Box Bluff or Blue Bluff. This day we made the turn as grandpa said, “Let’s go to Ice Box.” It was grandpa’s favorite dock and the owner was a friend of my grandparents, but then many dock owners were their friends. It was the first dock I fished when they brought me to the lake a year before. It was like heaven to a kid. All the grownups there didn’t act like grownups. They were all fishin,’ acting like kids!

Eighteen years later, I had graduated from college, spent two years in graduate school for theology, and was on my way to a new career as an opera singer. But before I left for the Santa Fe Opera and a new career that would take me away from them, I said to my grandparents, “It’s time I take you fishing.” They were both startled, like they couldn’t quite believe the day had come, but they quickly agreed. I was driving an old Rambler that had the “b” and the “l” knocked out of the front grill so that it read “Ram—er.” It shimmied if you went past 55 but off we went in it one clear day about 4:00 AM. Grandmother sat in the back and grandpa sat up front. I took the same route grandpa had always taken, into Joplin, to the bait store, down through Seneca. We came to the fork in the road and I said, “Let’s go to Ice Box.” Off we went. I don’t remember how many fish we caught but there was something wonderful about the completion of Love in that outing together. As I drove back home, I accidentally pushed the speed up past 60 and the old “Ram—er” began to shimmy. Grandmother said, “Boy the old thing shimmies doesn’t it?” I slowed back down to 55 and we made it back home. That was the last time we went fishin’ together. I moved on up to the big city, up to NEW YORK CITY, and became an opery sanger, but my love for Lena and George Ritchie has stayed in my heart strong! They loved me…and I loved them back. The fish were just part of the story.

I am not a medium for nothing! This story about my grandparents was prompted by my inner conversations with them in spirit. They are both still in spirit and together. Grandmother said, “We know how much you want us to meet you when you pass over, so we have been staying here for you.” Grandpa smiles. Grandmother chuckles and says, “Boy, we’ve been having to put off the angels that keep coming and want us to go back down.” Grandpa grins. “We’ll be here to meet you. Don’t you worry.” Grandpa says, “I’ve been trying to tell you not to use so much of that nose spay. It’s not good for you. But you cain’t hear me.” I am taken up in Love’s Presence with these little conversations in spirit. Believe me, there is not much separating us from our loved ones who have passed over. Grandmother chuckles, “Boy howdy, let me tell you Joe-boy, it is goin’ to take you a little while to adjust when you come over here. We were not prepared at all for it.” She laughs big.

Tonight I needed to go get something to eat. Instead of hopping in my car, I knew I should walk over to the shopping center and to Subway. Walking is not easy for me now and would never be my first choice, except tonight. I just wanted to wall slowly. Conversations with George and Lena continued in my mind as I walked, and the Love poured out. The girl at Subway recognized me and I flirted with her a little bit. That’s one of the nice things about being my age. You can flirt with the girls and nobody is offended. As I walked back to my apartment my whole life gently passed before my eyes. Somehow, there was something sweet about walking slowly with my cane and seeing the gentle irony that I used to be a dashing figure on the stage, running around as Macbeth or some other great character. What a figure I cut. Now my pace is slow and I need my cane, but it is alright. Nothing is amiss. I am no longer very famous and all my money is gone, but somehow, in a very sweet way, I am happy. I am thankful for my life and I have learned many lessons. I wanted this to be my last lifetime on this planet, but you know, if I have to come back a hundred more times, that is alright too. It is all alright.

George and Lena Ritchie

Joe at 9

Every Child

In wrong-minded perception, every child who appears to be born here is a spirit who is hiding out from God!!! Their birth is an attack on God. In right-minded perception every child who appears to be born here is a spirit straight from God who can teach the world the Truth!!! It all depends on perception. When the parents plan to have a child, their spiritual development, their perception, determines what kind of a child they will attract! If they would attract a right-minded spirit who wishes to come to share Truth, then they must be pure in thought and in their love.

My dear friend, Dr. Ken Wapnick, the teacher of ACIM, was talking to one of his ACIM students who told him she wanted to have another child. He said, according to her, “Why do you want to have a child? It’s an attack on God!” He obviously knew that his student was still wrong-minded. A much different story was given by an equally great teacher of ACIM, Tara Singh. Taraji talked to his students about raising a child of God. http://youtu.be/yQN_jCBh_W8 He wanted to open them up to right-minded perception about children and what they can be. Unfortunately, most of us forget that we came from God when we appear to come to this planet. Our parents, unfortunately, are the ones who help us forget by teaching us the ways of the world, fear, separation, suspicion, anger. “It’s dog eat dog out there son.” (sic!) So we forget we are from God and start believing we are a body! Such an insane thought can be undone! That is the atonement, the undoing of error in thought.

baby3

The Creation myth of A Course in Miracles And You…Right Now

The Creation myth of A Course in Miracles is not supposed to be literal truth. It is intended to help us right NOW understand how we go into illusion and believe we are a body, a bio-bag of mostly water, separated from others and from God. If you have forgotten the ACIM creation myth, you can refresh your mind right here. https://maestroshore.com/2014/03/23/a-course-in-miracles-straight-up-no-water-or-tonic/ Most of my postings are sharings from my experience, and they come from my principle willingness to join with others. The first requirement for joining with another is we make a decision that what is in someone else’s interest is also in ours. You have an opportunity now to see that what is in my interest is also in yours.

Most of you know that I came to be A Course in Miracles student after a lifetime of work in Christianity. I was even a theologian with two degrees and an expectation of teaching in seminary for my life’s work. But in graduate school I got a real whiff that something was wrong in the garden. There was skunk cabbage where there were supposed to be roses! I just could no longer bear the smell of the essential story of Christianity. When the Course came to me I was a reluctant learner. ACIM has great shock value to the ego and it will pull you back from the Course. That happened to me too. I got so threatened by it at one point in my life that I made a detour back into fear and became a Pentecostal Christian. To be sure, it bothered me that I had to check my brains at the door. They were so anti-intellectual. But they provided a place for me to hide from The Course. With their fierce dualism and their belief in sin, guilt and fear, they were the ego system in organization and belief. I could hide out with hundreds of other people! But eventually the lack of love left a real bitter taste in my mouth. They did not know unconditional love, nor even that they SHOULD know it! Their “love” was very conditional, which means it wasn’t love; It was judgment and they were ready, willing and able to dish it out to you if you strayed from their template of what they thought you should be! After a bitter dish of their judgment I realized that I was in the wrong place. Slowly I found my way back to The Course and have never left it since! I want Love’s Presence, not judgment.

Now this story is exactly what the ACIM creation myth is teaching us. When we choose fear and carve out a system of beliefs based on fear, we choose the illusion of separation from Love’s Presence. We are then lost. We believe in sin, guilt and fear and accept a world based on them. Then I am a body, a flimsy, disease ridden body, bound to die, marooned in a world without Love, a world where insane beings come to die! What made me leave Love’s Presence and choose fear? Simply the crazy, insane little idea that I would be diminished if I were nothing but the Love of God!! Why was I threatened by The Course? Because I wanted to be MY distinct, special, unique personality of Joe Shore, living the life he wanted! That unique personality, in order to be considered eternally real, needs a belief system of dualism based on fear! Of course, to perceive loss of that is a terrible threat!!! Time to laugh now! The Course tells us that when this insane thought comes to us that we must remember to laugh!!! Laugh at the crazy idea that we could be something different than the Love of God! Keep Laughing! I am just as God created me, the radiance of His Love. I am not a body. I am free, for I am just as God created me.

 

My mentor and hero in opera was Jerome Hines

My mentor and hero in opera was Jerome Hines, the great bass of the Metropolitan Opera and the greatest bass America has ever produced. Not only was he my mentor but we became very close friends, as close as Jerry could get to people. Jerry was born in L.A. to a socialite mother and an alcoholic Father who worked in low level Hollywood productions. When Jerry was born the parents thought they had no time for a child so they sent the infant Jerome to live with a foster family. Jerry grew up the first five years of his life thinking the foster parents were his real parents. Then, when he was five, his real parents showed up and said, “Hello we are your real parents and you are going to live with us now.” Can you imagine? He said it was like hell living with them. They were always fighting. The father was always drunk and in and out of jobs. The mother was over protective and smothering. But by the time he was 16 he discovered that he had a voice and could sing. At 17 he became a student of Gennaro Curci, a famous voice teacher who had been an operatic bass and the brother in law of the famous soprano, Galli-Curci. The rest is history. Jerry signed his contract with the Metropolitan Opera when he was 25 years old and went on to become the greatest bass America ever produced. In the 1950’s and 60’s he was a household name in America, appearing on TV and singing for the first family many times. He was the first American ever to sing at the Bolshoi in Russia, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. After his performance of Boris, Krushschev came back stage and gave him a secret message to give to President Kennedy. When he arrived back in New York he was quickly taken away by secret service officers for debriefing. He had to sign a national security non disclosure document never to speak of what he was told. But over the years he told us the gist of the message. Kruschev wanted Kennedy to know that Russia would not go to war over Cuba. Jerry remained at the Metropolitan Opera as leading bass for 41 consecutive years breaking all time records for a lead singer. He also had his own opera company which he used to perform his sacred opera on the life of Christ, called I Am The Way. He chose me as a leading baritone with his company in 1976 and I stayed with him until 1997. He dedicated one of his books to me. His wife, Lucia, contracted Lou Gherig’s disease and he spent his later years nursing her and spending every dime he had on her treatments and nursing. He said to me one day, “Do you know a good witch doctor? I have tried everything else.” At that time I didn’t. But now, I could tell him to take her to John of God who has cured people with the same disease. Lucia died in bed with him one night. Jerry was never the same. He was broke, could hardly sing anymore and there was a double mortgage on his house. He only had a few students, one of which would bring him food, because otherwise he did not eat. One day he asked his student Les, if he would take him to the Vet to buy some food for his old dog. Les agreed and off they went. Jerry went in the store and picked up a bag of dog food and went to the counter. He opened his wallet and just stared into it. Les quickly saw what was happening and went to the counter to pay for it. “It’s OK Jerry. This is on me.” They took the food and went back to the car. Jerry began to cry. “I never wanted you to see me like this,” he said to Les. Jerry would often call me during those days and wanted to talk with me about his career. He could not make the adjustment from being one of the greatest operatic basses in the world to being an old man who couldn’t sing anymore. Over and over he would ask me to tell him if he had really been a good singer. Over and over I would tell him he was one of the greatest basses of the 20th century. Then his threatened ego would come in and ask me to tell him, “Well, was I the greatest bass of all time?” His ego could not adjust either. Patiently I would tell him, “You were one of the greatest basses of the 20th century, Jerry.” For a while that would hold him, and then we would go through it over again in a few minutes. I couldn’t know then how he felt. At the time I was still in the prime of my voice and I expected to sing into my 70’s as he had. In the fall of 2002 Jerry became quite ill. He looked like a skeleton but he was still talking about singing. On Christmas in 2002 he went to the Salvation Army in New York where he had worked for years as a volunteer, and stood up to sing. People who were there said that this tall skeleton of a man, looking like father time himself, hobbled up to the podium. But when he opened his mouth, out came the voice of Jerome Hines. Shortly after that he was hospitalized and within a short time, passed over. He had used every ounce of his talent. He had traveled through the storms. I felt enormous loss when he died..and still do, but I did not feel what he felt about losing his ability to be on stage until 2006 when I had a disastrous heart surgery, during which the surgeons made errors which damaged my lungs, disabling my normal breathing. I could no longer sing like Joseph Shore. I lost my persona, my art, my profession, my self-image, my ability to make a living, all because of a surgeon’s incompetency. Then I knew what Jerry felt like; like all of a sudden you are not you anymore! Who can cope with that? I went from being Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, to being a semi-invalid with no ability to be me, and little ability to make any income. I suddenly understood the state of mind of my dear mentor and a man who had been a great world artist. All that saved Jerry was death. All that has saved me has been A Course In Miracles. Cherish the day you have. You have no guarantee of tomorrow. But this is not such a sad story for me. Since 2006 I have learned more about spirit and my abilities to work with spirit, which means my ability to help other people. Helping others is the way I escape despair. And it is better than just avoiding despair. I have had many episodes of Cosmic Consciousness, one of which lasted for six weeks!! Life is still beautiful. The sadness now, of no longer being Joseph Shore, the great opera singer, is a part of the happiness then! That’s the deal! And you can’t re-negotiate it; at least not until you pass over and have a good long discussion with the Lords of Karma. In the meantime, while I am still here, I try to help people. That’s my lot now. It’s not so bad.
hines and i, 1995 i am the way

Questions and Answers from the perspective of A Course in Miracles

Questions and Answers from the perspective of A Course in Miracles:

Do we have a soul? Yes, and it is as real or more so than your experience of self in this life; but it is not eternal. It is still an illusion because it separates you from your eternal Self which is One with God. Our souls are a pattern of lessons we need to learn in order to go back into God.

What is our eternal Self? The Christ Mind is our real and eternal Self. We share it with God.

Is the universe God? No the universe is not real. It is a dream the Son of God (that includes you, me, and everybody else) is having. God the Father did not make this world. The world is a dream the Son is having and it will be over one day.

Is A Course in Miracles true? Yes, it is indeed true. It is a gift of God to His Sleeping Son.

Is A Course in Miracles the same as Christianity? No the Course is a distinct path. You choose one or the other.

Is there a Pope for A Course in Miracles? No, and no church either. The Course is designed as a self-study course in which you and the Holy Spirit undo the mistakes in thought you have made.

Is God a person? No, indeed not. God is impersonal unconditional Love. God is the ground of all being, or being itself, not a single being, like the Old Testament Jehovah.

Does God send people to hell? God only knows eternal truths. He is Love, Truth and Knowledge. He knows no such thing as sin, error, retribution or punishment. He knows no forgiveness for it is not needed in Heaven.

Will I go to Heaven when I die? Not unless you have completed all your lessons. Otherwise you will be given other opportunities to learn them. The Course strongly suggests reincarnation as the way we are given new chances to learn old lessons.

Is there a spirit world we go to when our bodies die? The Course strongly suggests that nothing happens to the spirit when the illusory body dies. The mind is still present with its illusions, just without a body. But the Course does not rule out the idea that the spirit (mind) joins with other minds who have constructed spirit worlds, as reported often in Near Death Experiences. But these spirit worlds are still a part of the illusion of separateness. They are not Heaven.

Is there a Heaven? Indeed. It is our true Home. The Course tells us that God created a spiritual universe (not this physical one) in which He and His One Son create by extending themselves. Heaven is a condition of complete Oneness. There are no individual souls in Heaven. Heaven is the perfect Oneness of God and His One Son and is characterized as all-encompassing Love without an opposite. There is nothing but this Love, and so there is no observer.

