Why Rituals Work
By Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton
Scientific American, May 14, 2013
There are real benefits to
rituals, religious or otherwise . . . Despite the absence of a
direct causal connection between the ritual and the desired outcome,
performing rituals with the intention of producing a certain result
appears to be sufficient for that result to come true. While some
rituals are unlikely to be effective – knocking on wood will not
bring rain – many everyday rituals make a lot of sense and are
Think about the last time you were about to interview for a job,
speak in front of an audience, or go on a first date. To quell your
nerves, chances are you spent time preparing – reading up on the
company, reviewing your slides, practicing your charming patter.
People facing situations that induce anxiety typically take comfort
in engaging in preparatory activities, inducing a feeling of being
back in control and reducing uncertainty.
While a little extra preparation seems perfectly reasonable, people
also engage in seemingly less logical behaviors in such situations.
Here’s one person’s description from our research:
I pound my feet strongly on the ground several times, I take several
deep breaths, and I "shake" my body to remove any negative energies.
I do this often before going to work, going into meetings, and at
the front door before entering my house after a long day.
While we wonder what this person’s co-workers and neighbors think of
their shaky acquaintance, such rituals – the symbolic behaviors we
perform before, during, and after meaningful event – are
surprisingly ubiquitous, across culture and time. Rituals take an
extraordinary array of shapes and forms. At times performed in
communal or religious settings, at times performed in solitude; at
times involving fixed, repeated sequences of actions, at other times
not. People engage in rituals with the intention of achieving a wide
set of desired outcomes, from reducing their anxiety to boosting
their confidence, alleviating their grief to performing well in a
competition – or even making it rain.
Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they
appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective.
Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to
lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before
high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce
anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals
appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals
work. While anthropologists have documented rituals across cultures,
this earlier research has been primarily observational. Recently, a
series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing
new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on
people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Basketball superstar Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts
underneath his Chicago Bulls shorts in every game; Curtis Martin of
the New York Jets reads Psalm 91 before every game. And Wade Boggs,
former third baseman for the Boston Red Sox, woke up at the same
time each day, ate chicken before each game, took exactly 117 ground
balls in practice, took batting practice at 5:17, and ran sprints at
7:17. (Boggs also wrote the Hebrew word Chai (“living”) in the dirt
before each at bat. Boggs was not Jewish.) Do rituals like these
actually improve performance? In one recent experiment, people
received either a “lucky golf ball” or an ordinary golf ball, and
then performed a golf task; in another, people performed a motor
dexterity task and were either asked to simply start the game or
heard the researcher say “I’ll cross fingers for you” before
starting the game. The superstitious rituals enhanced people’s
confidence in their abilities, motivated greater effort – and
improved subsequent performance. These findings are consistent with
research in sport psychology demonstrating the performance benefits
of pre-performance routines, from improving attention and execution
to increasing emotional stability and confidence.
Humans feel uncertain and anxious in a host of situations beyond
laboratory experiments and sports – like charting new terrain. In
the late 1940s, anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski lived among the
inhabitants of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. When residents
went fishing in the turbulent, shark-infested waters beyond the
coral reef, they performed specific rituals to invoke magical powers
for their safety and protection. When they fished in the calm waters
of a lagoon, they treated the fishing trip as an ordinary event and
did not perform any rituals. Malinowski suggested that people are
more likely to turn to rituals when they face situations where the
outcome is important and uncertain and beyond their control – as
when sharks are present.
Rituals in the face of losses such as the death of a loved one or
the end of a relationship (or loss of limb from shark bite) are
ubiquitous. There is such a wide variety of known mourning rituals
that they can even be contradictory: crying near the dying is viewed
as disruptive by Tibetan Buddhists but as a sign of respect by
Catholic Latinos; Hindu rituals encourage the removal of hair during
mourning, while growing hair (in the form of a beard) is the
preferred ritual for Jewish males.
People perform mourning rituals in an effort to alleviate their
grief – but do they work? Our research suggests they do. In one of
our experiments, we asked people to recall and write about the death
of a loved one or the end of a close relationship. Some also wrote
about a ritual they performed after experiencing the loss:
I used to play the song by Natalie Cole “I miss you like crazy” and
cry every time I heard it and thought of my mom.
I looked for all the pictures we took together during the time we
dated. I then destroyed them into small pieces (even the ones
Ireally liked!), and then burnt them in the park where we first
We found that people who wrote about engaging in a ritual reported
feeling less grief than did those who only wrote about the loss.
