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Emissary of Love
By James F. Twyman
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2002 James F. Twyman
All rights reserved.
Extraordinary events are often hidden within the wings of very ordinary moments, like rare birds that fly into your life without ever being noticed, as if you've forgotten that they don't belong in the city, or in the mountains, or wherever it is you find yourself on that particular day. But then one bird lands softly upon the sill outside your bedroom window, and you notice something that at first doesn't seem possible. A single breath passes through your lips and an instant later all the tumblers fall into place, and you find yourself considering things you never would have before. There is a gift carried upon those remarkable wings, unmentioned at first, but it changes your life forever. An ordinary bird, but a new world suddenly opens before you. Nothing will ever be the same again, and everyone sees it in your eyes.
I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my breakfast just as I do every morning when I happen to be home, which at last estimate is only around forty percent of the time. It was the end of January 2001, and I had just finished a month-long concert and lecture tour straight down the West Coast, from Seattle to California. Twenty-three gigs in twenty-five days, an ordinary month for a rock star but not for an author/musician known by only a handful of New-Age types. I needed a rest, and I was surprised that I was even awake at 9 A.M. The tour had been a grueling marathon of book signings, peace rallies and evening events. I was finally home, and it felt better than I thought it would.
That's when everything in my life changed.
I was eating a bowl of yogurt and granola, staring out the kitchen window at the birds feasting on the seeds someone poured into the St. Francis feeder. A spoon was balanced lightly in my left hand and I wasn't really paying attention to it, at least not then. All I really cared about were the sparrows that hopped around one another with light agility, tapping their beaks sharply upon the generous bowl St. Francis held in his ceramic hands, that and the coffee brewing on a nearby counter. It was all I had room for at the moment. I wasn't thinking about the tour, and I definitely wasn't thinking about what happened that night in Sausalito. (I had spent the last three days trying to wrap my head around that crazy night, then trying to forget it.) So there I was, relaxed and at home, watching the birds and eating my breakfast. I couldn't have been less prepared for what happened next.
I looked at the granola and was ready to scoop up another bite when I noticed something rather strange. The bowl of the spoon was bent at a ninety-degree angle, as if the metal had been melted by a blowtorch when I wasn't looking. I didn't even have enough time to react before the spoon hit the yogurt and slid helpless and empty to the other side of the bowl. It took a second for my mind to catch up and realize what I was looking at. But how? How did a perfectly normal, solid spoon bend without ever leaving my hand? Though it was the first time I asked such a question, it certainly wouldn't be the last.
I sat there for at least a minute looking down at the mangled metal I held. I didn't dare set it down, for fear it would turn out to have been an illusion or would suddenly reshape itself again, returning to its original mundane form. Pushing the chair back, I never looked away from the spoon, just sat there staring with a helpless look on my face.
There were only two possible explanations, I thought to myself. Either I bent the spoon with my own hands without realizing it, which would mean I was more exhausted than I first thought, or it had happened on its own. I didn't want to consider what that meant. It was easier to believe I was crazy or, at best, overworked. I would rather go back to my room and sleep for two days straight than consider the possibility that I bent the spoon with my mind.
A welcomed laugh escaped through my tightened lips and broke the hypnotic spell I had cast. "What a bunch of crazy nonsense," I said, just loud enough to hear. "As if it's possible to bend a spoon with the power of my mind while staring out the window at a few birds." My willingness to even consider that option simply amazed me, and I finally stood up from my chair to get another spoon. Why take a chance, my unconscious mind seemed to say. Maybe it was a defect in the metal itself. The same thing would have happened to anyone in the house if they had picked up that particular piece of silverware. I walked over to the drawer and opened it.
What I did next surprised even me, considering my line of conscious thought. It even scared me a bit.
I reached into the drawer and picked a new spoon, but instead of turning around and walking back to the table where my granola was getting soggy, I paused. My right hand closed the drawer while I held the spoon in my left the same way I held it before. There was no real grip, just a light balancing act between my thumb and first two fingers. I stared down at the spoon with haunted eyes, afraid of the power that might spring forth like a sharp dagger. There were no real thoughts in my mind, just the blank horror of possibility.
Then it happened. A thought began to form, like a cloud born suddenly in a cloudless sky, a thought that didn't seem to come from me but from a place I had never touched before. I had thrown a bucket into a well that didn't seem to have a bottom, and I listened for the distant splash that would prove me wrong. Then I pulled hard on the frayed rope, one hand over the other, until I was able to see what was inside the bucket, the dark, confusing liquid I had stolen from the Earth's core. One word came, more of a feeling than a collection of letters or sounds, but within the womb of that word lived a whole universe I had never known before.