Who am I? According to the Course, the body is an illusion. But you are your mind, or your spirit. The belief that you are distinct and separate from others is an illusion called the ego. In truth your spirit is the same as my spirit. We are all the same spirit, seemingly split into parts. And that whole spirit put back together is the divine Son of God.

Who is Jesus? The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Saviour because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

In his complete identification with the Christ, “the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him,” Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true. He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still, to be at one with you.

Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognised. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son.And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.

Amen!

bench into eternity

The Beloved and I at Burnaby Lake

This beautiful magical day of the eclipse I went to Burnaby Lake to see The Beloved. The Beloved is the Divine Presence in all things. The Beloved is the Divine One that manifests all things. She is the Divine passion. She is the True One, and she will show herself to you if you care enough to quiet your mind. Bring the mind to stillness. She will come. Today the energy of the Lake is full. Beauty still exists in the flowers and leaves even though winter approaches. It is as though The Beloved is holding up her beauty for all to see as long as possible before the long winter sleep. The ducks frolicked today as though it were summer, and yet the darkness in the photos shows the approach of winter. As you look at the pictures, be open to see the divine.
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The most magical creature in the marsh is the Blue Heron. Today he sat in Eagle Creek, which feeds into Burnaby Lake, for a long photo shoot, just for me. The Beloved is so kind to me. She knows how I love the Blue Heron.
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The cycle of life was on display today. Salmon have made their way from the ocean, up through the Brunette River, over the Dam, into Burnaby Lake, and back into Eagle Creek so they can spawn in exactly the same place where they hatched. I saw them coming back from Eagle Creek, spawned out, ready to die in Burnaby Lake. The Blue Heron was feasting on dying Salmon. Tonight the Black Bears will be out in force, along with the Minks, to dine all night on Salmon. The beauty of the cycle was so moving, it brought me to tears, not for sadness but for joy and beauty of the way The Beloved has manifested Her nature. I am part of that manifestation. The immensity of The Beloved is mine as well. I am a part of Her and she is more than a mother to me, more than a lover.
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She is the beauty that comes with the dawn and shines through the twilight. She is the glory of the night, in whose beauty she walks.
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She is the song of the birds which delight my heart. She is the Blue Heron who came today, not just for his Salmon, but for my heart. The beauty of this place owes itself to my heart. The Beloved is in all things because The Beloved is in me, and in her is my heart full, and Love stands still in a marsh that knows no time. Only in eternity is such Love found. I have found The Beloved in me…and I am Home for all ages…at Burnaby Lake♥♥Namaste dear ones.♥♥♥

THE BELOVED And I, Joseph Shore: A Collection of Writings about the Beloved

THE BELOVED

And I, Joseph Shore

 

Thunderstorms brought cooling rains to an overheated British Columbia coast, along with an incredible display of lightening. People sat on their porches and clapped and yelled in pleasure like they were watching fireworks on Canada Day. Today is cool and calm and my overheated long haired Himalayan cat is grateful. The energy of the day is sweet and slow. I can’t wait to get to Burnaby Lake tonight to see how the ducks and geese are fairing. We are getting so close now to giving up all illusions of particular identity. The sight of the Beloved is everywhere. I see her now in all forms, even the forms we call “bad” here in this dualistic world of opposites. I AM The Beloved. The jig is up. I have seen behind the curtain! There is just One of us here. Call him/her many names. They will all work. The Course calls him The Son of God, but that terminology is just meant for those who use the Bible and need their information corrected. As a name it is just a form. The Truth of the One may also be expressed as the sacred feminine and that is why I call her “The Beloved.” The first creation of God, She is, in a spiritual universe of One-ness, no different from God. There is no place God ends and The Beloved begins. They are One. And we are One in The Beloved. Namaste, my beauties♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

The night air glistens with stillness. The birds have retired to their nests but the sounds of night fill the air with a symphony of equal beauty. In the distance Coyotes sing their haunting song. Can you hear the Melos? Owls make comment in staccato. The cicadas sing their hypnotic tune. The sounds of night are magnificent and the Melos is in them. Within this nocturnal fortissimo, my mind comes to stillness. No thought intrudes. And in this stillness I see You. Your immensity is on display in my heart. Your boundlessness approaches me with a waiting kiss. I have beheld your Glory. You, it has always been You, my Beloved, my Enchantress, my Eternal Magician. What new form will you take to hide your immensity? I will seek You until I find you, hiding in the form of your choice. I will find You and join with You in a coupling forgotten from the foundation of time. Ecstasy…and we are One

 

Burnaby Lake has been my teacher for 25 years. I cherish and respect her as I would any other teacher. On these shore I have learned Oneness, not in some abstract way, but through the breeze rustling through the tree tops, the fragrance of the flowers, the beauty of the little flowers on the raspberry vines; and then the majestic beauty of Sandhill Cranes and Blue Herons, beautiful wood ducks, and all the fisher birds and the great Canadian Geese. My ego thoughts still; the chatter of the brain is stopped, and I am left with this immensity with which I fully identify. There are many minds within this immensity besides mine; the flowers, animals, ducks, geese, fishing birds, et al. We share this immensity and we are in truth all One Spirit and I am filled with love for all things. This full identification of one Self with the immensity IS Love. Yet it also brings something deeper. At times I see past the lake and instead see only the Beloved summoning me to join with her in embrace. I have channeled so many lines to you about the Beloved. Do you understand that the Beloved is God to me! She presents Herself to me as feminine. The full moon is the best time to see the Beloved. I shared this with you last year, but it bears repeating:

 

Dear Ones, I want to share the magic sight of the Beloved with you. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

I went to my holy place tonight. Two hours before sunset I went to the water fowl sanctuary at Burnaby Lake, a place that I have often written about in my blogs. This wonderful marsh is capable of bringing my mind to astonishment and peace. I am struggling for words to describe what I experienced tonight. As I entered the marsh lands I visited the gardens at the nature house, this garden that I know through the seasons. The Spring garden has now grown into a Summer garden with tall wild flowers of indigo, yellow, and red colors. The Honeysuckle still perfumes the garden. Bees, slugs, and hummingbirds do their work. The garden is alive and the presence of the Beloved is in all things, and enters me. As I am filled with the garden, my thoughts slow down, my mind stills, and tears come to my eyes for it is the Beloved that I see. The blackberries are thick on the vines, though they are not ripe yet. Marsh wrens and redwing blackbirds sit in the trees by the garden and give their little cries. As I go to the waterfowl sanctuary there is a fever of life going on. Mallards, wood ducks, tiels, pied-billed griebes, long-billed dowitchers, belted kingfishers, swim in circles, fish for food, nibble at grain thrown by children, young and old. The marsh is now thick with lily pads and the beautiful white lilies are still adorning the area. There is a rush of life. The full moon has energized the entire marsh. Ducks take off in flight from the water, their bell-beat of their wings sings the Melos of all things. They fly in circles, half a kilometer in diameter and then land back in the marsh in perfect precision. They are flying for fun!! They are drunk with the power of the full moon! The griebes, the dowitchers, the marsh wrens, the swallows are all drunk. The twilight comes, and the sleep drunk beavers reluctantly leave their lodges and glide through the lilies. There is but One here in this paradise. The BELOVED is showing herself in all the myriad forms of life, flowers, bees, birds, ducks, geese, kingfishers, so elegant they bring tears to my eyes and take my breath away. The baby ducklings I observed as hatchlings in the Spring have survived the eagles and crows and now swim with their mothers as beautiful young Mallards. Tiels, now unmated, swim in elegance among the wood ducks, and just when my heart can take no more, the Beloved shows me a tree in the distance and the most prized of sights in the marsh, the Blue Heron has come to show himself in elegance, splendor and beauty which takes the breath away and breaks my silence with tongues of angels coming out of my mouth, joining the sounds of the marsh. I AM THE BELOVED. I am not particular. I am part of this marsh and it a part of me. The twilight comes and empties its peace into the magic already on display. Peace and grandeur now mate in this place of wonder which is my heart as well. Tears cannot be stopped now, nor my tongues of angels. Fish come to the surface just to see me and I greet them with peace. The ducks and geese know me by heart, sight, and smell, for I am part of them. Oh, the Beloved, the Beloved, Thou who manifests all things for my heart. I and Thou are One and Oneness is all that inhabits this holy place. Consciousness is but a silly thing. This wondrous Oneness flows, uninhibited by consciousness. The flow is all there is, shaped as ducks, birds, flowers and me; there is nothing but the flow and this flow knows only a love that is so deep and impersonal that it obeys the moon and my heart. What need is there for words when there is the One, the Beloved. And in the top branch of the tallest true tree, the crowning joy and wonder of the marsh itself, the Blue Heron. Time has stopped but my heart is full and overflowing. In this place I am not a body. I am the Beloved. Wondrous Beauty and Timelessness have mated to form ME. I am the Beloved. I wait in this wonder until twilight has passed and the sun has set. Life is still full in the marsh. Ducks who would normally be in their beds, their bills tucked under their wings are still at play, scuffling with one another in a virtual frenzy of love’s presence. This is That!!! Love’s Presence has manifested as a marsh and as me. In the distance, an eagle flies across the lake to her nest in a far tree; a coyote sings its dour song and I know time has come for me to reluctantly leave this paradise for the night. Black Bears will be coming out soon, along with the minks and muskrats. The Beloved is such a shape shifter but Love is her only name and Oneness her garment. I have stilled the mind through tears of love for the Beloved, seen her naked in the twilight, her beautiful form more lovely than any woman I have known. No breasts are this lovely. No thighs this shapely; no legs this elegant. No thought of union this deep has entered the carnal mind. The Beloved and I are One and I am changed for it. The darkness has to pull me away from the marsh. I do not want to leave. How can I leave? How can I leave? I have seen through the Veil. I have seen that which we all seek for! I am that which we all wish to be! I am no longer a man, but the Beloved who gifts me with manhood and shows me my greatness in a beauty which cannot be spoken for it has no name. In tears I unlock the car door and so reluctantly become particular again. But it is all a ruse. I sit in top of a tree in the form of a Blue Heron. I pluck bits of grain as a long billed dowitcher, I nibble on lilies as a moon-struck beaver. I AM THAT I AM and there is nothing else. I AM THAT I AM. There is nothing else. There is nothing else. There is nothing else. My dear Ones, together with me in the Beloved, there is nothing else…but the FULL MOON in all its Glory!

 Full Moon

La Bella Luna Piena

This beautiful full moon tonight was wonderfully special. It gives such serene energy, mellow, and rich with gratitude. Use the energy to forgive someone today.

I went to my beautiful marsh, Burnaby Lake. The summer garden by the Nature House is now almost gone, but traces of its beauty still remain. I visited with the flowers, told them how much I loved them and what a wonderful job they had done this year. I petted the flowers and told them they were still lovely as I took their pictures. And then, I was overcome with tears by a visit from my old friends there in that holy place. My immensity returned to me and with it my stillness. These beloved gifts I gave to myself there in the presence of that autumnal garden. I thanked the Honeysuckle vines and kissed them. I plucked the last blackberries and thanked them for their sweet taste, and then I headed for the lake to see my ducks, geese, and waterfowl friends. Right away it was obvious that the ducks and geese reflected the serene energy of the moon. They were not frenetic in flight the way that had been in the summer full moons. They were all gently a chatter but not terribly interested in flying anywhere. People had come in droves to the waterfowl sanctuary for some reason unknown to most. They fed the ducks and scurried back home. The night air cooled to a Canadian chill before the grand arrival of La Bella Luna. First we were treated to a spectacular sunset with purple, orange and yellow colors reflecting off the cloud and pouring out its light on to the lake. Then finally the full moon rose and her sweet energy filled the marsh. She arose late tonight and towards her winter tilt, but there she was, In all her glory, looking slightly pink within the clouds. I just thanked the ducks, geese and waterfowl for their beauty and love. I thanked the marsh for another year of experience with her. I am that marsh. Those ducks are a part of me and I of them. That lake is my blood and I am its life. We are joined together in a song and dance of remembrance that makes Heaven blush. Shameless love fills my place and I am at peace. My heart has forgiven every one. I have forgiven the world. And now Heaven’s splendor radiates so strongly from every blade of grass, every blackberry vine, every flower in the garden, every duck and goose, every lily pad. The world that I had once made out of fear is gone with the past. The world I see now is a part of me and I of it and all a part of God. In the splendor of the grass do I walk, as each duck, bird, squirrel, beaver and muskrat. I am the great Blue Heron. I am the fishes he feeds on. I am the beaver in his den and the children he cares for. I AM THE FULL MOON AND THE UNIVERSE OF WHICH IT IS A PART. It is all me, not “Joe Shore.” He is just a body and a character I am playing. I thank “Joe” for his good work and at last I “love” him, but he is not ME. I am the radiance of the sun. I am the clouds that cover it. I am the mist that rises above the marsh. I AM THE FULL MOON THAT RISES OVER IT. I AM THAT I AM, not as a person, not as an Ego. I AM the immensity. I am the PLEROMA. I am the love that tells the flowers to spring up and the rain that nourishes them. I am the force that connects all things in spectacular quantum entanglement. I am the tears that run down my face now. I am the love that brought forth my companion, Blanche, who sits with me now in contentment. I AM THAT I AM and I am not alone for you are with me, and you and you and you and you and you who were my enemies, you who hurt for me, you who hated me as well as you who love me. You are here and we are One. This is the beautiful energy of this full Moon. La luna piena! Come bella sei tu. The gifts of Heaven you bring to those with eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts that yearn to be opened.

This immensity that I know now so intimately cannot be harmed. It cannot be diminished. It cannot fade. It will turn now into the winter of sleep. I will tell the flowers to sleep and the trees to shed their leaves. I will tell the berries they may safely go back into the cold earth and rest for a season. And I will tell my beautiful ducks to tuck their beaks under their wings and wait. I will come again and raise them to a new Spring and new hatchlings. In the meantime, this body that calls itself “Joe Shore” will visit them in the cold of winter and bring much needed seeds to them. I will tell them stories of the coming Spring and the love they will again feel for one another as mates are chosen, eggs laid, and ducklings hatch. This beauty will stay at Burnaby Lake until all the universe has awakened and returned to the Pleroma of God from which it came. I will never leave Burnaby Lake. We will ascend together…in the light of the glorious full moon. La Bella Luna Piena. This is as holy a writ as you will ever read and it is only fitting that, just for now, I say….
AMEN

 

 bench into eternity

On these shores, my mind now slips so happily and easily into the upper dimensions. The Lake has partnered with me in awakening for it has joined with me as a brother. The Lake and I are One, for the Lake is a manifestation of the Beloved. Love’s Presence fills my mind at the thought of her and to be with her is joy. Each leaf, each flower, each branch, every little stream that goes into her, all assist my mind. The Beloved  and I are One. We will go together into the higher dimensions, carrying our ducks and geese with us. My mind stills here and an ancient song fills my heart. I know no evil here, nor any little thought of conquest. Spirit has positioned me perfectly here and given me what I need to awaken. I will shake loose the skin of my little self and sluff off its housing. I am as God created me, spirit, not form. And now I am ready to journey cosmically into higher Spirit. I have others to join with, and the song of love comes with me to share with new brothers and sisters in higher places.

