Tag: Spirituality

Her Most Prized Possession

The key

Photo by Konstantin Evdokimov on Unsplash

It was Abbi’s tenth birthday party when she received the greatest gift of her life. Though she didn’t know it then. After she opened all of her presents she couldn’t help but notice her favorite person in the world did not give her a gift. Her Grandpa Joe.

“Abbi. Come outside with me for a minute. I have something to give you,” Grandpa said.

A big smile crossed her face as she thought, it must be something really big he couldn’t wrap.

He reached for a simple envelope in his car and handed it to her. “There is no greater gift I can give to you my sweet girl. Treasure this. Always keep it close. A day will come when it will change your life.”

Abbi opened the unsealed envelope and found a small key attached to a simple rope chain. She took it from the envelope. “I don’t understand, Grandpa. A key? A key to what?”

Grandpa laughed. His usual highly contagious, guttural laugh. He picked her up in his arms and nearly squeezed the life from her. “Promise me you will keep this safe. When you are older this key will change everything for you.”

“I promise. Is it a bank key with lots of money? Or a key to my house I will have when I’m a grownup?”

“Oh no, my sweet granddaughter. It’s far more valuable than that. I wanted to give this to you now because I am getting older by the day. And of all my children and grandchildren you will benefit the most from it. Of that, I am sure.”

“Okay, Grandpa. I will keep it with all my other treasures in my special hiding place.”

Her twenty-fifth birthday was three weeks away. It was going to be her worst birthday. Abbi was holding on to her husband’s arm for dear life as they walked up to the coffin to say their last respects. She looked down at the man who resembled her Grandpa Joe. But it wasn’t him. The light that shone so brightly from within him was gone. Memories came flooding back. Sitting in his lap as he read to her. The first time he took her ice skating. Teaching her how to play guitar. The man had the patience of a saint. Always being there for her school plays. For all her graduations. Her wedding. For her life. And now he’s gone. She promised herself she wouldn’t cry at the service. It was a promise she failed to keep as she buried her face in her husband’s chest. He’ll never meet our children.

She went to her father, the spitting image of his father, Grampa Joe. “Oh, dad,” she said as they hugged each other tightly. He nearly squeezed the breath from her. Stirring another unforgettable memory. More tears.

Mom came to the rescue. Grabbing Abbi’s hand she said, “Come with me. I have something for you.” They stepped outside of the funeral home and went to her parent’s car. Her mom reached in and handed her the manilla envelope she had grabbed. “Your Grandfather gave us this on your tenth birthday. He asked that we give it to you upon his death. He said you will know what to do with it.”

Abbi was dumbstruck. My tenth birthday? The memory of that day came flooding back like a tidal wave. She had forgotten all about the key she was gifted with that day. But I know where it is! “Oh, mom,” she said while she squeezed her mom.

“What is it, honey? Do you know what’s in the envelope?”

“On my tenth birthday, Grampa gave me a key. He told me it was the greatest gift he could give me. To keep it safe. And that I would understand when I got older. I had forgotten all about that key. I’m guessing now that I’m older there is information in the envelope about the key.”

“Well, that sounds like something your grandfather would do. Let’s get back inside before our husbands get lost without us,” her mom said while trying to lighten the mood.

“What’s that?” Abbi’s husband Steve asked while pointing at the envelope.

“It’s a long story. If it’s okay with you I will tell you tonight when we get home.”

“No problem, Pooh.” She inherited that nickname when they first started dating when Steve found out she was a big Winnie The Pooh fan. She warned him back then to never use it in public.

Abbi and Steve arrived home late that evening. Emotionally drained and physically exhausted. They lay intertwined on the bed. Glad to be home. “I can tell your mind is going a mile a minute. What’s up?” he inquired.

“I can’t get my mind off that envelope.”

“So, open it. Do you want me to get it?”

“No. It can wait until tomorrow. I won’t get any sleep if I open it now.” They were both asleep in minutes.