We next examined the power of rituals in alleviating disappointment
in a more mundane context: losing a lottery. We invited people into
the laboratory and told them they would be part of a random drawing
in which they could win $200 on the spot and leave without
completing the study. To make the pain of losing even worse, we even
asked them to think and write about all the ways they would use the
money. After the random draw, the winner got to leave, and we
divided the remaining “losers” into two groups. Some people were
asked to engage in the following ritual:
Step 1. Draw how you currently feel on the piece of paper on your
desk for two minutes.
Step 2. Please sprinkle a pinch of salt on the paper with your
Step 3. Please tear up the piece of paper.
Step 4. Count up to ten in your head five times.
Other people simply engaged in a task (drawing how they felt) for
the same amount of time. Finally, everyone answered questions about
their level of grief, such as “I can’t help feeling angry and upset
about the fact that I did not win the $200.” The results? Those who
performed a ritual after losing in the lottery reported feeling less
grief. Our results suggest that engaging in rituals mitigates grief
caused by both life-changing losses (such as the death of a loved
one) and more mundane ones (losing a lottery).
Rituals appear to be effective, but, given the wide variety of
rituals documented by social scientists, do we know which types of
rituals work best? In a recent study conducted in Brazil,
researchers studied people who perform simpatias: formulaic rituals
that are used for solving problems such as quitting smoking, curing
asthma, and warding off bad luck. People perceive simpatias to be
more effective depending on the number of steps involved, the
repetition of procedures, and whether the steps are performed at a
specified time. While more research is needed, these intriguing
results suggest that the specific nature of rituals may be crucial
in understanding when they work – and when they do not.
Despite the absence of a direct causal connection between the ritual
and the desired outcome, performing rituals with the intention of
producing a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result
to come true. While some rituals are unlikely to be effective –
knocking on wood will not bring rain – many everyday rituals make a
lot of sense and are surprisingly effective.
Circle of Life
Melton Haslett Clark
by Jeanne Leiter Clark
My husband Mel had a good
life. He lived for over 73 years. I met him when he was 27 and I was
going to college in Kansas City, Missouri. In my off hours after
school, homework, and a part-time job, I attended a Dojo
taking Judo classes. Mel was working full-time, attending college in
Kansas City, Kansas and taking Karate classes at the same Dojo.
If it hadn’t been for that
Dojo . . .
Mel at Temple of the
Summer Solstice Ritual.
(Photo by David Jacks)
He was raised by his
grandmother and grandfather on a farm where his grandfather broke
horses, had a garden, and raised chickens, but still, he was a city
kid. He lived for a few years in Portland, Oregon, but spent most of
his growing years in Lawrence, Turner, and Kansas City, Kansas with
his half-sister Joyce (deceased). He is survived by a half-brother,
Chuck Ramey, and a half-sister, Carol Darlene Pringle.
At Turner Junior High School
he was a member of the Dramatics Class and took part in several
plays, including Stage Door and
Ten Little Indians.
Because the draft was in
effect in 1958, Mel volunteered for the Army a month after he
graduated from high school. Luckily for him this was a period of
Peace. After Korea, and before the U.S. sent large number of troops
to Viet Nam. He shipped out from New Jersey and spent his required
time in Vicenza, Italy. He liked to tell how he managed to nab a job
in the Administrations
Office. When he arrived in Italy, the camp was covered with cold,
white snow. As soon as the bus stopped, a soldier stuck his head in
the door. "Can anybody on the bus type?" It only took an instant for
Mel to figure out that the typewriter would be inside and a lot of
other camp chores would be outside. His was the first and only hand
In his off hours he worked
with the base theater group on Petticoat Fever and Stalag
17. He spent leave time in Venice, Italy, Munich and other
various towns in Germany.
He lucked out again when his
platoon was mustered out three years later. He was released, whereas
others in his group were held over for possible deployment to Viet
When he returned to Kansas
City, Kansas he worked at an optical supply company, taking a night
class in, of all things, French Language. (Side note: he had many
gifts, learning another language was not one of them.)
When we met in June 1966 we
decided fairly quickly to marry. We chose December and noticed that
one of the Saturdays was the 31st. The more we thought
about it, the more it sounded festive. The whole world is in a
joyous mood, awaiting the bright future of the coming year.