What an enormous and wonderful new frontier. What a good day to sail!!!

 

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies. The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

The Message…..I went to Burnaby Lake tonight around sunset to get a feeling for the big night tomorrow….the full moon. Burnaby Lake has been my teacher for these many years and I have accepted my position as a learner. I always come expecting to get a message. Part of the way ACIM has changed my life is in my relationship with nature. I literally feel no distance between myself and nature. I “know” and feel all the flowers, animals, birds, ducks, geese to be my “brothers.” They are a part of the radiance of God along with me and my human brothers and I love them. There is some form of quantum communication we share. I know the flowers put on their best when I come to see them and the Honeysuckle smells sweet just for me. The bees linger longer around the flowers when they know I am watching them. The ducks and geese always put on a show for me. The lilies are more beautiful when I am there. The beavers flap their tails louder and the fish jump higher. We are one family and we love each other. Sometimes a deeper quantum happening takes place and I experience the Beloved in all things, including in me. At such times, all things remember their divinity and we are One. So tonight I listened for the message, thinking I could get a sense of what the full moon tomorrow will bring! I listened hard. I listened for the music nature sings to me. But there was silence. Then a flower spoke to me and I was overwhelmed in wholiness. Tears came down my face as the Blue Heron placidly swooped down from the trees and began to fish for his supper. He is my most prized sight in the marsh and I know he came out for me. My love for him was sent on quantum wings and he manifested. This marsh is a part of me, and I it. Here I am not Joe Shore. I am the Heron and the birds, the flowers and the bees. I am the fish that swim and the beavers that dance, and I am Whole. The Beloved and I are One. Maybe it won’t seem strange then that at this point I saw the ducks and geese placidly floating on the water, without thought or burden. And then it came into my old Hippie mind that they were “stoned.” They were absolutely “stoned” on the energy that was making its way into the marsh. They were “hammered.” A smirk and a smile came to my face, and I thought to ourself, “It’s going to be THIS kind of full moon, is it?” Bring it on. Bring out the Jethro Tull records and Led Zeppelin albums, and a little Joe Cocker too!! Bring out that Hookah!! We are going to watch the walls melt! What a message tonight and what a night tomorrow will bring!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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The Angel of Peace lives here on these pages. Her name is Oneness! She knows my illusions and would gently lead me out of them to the Truth. “She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies…” And on her face all nature shines and points upwards to a love that is not of this world. In the trees the gentle breeze bespeaks her presence. Every bird and beast cries her name. She is The Beloved and I am found within her embrace. Speak to me no more of worldly things, of ambition wrought in the extreme, of the frightful ways of men. I would hear only Her voice and forget the world that knows only fear. Heaven’s ways would flood me and remembrance rush over me. In humble thanks I would be ready to give up little Joe Shore and go back into Oneness. She has captured my heart and gladly do I surrender it. What needs can there be in me when Her Peace is perfect? This I must remember. This Truth must stay and not leave to be rediscovered another day. Stay with me beautiful Angel. I would know Thee and drink deeply from your fountains. Love’s Presence is as sweet as clear water. I have no thirst.

 

The Love of God has come to me in fullness tonight. Tears fall down my face for the Presence he has brought to me. I love more tonight that I ever loved. I am in His Presence. I feel the presence of Jesus and the saints, the holy angels and the heavenly lights; I am just a short, tiny distance from my Father. And I am not alone, for you are there with me, and you and you, and you there, and you who are reading my posts for the first time. You are all here and we are all One in the infinite Love of God. The body can do nothing but weep but my spirit soars and I know I am the radiance of God. I have but one mission left me and that is to touch the world. Raise up my brothers and sisters. The Light has come. Raise up my beloved sisters, the Love of God has come to wipe away all illusions and lift you from them and take us all Home. Awaken sleeping children of God. Your Father has opened Heaven’s Gate and the angels sing songs in praise of our holiness, for we share it with the Father and never more shall we journey in childish dreams or suffer fears conjured by impossible thoughts. Tonight and forever, the sonship/the daughtership  awakens and returns to the Father/Mother.. Grateful is He that His Child has finally awakened from His long nightmare and bestowed on Heaven His greatest gift, His Love for His Father. The Lights in Heaven grow ever brighter tonight in celebration for an event told before eternity to last into infinity. What more can the Father do but run to His waking Son/Daughter, and with arms outstretched, vouch before all of Heaven that this my Son/Daughter thought s/he was dead, and is alive again. S/he thought He was lost, but S/he is found. “My Son, My Daughter, radiance of my Light, Joy of My Love, you, my Right arm and Left, You, Heaven’s Prince(ess), are Home and ever shall be so. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

Burnaby Lake has been a part of my contemplative life for over two decades now. She and her feathery, finny, furry, wildlife have been my friends a long time. In fact, my last wishes are to have my ashes scattered over Burnaby Lake. It seems only fitting. I go there to experience my soul. As soon as I park and start walking down the path I feel Oneness embracing me. My soul speaks to me in the garden where bees and worms, butterflies and slugs greet me. My inner mind-chatter slows and then stops. I am left with tears of gratefulness for remembrance of who I am. My soul sings to me in the breeze that shuffles the tree tops, in the fragrance of the honeysuckle. My soul speaks to me in the gentle current of the creek as it runs into Burnaby Lake. I know I am not a body. Or rather, the world is my body.

Today is the March full moon and I had to go to Burnaby Lake to worship the Beloved. She showed herself so well in the twilight and the dawn of the moon. I went to see my duck friends to fulfill my promise I had made to them in the dead of winter. As they sat huddled together in the cold, their beaks tucked under their wings, I promised them I would return in Spring, that new life would come to them and they would think again of mating and making baby ducks. And so as I came to them tonight I could see that they had paired up, mallard to mallard, wood duck to wood duck, redwing blackbird to redwing blackbird. The geese also were busy preparing nests for goslings to come soon. As the Beloved showed herself at twilight, the ducks flew in pairs and formation in a glory of ecstatic flight. They flew in glorious circles for a radius of a half mile and then landed back where they had started in the waterfowl sanctuary. The ducks began a quacking rhythm, some quacking on the beat and some in syncopation. And then the most wonderful thing: frogs began to peep! Frogs and turtles have been disappearing from BC at an alarming rate as a sure sign of danger in the ecosystem. These are the first frogs I have heard in Burnaby Lake for several years.

There is such a peace in this full moon. Even the ducks, who in other full moons have become drunk and riotous tonight were more stately and calm in their happiness. I think that I shall never see anything as beautiful as a Mallard or a wood duck in flight. The bell-beat of their wings above my head cannot be described for the peace that it brought to me. Still, I worship the Truth of the Real World that I see in nature. She brings me to remembrance of the grandeur and eloquence of the Beloved who she reflects. God is in all things I see because God is in me♥ After an hour there in such peace I feel the Truth of who I am. I am not a body. I am Burnaby Lake. I am the ducks and geese that live there, the fish that swim there, the birds that fly in the trees, the blue Heron that fishes at dawn, the beavers, ever faithful, who build their dams. I am the redwing blackbirds who parade before us with their winsome cry and the flash of their beautiful red wings. I am the earthworms who trundle through the soil in the garden and the busy bees who fly from flower to flower, ever busy with the knowledge only humans call “the birds and the bees.” There is such gentle, stately passion on display tonight as this March full moon ushers in an early Spring for BC, a gift all too uncommon for us to receive. How often we have waited until July for Spring here in this Northern country. Tonight, as I worshiped with the ducks and critters at the lake, there were times when thought stopped and stillness offered itself to me as the mate I have always desired. She who would be ever faithful and all loving is in that silence and her name is The Beloved. Call her name in Sanskrit, in Farsi,in Hebrew, in the tongues of men and of angels, she will answer. After two hours at the Lake I am now immersed in the eternal Love of The Beloved. I belong here. I belong in this experience. I will never leave Burnaby Lake. The Beloved and I are One…and we are One with you dear readers. Selah♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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I went to my holy place this night of the full moon. It is cold and rainy here but even through the discomfort I sensed the presence of The Beloved, the reflection of heaven. This full moon the ducks and geese, griebs, and wood ducks did not seem cold. They were in a frenzy of activity, little whirling dervishes of full moon energy. The garden is fast asleep but I paid it a little visit. I know I belong here. The wind that whistles through the trees is my breath. The beautiful waterfowl are me with feathers, and I them. As I walk and adore them, I do it as them. The lake itself is cold and austere but it is just another disguise The Beloved takes, as though going to a costume party. Soon spring will be here and ducklings will appear from the reeds trailing behind momma in single file. The Lake will warm and flowers begin to bud. Humming birds will reappear and geese fattened down in Atlanta will return to their true home. These spring full moons will be wild with wonderful play and energy. The Beloved will show off her beautiful body, and I will know stillness again. My immensity will return to me as I feel myself in truth and I will know that I am not a body! Come Beloved, my angel. Come to the heart that longs to know you deeply and drink fully of your fountains, to feel the soft caress of your beautiful breasts, and touch those long legs. I would lift you into me and become One together. Thou art The Beloved and the desire of my heart. I see you here even in winter. You cannot hide from me. I know your heart. We are already One from a coupling in eternity before tiny mad ideas made the world. When time is done and lessons won, our coupling will know no end.♥♥♥♥♥
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My beautiful friend, Burnaby Lake, is sleeping now. Some of the ducks have decided to winter over. Most of the geese have flown to Atlanta or some such city. The beautiful garden in front of piper spit is now all asleep, dreaming of a spring yet to come. Much as I do, the lake endures the winter and looks forward to spring. I whispered into the ducks’ ears, “Spring will come again and love will fill you with thoughts of ducklings and happiness. You will lead your ducklings through warm water again with pride and gratefulness.” They did not need my reminder. I needed it. Through season after season Burnaby Lake has been my teacher on the path to enlightenment. No priest or preacher, no monk nor scholar could serve me so well. On the banks of this waterfowl sanctuary I have glimpsed eternity, felt the immensity of my true Self, and truly discovered my Oneness with all things. The ducks are a part of me and I of them, and the lake is the expression of all things. The experience of our Oneness I have termed “The Beloved” in many of my earlier postings. “The Beloved” is the Tao, the watercourse way, and it is the Divine. It is the One Son of God that ACIM speaks of. It is the radiance of God! Now it sleeps in winter even as Divine awareness sleeps in many of my brothers. But it will awaken in the spring as surely as divinity will awaken in all things. I am enrapped with wonder and blessing. No winter chill can make my memory fade of The Beloved’s embrace. I know her. I remember her when she dripped of moonlight. Her smile entranced the sun, and the rain ran through her hair to the world’s deepest valleys. She held all nature as a luminous presence and blessed it with a Song. In her presence I believed nothing, but knew all things, touched all things afresh, as fresh as a Holy Instant. Of newness her brow was formed; of peace, her face, of sensuousness her long legs; and wisdom followed her footsteps as she sang her Song. I know her. She is The Beloved and in her embrace I am an enlightened being. Neither time nor season can change Her. She changes not but abides in all things that change. She is my Beloved and we are One.
 
Fall has come to Burnaby Lake. The last hints of beauty of the summer garden are fast fading. The blackberries have mostly been consumed by birds, squirrels, and me. Leaves have fallen and now rustle on the paths. The ducks have regained their plumage from their late summer molting and are prepared for the changes that will come. Such a different marsh from the summer full moon which had the lake in a frenzy. Now the ducks sit perched on logs together, as if calmly awaiting instructions. The lake too has changed. The lilies are long gone and the lily pads look worn. But peace is still here. The immensity of which I am a part is still here. Timelessness is still here, with the Blue Heron and the Belted King Fisher. The Beloved is still here. I see her all the more she tries to hide, and I love her so. Every inch of the marsh now seems to be whispering some unspoken truth. The rustling of the leaves and the twilight chill bring me a sadness which I must examine. The ducks are not sad. The trees have begun to paint their autumn beauty. The woodland paths that surround the lake see few joggers now and painted leaves are everywhere. . But the Earth is soothing. Her fallen leaves paint the ground and delight the child in me. Her chilly nights speak of relief from the hot summer. Burnaby Lake will be caretaker to its peace as the Fall and Winter come. I will return here in cold days when the ducks are huddled together for warmth and they will share their peace with me as we wait….for another Spring. — at Burnaby Lake.
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Angels are active symbols of God’s Love. An active symbol participates in the reality it symbolizes. As such, angels are active within the mind of the sonship. They work with our mind to unlearn illusions and remember the Love that we are in truth. If you put form to an angel, feathers, wings, or whatever, that form is just as illusory as any other byte of sensory data in this dream universe. I have just today been brought into contact with the primary angel whose message I have been channeling on facebook for the last two years. She is an angel of Peace and she worked very hard in Fatima. I have felt and known her in my love of nature and particularly in my love of Burnaby Lake. She IS “The Beloved” that I have felt so strongly there and written about here with passion. I am so blessed by Her and so grateful that she has graced me with Her Presence and her Truth. When I have talked about Love’s Presence, it is HER presence I have felt. And yet she points to God’s Love as the only reality. She has no personal reality of her own. There is no competition nor individuality among angels. If you give them different forms in your mind, you are creating distinctions that are not real. Making angelology real is as false as any other illusion. Her message has taken over my life. Only God’s Love is real and it has no opposite. It is all encompassing. Therefore there is no place outside of the Whole. There is no observer. There is no consciousness in Truth. Consciousness is the dream of separation, that we could somehow be different from our Father. The Beloved comes to me with that Truth as I am in nature. I do not see the ducks and geese as separate entities. I see them as part of my larger Self, along with the Lake and the moonlight that shines on it. It is The Beloved that I see in everything and when I see Her, I know Her and feel only Love. That is why God does not and cannot know about this dream world we are in. Were He to know about it, it would become real, and that it never can be. God knows that His Son is dreaming but He cannot know the dream, for it is unreal. But His angels are taught by the Holy Spirit and see our illusions a little while so they might lead us out of them. They work with the principle of Atonement and thus are under Jesus, the Head of the Atonement. Atonement is not “at-one-ment” as is often said. It is the “undoing” of illusions, the awareness of Love’s Presence by the removal of obstacles we have miscreated in our fear. Today I am thankful that THE BELOVED has made herself known to me so grandly and lovingly. Thank you my Beloved Angel. Thank you Father. Your son remembers a little more of you today and in the distance I can almost see Home. Selah!!
 