BEND! And it did just that, right there in my hand.
Were my eyes tricking me? Sometimes a spoon, or any straight object for that matter, can appear to bend because of the angle at which it is held or the loose, pulsing rhythm of the wrist making it seem to go rubbery. But these are optical illusions, and I wasn't looking at anything like that. As it had before, the spoon had simply given itself to gravity and bent straight toward the ground. I held the handle in my hand but the rest of it, well, it seemed to have a will of its own and moved without physical aid. It was not the physical part I was concerned about, but the non-physical. I had enough sense to know what hadn't happened; now I needed to find out what had.
I placed the spoon on the counter and took out a fork that was a good deal thicker. Again I held it lightly between my fingers and "felt" the bend. This is the only way I can describe what happened, as if I instinctively knew that the key wasn't what I thought, but what I felt. I felt the joy I would experience if the fork suddenly lost its grip on the solid, lucid universe and bent like a helpless blade of grass. I could sense a growing anxiousness as I waited, as if the weight of this utensil required far more energy than I had used before. The spoon was a good deal lighter and more flexible than the fork, and I decided that this made for a good test. A minute passed and nothing happened. I wasn't disappointed for long.
I could feel the metal that connected the handle to the teeth getting hot, so I rubbed it a little until the heat was too much to bear. Another few seconds passed, and I thought I could see something happening. The metal was moving, and before long the end began its slow dip toward the Earth. It didn't fall nearly as much as the spoon had, but there was a definite change.
Next I tried a butter knife, but no matter how long I focused, it resisted my psychic manipulation. I went back to the spoons, easy prey as I had already discovered, and within two minutes had destroyed three of them. I called to the other room where two of my housemates, Joanne and Sharon, were working. I felt like a child that had been given one of those magic trick kits, "101 Magic Tricks You Can Perform For Your Friends." There was an electricity in the air, and I didn't know if it was just me or if everything around me had changed. Joanne was the first to arrive and asked what was wrong.
"There's nothing wrong. To the contrary," I said to her. "I want to show you something."
I picked up a spoon and held the handle between two fingers. The thumb and index finger of the other hand gently rubbed the thin metal between the bowl and the handle, and Joanne wondered what she was about to see.
"If that spoon bends I'm going to pass out" she said to me. The spoon did bend, farther than it had before, and she nearly kept her promise. I had to hold her arm so she wouldn't crumble.
Sharon came into the kitchen at that same moment. "What's happening?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing," Joanne said sarcastically. "Jimmy just bent a spoon with his mind ... very ordinary stuff ... I think I'm going back to bed now."
"Wait ... one more time," I said to them. And just as easily as that I bent another spoon in front of my stupefied friends. By then seven spoons and a fork sat on the counter bent beyond use. The adventure had certainly begun.
I was all but worn out by the time we arrived at the home in Sausalito for what Sharon called, "An Informal Evening with James Twyman." It was the first real tour Sharon had helped me organize, and to say she was enthused would be an understatement. She had only been working with me for a few months, her chosen retirement after twenty-five years of teaching, and she was already indispensable. I thought she would be able to book maybe ten to twelve events over the course of a month. By the time she was finished, there were twenty-three concert/talks on the January schedule, and the marathon was on.
The "Informal Evening" was her brainchild, and it accounted for maybe five of the twenty-three events that month. She felt that there was no sense having an open evening to rest when there were plenty of people willing to invite forty or fifty people into their homes for a talk. For me it was the chance to relax a bit and not subject myself to the pressures of afternoon sound checks and ticket sales ... just a room full of people eager to learn. It was a great idea, but by the time we reached San Francisco, I felt the need for a break.
There was no time for that. Sharon had booked three separate events on that particular Sunday throughout the Bay Area, and the "Informal Evening" was the grand finale. In the morning I sang at a Religious Science Church service in Oakland, a primarily African-American congregation that set a powerful and energetic tone for my day. Then I was off to a conference sponsored by a local radio host named Judith Conrad to speak for an hour. Both events were excellent and fun, and by the time evening came I was more ready for a nap than another talk.
We arrived in Sausalito around 6:45 P.M., fifteen minutes before the talk began. It is my habit to be alone before giving a talk, partly because of the need to center myself, but mainly because I need time to figure out what I will say. This applies to large events as much as Sharon's "Informal Evenings" since I have never fallen into the habit of planning ahead. My experience has shown that the less I plan the better the event seems to be. It's hard to say exactly why this is so, but I have always believed that the more I "get out of the way" the more wisdom comes through. That doesn't imply that I'm channeling (except in the highest sense of the word), but rather, who am I to decide in advance what an audience needs to hear? Better to let it happen on its own rather than have me direct the course.