Right from the start I asked
him if he liked California (having lived there, and only coming back
to Missouri in order to live at home and attend college full time, I
was determined to move back to the Sunshine State). He said he
didn’t know, had never been there. I asked him if he liked snow. He
said–-very emphatically-–"No". I said, "You’ll love California."
We lived in Kansas City,
Missouri for two years while I finished college, and we built a
small bankroll to sustain us until we found jobs in California.
Moving to Pasadena was a great move. Living near Colorado and Lake
gave me a short drive to Jet Propulsion Laboratory where I worked as
a chemist. Mel had a short walk to Pasadena City College where he
attended classes in the day and worked in the Admittance Office at
night. He earned enough credits for an AA degree.
After living for two years in
Pasadena, we bought our house in Arcadia where we lived the
remainder of our married years. While I worked at an agricultural
chemical company, the G.I. Bill paid for Mel’s schooling at
California State University, L.A. where he obtained a B.S. in
Business Administration (Finance).
The degree got him a job with
LAUSD; Financial Manager at Pasteur Middle School, and then at
Virgil Middle School. He spent twenty-seven years in his career
before retiring in January 2005.
Shortly after retiring, we
took a two week trip to Italy. Mel wanted to show me the Venice he
remembered from the Army. Not surprising, Mel found that it looked
the same as it did in 1961! He had planned the entire trip. Going
on-line, he booked the plane tickets, hotel rooms, several museum
admissions, and the train tickets
to Florence, Rome, and then back to Venice. It was the first time I
had ever been outside the States. The trip was perfect.
He had learned chess while in
the Army. Instead of the usual games, his barrack's buddy taught him
how to play blindfold chess--in other words, no board, no pieces, he
had to remember the location of his and his opponent's pieces and
the moves on both sides! Chess continued to be an important avocation throughout
the rest of his life. He joined the U.S. Chess Federation and the
Arcadia Chess Club in 1999, became a player, then a Tournament
Director (and treasurer) for the next fourteen years.
His interest in theater also
continued his whole life, attending many plays (and dragging me to
many musicals–however, he was fond of saying that I always ended up
enjoying the plays/musicals he drug me to–true enough.) He
enjoyed reading plays, too, subscribing to American Theatre
in order to stay informed of the theater scene.
During his retirement years,
he discovered he enjoyed cooking. He asked me if I minded him in
my kitchen. My response was, do I look stupid? His specialty was
gourmet meals, as opposed to my down home cooking. If I had any
complaints about his cooking, it was that he enjoyed finding
brand-new recipes and liked to cook meals we had never had before. I
had to keep reminding him that sometimes he cooked something that I
really, really loved, and would he perhaps cook it again? He would.
He especially liked to host parties so he could research for and
then prepare unusual appetizers and meals.
Except for the last two years
where he underwent a triple-bypass and then four months later
excision of part of his lung for cancer, he had a healthy life. He
underwent chemo treatments for seven months where I believe he
learned to trust others (doctors
and nurses) by giving up his secrets to their intimate questions.
He did not call himself a
Pagan, was on a different path than mine, but he learned to honor
the decisions that I made on my path. He attended all Temple of the
Goddess rituals and kept the ritual Give-aways in his bedroom. I
believe he was proud of what Xia and I had created with the Temple.
On March 11th he
passed over the Rainbow Bridge peacefully, in my arms. He was
anointed and prayed over by Xia. We were priestesses to his
embarking on the next phase of his journey.
I honor his life with my
Learning How to
by Jeanne Leiter Clark
While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been
learning how to die. -Leonardo da Vinci
Before you accept the notion of death, you must first embrace
-Dr. Pio Vucetich Nunez del Prado,
Peruvian Psychotherapist & Shaman
Mel and C-Ra : February 2009
Many cultures outside of Western societies understand and honor
death. We in the West figure if we ignore it, it won’t be a problem.
We don’t talk about it. In church our ministers talk about Heaven
and Hell, but not about that moment of entrance. Our newspapers only
deal with "If it bleeds, it leads." Magazines such as Time
publish articles about the high cost of dying–Medicare and/or
hospitals. Parents protect their children by telling them that
Grandma went to sleep, or went on a trip. In my experience, grave
site raw dirt is covered with artificial turf and the coffin
descends into the hole only after everyone has left. However,
I have been told that in Jewish culture there is no artificial turf
and each person present is given a shovel which they use to put the
final note onto the deceased’s song.