The Beloved comes to me now in waves. She is All there is. She is the One behind Shakti. The Beloved is Love and the Whole. She is Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Godhead and beyond. The Beloved is the Whole and She is One-ness in flow. She is the smile behind the sunyata, and the Love that never fails. Catch her you cannot, but she comes in manifestations and reveals herself to me. My heart is full. Who could observe the Beloved? She is the Whole, outside of which there is nothing. Could a part of her break off and observe the Whole? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. This is a silly idea. No thing, no particle, can observe the Whole outside of which there is nothing! It could only happen in a dream where silliness appears to abide. The Beloved in Her truth as the Whole is not conscious. Consciousness is the phantom experience of the “observer.” Where there is no observer there is no consciousness. In eternity does the Beloved flow as Love which is not conscious of itself. There is nothing to impede the flow. But parts of the Beloved dream dreams of particularity, of observation. In their dreams they believe they are galaxies, planets, animals, and you and me! Deep, deep down in our dreaming self we remember The Beloved. She comes to us in all things: water lilies, fish, ducks, beavers, you and me, and undresses our eyes. “See me in this,” she says with a power far greater than any seduction can know. I am Love in the Presence of The Beloved. Her hair is the wind. Her face is the dawn. Her breasts are beyond compare, softer than the clouds, as moist as the dew. Her face is as peaceful as the twilight and as beautiful as geese in flight. The Beloved drips of moonlight. Her smile entrances the sun, and the rain runs through her hair to the world’s deepest valleys. She stands above the earth as a luminous presence and blesses it with her Song. In her presence I believe nothing, but know all things, touch all things afresh, as fresh as a dew drop that poises itself in eternity just so that we might join in its experience together. Of newness her brow is formed; of peace, her face, of deep sensuousness her long legs; and wisdom follows her footsteps as she sings her Song. I know her. I caress her. I run my fingers through her hair and kiss her soft lips. I feel her breasts gently and caress them with sweet kisses. I feel her long legs and my mouth deeply kisses them. She has never left my mind for we are One. We watch the rain together as it showers a pond. In the distance, Coyotes sing their songs and Owls make comment. In this flow are all things perfect and meaning is unfettered by form. Love has remembered itself and taken up residence in our midst. The Beloved and I are One and I remember. I remember and I will never forget again. I will let go this little dream of particularity. Why would I want to be a body when I can be One with The Beloved? I will go back into her where I belong and have never in fact left. The dream has vanished and we are One.
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This is sort of what happened. Before all beginning there was Oneness, flowing with Love. There was no such thing as consciousness because there was no observer. The Oneness was/is the all encompassing whole. Nothing could be outside it to observe it. The Oneness flowed impersonally and unconsciously. It was like a Song, unaware of itself as a song, singing only Love’s Presence. Through a universe of spirit it flowed, and this song is the Beloved! In the depths of antiquity something seemed to happen which is impossible. One tiny part of the Beloved had a tiny, mad idea, that it could separate from the Whole and observe it. Since this would be impossible, the thought itself should have been laughed at. But the tiny part did not laugh and so, taking the idea seriously, it fell into a little dream, in which it believed it had broken off from the Whole and could now observe it from the outside. It is a ridiculous thought that any part of the all-encompassing Whole could stand outside and observe it! There is nothing outside of the Whole!! But the tiny part, with its tiny mad idea, dreamed that it had done so and become an observer. This dream of being the observer of the Whole is….(wait for it)…CONSCIOUSNESS!!!! Consciousness never existed in the Whole because there was no observer and in eternal fact there could never be an observer because the Whole is all-encompassing!!!! THE BELOVED IS ALL THERE IS IN REALITY! Now this little dreaming part thinks it is independent and observing the Whole. It is a dream. Two thoughts come to the tiny part . One thought says to him, “This is only a dream. There is nothing outside of the Beloved. You have done nothing but fall into a dream. Wake up!” The other thought that comes to the tiny part is “You have really done it this time. You have separated from The Beloved. You have hurt eternity! You have made the Whole less! Do you think you are going to get away with this? The Whole that you have separated from is not ‘The Beloved,’ as you think! It is an angry god who is going to punish you for separating from him.” For some reason–we will never know why–the tiny part believed this thought! Therefore  she believed herself to be bad, guilty, and terrified. This state of consciousness we now call the “ego.” The ego which began as the illusion of an “observer” outside of the Whole (an impossibility) has now made her dream a nightmare. Using her dreamy powers she projects herself into an imaginary universe (BIG BANG) to hide from this avenging god she fears. As she enters this imaginary universe she splits into zillions and zillions of pieces: light, matter, planets, stars, star dust, life-forms, human bodies. They are all a part of the one little observer who believes herself to be bad, guilty and afraid! You and I are parts of that little observer. We are CONSCIOUS observers and we all secretly feel sinful, guilty and fearful for reasons we cannot remember! Some of us say, “Let us grow in our consciousness.” It sounds good because we have forgotten our true state of being in the Whole in the universe of spirit. But in truth consciousness itself  is the dream, the illusion that any part could separate from an all-encompassing whole!! Consciousness itself is the illusion, the dream!!!!! You must get that or we can go nowhere!! How do we un-do the dream? How do we awaken back into our state of being in Oneness with The Beloved? First, we start simply by forgiving each other in this dream state. Nothing real is happening here. Forgive your brother or sister and feel them as part of you, for they are. All the splintered pieces are the same and each contains a memory buried deep of our true home in The Beloved. As we forgive, a little bit of remembrance comes to us. A little light comes into the dream. As it does we also become more loving. LOVE WILL AWAKEN US FROM THE DREAM!!♥♥♥♥ Now when the ego projected himself into this physical fake universe, there was a little bit of remembrance of the truth of the Beloved in her mind, and so this physical universe contains reflections of the true universe which is our Home. As we forgive and Love, we begin to see through the physical world and recognize the reflections of our true Home. We begin to awaken from the dream!! More and more remembrance comes to us. The memory of The Beloved is still in our split-off minds. This memory will gather together all the pieces until they all remember and awaken from the dream. The truth has never changed. The Beloved is still in eternity, extending Love through its spiritual universe. We are all still in the Whole. Nothing has changed. It was all just a silly dream!! Consciousness was a silly dream. Within all-encompassing reality the One Song still sings, unaware of itself as a song, singing only Love.

The Song that seems to be forgotten is not.
Its melody stays there, firm, beautiful,
structured as it was.
What could you do to change it?
And so it haunts you, coming back in little wisps
of memory, phrase by phrase, asking for its whole.
And you would remember.
Remember, and let a little of the Song
come back to you and through you.

In eternity where all is One,
A song was singing,
Unaware of itself as a song,
but aware of its content of love.
The song filled all that was or ever could be.
There was no place the song was not,
Nor was there any place which did not welcome it.
There was no place.
There was only the Song.
A note of the song heard itself
and thought of a descant to the melody
The descant became aware of itself
and wanted to listen to the Song.
The descant experienced the love in the Song it heard.
It filled itself with desire to hear.
More notes of the Song joined the descant as observers
And heard harmony to the Song.
Soon the Song was sung in harmony with many voices.
The descant said,
“Let us make form so that the Song can be remembered.”
Until this time there had been no difficulty in remembering the Song.
But other notes joined in the descant’s fear that the Song might be forgotten.
And fear began to remember the Song differently.
Soon the Song became embroidered with quick tempo changes, harmonic shifts,
Key changes, with such quantum rapidity that an ear was formed,
Then a brain, a mouth, a larynx, a body
And the Song forgot itself
But it could now hear.
It employed the body to search for the Song.
But no search satisfied it.

Soon the body forgot its purpose.
The Song which was fabric of its bones
Lay at rest in its tissues.
Having no purpose, the body began to think.
The Song which was only Love lay buried,
And the body thought of fear.
Fearful bodies created other fearful bodies
Each with a tiny memory of the Song
As a hologram within each cell.
There came a day when one body listened closely.
It heard first a tiny wisp of the Song,
Then a phrase, and then the whole Song.
It felt the Song in its bones and muscles,
Its brain and tissues,
And knew that it was the Song.
It told other bodies.
One by One they listened deep within and heard.
But the Song was complicated now,
Full of rapid key changes, tempo shifts, orchestral embroideries
The Song moved at quantum speed.
Bodies could not slow it down.
So they began to sing their own songs,
Some fearful but others prescient.
Great singers came into bodies and sang great songs.
Bodies began to remember more of the One Song.
It happened one day very quickly as a singer sang his song.
He listened deeply as he sang and observed his song closely.
He listened to his breath. He observed the tone until he saw his sound.
As his sound progressed he followed it,
First to his ear,
Then to his brain,
Then to his world.
He followed his sound to no place,
And there the One Song was singing,
Not complicated, not embroidered.
The slow, smooth melody began to unwind the fabric of his bones,
The sinews of his body,
For they were made of nothing but the melody made complicated.
As the body unwound there was no fear.
The slow, smooth Song spoke only of a Love that could not be different.
As complicated key and tempo changes resolved into the One Song,
Notes that had been trapped in the body rejoined the melody.
Note by note they flew from the body back into the Song.
As the last note approached the Song,
It tarried just a little as an observer.
Do I need to observe? It asked itself.
And as soon as it asked the question
It chose to rejoin the Song.

Singers, listen deep within,
And hear the Song that makes you sing.
Follow it and let it change you.
The Song that seems to be forgotten is not.
Its melody stays there, firm, beautiful,
structured as it was.
What could you do to change it?
And so it haunts you, coming back in little wisps
of memory, phrase by phrase, asking for its whole.
And you would remember.
Remember, and let the whole Song
Find itself in you.
In quiet eternity does the One Song sing,
Unaware of itself as a Song, singing only Love.

 
You are the Beloved. I do not complete you and you do not complete me. We are complete within ourselves and we are One Self. And so the two have found themselves as One and in this discovery Love is remembered. Love is present within our midst, giving us both our identity. But you are still the Beloved. You call to me from regions I have not explored and urge my footsteps on. Up just a little higher I see you over the stars calling to me. The breath of the stars knows your name in innocent remembrance. The Cosmos dances to your step. Planets smile at you as you brush their paths. You must know that you have been in my mind for all eternity. I am almost there. I see you, arms outstretched to the moon, a child of the stars..and my heart. “Come to me.” Angels blush at the site of our union. At last I remember you!! ♥♥

You have not changed.
As wisdom-bearer in Brahman’s House, who could change you?
As natural as the flow of the Tao, who could change you?
As the silence on the Buddha’s lips, who could change you?
In this space I have come to stillness
And in this stillness I have found you as perfect.
In perfection does my mind hold the moment and share it with you.
In this space where stillness shines there is relief from time
and freedom to remember the vast ages of our knowing.
Lifetimes upon lifetimes present themselves in parade of gallant splendor
for at last we remember.
Millions of years come to us in memory of who we are and the Love that grew within us.
We have not changed.
My alchemy shows its art.
In this space I have summoned stillness and I remember.

 
It is a good day!
I have pierced the veil of Brahma.
It is a good day.
I have touched the All and felt silence caress my lips.
It is a good day.
I have looked into chaos and pain,
Confusion and discord,
And I have seen you there,
Fresh as the dew on creation,
Innocent and whole.
It is a good day.
Peace has come to greet Love.
Who could deny them their union
Or freeze the genial currents of the soul so aroused?
 
A cabin sits on the shores of a small lake, surrounded by evergreen trees. There is a fire in the fireplace. A thunderstorm is brewing. Rain comes through the trees refreshing the forest, pelting the lake with its droplets. Yet stillness reigns in me as I share such heaven with one I love. This one is a girl I knew who dripped of moonlight. Her smile entranced the sun, and the rain ran through her hair to the world’s deepest valleys. She stood above the earth as a luminous presence and blessed it with a Song. In her presence I believed nothing, but knew all things, touched all things afresh, as fresh as a dew drop that poised itself in eternity just so that we might join in its experience together. Of newness her brow was formed; of peace, her face, of sensuousness her long legs; and wisdom followed her footsteps as she sang her Song. I know her. I will not tell you her name. She has never left my mind for we are One. We watch the rain together as it showers the pond. In the distance, Coyotes sing their songs and Owls make comment. In this flow are all things perfect and meaning is unfettered by form. Love has remembered itself and taken up residence in our midst. The rain dies down. The pond becomes peaceful again. Not a ripple is left. We watch the glowing embers die in the fireplace. Peace, Peace, Peace and Love is Present. Love has found one home in two hearts and the two hearts have become one.
The Cabin still sits there on the shores of that small lake waiting for our return and Love is still Present.
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Back to Burnaby Lake

I went to Burnaby Lake today after teaching. I wanted to check out the coming of spring to this beautiful marsh which has given me so much over the years. Nature was out. The ducks and geese have had their babies. Redwing Blackbirds gave their distinctive cry while marsh wrens, swallows, chickadees joined in. The wood ducks are some of the most beautiful of God’s creatures. I observe them closely and the chitter chatter of my mind dies down. I welcome the space and grace of nature.

Tara Singh was our beloved teacher of ACIM. In his lecture “How to raise a child of God,” He said. “Nature can come to a stillness that is so alive that it would awaken you to a reality, to potentials you never knew before.” But we shy away from that stillness, that silence. Who is going to give the child the gift of silence.? Where do you think love is born? It is born in the stillness of silence.”
It doesn’t take long to observe the beauty of the ducks and geese to experience the wonder of nature and the presence of God in the stillness that nature would give to those who have the eyes to see, the heart to feel. It does not take long to come to the place where you easily see the ducks and geese and everything in nature as part of One Divine Mind along with you. You are not now the observer. You have moved beyond that. Now you have come home where you belong, home to the heart of God because you have reverenced your brother and sister ducks and geese and seen them as part of YOU, not the little social you of course, but your True Identity in mind and spirit. And nature has given you the gift you so thought you had lost, Peace and the wisdom found in stillness. The ten thousand things of the Tao all flow in Truth. They need no purpose, no motivation. And in this flow, you find your Peace which you thought you had lost. How could you lose part of your own essence? “Nothing real can be threatened?” Have you actualized that into your life? If you have, and most of us haven’t but we are working on it, then you could never be afraid again, nor could you imagine yourself as anything but what you ARE, part of the BELOVED, the spiritual creation of God. So when we find peace we keep it by sharing it with others and tonight I did this. There in this beautiful bird and water fowl sanctuary there are people who go to the far side of the dock to fish for carp. I had always judged them as invaders. What kind of person would invade a sanctuary just so he can catch a Carp that he is just going to throw away? And tonight there were two fishermen invading my space. But the Peace spoke to me and said, “Go join with them. See what peace would teach your judgment.” So I walked up to them in the spirit of peace and got to know them. Before long I had given my peace to them and had lost all judgment. “We are very careful not to hurt the ducks,” they explained. “That would be a terrible thing.” Peace makes its way to us from all the precious helpers heaven sends.
It is so hard to leave the marsh. Often I think, “Why can I not just live here, in the bushes and trees?” Why must I go back to the craziness of the city? And the answer is that there is more peace to share with my insane brothers asleep so deeply they do not know who they are. Not one of the divine facts that are in God’s universe of Spirit is known by the insane mind. Can you imagine that? It would be sort of like being born as a human but thinking with all dead seriousness that you are a chicken! We don’t know heaven’s truth of who we are, and that is all there is to know. But there is truth to be found in stillness, in the holy instant of “now.” Nature knows such peace it can give you stillness.

