From Awakening Together Radio
I had often heard about the creative power of our attitude, of our inner mindset, of our thoughts, especially through the spiritual mind training of A COURSE IN MIRACLES, however I hadn’t been able to use this effectively for my own recovery. Doubts always remained. Could all this be true? Could I be responsible for my entire experience – from A to Z? This felt like a slap in the face. Often it got me real angry. I just couldn’t get it.
I had already been suffering from progressive MS and recurrent depression for 23 years and to get around I had to use walking aids or wheelchairs. In the last years of this sad phase I would furthermore suffer from constipation, incontinence, fatigue and neuropathies.
All in all this whole situation felt like an agonizingly slow process of dying, losing one capability after the other. I had often tried to get up to high buildings in order to jump down and end this suffering once and for all. However the fear this might not solve a single problem of mine and would only leave tears behind, not to mention that it would really be painful, consistently stopped me.
Then what finally slingshot me out of this hell was that one night I just was entirely fed up with all this dying-business. This here was my life and I wanted to live it abundantly and be happy again, and share this with others!
What I was fed up with most of all was this constant fear that had meanwhile crept over so many areas of my life like some exuberant cancer. Fear, fear, fear, wherever I looked in my life. Meanwhile I was afraid of everything. My fear of walking seemed to be at the core of it all. Of course there also was fear of eating something wrong. There was fear of smoke, fear of white bread, fear of meat, fear of my hunching about on two canes, fear of peoples’ reaction who saw me that way, fear of falling down, fear of death, fear of life. Fear of everything!
And it was this very fear that I had cultivated and pampered for so very long supplying it with my entire life-energy that I rendered a crucial kick that night. I wanted to live and be happy again and in communication. Not tomorrow or in a week, but right now!
In deciding so, without noticing, I had finally steered my mental attitude fundamentally into the right direction. And obviously this decision was driven by such sincerity and conviction that my depression was over instantly. Not so my MS-symptoms, however I really didn’t care about them anymore and gradually they began dropping away, each day a bit more. Meanwhile for walking I mostly don’t even need a walking cane any more. And generally as many abilities as I had lost over the decades began to come back to me.
Soon I picked up the COURSE IN MIRACLES again and realized I read it with completely new eyes. There was such thankfulness I felt for this mind training that was so clear and so radical. It literally felt like being taken by the hand through this COURSE.
In our weekly Course-groups ever more clearly the Voice for God, as it is called there, the Voice of the Holy Spirit or of Universal Intelligence began speaking through me. I just had to open up and hand over the management of the group to this higher intelligence. In some miraculous way I immediately felt guided to say exactly what would be helpful for us all just at this very moment.
Sometimes all barriers dropped away and nearly our entire group would plunge into the basic oneness of all of life.
It was experienced there is this Living Stillness and Peace deep within that becomes available the more that I give myself up to it. As I see it, all true healing and recovery comes from there. It feels like a radiant inner home that is absolutely unshakable. It feels like an unlimited inner reservoir of healing and life and happiness widely open to everyone who is willing to open up to it.
So there is actually only one thing I changed to get there:
I choose happiness and health the moment something unhappy comes along in my mind. Be it a feeling of guilt or a feeling of anger or a feeling of fear or a feeling of pain. Yet different from earlier on in my life, today I’m extremely determined in this.
And whenever any kind of relapse shows up, it doesn’t take long and I remember to take this as but another chance to find back to this inner radiant home of ours and to deeply refresh and recover in it.
It is truly our mind that is in charge of the way our lives develop. Any experience – good or bad – is but a mirror in which we can learn something about the attitudes we have adopted. And if the experience presenting itself to me does not match my Soul’s wish to be free and happy and in communication, it is my attitude I have to change first of all for the good to occur again.
Happiness is not some fleeting coincidence. Happiness is a decision. Happiness is not tied to outward circumstances. Happiness is a God-given quality of the Soul and can be chosen again anytime we forget it.
The COURSE IN MIRACLES offers a wealth full of information and thought-exercises in this respect. I’d just like to point out one of them here. It’s a pivotal one:
We can mentally hand over our problems and plans and feelings and thoughts to God’s Holy Spirit that in truth we are one with.
In case we need a visualization for that, we can picture hands of light reaching toward us, and put our personal issues right in there – our problems, our plans, our feelings, our thoughts.