Steve awakened to an empty bed. Slipping from the bed, he threw on some sweats and went on a wife hunt.

After searching everywhere, he looked in the basement as a last resort. There he found his wife. Surrounded by boxes she had brought with her when they bought the house. “I can’t find it, Steve. I can’t find the treasure box I kept when I was little. The key was in that box,” she mumbled.

“Let me help. Was it a cardboard box?”

“No. It was a treasure box my Grampa bought me when I was very young.” Drawing a picture in the air for Steve she said, “It was this big.” It had a keyhole with a key. All my treasures were in there.”

“Well, not all of them,” as he moved in to kiss her.

“Okay. So maybe not,” she smiled in response.

“Are you sure you moved it? Could it still be at your parent’s house?”

“I’m pretty sure I got everything out of there. It’s got to be here somewhere.”

“It’s okay. We will find it. Why don’t we do this? I’ll throw some breakfast together and you can see what’s in the envelope?”

“Breakfast sounds good. I like your plan.”

She sat at the table while Steve was creating pleasing aromas. Opening the envelope, she dumped the contents onto the table. “Oh my God. I can’t believe this! He saved every birthday card I ever sent him.” She stood up and took a card over to show Steve. “Look at this. I had to be like four or five.”

Steve looked at the card while Abbi leaned against him. It was no surprise that Winnie The Pooh took center stage in it. Hape berday Gapa was written in purple crayon. Her tears were streaming down his bare chest. “Wow. He really cherished you,” was his only response.

Mixed in with the cards she found a handwritten letter. She read the letter to her husband.

Dear Abbi,

I have loved you since the day you were born. Some things in life are unexplainable. Love is certainly one of those. Those instant love connections between two strangers. You shared with me the love you felt for Steve the instant you met him. I knew then you would marry him and have a wonderful life together. I knew the very first time I laid eyes on you that we would share a special bond. The key I gave you long ago is the key to this bond between us. I know if you are reading this I have moved on to better and brighter things. Don’t be sad for me. I am having the most amazing time with your grandmother. Now, down to business. You will find a small chest in the workroom of my basement. That key I gave you will open the chest. Do you remember what I told you when I gave you the key? That it will be the greatest gift you will ever receive? I might have exaggerated a bit. But not much. I hope Steve is reading this with you. I have inside information your family will be growing soon. Wonderful gifts are in your future. I’ve already met your children. I love you. I’ve always loved you. I will love you forever.


PS. If you lost the key just break the latch open. I won’t be needing it anymore.

Tom brought their plates over and kissed the top of her head before sitting down. “I should have bought stock in Kleenex,” he said while handing her a box. “Eat before it gets cold. Shit. We’re going to have kids. I mean that in a good way. He met our children?”

Taking a bite of the omelet Tom conjured up she said, “You should have been a chef. I’m so grateful I married a man who could cook. If you teach our children I may never have to cook again,” she joked.

“Uhm, no. As long as I’m alive you will be required to make your Chicken a la King.”

“Okay,” she laughed. “I suppose if I must. I’m going to shower before getting back to the search.”

“Yeah. I need a shower as well. I’m feeling dirty,” he said with a devious smile.

After some well-deserved sexual recreation, they both returned to the basement to search for the key. After hearing Abbi say time after time “I can’t believe I saved this stuff,” she jumped up with the key in her hand. “YES! I FOUND IT! Come on Steve. We need to get to Grampa’s house and find that chest.”

“This is hard,” she said as she unlocked the front door to enter her Grampa’s house for what could be the last time. She stood just inside the door. Scanning the room she knew so well. Trying to leave a mental image in her mind she would never forget. The painting of her grandmother as a young woman. Family photos scattered everywhere. And the Grampa smells. His scent was everywhere. Steve took her hand. “Come on, Pooh. Let’s go downstairs and find this treasure chest.”

In just minutes they found a small chest with a lock on it. The key given to Abbi years ago slid in easily. “I feel like we just found a pirate treasure,” she said while opening the chest.