Joe at Johns-2

A Change

A change has come over me as I have prepared this whole year to re-visit John of God. I live now in the presence of God. I still walk through this world but I sense only God’s Presence. I had a vision a few months ago in which I found myself at the top of all dimensions, in a space that was not a space, and I was right next to the Ocean of God. The only thing that separated me was the thinnest film, no thicker than a soap bubble. I knew that I could walk through it and into that ocean any time I wanted to. That thin soap bubble represents the tiny little illusion that we have made with the tiny mad idea that we could break off from God and observe the Whole. It was an absurd idea. It has not changed God one bit, nor could this Ocean of Love ever be “angry” at us. There is nothing but eternal Love in that Ocean which is our true and only home. But our tiny mad idea has created this soap bubble of separation, which is an illusion as mad as the tiny mad idea itself. We are in that Ocean right now, you and I, and you, and you, and you over there, you the skeptic, and you the unbeliever, you the Catholic, you the Baptist, you the Hindu, Buddhist, you the Islamic, you who are angry and you who know something of Love. We are all there as one, not as EGO’s, thank God, or we would have to suffer evil and good for eternity, but as spirit, ONE Spirit.  ACIM calls this One Spirit, the Son of God.  Jesus is a part of that Son, but so are you and I and every sensory byte of information in this illusory universe. Let go of all your little hates today and just see the Love that is in all things. Stay up in the Love and sooner than you imagine, the universe will disappear and we will find ourselves in the Ocean of God. That Ocean is unconscious eternal Love and it is an Ocean which has no shore, nor an end. Don’t be afraid to give up the little conscious “you.” Every loving thought, every loving deed you have done, has been perfectly remembered in the Mind of God. None of your unloving thoughts and deeds have been remembered because they were all unreal. Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

Illusions of Duality and Old Jehovah (alias, Yahweh, Yahuah, Adonai, HaShem, El, Elohim et al)

As long as you believe in good and evil you will be caught in this dream world of duality. Here everything has an opposite and we create this world by opposites. In this dream world you appear to be a body, a bio-body bag of mostly water, separate from other bags similarly made, and most certainly separate from god, whoever that is! In this crazy dream we began to project images of a god who was like us. He was personal, also had a body bag similar to us and had emotions just like us.(Hey, if you want to debate that he had a body, He told Moses, “No man can see my face and live, but as I pass by you can see my back side.” “Back Side???” Sounds like a butt to me!) He liked some people and disliked others. He had a chosen people and was content to have no relationship with the rest of humanity, the ultimate dead-beat Dad. He threw temper tantrums, destroyed the world and then said, “Oops, I’m sorry I did that. I promise I won’t do that any more. Here’s a rainbow for you.” He approved of slavery. “It is perfectly OK to enslave some people. Just don’t enslave your neighbor. Go to a far off country and get your slaves.” Hmmmm….far off country? You mean, like Africa? He was the first to use atomic bombs on his own people at Sodom and Gomorrah. Whatever they did there, do you think that they deserved to be nuked….by an all loving, omnipotent, god??? This picture is all a HUMAN construct that comes from the human mind as it was developing 3,000 years ago. Today, to any thinking person, it is an embarrassment which shows that the Bible is telling the WRONG STORY. It is a part of the problem, not the solution. The Bible has no concept of an impersonal God, the Ground of All Being, which is all-encompassing unconditional Love. The Bible is the book the EGO wrote to justify its world view of sin, guilt and fear, and create a dream world in which you are just a sinful sack of water on two legs. Time to wake up and grow up.
Python God

God did not Create this World

A Course in Miracles is the only Scripture among the world’s religions to tell you the explosive, hard, liberating truth. GOD DID NOT CREATE THIS WORLD. WE DID. Not we individually of course but we altogether as one mind. We miscreated this universe, this planet and this body as a place that God could enter not. We are hiding from God whom we fear out of guilt that we have left heaven and stolen from him! What do we fear we have stolen? US! We fear we have broken off from the ALL that is God and now stand outside him, observing. That, of course, could not ever happen. There is nothing real outside of the ALL. The very thought that we could break off and become independent is a DREAM. In this dream we have created universes and bodies to hide from God in a material world, where God could never find us…or so we thought. But the Holy Spirit came into the dream with us and is constantly whispering in our ear the truth of who we are. We are the Son of God, temporarily lost in a dream.

The Course is very aware and would make you aware that there is a God created spiritual universe and the material universe that WE made. God is spirit and his universe is spirit. God is Love, all encompassing Love, the Whole, which has no opposite. This Love is also Truth and Knowledge. Within this spiritual universe, God and His One Son (of which we are a part) create by extending themselves. God is a spirit and his creations are all spirit. God knows nothing of evil, of tragedy, of bad dreams. God knows nothing of “sin,” “guilt” or “fear.” God is not a part of this human universe. The only part of God that really comes into this human universe is the Love that comes into your heart when you begin to listen to the Holy Spirit, forgive your brothers, and learn your lessons the Holy Spirit would give you. You are not a body!! You are a spirit, and we are all the same spirit split off (in our dream state). We are the Son of God, the radiance of God. We created this world as a place to hide from God, but the Holy Spirit has changed it to a classroom where we can learn the lessons that will enable us to remember our true identity.

This dream world of duality is based on the beliefs in sin, guilt and fear. It does not know the Love of God and is therefore unreal!! Only Love is real. (“Amo, ergo sum.”) The events that happen in this dream world are not real. They are all nightmares of terror, which itself is a nightmare. We are so sure this world is real and the terror in it, and so we ask, at every tragedy, “Where was God?” God does not even know this dream world exists. Were he to be aware of it, it would make it real, which it never could be. God is aware his Son is dreaming, but he cannot know the dream.
THIS IS NOT GOD’S WORLD! HE DIDN’T CREATE IT! WE DID!!! Out of our nightmares of sin, guilt and fear we have created a world of duality which constantly generates tragedy. These tragedies are no more real than anything else in this world.
The Course and Buddhism have similar perspectives on being compassionate to all things and people in this world who are suffering. We come along side and do what Jesus would do. But we can do that precisely because we know that God is in control of reality, and everything that happens here is unreal, except for the Love you remember!

When you are tempted to go into despair over some tragedy in this dream world, express compassion for those suffering, and then say: “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT PLANE CRASH, SO IT IS NOT REAL.” “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT SHOOTING SO IT IS NOT REAL.” “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT WAR SO IT IS NOT REAL.” After a short while, you would come to a place of peace inside yourself where the Love that you are lives. Then you have something to give to the world, suffering illusions about itself. You have the Light of Love and so you are the Light of the World, and you have Peace. In the middle of every tragedy you can extend your Peace. THAT is true compassion, to lead your brother out of his illusions to the Peace of God.

Once an hour today, look around at all the tragedies in this dream world and say: “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT TRAGEDY SO IT IS NOT REAL. I LIVE IN A SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE WHICH KNOWS ONLY LOVE, TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE.”297498_10150396855086320_676206319_9966848_1785417421_n

The Message

The Message…..I went to Burnaby Lake tonight around sunset to get a feeling for the big night tomorrow….the full moon. Burnaby Lake has been my teacher for these many years and I have accepted my position as a learner. I always come expecting to get a message. Part of the way ACIM has changed my life is in my relationship with nature. I literally feel no distance between myself and nature. I “know” and feel all the flowers, animals, birds, ducks, geese to be my “brothers.” They are a part of the Son of God along with me and my human brothers and I love them. There is some form of quantum communication we share. I know the flowers put on their best when I come to see them and the Honeysuckle smells sweet just for me. The bees linger longer around the flowers when they know I am watching them. The ducks and geese always put on a show for me. The lilies are more beautiful when I am there. The beavers flap their tails louder and the fish jump higher. We are one family and we love each other. Sometimes a deeper quantum happening takes place and I experience the Beloved in all things, including in me. At such times, all things remember their divinity and we are One. So tonight I listened for the message, thinking I could get a sense of what the full moon tomorrow will bring! I listened hard. I listened for the music nature sings to me. But there was silence. Then a flower spoke to me and I was overwhelmed in wholiness. Tears came down my face as the Blue Heron placidly swooped down from the trees and began to fish for his supper. He is my most prized sight in the marsh and I know he came out for me. My love for him was sent on quantum wings and he manifested. This marsh is a part of me, and I it. Here I am not Joe Shore. I am the Heron and the birds, the flowers and the bees. I am the fish that swim and the beavers that dance, and I am Whole. The Beloved and I are One. Maybe it won’t seem strange then that at this point I saw the ducks and geese placidly floating on the water, without thought or burden. And then it came into my old Hippie mind that they were “stoned.” They were absolutely “stoned” on the energy that was making its way into the marsh. They were “hammered.” A smirk and a smile came to my face, and I thought to ourself, “It’s going to be THIS kind of full moon, is it?” Bring it on. Bring out the Jethro Tull records and Led Zeppelin albums, and a little Joe Cocker too!! Bring out that Hookah!! We are going to watch the walls melt! What a message tonight and what a night tomorrow will bring!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥Heron-2

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear, buried under the deepest level of repression, is that love will fail us in some way! We do not yet firmly realize that nothing real can be threatened. We still carry around this haunting, debilitating fear that either we are inherently unlovable or that love will suddenly turn on us and become hate. This fear is the biggest gun in the arsenal of the ego and at some time our repression mechanism will indeed fail us and we will have to confront this, the deepest of all our fears. That one person you love more than anyone else in the world will be the subject of the ego’s next little story it tries to create in your mind. S/he will fail you in this story. S/he will turn on you and say she/he never really loved you, or worse yet, that you are too old, too fat, too ugly, too this or that to merit her/his love. And in this story you will be devastated, left with nothing to hold on to and no future to look forward to. We still do not realize that we help to create this holographic reality by entertaining this, the worst of all stories. We will play out various ends to the story a hundred times, see ourselves homeless, destitute and loveless, or see our suicide which we will commit as one last act of anger against such lovelessness. You will see yourself asking a thousand times, “Why didn’t s/he love me? I loved her/him so deeply. How could she/he fail me? How could God fail me?” That is the deepest pit in this fear, the belief that God is not enough. In your story you will suffer without God’s intervention. God is powerless to change your story! Is this not the deepest despair? That is where the ego wants to take us and that is where we cannot go. As any soul who has done it will tell you, suicide will not change things. You will just be a despairing soul without a body. The ego believes there is no way out of this despair except to change the “other” person. “Make her/him love me, God! Change her/him!” And you really know that the “other” person is not going to change! She is NOT going to change her mind and marry you! He is NOT going to come back and tell you he loves you!! We have set up the story too well!!! At some point–take as long as you like–we are going to have to surrender our despair! We are going to have to trust God again!! We are going to have to hear the music and ignore the little stories!! We CAN create a world based on love instead of fear! We can! Love is our natural inheritance. We can find the way!! Though the path be dark, because we have tried to extinguish the light, we can find the way. And as we do, look to your left and right and see you are not alone. We are all on this journey together. We have all lived in the same world of fear. In our minds, love has let us all down a thousand times and made fools of our passion. To me, the first step in turning on the lights, is to have compassion for our brothers and sisters in this journey with us. In this journey, someone you may not know well, will say to you, “I love you.” It will surprise the hell out of you and you will react with fear. You will come up with a thousand things to say to make him/her go away. Let me hand out one little piece of advice. When someone says, “I love you” to you, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Precious few people will say those words to you in this life!! Don’t jump into a lecture about how s/he is simply obsessed or needy or experiencing attachment! You might just say a simple “thank you” and smile, and if the spirit leads you to, you might even want to know that person a little better. This is a good first step out of the hologram of fear that we recreate daily. S/he might indeed really love you! Wouldn’t that spoil your story?

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The Stream of Ages

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies.:) The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥269336_388327181227476_1611554788_n

Good Morning to the sonship

The great valley  It is a beautiful day in British Columbia. I didn’t catch the dawn but peace is still lingering. Today we have another opportunity to let the Love of God carry us and our brothers and sisters up into high dimensions. Today we will forget silly dreams of separateness. Today we will not allow the mind to go off into silly stories of victimization or conquering others!!! We will stay HIGH where the music, the melos, calls us Home. Today we give respect and thanks and ever again thanks to those who came before us, on whose shoulders we stand. And we will fulfill our destiny in this generation to raise the planet’s awareness out of duality and into the Light of a new era. In Higher places we will join our wills with God’s and raise the world. It is such a great day♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

The beauty and peace our brothers have laid

We stand here today, in Love’s Presence, in higher dimensions, because of the beauty and peace our brothers have laid. We stand on shoulders so strong and can see the distant land so clearly because of those who came before us and cared. They raised us up and now we must do our part. We must find new levels of inspiration to lift up our brothers and sisters, to stand on one plane together. At Heaven’s Gate there is a plane for us to share. Just one tiny footstep it is into the Ocean of God. The tiniest film, no thicker than a soap bubble, stands between us there and the Fullness of the Father. We are here thanks to our brothers and sisters who came before us and paved the way with their honesty and truth. They saw the promised land, and they shall not fail to enter into it with all of us. God’s children– humans, animals, flowers, rocks and trees, every grain of sand–are all going back into the Father from which they appeared to emanate. In Truth, we have never left Heaven. We traveled but in dreams while safe at Home. And God’s Son has always been One and with His Father still. Rejoice! The Light of remembrance has come! Lift up your heads for God’s Son returns today to His Father!♥♥♥♥♥

 

Abadiania and the Song of Peace 04

Raising the world

Many of you have already entered the 5th dimension and beyond and you now have a “burden” for the world. You want to help the world to transition from 3D duality to Love’s Presence but you don’t know how. You, like me, have been searching for a method. The method is simple will. If your mind is operating at a higher dimension, simply will that a person be raised in dimensionality. If you are operating at a higher dimension, your will is powerful enough to raise up others. As we all do this, we will raise the planet. It “will” be done, because we share God’s will in so doing.bench into eternity

Letter to My Ego…from Higher Me

Letter to my ego from a Higher Me: “Joe….Joe, listen.” Think of being on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Yup, that’s you. There are some things I need to say to you. You know I think you are an illusion and you think I want to get rid of you. I know that sounds pretty frightening to you. But let me tell you something, Joe. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.” You were perfectly made for me to learn the lessons I needed in this lifetime. Yes, you could be harsh and authoritarian, but you could also be informative, inspirational, and daring. You were the image of the Aries for all his strengths and faults. I guess you probably miss all the intellectual debates you used to have, and the authority you held as a theologian and then a university professor. Those positions perfectly fit you. But they could not last because you had more lessons to learn. I forgive you your faults and I thank you for your daring, inspirational, actions. You are going away but fear not. You are going away with my love and thanks! Thank you Joe. You were the best, brightest, most talented of your generation. Accept this truth and this love, and don’t worry about tomorrow. IT will all be OK.