I was walking up and down the street outside the house, watching the cars pull up from a safe distance. One drawback to Sharon's idea is that the average house is not set up for such events; for example, dressing rooms are hard to come by. The choice is to sit quietly in a nine-year-old boy's bedroom, meditating while the crowd files in, or go for a walk. I never felt comfortable displacing children from their sanctuary, even if it's only for a few minutes, so the neighborhood walk was usually my choice.
The coordinators for this particular evening were my friends Will and Grace. They had sponsored many of my Bay Area concerts and workshops over the past two years, and I knew they would get word out in a big way ... not that it's hard to fill a living room. By the time I decided to return, the house was full and I made my way to the front. Sharon was at the door, checking off names and keeping things organized. She smiled as I walked in, and she motioned with her eyes that she would hold the rear in case anyone walked in late.
I sat down in front of fifty or so people in a living room belonging to someone I had never met, and the event began. It would be impossible to remember what I talked about, and it isn't really important. I remember that the moon was rising in the large picture window just behind me, casting an etheric glow upon the faces of everyone in the room. I remember the way it felt to look into those bright eyes and open faces, knowing that we were there for some important reason, though none of us knew exactly what it was. It was one of those rare evenings when all the pistons fired at once, and the energy between us was amazing.
After an hour, we took a break, and I milled about, introducing myself to the people I had never met, and connecting warmly with those I had. I forgot how tired I was before the talk began in the flow of an evening that had more purpose than I could ever have imagined. There was no way for me to judge what that meant, at least not at that particular moment, but there was a feeling I couldn't describe that seemed to electrify the evening. How could I have known how dead-on that feeling was?
When the break was over the living room filled up again, and I went back to my seat in the front of the group. People were spread out on the floor in front of me, or relaxing into the large oversized couches and chairs against the wall, or lounging somewhere in the back near the door. I could see Sharon sitting dutifully at her table, even though it was well past the hour when latecomers would come sliding in through the back. A typical night in Marin County, the kind of thing that happened all the time in this modern Mecca of sensitive spirituality.
And that's when I noticed him for the first time. He was sitting on the floor in the front row with his hands crossed neatly in front of him. The fact that he had not been sitting there before the break did not interest me as much as the fact that he was there at all. I knew the people on either side of the boy and was certain he did not belong to them. His parents had to be in the room somewhere, but he seemed so alone sitting there, although not at all uncomfortable. He was absorbing every word, or so it seemed, and displayed none of the ten-year-old fidgeting one would expect. His dark hair fell over his eyebrows and barely touched his back collar, and his smile was big and bright. It never seemed to fade as the talk wound on and on. There was something about his eyes, as if they didn't belong to him at all but to a wise old sage displaced from a cave high in the Himalayas. They were deep and mysterious, but no matter what I felt, he was still just a boy, a very attentive young boy, and he immediately fascinated me.
Though I tried to keep my focus, I found myself speaking directly to him, as if he were the only person in the room. My eyes would scan the group but they always ended up locked on him, and it made me feel very comfortable, somehow. His clothes were a bit strange, considering the way everyone else was dressed. His button-up shirt was unpressed and his pants seemed to be a bit too short for his size. The fact that he didn't have any shoes on made no impression at all since this was, after all, Marin County, and shoes are always left at the door. He made the atmosphere seem more surreal than it already was, which, considering everything, was quite a trick.
The talk finally ended and I did what I could to make my way through the crowd to the front door. I wanted to make sure the boy didn't leave before I had the chance to say goodbye, and to ask him ... I still wasn't sure about that. It didn't really matter what I asked him, I just wanted to look into his eyes again and find out why he was there ... if I could. I also wanted to find out who his parents were, not that it made a difference, but it seemed to matter somehow. It was so strange, my bizarre interest in a little boy who just happened to be sitting in the front row of one of my talks. It probably was nothing at all, just my runaway imagination. But what if it was more? What if his eyes really did communicate something deep and real, a language normal eyes can never comprehend?
People came up and thanked me for the evening. I tried to be attentive and listen to their words, but they all seemed so far away, like echoes from a dream that I had forgotten and didn't care about. All that mattered was finding that boy, though I had no idea why it was so important to me.
"Hello, thank you for letting me come tonight." The voice came from my left and was accompanied by a light tap on the lower part of my arm. I turned around and saw him standing there, looking up with those penetrating eyes. I also noticed that he spoke with a slight accent, almost Russian or Balkan, definitely Eastern European.
Excerpted from Emissary of Love by James F. Twyman. Copyright © 2002 James F. Twyman. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
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