Within the chest were books and journals. This is the greatest treasure? She put the books aside and began to examine the journals. Her grandfather journaled his spiritual experiences. Decades worth. Sharing inner experiences while soul traveling. She was mesmerized as she lightly scanned through one of them. “My God, Tom. Are you seeing this?”

Tom sat skimming through one of the books. It was titled In My Soul I Am Free. It was a first-edition print dated 1968. He picked up another titled Stranger By The River. The print date was 1980. Skimming through it he found many highlighted passages her grandfather must have thought were significant. “Listen to this,” as he read. “As long as the mind continues with thee in its present state, even the love for the beautiful, it is pouring its God energies into the external world and unbalancing Soul’s forces. So, I tell you to turn thy energies within and receive the blessings of God. Here’s another one. How does one reach the state beyond self? That state is beyond wisdom and beyond all but love. I tell you this when you have attained wisdom and gone beyond illusion, then you shall shine forth with splendor, as doth the sun shining upon the earth.” “Wow, Pooh. Maybe your grandfather was right. Just maybe you have been given the greatest gifts one can give.”

It all began to make sense to Abbi. How nothing ever seemed to bother or upset her grampa. He always seemed to be in a state of calm. He was in awe of the simplest of things life had to offer. She realized at that moment he had always been her shining light. “I miss him more than ever. I have so many questions now.”

“Listen to this one. All things will gravitate to thee if ye will let love enter thine own heart, without compromise. Love inspires the heart, first as human love. This is the love that desires to serve its beloved, husband, wife, children, family, friends, or human ideals, and things of this world, during thy existence here in this life. Then the heart becomes refined by selflessness and love possesses thee. He never talked to you about any of this?”

“Let’s get this packed up and take this chest home. We have the rest of our lives to digest this. And Tom? Be honest with me. Is this freaking you out?”

“Absolutely! In the best way possible. Think about this, Pooh. We get to give our children the greatest gift possible. And it all came from the love your grandfather had for you.”

“Did I tell you lately how much I love you,” she said.

“Yes. In the shower this morning,” he said with the biggest grin.

Abbi bought a lovely gold chain for the key. She wears it every day.

© 2022 Joe Merkle All rights reserved.

Originally published on Medium.com.

You Can Only Be You

That is a good thing

Photo by Ben Robbins on Unsplash

As a child, I dreamed I wanted to be Superman, The Flash, Spiderman, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Zeus, Davy Crockett, Tarzan, Zorro, Paul McCartney, and others. It is my firm belief that I was not unusual. There is nothing like a child’s imagination when it comes to creating fantasies. Or is there?

Then we leap into the world of teen madness. The Twilight Zone, where children’s dreams go to die. Yes, the brave new world where that horrible word responsibility enters our vocabulary. I am a firm believer that the average life span of a human should be twelve years. Yes. I know. There would be fertility issues.

As a teen, I wanted to be…uh-hmm, hell if I know. Though I was a good athlete, I was not going to get drafted by the Yankees. I was average. I managed to get good grades without trying. I was socially adequate without trying. I found girls attractive. But not enough to have to convince me it was worth the effort. The greatest achievement I attained in high school was having a modicum of success without trying.

Realizing this I began to ask myself challenging questions. What’s the point of all this? Why am I here? What am I missing? It certainly was not love. I lived with and was part of a loving family. I was not destitute. My family was typical middle-class. Back when that meant something. So, I decided to go on a mission in my junior year.

A spiritual exploration. I was raised Catholic even though my parents seldom went to mass. Did I believe Jesus was the Son of God? Well…yes. But no more than any of us. I considered him and his message to be from a highly enlightened soul who chose to be a coworker with God and make the supreme effort to share his spiritual knowledge with the world. Not unlike many such souls that have walked this earth since the beginning of time and continue to this day to work behind the scenes to help us all.