Another World

It is one of the tenets of Quantum Physics that there are as many universes or time lines as there are possibilities. Whatever choice that could be made has been made. We are simply attracted to one particular time line by our consciousness and our karmic needs. So here is another view of the world, and it is True.

In eternity where all was One, there crept into the mind of the Son a tiny mad idea that He could somehow be different from His Father. At that instant the Son recognized He had fallen into a little dreamlet and He laughed. The laughter reached out through Heaven and extended the Love of God. On through eternity the flow of God moved unhinderedly and unconsciously through a Spiritual universe that the Father had created from His Love. The Flow of that Love extends into infinity. The LOVE is the way, and in it is the Truth and the Life.

The Love of God has come to me in fullness tonight

The Love of God has come to me in fullness tonight. Tears fall down my face for the Presence he has brought to me. I love more tonight that I ever loved. I am in His Presence. I feel the presence of Jesus and the saints, the holy angels and the heavenly lights; I am just a short, tiny distance from my Father. And I am not alone, for you are there with me, and you and you, and you there, and you who are reading my posts for the first time. You are all here and we are all One in the infinite Love of God. The body can do nothing but weep but my spirit soars and I know I am the radiance of God. I have but one mission left me and that is to touch the world. Raise up my brothers. The Light has come. Raise up my beloved sisters, the Love of God has come to wipe away all illusions and lift you from them and take us all Home. Awaken sleeping children of God. Your Father has opened Heaven’s Gate and the angels sing songs in praise of our holiness, for we share it with the Father and never more shall we journey in childish dreams or suffer fears conjured by impossible thoughts. Tonight and forever, the sonship awakens and returns to the Father. Grateful is He that His Son has finally awakened from His long nightmare and bestowed on Heaven His greatest gift, His Love for His Father. The Lights in Heaven grow ever brighter tonight in celebration for an event told before eternity to last into infinity. What more can the Father do but run to His waking Son, and with arms outstretched, vouch before all of Heaven that this my Son thought he was dead, and is alive again. He thought He was lost, but He is found. “My Son, radiance of my Light, Joy of My Love, you, my Right arm and Left, You, Heaven’s Prince, are Home and ever shall be so. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Photo: The Love of God has come to me in fullness tonight. Tears fall down my face for the Presence he has brought to me. I love more tonight that I ever loved. I am in His Presence. I feel the presence of Jesus and the saints, the holy angels and the heavenly lights; I am just a short, tiny distance from my Father. And I am not alone, for you are there with me, and you and you, and you there, and you who are reading my posts for the first time. You are all here and we are all One in the infinite Love of God. The body can do nothing but weep but my spirit soars and I know I am the radiance of God. I have but one mission left me and that is to touch the world. Raise up my brothers. The Light has come. Raise up my beloved sisters, the Love of God has come to wipe away all illusions and lift you from them and take us all Home. Awaken sleeping children of God. Your Father has opened Heaven's Gate and the angels sing songs in praise of our holiness, for we share it with the Father and never more shall we journey in childish dreams or suffer fears conjured by impossible thoughts. Tonight and forever, the sonship awakens and returns to the Father. Grateful is He that His Son has finally awakened from His long nightmare and bestowed on Heaven His greatest gift, His Love for His Father. The Lights in Heaven grow ever brighter tonight in celebration for an event told before eternity to last into infinity. What more can the Father do but run to His waking Son, and with arms outstretched, vouch before all of Heaven that this my Son thought he was dead, and is alive again. He thought He was lost, but He is found. "My Son, radiance of my Light, Joy of My Love, you, my Right arm and Left, You, Heaven's Prince, are Home and ever shall be so. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

How Does Your Artist Grow?

HowDoes YourArtistGrow?

 

Many elements contribute to an artist more than early piano lessons or exposure to concerts. To me, wonderment at the natural world and the presence of beauty was the precursor to my artistic ability. It made me philosophically curious and from that curiosity a voice came to give expression to the awe.My country beginnings did not include very much music. But music comes from the natural world of which we are a part. That which awakened the artist in me was my childhood world of the garden and my maternal grandparents.

I was born April 16, 1948 in Carthage, Missouri, a little town of 11,000 people nestled next to the Missouri Ozarks. For the first eight years of my life my family lived in the country, five miles southwest of town, on a “truck farm.” For you city people who don’t understand this term, a “truck farm” in Missouri is a small acreage where one plants a few small crops and raises a few animals. It sounds like heaven to a kid, doesn’t it? Well, at least it did to this kid. My maternal grandparents lived on the adjacent tract providing me with every kid’s dream, to live right next to grandma and grandpa. Joining the tracts was a large acre garden that fed both families. It did much more that feed us. It nurtured us. Every inch of that childhood ground has stayed with me as faithfully as my grandmother’s voice and touch. Looking back now, I would have to say that my childhood was the garden.

My grandmother was a grand person indeed. Lena Ritchie was known throughout her neighborhood world as a supremely kind, God-fearing Baptist woman, who had a distinctive froggy, foggy voice. Grandmother had a vocal condition known now as “spastic dysphonia,” or colloquially called, “monster voice,” except that nothing could be monstrous about Lena. Everyone in the neighborhood heard her monster voice as the distinctive sound of her kindness. My grandmother gave me a wonderful model of love which often approached the ideal unconditional love we are all here to learn. I knew that no matter what I did, my grandmother would still love me. That love was her real theology.

Grandmother didn’t like to pick her flowers for a bouquet.She explained to her “Joe-Boy”that as far as she was concerned, flowers belonged alive and growing outside. If she picked them, they would die. I began to see that the ground of the garden gave life to all; the flowers, the potatoes, the berries, the corn, and us. We were the caretakers of the earth as the Bible said and we belonged in the garden.

I never met a better human being than my grandfather, George Ritchie. For most of his life grandpa had been a tenant farmer, plowing land near the Spring River, river-bottom area. Rivers and gardens were the models for his life. When grandpa retired from farming he purchased the land and house of my childhood and planted his garden. In the night he worked part time at Hercules Powder Plant, gun powder, that is, not facial! In the day time he worked in his garden. Usually he had two tag- a-long companions: an old mutt dog named Ginger for his color, and me, Joe-Boy.

When we weren’t in the garden we were usually fishin’. Grandpa may have claimed to fish to put dinner on the table, but that was just the ruse. He fished to be near the river. We seldom caught very many fish on our river expeditions. Everyone we caught was “a nice one.” We never caught a “bad” fish. I liked that. For me, much of the excitement came from our journeys through the tall river-grass and grandpa’s stories about copperhead snakes. Grandpa had discovered the “Ozark kung fu” of killing copperheads. He had learned it, like his other skills, out of necessity. After World War II, Hercules Powder Plant refused to allow their night watchmen to carry guns, fearing the risk of explosion was greater than the risk of burglary. So grandpa was allowed to carry only a three foot long “billy club.” Since his nightly patrols took him through heavy cover, he frequently encountered copperheads which he would rhythmically dispatch with a stroke of his club. You could call it “Ozark kung fu.” He had plenty of opportunity to hone his skills on our farm as well. Grandmother was a strict believer in the literal interpretation of Genesis and was sure that every snake ought to be ritually killed for righteousness sake. More than a few times, a cry could be heard in the neighborhood, “George, there’s a snake. Kill it!” It was grandmother’s one weakness. Grandpa could not refuse her. He became a master of snakes.

Once we safely negotiated the tall river grass, we baited our hooks with a variety of arcane, home-made mixtures, cast our lines, sat, became quiet, and grandpa and I flowed with the river. Usually we would catch a few perch, a mud-cat or acarp, and head back home to the garden.

When I was about seven years old, grandmother and grandpa introduced me to the wonders of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in nearby Oklahoma. For years they had been going there to the promised land of fishing, bringing back huge catches of crappie, blue-gill, catfish, and white bass, all for table fare. Having survived the great depression, they were determined never to go hungry again. A huge freezer chest of frozen fish from Grand Lake made it seem unlikely. And yet, like the river adventures, the important thing was really to go to the lake and be there. At Grand Lake, no convenience was denied a fisherman. Large in-door, heated fishing docks, with theatre seats for comfort, were situated over key areas for crappie and other pan fish. Cedar trees were suspended from the docks to entice the cover-minded crappies to huddle there in schools, unaware of the fate which awaited them. It was a grand invention for a Grand Lake. Grandmother and grandpa introduced me to these holy haunts with a fervor reserved otherwise only for the garden. I soon learned to jig, as well as fish with live bait. The crappie never had a chance.

We traversed the entire 1200 miles of shoreline of Grand Lake in our crusades for crappie. Holy memories are indelibly imprinted in my mind of our favorite docks. Grandpa liked Ice Box Bluff, but it was a little Spartan for grandmother. The theatre seats were not as plush and “comfy” as some other docks. But it was at Ice Box that grandpa fought the leviathan carp! Grandpa and I loved to fish for carp. They grew big and they gave a great fight. They also required imagination to catch because they had only a small, soft, sucker mouth, and were picky eaters. They had no real teeth but they had a sweet tooth, preferring baits made with lots of syrup, honey, coca cola, and Wheaties. I fixed a homemade carp bait that was a lot like banana bread so that if the carp didn’t bite we could eat the bait! Carp fishin’ was fun. Ever concerned about practicality, grandmother had even figured out a way to make them edible. Most people used to say, “Clean a carp on a pine board. Throw the carp away and eat the board!”But grandmother had found that if she cooked them for days in a pressure cooker she could make fish cakes out of them that tasted remarkably like salmon cakes. The grandmother of invention had given us a new reason to stalk the wily carp.

Grandpa took no prisoners. He used a forty-five pound test cotton line that looked sort of like a clothes line. In addition to the small treble hook which was concealed within the dough ball of homemade sweets, he suspended a large grappling hook to snag the carp under the chin in case the small hook missed. It was serious business!We usually caught carp weighing between four and seven pounds. But one day at Ice Box Bluff, grandpa set the hook into a big one. You can tell when the hook is first set how big the fish is. This one didn’t give. For heavenly days,” grandpa exclaimed. It was the closest he got to swearing. “What have I got here?” The carp fought long and valiantly but eventually could not contend with the clothes line rope, and grandpa pulled in his biggest Carp, weighing 13 pounds. It looked like it weighed 100 pounds and grandpa was just as proud of it as if it had. We ate it, of course. It provided fish cakes for a month!

TheValhalla of fishing docks was Teague’s Dock, surnamed “Old Lady Teague’s” by grandpa because it had been purchased from our friend, Leonard Pane, the area auctioneer, by a woman named “Teague” who possessed a redoubtable appearance, complete with multiple pounds of pancake makeup. With this curious visage she greeted the fishermen that came to her dock. Nobody liked her, including grandpa. But the dock had its own drawing power. It was plush to the hilt. Padded, comfortable theatre seats encircled the extremely large fishing well in the middle of a well heated dock. Snack bars and a bait shop were handy within the dock, and it was situated over one of the best locations in Grand Lake for crappie, catfish, bass, and of course,carp. I once saw a man catch and land a forty pound carp on an eight pound test line! I was awed as if watching the real life filming of one of those National Geographic presentations where monsters of the deep are shown to an audience all agape! But the sneakiest fishin’ took place when the crappies were nesting. The mother crappie sat on the nest guarding her eggs, while the daddy crappie patrolled the perimeter,striking at any object which came into his territory. We soon discovered that if we threw in a jig near the nest that we could catch the daddies like nobody’s business! Needless to say, I felt very guilty about this and have sought to atone for it ever since. The day’s limit by Oklahoma law was 37 crappie per day, per fisherman! Most of the other fish had no limits! We often caught our limit, returning home as proud as if we had found the Holy Grail. Now I wish we had let most of them go. I haven’t kept a fish I caught since then. Like the flowers that belonged alive in the garden, the fish belonged alive in the lake.

It is no small thing that Genesis talks about the”Garden of Eden.” That ancient writer knew perfectly well what an apt image the garden sets up in our minds, ancient, connecting, and wonderful. Grandpa loved to stroll through the garden to “visit” with all the wonderful things growing there. Ginger and I took in all of his love for the earth and the Creator of all life.But Ginger had an easier time of it in one important way. He didn’t have to be distracted by the competitive world-view being peddled on Sundays by the variety of Baptist preachers that sought to “instruct” us in the ways of their strange universe. Many of them did not act like Jesus in the Bible. They seemed to be so mad at everybody and everything. Finally I made a personal discovery that I should believe in the God that Jesus showed me. One of my helpers in this discovery was Rev. Ray Stone, pastor of the First Baptist Church when I was a small boy. Brother Ray stood out from the rest of the preachers of my childhood. He was full of Love and Light. He was a “gardener!” “Just be so in love with Jesus,” he would say, time and time again, in trying to warn of the pitfalls to come in life. You know, I was and still am!

God  created a Garden and I knew what a garden was like! He created a river, and I knew what a river was like. God wanted us with Him. God was like Jesus and grandmother Ritchie!I’ll take that God. He can stroll with us through the garden as we visit the plants. He can go to the river with us, and we will flow together!

When I was a little boy, I thought the worst thing I could imagine would be the death of my grandfather. How I loved grandpa. God was good and grandpa lived through my childhood. But when I was 9 our family moved out of the truck farm house and into the big city of Carthage,about five miles away. I gladly rode my bicycle back out into the country to be with grandmother and grandpa. But then one day Hercules Powder Plant blew up. The explosion could be felt as far away as Tulsa, 120 miles away. The explosion was just a quarter of a mile away from my grandparents’ house. Our family got into the car and drove out to Powder Town to check on my grandparents. We got to within a half mile of them before we met a road block. Dad and a few other men set off walking through the woods to try to reach their house while we drove back to Carthage to wait. They had survived the blast without injury but their house was significantly damaged. My childhood paradise had been destroyed.

