AFTER READING AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY MY FRIEND, RAFAEL STONEMAN, ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR, A VIETNAM VET

for Rafe

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The name of Jesus is still powerful, even after 2000 years of depletion by religion and politics. Those who find themselves in the deepest possible need can shelter there and find themselves held in his arms. When we feel we can’t be  any more alone, God may come to us as that Aloneness which answers to the name of Jesus.

I have worked twenty years in a paint store, gotten old there, by the measurement of the young.  Once I found a sparrow dead behind stacked gallons of white semi-gloss. The little thing was dried up, its beak open wide, begging for water or air. When I found it I got angry with God. I looked at that sparrow and imagined it crying out to be saved but its voice was not heard. It died alone behind a rack of paint. Part of my anger was because I had tried and failed to save the bird myself. Found it flying around the store, door left open by a careless customer but I couldn’t catch it without breaking a wing so finally gave up and let it find its own way.

But then I recalled how so many facing death, unable to do more for themselves, just surrender. I saw that with our last cat. He was ready to go. Came in one night in October, said his good-byes, walked into the woods and didn’t come back. Then there was our little squirrel, rescued as a baby and raised back to life. A few times I saw him playing with the dog. He literally climbed into the dog’s mouth and relaxed there, lying down completely across his jaws! You don’t believe that but it’s true.  At that moment I believed he was practicing for his death in the jaws of some cat or coyote. Maybe that sparrow also found himself in the arms of Jesus Christ.

I feel that name always as a blow to my heart  and when I saw it in your article, I was reminded. You did good work, my friend, when you brought that name to life for those with eyes to read.

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https://www.mpacorn.com/articles/overcoming-the-struggles-of-ptsd-and-abuse/

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A PRAYER FOR RAFAEL STONEMAN, TO KEEP HIM SAFE

Rafael Stoneman in his natural habitat.

Rafael Stoneman in his natural habitat.

“i figure if Ramana wants me to drop the body, he’ll
make it happen, and if not, HE will keep the tree standing.” Rafe

I was painting a big three story Queen Anne
off a forty foot ladder, up near the  roof line
when God whispered in the ear of the ladder holder
“You’re not needed here. Walk away.”

So he walked away
and when the steel toes of the ladder kicked out
I fell
hitting  the roof of an ugly family room tacked on in 1971
the year you were born.
That saved me.

But I kept on rolling off that second roof and hit a 6×6 cedar post
planted upright in the garden for no discernible reason.
Finally come to earth with only my collarbone broke.

There were other falls.

Thirty-five feet off an apartment house I was decking in 1972.
The roof over the third story porch broke loose and I went with it
fast and furious like a bird on fire
but peaceful too, like it was happening to somebody else.
Landed on my back in a pile of boards.
Three cracked vertebrae, a week in the hospital and out.
God said “It don’t hurt that much.”
Funnily enough, he was right at the time.
Just starting to now.

I fell off a concrete dam into the Blanco River when I was a kid
but didn’t drown.
Fell out of a hickory tree, twenty-five feet or so, in 1959
grabbing at limbs that tore holes in my arms, screaming all the way
down.

Jumped off a roof once, testing a parachute made from a cotton sheet
that had cowboys printed on it, firing six guns out of both fists.
The air was so thick with damp, I thought that I could walk upon it.
But that one doesn’t count.

Other falls I don’t remember so well anymore.
They say forgetfulness and loss of grip are gifts of age
and I agree with them.

In 1988 after that collarbone business I went to my Guru
Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj!
Beautiful, fierce and kind, all at once,  just like a little child
whose best friend is a cobra.
He gave me blessed vibhuti, a chunk of sacred ash used for initiation.
Said, “Keep this in your car. You’ll be OK.”
That’s what I did, moving it from the glove compartment of one junker work truck to another
until that last one caught fire and burned
nearly taking the whole neighborhood with it!
By this time my Guru had passed on
becoming the breath that all of us breathe forever and forever
and forever.
Now if I fall, I will not be falling.  I will fly.

All I’m saying, Rafael, is be careful my friend.
You are needed here and you are much
loved.

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photo of Sage Stoneman

Charlie Hopkins and Rafael Stoneman 2013, along with Freddie.

Charlie Hopkins and Rafael Stoneman 2013, along with Freddie.