I have been trying to understand death ever since, when I was
thirteen, my brother died in an automobile accident at the youthful
age of nineteen. My parents didn’t ignore the subject of death, but
my father had to go back to work, my mother had a nervous breakdown
which required my sixteen-year-old sister to manage the house. There
was no one to ‘teach’ me about death, to support me as I tried to
handle my grief.
How can anyone ‘learn’ about death? The Los Angeles Times
published an interesting article in a recent paper (15 April 2013).
The article began on the top half of the front page. Some editor
wisely thought it was important. It was entitled, "Death Café:
passing thoughts". It seems that a year and a half ago a certain Jon
Underwood thought it might be a good idea to sit around his London,
England basement, sip tea, eat biscuits (cookies), and talk about
death. Betsy Trapasso, living in the wild zone of Los Angeles
decided to hostess one herself. She claims, "It’s not a support
group. It’s not a grief group. My whole thing is to get people
talking about it so they’re not afraid when the time comes." What a
novel idea–talking about an invisible topic!
Trapasso describes herself as an end-of-life guide. "There are so
many people who live in fear of death, and that’s one of the reasons
we have such a youth-obsessed culture and culture that turns away
According to the article, "Life and death, death and life. The
conversation slides easily back and forth between the two." Trapasso
urges, "Live fully. Why have regrets?" Those present at the first
L.A. Death Café (by the way, there are Death Cafés in Gig Harbor,
Washington and Searsport, Maine and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and yes,
even in Cleveland, Ohio) gave Trapasso advice: "If you don’t like
your job, quit. If you don’t like the person you’re with, leave that
person. Travel now. Don’t wait for later." Most importantly, "Don’t
let anyone stop you from living the life you want."
I wish I would have had a chance to attend a Death Café many
years ago. It probably would have made it easier to live through my
father’s, then my mother’s, then my sister’s deaths. I was so
wracked with grief when my special dog died that I had six visits to
a therapist who agreed that my grief was far deeper than my dog’s
death. Counseling, personal writings, rituals both public and
private, and talks with friends helped me move past grief into
sorrow. Although I handle death much better now, I still have a lot
My latest test with death started in June of 2011. My
husband of forty-four years had a triple-bypass operation, then just
four months later, underwent excision of small tumors on the left
lobe of his lung. When the CT Scan in January of 2012 showed no
tumors, we thought he had escaped The Bullet. His next CT
Scan in July of 2012 showed a recurrence of the lung tumors. During
his chemo treatments they gradually discovered metastases in his
liver and bone marrow.
I hung onto the hope of modern science. I knew that lung cancer,
especially with metastases, has a very low survival rate. I refused
to think that he would or could die. By the end of February 2013
when the doctor told us that Mel wasn’t reacting well to the chemo,
I still told myself that it was just a break, that he would resume
the treatments in a few weeks and beat the dreaded "C".
For months Mel had been eating less and less. I had actually
accused him of unconsciously trying to commit suicide by
starvation–I was trying to shock him into eating. It didn’t work. A
yellow caution light glowed at the back of my consciousness when he
grew weaker and weaker. I kept my reactions ‘normal’ for Mel.
Finally, he could no longer walk to the tv room or even from his bed
to the bathroom, only 10 - 12 steps. I wheeled him in a wheelchair,
but now, he only got out of bed to go to the bathroom. In one day he
might eat a fourth of an apple and two chicken nuggets. He continued
having an occasional scotch. But, now he had it in milk. "Gotta stay
healthy," he’d say.
More and more, I felt desperate to find something that he would
like to eat, and a tv show he’d like to move into the tv room to
watch. It wasn’t until the 6th of March when I called to
sign him up for hospice care that the yellow warning light turned a
pale shade of red. His weight, as well as his blood pressure had
been consistently dropping, but I became scared when the visiting
nurse told me his blood pressure was 86 over 42. That is dangerously
low (average blood pressure is 120/80).
For the last few weeks, Xia had been telling me that when the
time came that I didn’t want to be alone, to call her. She told me
she would pack a computer, a few clothes, and come and stay with me
for as long as I needed her. She told me that only I would know when
that time had come.
Friday afternoon (March 8th) Xia brought chicken from
Zankou and from Portos, she brought potato balls that Mel loved. She
said she’d like to go in and talk with him if he’d like to–if not,
she could email him. I went in to check, since when one of his
friends had called a few days before, he had said he didn’t want
anyone to see him like he was. Mel said, "Of course." Later, she
told me about their conversation. She started off by reassuring him
that I, Pythia, was not alone, that I had family. He never ate again
after having half a potato ball.