I and a good friend of mine explored Buddhism for some time. I began to see a common thread. Highly evolved souls that incarnate on earth do not seek earthly rewards. If they do attain material riches they are not attached to them. In Buddha’s case, he walked away from great wealth and influence as a prince to live the life of a beggar taking charity from others. This raised an interesting question in my mind. Does one have to give up the pursuit of material things to reach spiritual enlightenment?

Then one day I was in a bookstore exploring the spirituality section and came across a book written by Brad Steiger, In My Soul I Am Free. In it, the author spends many hours with Paul Twitchell who was the modern-day founder of Eckankar. It delves into the life of Paul and discusses in length the teachings of soul travel and so much more. It has come to light through the years that Steiger was being Steiger and some of what he relates in the book is rubbish. But in the end, the result was bringing to light a most important message to the world. We are souls and we don’t have to die to experience it.

I was given a gift that day in 1972. The most precious of gifts. The realization that I am soul. Not that I have a soul. I am soul. Temporarily using this body. This changed my life in so many ways. It began to slowly sink into my thick skull that it was not an accident I happened to be in that bookstore on that day. That my life was about to drastically change. Scary stuff for a nineteen-year-old. Finally, I had something worth trying.

This all led me to my exploratory years. Those young adult years when everything is on the table. College, sex, drugs, alcohol, travel, work. It was a busy, exciting, life-altering, period of my life. During all of this I had read In My Soul I Am Free several times. Each time brought more moments of enlightenment. Was it the book? Or was I awakening to the fact I am soul? Or both? I can’t really say. In the end, it doesn’t matter. It all led to a most amazing life.

A life filled with great love, adventure, misadventures, and a greater understanding as to why I have been so blessed in this life. It really is a simple formula. It goes like this. Love God (by any name). Share God’s love.

In good times and bad times. All the time. Realize you are soul using a body to accelerate your learning curve. We learn the most from the lessons that test us. Each lesson is just a step toward graduation. There are always teachers guiding us, placing us in positions that test our resolve which eventually opens us up to greater understanding. Most often we lack the awareness of their most generous guidance.

How does one gain that awareness? Do you remember when you first learned to drive? Your parents or driver-ed teachers guided you and helped you master what would become an amazing world-changing event. Your outlook and understanding of the world around you grew exponentially. You traveled to places you had never been to.

It is no different when traveling the inner worlds. Spiritual guides help us maneuver through amazing, consciousness-raising experiences throughout higher planes that exist for the benefit of our enlightenment. Most often this is done in the dream state. Why do they choose this task? Love. And so one day we may follow in their footsteps.

On earth, as it is in heaven.

So often throughout human history ignorance and misunderstanding of the role these advanced souls play in our journey home have shined a light on the purpose we are all here for. To learn to rise above ignorance, prejudice, and hate. We will continue to return to the physical plane for countless lifetimes until we learn the only lesson worth learning.


© 2022 Joe Merkle All rights reserved.

Originally published at https://medium.com/for-awe/you-can-only-be-you-302018f7f5d1

Come With Me

Sail the cosmic seas

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Venus ignored the gusting winds that were trying to turn her long dress into a sail. It did not make her descent down the steep, grassy hill to the shoreline any easier. She was consumed by the Siren’s call, “Come with me. Sail the cosmic seas,” which held her in a hypnotic spell. She was helpless to ignore it. She was no longer in control.

As she neared the shore an oarless rowboat appeared from the mist. “Really? This is the best you can do?” Venus questioned her unseen tormentor. “We are going to sail cosmic seas in this thing?”

No answer. No reply was forthcoming. None was needed as a spectral form appeared in the boat, holding his hand out to encourage her to board.

Okay. I’m either losing my mind or dreaming. In either case, I can either cower and run for cover or accept the possibility I am about to have a grand adventure. Hm-m-m, what to do?

Now Venus was never one to run from a challenge. At the age of twenty-five, she had already traveled most of the globe and had extricated herself from some precarious situations.