Inmost people’s childhood there were moments of love and moments of pain. We live with the fact that there was a snake in the garden, but in time, we see that it was beautiful nevertheless. Though unable to forget them, the bad times can never compete with the wonder and beauty of the garden, with flowers that never got cut,with baby chickens and old dogs named Ginger, with the fresh, clean smell of the air after a thunderstorm, with grapes and berries, pecans and pear trees, with sun-ripened watermelons, and corn picked with our own hands, with homemade bread and canned preserves, with quilting bees and a neighborhood awash in friendliness, with trips to the river—for the river was always around us—and returns to the garden.

The bad times can never compete with the best days of family. The garden is my memory. I will hold to that. I wish I could take my garden and give it to others. But to each has been given his own. Not everyone’s garden looks the same, and in some the snake was more present than in others. But if you will look now, there is something of a garden to remember and hold to. When I leave this world I expect to visit the garden once again.I know grandmother and grandpa are waiting there for me. To them it will seem as if they only just arrived, or as if they never left. The tool shed door will still need fixing and the well water will still satisfy. Old Ginger will still follow grandpa’s every step and an old three legged cat, Smokey, will still climb trees. The mimosa tree will still attract the humming birds and the clothes dry clean on the line. And the River will still flow just nearby. The snake did not win. The garden stays, fixed in my heart with love that was true.

After Hercules Powder Plant blew up, my grandparents moved into Carthage and things were never the same. They lost that sense of freedom and joy that living in the country brought to them.

I grew up and became an opera singer. It didn’t matter to them. They loved me still. The rest of the clan thought of me as the black sheep in the family and would often say,“Warren and Beulah’s boy ran off to the big city to become an opry sanger. We never could understand what got into him.” Nevertheless grandpa and grandmother still loved me.

In his 80’s grandpa often wondered why he was permitted such a long life. He would often say, “All my friends are dead. Everybody I knew is dead. Why me? Why am I still alive?” But alive he was and still able to plow his small garden and drive his car.

He had a small infection when he was 90 and the doctor wanted to treat him in the hospital just to be careful. It was not supposed to be anything big.The night before he was to go into hospital, he called my grandmother to him and said, “Now Lena, I want you to know I am going to die now.” Grandmother told him, “George, don’t talk like that. You’re not that sick.” But he protested in what for him was a pretty heated way, “I know what I’m talkin’ about Lena. I’m going to die now!”

I was living in New York when one morning, around 4:00AM or so, I was awakened in the spirit. My body was still asleep, but it was as if my spirit were awake and observing. I saw two angels holding my grandpa, one under each arm. They were taking him around the earth to allow him to say goodbye to certain places and people.He wanted to see me. He was young and happy and full of excitement. He looked down and saw me in my apartment asleep and said, “Why there’s Joe down there.” Then he went on his journey. The next day I knew that the worst thing I could imagine had happened. My grandpa had died. I called home and found out that he had indeed passed away about the time that I saw him in spirit. I never had any further visions of my grandpa after that. It was sort of disappointing in a way, for there was such finality about that last vision. Grandmother was inconsolable at the funeral. When the vows say, “till death do we part,” it really means it. Marriage belongs to this earthly realm. It cannot be extended into spirit. When grandmother died not long afterwards, I did not get a parting vision of her, but in the weeks after her death she came to me in dreams many times. She was young and happy and just wanted to contact me. I asked her about how grandpa was and she gave me a very interesting answer that did not fit in with my world view at the time. She said, “I am not with grandpa now. We are all spread out here like stars in the sky according to our distance from God.” I had no idea what she was talking about. Could it be that we are all on our journey back to God? Could it be that there was a time before time when we were all apart of God, all one with Him, all whole, One Garden? And could it be that we will all be with Him again? Such wonderment was the precursor to my artistry as a singer. Then there came a time, and I could sing.

How Real Is The Near Death Experience?

How Real Is The Near Death Experience?

Since I have made it plain on this site that my path is ACIM, this question is pertinent. If the body is an illusion and the universe is an illusion, is the NDE an illusion? The Course uses ultimate terms for “reality.” To the Course, Heaven is the only reality. All else is illusion. In this sense, the NDE is an illusion too, though a very different one than our daily world in the body. Since we are minds (spirits) rather than bodies, the Course has no difficulty in accepting that the mind (spirit) can be “apart” from the body since the body is never real anyway. At the event that we call physical death, the mind (spirit) of the person is still just as it was when it believed itself to have a body. It still has its lessons to learn and still retains its illusions. Nothing has happened except the inherently illusory body has been dropped. Many NDE-ers have gone all the way into death of the body, as measured by this world. They come back with quite a story and some personal changes. Those who worship the Ego and believe there is no life after the death of the body always try to find a way to disparage NDEs. That includes skeptical scientists who think there is no consciousness after the death of the body. The NDE is a big threat to them. But how “real” is it? That depends on how you view reality. From the point of view of those who think life in the body is real, NDEs are at least that real! But the Course would not call our life here on earth “real.” It is an illusion, a dream. So for the Course, NDEs are an extension of the illusion but in a different dream state. The worlds of Light the NDE-ers experience are very interesting but they are just as illusory as the so-called physical universe we live in now. Minds without bodies seem to create other bodies, astral bodies, celestial bodies, all as illusory as the physical bodies and all preserve some sense of separateness which is illusory. What about the all pervasive love they feel in these states? From the point of view of the Course, the physical body is the greatest barrier we have erected to the awareness of Love’s presence which is our natural inheritance. When the body is gone, it may well be that the mind is flooded with the love it was hiding from in the body. But minds can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Wrong-minded minds will surely continue in their wrong-mindedness after the body is dropped, and they may create wrong-minded dream worlds to appear to inhabit. Purgatory or hell states will be just as real for them as the celestial beings experienced by right-minded minds. What about the life-review that NDE-ers report? The Course would have no difficulty with that. We are told that we are responsible for our learning and that lessons we did not complete have to be retaken. What about meeting Jesus in these dream states? The Course would tell us that Jesus is now a symbol of the Love of God present within the mind of the sonship.
What we know now about such “symbols” is that they PARTICIPATE in the reality they symbolize. They are not “nuda signas,” mere illusions. They have great power in the mind. Jesus as a symbol for the Love of God is active within the mind of the sonship regardless of the illusions of the sonship. When NDE-ers claim to encounter this Being of Love that they identify with Jesus they are doing just that in the mind. They are not meeting the historical Jesus but the Jesus who is an active symbol of the Love of God.

What about the other beings NDE-ers claim to experience, like dead relatives, friends or high beings? The Course has no trouble with the idea that disembodied minds meet other disembodies minds, and the illusion of separateness continues, so you can meet Aunt Sofie or Cousin Johnny. They are there in this new dream state that the mind has created since dropping their physical bodies. But even so-called “high beings” are as inherently illusory as us as separate beings. As long as there is the appearance of individuality and separateness, we are still in the dream.

What about the report from NDE-ers that there are levels in the worlds they experience, some higher to God than others? The Course makes it very plain that there are no hierarchies in illusory states. What we can say is that those minds who have almost finished learning their lessons create a different dream world than those who are just beginning their lessons. This would account for all the so-called levels in spirit (mind).

What about the so-called transformative effects of the NDE? It is true that when they return to the body they often “remember” more of who they are as a mind rather than just a body and they often return with the memory of Love’s Presence which broke in on them when the physical body was dropped. I have yet, however, to meet an NDE-er who was moved by his experience to come back into the body as an enlightened person. They still have lessons to learn and they still come back as egos. They are now happy egos and they do have a sense of Love’s Presence which helps them to be more loving in their daily lives. They also appear to have after effects that are interesting and which appear to be side effects of realizing that they are spirits (minds) rather than bodies. Like minded spirits (minds) can join and often NDE-ers return with a mind connection to disembodied spirits they have met in their NDE. So they may be able to talk to Uncle Fred even after returning to the body. For many NDE-ers, the experience breaks the illusion that we are bodies living in this world. They now at least have experienced that they are minds (spirits), not bodies, and that our “life” on the earth is just one phase of existence. That is quite a lot for any one experience to give to you, so we should not disparage the NDE just because it is not ultimate reality. It is a different dream from the earth, but a dream non-the-less. It can move people to learn their lessons faster while on the earth and it can make people more loving. By themselves NDEs do not provide a full theology and it would be illusory for people to try to create a theology out of them, but ACIM gives us a much fuller picture. Even the Course does not try to give us a full systematic theology. It aims at taking down the barriers we have made to the awareness of Love’s Presence so that we may hear the inner Voice (in mind) of our teacher, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus, the active symbol of God’s love. Let us be content with that for now.♥♥♥♥

CALLING THE LIGHT….

The time is coming and almost is when we shall be able to call in the Light of God, that unspeakably wondrous Light of God which is Love, the Light we call “the other side,” or “home.” Most people have had to be near death to see that light, and enter it again. The transformative Light changes all who enter it by stirring our remembrance of our true Self. We are the radiance of God. The Light is us and we are it. Now you can see why we are not a body and there is no universe. We ARE this Light and in it we are all One. This Light knows no judgment. It only is the Love that is God, Truth and Knowledge. When you go into the Light you will not want to be a body again. You will weep at the thought of leaving the Light to come back to such a sour illusion as the body. Now the time almost is when we will be able to call that Light into our being now and the veils will be lifted from illusions. Your loved ones who have passed over into the Light are still here with you. We will soon need no channel or medium to contact them. Their presence will touch you when the Light comes and it will come. We will call it in. THIS IS OUR GREAT TIME OF SERVICE to each other and to the Light for God is lonely without his Son. Our minds are being prepared now to be able to call in the Light. If you have felt like a caterpillar about ready to change into something you know not what, this is part of what we have been sensing and feeling. So soon now, the Light will come and take down the barriers to our illusions. The Light will come. We will call it in and it will fall on us like the rain of Heaven, bringing with it all our beautiful memories of the Truth we have forgotten. So easily will all our fears slip away from us into nothingness and we will know that Love is all that is real. While for a while bodies will remain and the phantom we call Earth will slip in and out of the Light, I will look into your eyes and see only the Love of God and the Light will lovingly and gently wash away anything that would come between our joining. Would it not be something of great worth to you just to speak to your grandmother again, or your husband, or that child you lost too early? They are not gone. You will speak with them and you will know them in the Light. WE WILL CALL IN THE LIGHT AND IT WILL FALL FROM HEAVEN LIKE RAIN ON A DRY AND DUSTY PLAIN AND LOVE WILL MAKE ITSELF KNOWN. When the Light comes, first the air will sparkle with living glimmer, then the glimmer will enter you, every little place where you need Love’s Presence. Soon the air will become nothing but Light and the sight of bodies and planets will disappear. In the Light we will be transformed by remembrance. We are not native to this physical, dreamy place. We come from the Light. We are Light Beings native to a spiritual universe of Love which is also Light and Truth and Knowledge. We have been trying to remember our Home all these ages of bodies, coming from the Light, going into bodies, going back to Light. It is enough to make the world spin.

Our school years have almost passed.

The time for learning is almost over.

In this space I would put away all time and learning.

I would come afresh to stillness. I would call in the Light.

There sparkles all the truth my learning could not attain.

In that Light I find you,

perfect with the innocence of creation.

You have not changed.

As wisdom-bearer in Brahman’s House, who could change you?

As natural as the flow of the Tao, who could change you?

As the silence on the Buddha’s lips, who could change you?

In this Light there is stillness,

And in this stillness I have found you as perfect.

In the Light all minds join into One.

When the Light comes there is relief from time

and freedom to remember the vast ages of our knowing.

Lifetimes upon lifetimes present themselves in parade of gallant splendor for at last we remember.

Millions of years come to us in memory of who we are and the Love that grew within us.

We have not changed.

Our alchemy shows its art.

In this space I have summoned the Light and I remember that I Love you

Keeping the Faith!

Keeping the Faith!

Is Faith a gift or a work? Faith is a natural property given to those who ask but you have some work to do in maintaining it! Faith asks you to keep your eyes on Jesus and do the work you were sent to do. Life is full of possible distractions and so maintaining faith is not a cakewalk. Evil and suffering are there along the way to try to steal your gaze. When the wolf is at the door you need faith more than ever but holding on to it is the hardest thing you will ever have to do. These are not idle words. I have been there. There have been many days that all I had to eat was a can of pork and beans but I still managed to give some change to the beggars.

Krishnamurti was asked, “Is it true that life will take care of you?” He responded, “Yes, but you have to give yourself over to it completely.” That would be faith, moment by moment, day by day, month by month, year by year. It is living on a razor’s edge but somehow you know that there is no other way for you to live. The only thing that makes living this way bearable is FAITH.

In the early part of my career as an opera singer I called this “floating” in life. It is more than a little ironic that I should use such a term since I never learned to swim. But others told me that learning to float in water one had to relax and trust the water. Somehow it made sense to me, so when I moved from Tulsa to the Big Apple to start a career in opera, I learned to float. I had to learn. I had no financial support to cushion me. What I had was FAITH that God himself had given me this gift of voice and had told me to sing opera. That certainty was enough to give me the faith to “float” in life. Month after month I found someway to pay the rent and eat, though often not much. Some days I had two eggs for breakfast and lunch and a large slice of pizza for dinner. One summer I sold orange juice on the streets of New York. Sometimes I got work as a bartender. But then I would get an engagement in opera and all of a sudden I had money. FAITH (Floating) was essential. Those who had talent but no faith gave up on their careers and went back home to teach.

Then there came a month when I saw no possible way to pay the rent! But there was a singing competition called the Bruce Yarnell Memorial Award for Baritones which would be held soon and it had a prize of $1,000 and the prestige of being named the best baritone in the U.S. And Canada at the mid-career level. I entered the competition. My competitors were from the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and other regional centers. I had the faith that I could win and I worked very hard to hold on to that faith. I won and paid the rent!!

Many nights I would take flight in my dreams and actually go on journeys in the spirit. One night I went up into the spirit world and came to a “class” that was being held for spirits preparing to enter life in a body. The class was about how to “float.” The students were seated on what looked like high school bleachers with dumbfounded looks on their faces. I floated right into the class and said, “Look, it’s like this. You just float,” and as a spirit I demonstrated “floating.” I had learned how to do it, not in water but in life. There have been many times I have been tempted by fear to lose faith. Saying the Lord’s Prayer is very helpful….”lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Who is the evil one but the one who would seduce you to lose faith? Pray to be delivered from that one, and woe to those on judgment day who choose to draw others away from faith and to the dark side! That will be a life review you wouldn’t care to attend! Jesus said of such people, “It would be better for them were a millstone tied around their neck and cast into the ocean.”

SOME DEEP TRUTHS FOUND IN REAL SEANCES!