For my whole life it has been hard for me to ask for help. But
Saturday morning, I called my sister, Xia, and asked for her to come
and be with me. I told her that we'd had a rough night, and Mel
couldn’t even go to the bathroom, even in his wheelchair. He had
fallen and hit his head when I tried to help him from bed to the
wheelchair. Then I said, "I need you. I want you." It was terribly
hard for me to talk through the pain and tears.
Xia said she would pack a few things, close up her house and come
over. She arrived Saturday afternoon, staying until Wednesday
Mel was still coherent on Saturday, talking with Xia, and
answering all the nurse’s questions and carrying on conversations.
On Sunday the visiting nurse would not tell me his blood pressure
until we were in the other room. It was not detectible.
That Sunday afternoon my sister Xia went in to talk with him,
telling him that I had many sisters and brothers in Temple of the
Goddess who would make sure that I would be looked after, cared for.
Sunday evening hospice delivered morphine to the house. This is when
I truly began to deal with Mel’s death. It stared me in the face and
I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I slept beside Mel, setting a
timer, giving him just enough morphine every hour to keep him
comfortable. I stayed by his side, holding him, kissing him, feeling
the cold creep up from his fingers, to his hands, to his forearm, to
his upper arms. His mouth remained open. He didn’t ask for food or
liquid. I knew that he was in the process of dying. I learned that
dying is not a finite point, but truly a journey. I remained with
Mel throughout the night, and the next day, Monday April 11th.
Xia made sure I ate something periodically. She also did a search on
her computer for mortuaries. I decided on cremation with The Neptune
I kept telling him I loved him and always had. I told him it was
okay to leave. I kept repeating that whatever he saw, whether it was
a door to go through or a new neighborhood to walk into or a rainbow
bridge to cross, that it was okay. That it was the next part of his
journey. Finally, at about four o’clock in the afternoon on Monday I
knew he was very close to the Veil. I held him and asked him to
contact me, if at all possible, after he had gone through the door,
or walked into that new neighborhood, or crossed over the rainbow
bridge. For the first time in 24 hours, he gave a single nod.
Through my tears I said, "Okay, you promised. You’ll contact me if
you can." He gave another single nod.
He gasped. I looked at my watch, it was four minutes after four
in the afternoon. Two minutes passed and he gasped again. It was six
minutes after four. He gave one last gasp at four oh seven. I
couldn’t feel a pulse. He wasn’t breathing. I had embraced death and
survived. Not only did I survive, but I had assisted Mel in his
transition to the next phase of his journey.
For years I have talked about a soul choice, meaning an
unconscious choice of cetain dying persons to die at a particular
time or date. Everyone has heard about someone hanging on beyond
doctors’ estimates until a relative or dear friend visits, or
sometimes the person waits until their loved one/s leave the room,
not wanting to subject their loved ones to their death. Mel did have
a soul choice. He died on March 11, 2013, also written
3.11.13 = 3+111+ 3 = 333. I have used 333 as part of my email
address for several decades. It is a very important number to me. As
a Pagan I love the number "3", representing Maiden, Mother, Crone,
and Pagans often refer to the Power of 3 times 3 which equals nine,
the same as 3 + 3 + 3. As I was re-reading this for the sixth time,
editing it, the last paragraph hit me in the face. It took Mel 3
minutes to die. . .
I went into the other room and told Xia that Mel had died. She
went to Mel and as we looked down on his peaceful body, she
mentioned that he probably wouldn’t want to leave the house in just
a t-shirt and Depends. Mel was always particular about how he
looked–chiding me for my jeans and t-shirt apparel. I agreed. We
left his clean white t-shirt and recently replaced socks. I took off
the Depends and put on new underwear. Together, we dressed him in
clean black jeans. We both thought he looked his best in black. We
straightened his body, resting his head on a pillow.
We waited together, with Mel, for the men from The Neptune
Society. After filling out the paperwork at the dining room table,
they wanted to see the room where he was to determine how to bring
the stretcher in.
It was then, Xia told me later, that it hit her that Mel was
really leaving and Spirit told her that Mel should be anointed by
priestesses before he left with the men. She turned to me and asked,
"Could we anoint him? I gratefully said, "YES!" I absolutely knew it
was the right thing to do. She asked the Neptune representatives if
we could have five or ten minutes with Mel before they took him
away. They waited outside. They were very respectful. I went and got
my bottle of myrrh oil and handed it to Xia.
