Monday, May 24, 2010
I have had two mystical, unexplainable experiences in my life. There are a couple of other close contenders for miracles, but that's a story for another day. Today, I'm going to tell you about the first of my top two: The Man Who Came to My Door.
When I was first married, my husband and I acted as superintendents of a small garden apartment complex, getting free rent in return for managing rentals, taking care of hiring people to do repairs, managing the staff of part-time staff who cleaned the halls, landscaped, and plowed in the winter. We were the people who arranged for apartments to be painted when they were vacant, or helped the seniors who couldn't manage carrying groceries, or called the plumber. I got pretty good at fixing the boiler, which had a room of its own and was the size of an SUV, and as temporamental as an opera diva. The things I said to that boiler, honestly, I'm ashamed. Once, I remember, someone who hadn't been in our apartment before jumped about 3 feet into the air when the boiler came on in the adjacent basement area. I had become accustomed to "Bertha's" noisy eruptions, but for those unprepared, her noises could give quite a start.
Anyway, the strangest thing happened one afternoon. The doorbell rang, I answered it, and there stood an elderly man, slight of build, with the most amazing hair and eyes I had ever seen. His hair was white and downy, like a baby bird, almost blue-white in the sun. He actually seemed to glow. And his eyes--to this day I can't describe them. They were a blue that doesn't exist in eyes, a kind of luminescent cobalt and intense light blue that seemed to see right into my head. They were laser eyes, but kind and good. He radiated kind and good.
His clothes were clean but well worn. The thing I remember about his long-sleeved shirt is that the sleeves had been shortened in an odd way, with just a seam up around the bicep to make them short enough to fit him. Why I remember this detail--I don't know. Our entire interaction couldn't have been more than 30 seconds, but that stuck with me.
He asked very politely if I was Alyson Stone, née Button. That's what he said 'née Button'." I said yes, thinking that he was someone who wanted to rent an apartment. His gaze sizzled across the doorjamb. "I have been sent to give this to you." And with that, he handed me a dogeared, yellowish paperback book. I looked down at the book long enough to absorb the title; I looked up again to talk to the man. The man was gone. Simply gone. I went outside and looked around. Gone. Impossible. Gone.
The book was a manual on how to meditate. It described a process for imagining yourself going down a flight of stairs to an anteroom, sort of like a museum with showcases, then down another flight to a room of your design, furnished and outfitted in any way you wished. There should be, in this room, the book said, a comfortable chair in front of a screen on the wall. There were instructions for projecting healing thoughts, comforting thoughts, toward people you had come across in your daily life. There was an elevator for "guests" or "consultants" to appear. (I never know who will show up in that elevator, it's often a complete surprise.)
Of course I couldn't help but pay attention to the tenets of the book; I have used these techniques ever since. The book was not popular, not mainstream, not even traditional for meditation techniques. I would never have considered reading such a book. But the main reason I paid attention is because I alone knew the truth. That something impossible had happened to me, that the man who brought the book was magical in some way that I couldn't understand, but was willing to accept. The way I got the book made it easy to step into the magic; it gave me a rational reason to walk off the path and into the woods.
Before The Man Who Came to My Door, I worried constantly about things I couldn't do anything about: plane crash victims, droughts in Africa, poverty, starving children. I wasted my time fretting about things over which I had no control. All my worrying was just a purple haze around my head, serving no useful purpose.
Around the same time I read a simple statement that someone wrote in an interview in one of the women's magazines. The person said, "I try to take what God puts in my path--and act on it with grace." It struck home with me suddenly: I can't do anything about Somalia or a plane crash in Nepal. But I can spend the night sitting up with Mrs. Goldstein in 4G when she is scared. I can help her feel safe. She is in my path. Let me just put one foot in front of the other on this path.
So that is how I moved forward. I did my "concentrating," "my blue light," "my meditating," --I've never really settled on a description that is really accurate. I do no harm. I do not know if what I do helps, but I don't think it can hurt. The purple haze is gone. I try to imagine my thoughts like the gaze of The Man Who Came to My Door--a laser beam of blue, directed outward to the universe.