This should be interesting, thought Venus as she grabbed the helping hand and entered the boat. She could not help but notice the wind instantly died down as she stepped into the boat. At the same time, the spectral form morphed into a man. He appeared to be fortyish with short-cropped black hair and eyes so dark they seemed to contain all of creation within them. Even though he wore a monk’s clothing from centuries ago she could tell he was chiseled. Despite his odd appearance he looked familiar to her.

The man spoke. “Hello, Venus. It is nice to formally meet you.”

“Do I know you? Have we met before?” she asked.

“Many times. Am I that unforgettable?” he said in jest.

For the first time in her life, Venus was speechless. I would never have forgotten meeting this guy, would I? she thought. “Okay. Which one of my friends put you up to this?”

This was greeted by a guttural laugh from the monk. “It was a group effort. You have many more friends than you are aware of. They all have your best interests at heart.”

“Okay…okay. I’m getting weirded out here. Can you get me back to shore please?”

“Look around Venus. You will find there is no shore. But you may leave if you desire.”

Venus looked down. The boat was gone. The water was gone. They now stood on a path leading towards a white marble building that appeared to be…a temple? I must be dreaming. I just need to wake up she thought as she pinched her arm.

“Take a step back. Look around you. Does anything look familiar?” said the monk.

Venus took a few deep breaths to calm herself. This helped her to realize that she did not feel threatened in any way. As she took in her surroundings a sense of familiarity began to sink in. Not the now I remember this place so much as I feel as if I have been here before. “Kind of,” was her reply.

“I don’t know your name, but you know mine,” she said.

“I apologize. Rebazar Tarz at your service,” he said with the slightest bow.

She could not explain to herself why his name seemed familiar to her. “I have to say sir that this scenery does not look like any cosmic seas I might have imagined.”

“Hm-m-m. So, you have imagined cosmic seas?” he said with a smile.

“I guess so. Like I am floating in space. Bodiless.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“At first it scared me. Then I had a profound sense of freedom. I never told anyone about this before.”

“Excellent! You will make a fine pupil. Let me tell you about myself and those that work alongside me. Many others and I are what many would call Godmen. Simply put, we have reached the state of God-consciousness. Our only objective now is to help others do the same. We have been helping you along the way for many lifetimes.”

Venus could not help herself. She broke out in laughter. “You have the wrong girl. I am not religious. You need to go save someone else.”

Rebazar laughed along with her. “We are not in the business of saving anyone. Nobody needs to be saved. We are simply guides that walked the path and share our knowledge with those that are ready to attain higher states of consciousness. This knowledge is never shared with the masses. Most are not ready to walk on a path that challenges your every step. Nor is it smooth sailing. But the destination is indescribable.”

“You have a choice to make Venus. One is you can return to your globetrotting on the planet earth. I can tell you now all the seeking in the world will not satisfy you. You are a restless soul that needs more. Your second choice is to allow me and other guides to help you obtain the greatest of gifts. To know that you are soul. The choice, as always, is yours to make.”

“How do I know you are who you say you are?” she asked.

Instantaneously she was alongside Rebazar looking at the Milky Way galaxy from a point of view that somehow made them appear to be above it. He points to a star and says, “That is your sun.” Immediately they were hovering over the sun while he pointed to Earth. “That is your planet. Keep in mind this is the least spectacular plane of existence created by God.”

Upon returning to…wherever she was, Venus could not find her tongue. How does one respond to this?

“The offer is good for all eternity, Venus. As I said before, it is always a choice each of us must make. Only the bold inherit heaven. It is not an easy path,” said the serious Master.

Venus had been in predicaments like this many times. The first time she went ski jumping. Sky diving. Swimming with sharks. She could have turned her back on all of them. Venus never turned her back on anything exciting.

“I’m in.”

“Walk with me. Your next classroom session is about to begin,” said the monk as they walked towards the Golden Wisdom Temple.

Originally published at https://joemerkle.medium.com/come-with-me