I don’t remember all of what she said as I lay on the bed, my arm
around my husband of the past forty-six years, but she used the
myrrh oil to anoint him, calling him, "Sweet son of the Goddess."
She prayed to the Mother to receive Her son into Her loving embrace.
We were priestesses to this part of Mel’s journey.
As the Neptune men placed Mel on the stretcher, I picked up our
dog, Pepper, in order for both of us to say a goodbye. The men
placed a flag over his body to honor his service to the country in
the Army. Xia and I (carrying Pepper, who would now be my only daily
companion) followed Mel out to the street, waited as they placed him
in the hearse, then watched as they drove away.
Xia told me later of "the honor, as a priestess, to share this
blessed journey with you and your beloved."
By the way, Mel did contact me. I went to the grocery store the
next day, Tuesday. I drove home a different route than I normally
take, one past a gas station which showed the price of gas to be
$4.07, the exact time of his death.
That same day Xia received a call on her
cell phone from a number she didn’t recognize: area code 407. She
didn’t answer it. Friday in my morning prayers I prayed, as usual,
to Pachamama (my personal Goddess) to give me strength. In my head I
distinctly heard the following, "Strength comes with purpose." Not
only did Mel contact me, but the Goddess did too.
The monthly anniversary of Mel’s death,
April 11th, as I segued from sleep to wakefulness, I
distinctly heard the brass bell ding four times. I had put it on the
tv tray beside Mel’s bed. Before he became so weak, he had used the
bell to signal me from the other room.
Mel fulfilled his promise to me. He
contacted me from across the rainbow bridge, not once, but several
times. I believe, if at all possible, he will continue contacting
me. Once, while I was driving my car and thinking about this, I had
a thought (I’m not sure if it was my thought or I received a message
from outside). A conversation is not one-sided. I have, and
intend to continue, contacting, talking with Mel.
I listen and watch the world around me.
The past, the present, the future, this world, and the next are
interwoven. I went to a lecture on April 22 and learned that the
Ancient Egyptians believed this too. When they lit a wick in an
alabaster lamp which was carved with a lily pad–symbolic of
Creation, they were creating the Universe anew, at the beginning of
time and in the present, conjointly. I just need to be aware, be
conscious of every moment. Live in the present. Love in the present.
I am crying as I write this, but I’m
not grieving. Grieving stops one’s forward momentum. I cry in
sorrow. If I would wish him back, it would be selfish. After Mel’s
death I read Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander. He had a
seven day NDE (Near Death Experience). The book re-enforced my
thoughts about the After-Life. What one experiences depends a lot on
the philosophy of the individual experiencing it. I believe he is in
such a glorious place in his journey that we cannot imagine. But
still, I miss him so much.
Death is no more than passing from one
room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know.
Because in that other room I shall be able to see. -Helen
We are all blind.
I love you Mel.
Both of us are on new paths of our
I had a frustrating day on Friday,
April 26th. I had to call Social Security and tell them
that I could not find our marriage certificate in order to complete
their claim form. It was also the first day that I had taken off
Mel’s wedding ring in order to have a massage which I sorely needed
(I had slipped the ring from his finger directly onto my right
middle finger while Xia had been anointing him). I arrived home at
7:30 pm from having dinner with Xia (after the righteous massage)
and saw the telephone answering device blinking. I punched the
listen button and heard the machine say, "You have received one new
call at 3:33 pm." There was no one on the recording, not even
static, not even a hang up.
On May 11th, one of the
Temple families came to my house to celebrate Mothers’ Day with me.
CandyJo, Ernie, and their daughter Essence and son Prophet. They had
graciously given me the privilege of attending the birth of Prophet
in December 2010. I have been given the gift of being present and
aiding a new life to come through the doorway into this marvelous
world. I have also been given the gift of being present and aiding a
precious life exit through that same doorway. I now realize that the
door to life and death is the same doorway.
I must tell you of one more
communication (gift) that flowed from Mel to me. Because CandyJo and
Ernie were running late on the 11th, I turned on the tv
to pass the time. The tv was already set to channel 2. It was one
hour into a three hour show of PBR bull-riding. This is my favorite
sport to watch. Mel would often spot it in the line-up and record it
for me as a surprise. Thank you Mel.
I don't know how long Mel will be able
to communicate with me. But with an open heart and an open mind, I
am patiently waiting.
This is not the end.