SOME DEEP TRUTHS FOUND IN REAL SEANCES! Most mediums are fakes. The true ones will tell you that. I had the deep privilege of sitting and working with one of the greatest physical mediums in the world, Rev. David LeBaron at Tower Memorial Church in Seattle Washington. I previously posted a long article about David on this blog. To summarize, a physical medium is able to allow spirits to materialize into the seance room and speak with you, walk and talk with you. They are able to bring you gifts which they have brought from the spirit world. Let me walk you through a seance with David LeBaron, who has passed over now, happily for him, sadly for us. Fifteen to twenty people meet in the seance room on Sunday afternoon after church. Most of them have been to many, many seances. They are comfortable with the process. It is a loving gathering of loving friends. Few places have I found such love in the world as I found in seances with David LeBaron. We enter the room and sit in small chairs in a circle. The lights are turned off or we may have a red light on. David is seated at the head of the room in a partially curtained off area, but he is clearly visible. He has a leader in the church sit next to him in the cabinet to act as a “battery” directly linked to David’s mind. The rest of us also link in mind to David. This connection of David with 20 other minds is part of his ability to manifest spirits in physical form. A leader will begin by leading the circle in prayer to Father/Mother God, the form of address Spiritualists use. Then we will begin by singing a number of well known hymns. The love that we feel for one another, for God, and for David, is magnified as we sing. In a few minutes, David’s control spirit, Hilda, will manifest, usually as a semi-solid, gaseous form. Hilda’s job is to manage the spirits that wish to manifest through David. At some point after Hilda’s greeting, a spirit will speak through David to someone in the circle. It may be a relative who has passed over or a spirit guide. The spirit will then physically manifest, sometimes as a gaseous vapor which then solidifies. In a red light seance this is all clearly visible. I have 12 spirit guides, and No, they are not demons, my evangelical Christian friends! I have several guides who were Native American Indians in their last life and they brought me many arrow heads and crystals as presents. My grandfather, George Ritchie, came through and materialized. It was wonderful to see him again. The leader of my 12 guides was an African man in his last life, named Jerome. He brought me an African wood carving as a present. In this experience our hearts are filled with love as we are connected together with David and the world of Spirit. During one very difficult time in my life, David wanted to help me so much that he underwent very difficult meditation sessions prior to the seance in order to allow a very high Master named Adriotis of Atlantea to materialize. He materialized in full regalia, his “body” as solid as mine, but there were lights all over him which pulsated as he walked. He and I walked arm in arm around the seance room as my mind joined to his. I will NEVER forget it. JESUS manifested through David many times. David told me, “He used to come every Easter.” When he materialized, he was semi-solid. He was wearing a white robe which shimmered as light, but it was also a fabric. We could see the weave in the garment. He spoke very much like the Jesus in A Course in Miracles. The seance room was immersed in love when he appeared.

SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS? We learn that all things are possible when minds join!!!! If we wish to change ourselves we need to join in mind lovingly with others. If it gets to an occasion where we really believe we have to change the world, we can do that by joining in mind. The world is soft, malleable, dreamy stuff. It can be changed if we really need it to be changed, but we have to have many minds joined together to do that. There is a horizontality in mind joining that we must attain, not 7 billion separated minds. If we can join that way, we will more probably see the world differently through God’s eyes. Regardless the path to power, to progress, to ascension, lays in the joining of minds.

David retired from the church. He still gave private readings but he was never able to physically manifest spirits again. He needed that joining of minds to be able to do that. THINK OF THE POWER OF MINDS JOINED IN LOVE!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥Namaste♥

 

SHARING EXPERIENCES WITH MEDIUM DAVID LEBARON:

SHARING EXPERIENCES WITH MEDIUM DAVID LEBARON:

One of the few (perhaps two) physical mediums left in the world was in Seattle, David LeBaron, who worked at a small Spiritualist church there named Tower Memorial Church. My colleague and I have been observing David’s work now for some time and I will share some of our observations.

Rev. LeBaron was a trumpet medium and a materialization medium. In trumpet mediumship he consistently produced “apports” through the trumpets. These apports have often been larger in size than the small end of the trumpet and some have been valuable. Imperial jade pieces have materialized which have been shown to be worth about $500. Scarabs have materialized which have been found to be very old and valuable. I myself have a large collection of apports that have been given to me by spirits through the trumpets. Even though we have not conducted a rigid control system of observation, we have tried to rule out several possibilities of fraud. For example, no one leaves the seance room and comes back in. Rev. LeBaron allows people to search him before the seance. The small, common room which is used for the seance is easily searched before the session. There are no trap doors, no secret panels, no places in the small room that could hide the large quantity of apports that come through in a séance. Furthermore, as I mentioned, many times the apport, which comes out of the trumpet, is larger than the small end of the trumpet, ruling out the possibility that Rev. LeBaron or a confederate is inserting the so-called apport into the trumpet for it to appear to be coming from spirits. Rev. LeBaron does not charge much for any séance, $15, and does not try to acquire notoriety. He would not have the financial ability to give away valuable pieces of imperial jade. Furthermore, many of the apports roll out of the trumpet warm and soft to the touch, and we are asked to let them cool and solidify before grasping them tightly. I have not been able to think of any possibility of deception. Furthermore, many of the people in his séances are highly trained observers, some psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists. All I have talked to agree that the phenomena appear genuine.

Rev. LeBaron himself is a very loving, gentle man. From a purely subjective observation, I have never experienced a more loving environment in a group of 20 people than I have in the seances with David LeBaron. The paranormal actions of the trumpets themselves is an interesting point. Even though most séances take place in the dark, the voices coming through the trumpets establish the positions of the trumpets in the room. There are no hidden microphones or speakers which could allow for deception. I have checked the small room and the trumpets many times. The voices coming from the trumpets indicate that the trumpets are moving around the room. Some séances are conducted with a small amount of light and in these settings my colleague and I, as well as the other participants I have interviewed, have seen the trumpets apparently levitate and move around the room. We handle the trumpets at some points when requested to do so, as for the reception of apports, and no strings or devices have been noticed. Furthermore, the feeling of the trumpet when handled under these conditions indicates that there is a firm hold on it from the other end. It is not the kind of feeling that would be given by a wire or string. The flight motion of the trumpet is also not consistent with trickery. They move suddenly at angels that one would not expect to find in a deception. The trumpets themselves are ordinary constructions of light weight aluminum and have no secret compartments or remote control devices. The voices coming out of the trumpets also weigh against trickery. Here my own area of expertise in voice comes in. The explanation offered by the spirits and by the medium is that the spirits have made something of a “template” of David LeBaron’s voice, and the possible timbres his instrument could produce. It is this spectrum of timbres which is utilized by the various spirits who speak through David’s mediumship through the trumpets or in materialized form. This explanation, at first, did not seem testable in the dark, but gradually events developed which allowed us to test it in certain ways. It is true that the voices of the spirits appeared to have a timbre spectrum that I would have suspected from David LeBaron’s vocal fold structure. But there were times when David came out of trance because of physical discomfort, coughing, while the spirit was still speaking. In those times Rev. LeBaron was coughing at the same time that the spirit was speaking. On some such occasions the spirit addressed David, now out of trance, and David answered back to the spirit, both of their voices overlapping for a brief period. No ventriloquist could do this. Furthermore, the way in which many spirits speak with rapid exchange goes beyond the ability of the world’s best ventriloquists. In rapid exchange between characters and the ventriloquist there is always some observable bleed-over between timbres, the worst (or best) example was found in one of the most famous ventriloquists, Edgar Bergen, whose dialogues with Charlie showed a great blending of timbres. In seances with David LeBaron there is no such effect. The timbres move from one spirit to the next without any indication of ventriloquism. And after the seance, David’s voice shows no evidence of vocal strain. As an expert in voice, these observations were very interesting to me. My feeling is that the paranormal effects observed in his seances are genuine.
In materialization seances, there are no cameras or sophisticated laser technology that could generate holograms. The forms that materialize vary in degree of solid form. They may be gaseous light-forms which speak in the same voice timbres as they have through the trumpets. In this state I have felt their touch, a light vaporous touch which still has substance. In this state, we have seen them descend through the floor or go through a human participant in the seance. When they materialize in a full form, they appear to be dressed in a glowing solid white substance, often with full color accouterments, and are very solid to the touch. In this form I have walked arm in arm around the room with them. When they have to leave, their solid form begins to become more vaporous and they sometimes also depart in remarkable ways. As a materialization medium Rev. LeBaron is noted for the solid full form features of the spirits that come through him. I have been unable to discover any means of deception here. At times, the materialized spirit takes a participant into the cabinet where David sits in trance, and often there is enough light to see David seated in trance. This would appear to rule out the possibility of David masquerading as spirits. But no masquerade theory could explain a gaseous form going through the floor. Also, more than one spirit materializes at one time, and with different features from David, for example, shorter or taller. Again, my sense is that the materializations through David LeBaron are not done by trickery.
Pursuant to my interest in spirit possession and the possible usage of mediums for treatment, I note that David LeBaron has been trying to help in one case I know of, through the usage of spirits which come through him. In this particular case, he, and the spirits, have been unable to effect a stable cure. This is of interest to me.
I hope this little account will be of some interest to you.

Forgiveness can only happen within Love and all Love is of God.

Forgiveness can only happen within Love and all Love is of God. Therefore egos cannot forgive. Egos want a substitute for forgiveness which is suffering. The ego attacks back in anger rather than forgiving on the fly. The ego wants to set up conditions for its substitute forgiveness/suffering. “If you really promise never to do that again, and you promise to respect my boundaries, then maybe we can have some sort of relationship.” That’s the ego’s plan. It makes mistakes into sin and sees sin as real. It wants to save up stamps so that somewhere in the future it can say, “Do you remember what you did to me back there?” The ego knows only the past and tries to keep it alive in your response. In contrast, God’s system says that mistakes happen and we can easily forgive them and let them pass by, as though they never happened, and you can then look upon your “offender” as still perfect. You don’t choose to see him as a villain in your play. However you see him, it is your choice! The sight comes from YOU. See him as a villain whose mistakes were sins and you hide the light of God from yourself. You will bring on to yourself the darkness that you chose to see in him. For you are responsible for your sight!

“I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.” (ACIM T.21.II.)

A stillness has come to me

A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely,nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.
The Glory cloud of God will fall on us. Be grateful that it will fall. Nothing in all your life has prepared you for anything like being under the Glory cloud of God. You will not be able to stand. The body cannot stand in the Glory of God. In the Glory cloud there is the weight of holiness and as much as our spirits belong there, the body does not! The body will groan, shout, and travail under the Glory cloud. But your spirit will never want to be any other place than in the Glory of God. We belong in the Glory cloud of God. We are the rays of His Glory. When the Glory cloud falls the spirit remembers its true home. We know then that we are not a body, but a spirit and a part of the Great Spirit of God. The holiness we feel under the Glory cloud is our holiness as well. But the body can only groan or bark like dogs. In the Glory cloud we speak the language of the Spirit. No human language can work in the Glory cloud.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.
The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.
My newness is secure.

The changes in me by the Love of God will not vanish.

Today I found I had patience. The old me could never find patience.

I stood in line today at the dollar store, contented to wait.

There is a timelessness about this Love which imparts itself to me.

I waited in line and felt the people in front of me, their thoughts, their feelings.

As I came to the check out lady I could feel that she needed a lift.

She felt so low, so used, and so tired.

She just needed to feel that someone cared for her.

I gave her that. Her face lit with a smile. The Love of God is so easy to pass on to others.

The old me, sadly, would have been too self-centered to care about her.

I walked to the pizza shop. The man making pizzas was tired and low. I told him how good his pizzas were and how much better they were than the delivery pizzas. His spirit lifted. He smiled and made me a beautiful pizza.

Back in my car, my Cadillac that I enjoy so much, I drove to Deer Lake at sunset just to catch the vision of twilight on the waters. There is a timelessness to my days now. I know time is passing but I do not feel it. This Love that has captured me knows no time.

I see in my mind the many mistakes I have made in my life but they look now like kind partners in a learning endeavor. What I have learned from them has paved my way to this Loving place and I look on them only with gratefulness. There were some deep mistakes that I made. Temporarily they brought about separation, but they are blessed now. For those who hate me for them, I have confidence in the Love of God to work in their lives.

The Love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the brightest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. The Love of God, how rich and pure; how measureless and strong. It shall forever more endure, the saints and angels’ sweet song.

Today, having heard the stories of my purported enlightenment,

All of my desires appeared, like the Farengi from Star Trek, cautiously creeping out into the Light.

“Master, the Light is so bright. Could you turn it down?”

“No,” I said, you will have to get used to it.”

“Master, we have some things to ask you…may we?

Master don’t you really need a new job?”

“No,” I replied

One by one they presented their entreaties:

“Don’t you really need then, a new degree, some new award from a prestigious institution?

Don’t you need a wife?

Don’t you need someone for companionship?

Don’t you need more friends?

Don’t you need more money?

Don’t you need a new car?

Don’t you need a nice new university appointment as Professor?

Don’t you need to sing again?

Don’t you need the Limelight again, Master? (Oh not that there is anything wrong with this Light Master, but Oh, it is so bright, isn’t it?)

Don’t you need to be young again, Master?

We have all come to offer you our services, at a fair and agreeable price, of course.

Can we do business, Master?”

I let them stew in their own juice a while as they twitched and grimaced, then I answered them:

“The Love of God is all I need and it is with me now and I am with it. Many of the things you have presented me would be very nice, but I don’t need them. I am content. You offer me things from the past, trinkets which seem to offer joy, but disappoint instead. I will just stay here in this Light, which you find so uncomfortable. You had better go now, for Ferengi cannot exist long in this Light. The Light will dissolve you.”

Nervous and gasping, twitching and whelping, they ran back for cover into the darkness from which they came. But I had to bless them. They had brought to me all the desires of my past and could not understand why I did not need them now. As they crept back into the darkness, I called out to them:

“The Glory of God is all I want.

“The Glory of God is all I need.

“I AM the Glory of God.”

I imagine this little conversation with my desires will happen quite often. No matter. The Love of God has come and brought timelessness with it.

I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.

I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”

I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.

Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, “Jesus why am I up so early.” I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! 🙂 Peace.

Today brought a new test for me. My illusory body has taken an illusory cold. I wanted to see if my consciousness would still be awake with the presence of the Love of God I have been experiencing for the past two weeks. It was interesting. There was the body with its symptoms of a cold and then there “I” was still in the Love of God! I could still look out my picture window and see only the Love of God! The body is TRULY an illusion. We will all get that in time. Time was made for our lessons. When we have learned them time will have no purpose and stop. May you all, my brothers, have the Peace of God today. 🙂