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Unexpected Present

By Paul Fetler






My eyes alerted me to the red line emerging on the white plastic test.


This feels no worse than a mild head cold. At least I am vaccinated. It will pass in a week or two, I thought.


By the next morning, however, my nerves felt drained, as if coiled in an invisible web.

I turned on the desktop to check time-sensitive emails. My concentration, like a smartphone running low, soon shut down.


The Power

Entering the bedroom to rest, I recalled the voice of Paramhansa Yogananda. In an old recording, the yoga master sounded fiery, as if to wake up his listeners. He said that God is the power operating within the intricate circuitry of our bodies and minds. People are self-deceived, even haughty, when they attribute God’s vitality to their contractive personalities. Yet, the guru added, God could remove the power sustaining them, and the entire universe, in an instant.


The Vehicle

Although God is the driver, I knew my thoughts, intuition, and actions were the vehicle keeping my mental, emotional, and spiritual awareness resilient. Like an artist handed limited materials, my mind and body needed to switch gears and trust. In the first week of having the virus, I had scarce energy to meditate, read, or write. So, I relied almost solely on prayer, as if using mantras.


I was humbled that recuperation took longer than anticipated. I observed feeling embarrassment when my energy, weeks later, was still lagging. Yet, I couldn’t deny the toll it took listening even to close friends. The phone calls were kept brief. Fellows who often reached out for support received texts that I needed additional time to hibernate. I kept them in my prayers.

The near imperceptible pace of healing brought greater empathy for others affected during the pandemic. My heart went out to those with long-term illnesses, or who never had vaccinations available.


The winter evenings were chilly by southern California standards. It was easy to have gratitude for many blessings, including a heated apartment, knowing countless people were without roofs over their heads.


Unexpected Present

The infinite Spirit ever blazes to each creature, regardless of how much we diffuse or shut the beams out.


Giving rather than receiving comes easier to me. Without the distraction of the relentless weekly commitments, I noticed my underlying impulses. What instances I observed, had I been in a spirit of service - or when was I trying to be a good boy. Extended time for rest makes my monkey mind uneasy. Yet, the increased vulnerability expanded my heart to receive prayers from others.

My often-impatient psyche experienced deeper compassion for fellow humans moving like turtles, including my ninety-one-year-old Mom who seldom goes out.


Gradually the unplanned hiatus restored my awareness of divine power, not just within people, but behind everything. I felt the presence of the higher realm winking through our Christmas decorations. God glittered within our silver plastic angels and glowed through the white lights draping across our brick wall.

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