Generally this takes frequent repeating and time. However sooner or later one will notice how suggested solutions for our problems are being given us by the light of this higher intelligence, how our plans are being returned to us purified, and how only those of our feelings and thoughts are upheld that make us and others truly happy.
Yet particularly this inner exercise leads to experiencing that we are indeed never alone, that the Good Spirit of Life always is here with us and that we can call on it anytime.
Christoph Engen, April 11th 2015
THE SINGING TOES
How Someone Found Healing By Listening To Their Inner Music
An imaginative depiction of a first-hand experience of recovery from long-time chronically progredient MS and recurring depression
Dieter Mittelsten Scheid, MD
What is exceptional about Christoph Engen’s tale of healing is that it is born out of his own personal experience and speaks to us in such a simple and direct language that it can easily reach young people too who are inflicted with physical or mental handicaps. Although the message is not new, it is made accessible to us through the direct experiences of the author and reminds us of our own inner wisdom. In this way it is authentic. The fable encourages us to deal with our illnesses and limitations in a new, playful and creative way; to open our senses to everything we are perceiving in the present moment; to question our negative concepts about ourselves and others; to feel our hearts and to be ready to experience our personal small or big miracles of life. When we follow this path healing effects will materialize and changes will occur in our physical health which we previously never thought possible.
As I read Christoph Engen’s story, I was reminded of an experience I had many years ago, when I spent two weeks alone in a heavily snowed-in hut in the Karwendel mountains in Austria. Initially, I did not find it easy to cope with my sense of loneliness, the coldness and the mice which kept me awake at night. Every evening when my mood sank, I painted a picture—something I had never done before because my ‘me’ was convinced I was unable to paint. They were colorful fantasy paintings of strange magic. In the daytime I would take long walks on my cross-country skis. One afternoon,, as I was walking through the forest, the world suddenly changed for me; I saw the rainbow-colored glittering snow crystals on the trees shine in unearthly beauty and the air reflected a clearness that I had never seen before. All of a sudden everything started talking to me—the rushing brook under the ice and the tremendously high fir trees. The message I heard was simply, ‘We belong together; we are one.’ In an incredible feeling of joy, I hugged the trunk of an exceptionally mighty fir and cried.
I wish that through reading Christoph Engen’s THE SINGING TOES, the readers will also embark on an inner path filled with courageous certainty. The unexpected wonder of life can be experienced when we let go of our negative concepts, when we listen to our inner voice and let ourselves be guided confidently by life.
Dieter Mittelsten Scheid, MD
As the main character of this tale finds healing by following his inner voice, his inner music, I myself got over twenty-three years of multiple sclerosis and recurring depression. The core thoughts which helped me along and keep on helping me day by day are woven into this tale. With all my heart, I thank all those who brought these good thoughts to me and guided me thus to find my way into this incredible stream of healing life within that is our home.
Christoph Engen, May 2014
‘Bring love into your world and you’ll find the Great First Love,’ the old white-haired man had said to Rudy, who had been sitting in his wheelchair, feeling desperate, in front of the mall his mom had just gone into. As he walked on, the old man had turned back to him with an open smile, and had added, ‘And, of course, health, too.’ His eyes had twinkled whimsically. ‘It works. You’ll see. You’ll be running again.’
Rudy lay in his bed and couldn’t stop thinking about his encounter with the old man. He couldn’t sleep. Since his accident, sleeping had been the one remaining pleasure for him, when he could forget about the whole dog’s dinner with the broken legs, and all the pain killers, and all that mess. But now that wasn’t working.
‘Okay,’ thought Rudy, ‘how is this supposed to work? Bring love into my world…’ He rolled laboriously onto his side. Suddenly it felt like he could hear the voice of the old man speaking to him.
‘Hello Rudy. That’s a really good question. I’m profoundly pleased!’
‘Huh???’ Rudy burst out. Such a thing had never happened to him before! Suddenly hearing another voice inside of him! No, not hearing, thinking!
‘Don’t panic,’ the old man’s voice went on‚ ‘You heard me this afternoon in front of the mall. Why shouldn’t you be able to hear me now in your mind?’
Rudy searched for an answer.
‘Don’t worry about it,’ the voice went on. ‘Let’s just answer your question. Well, you love your parents, at least sometimes, and some other people, too. Now it comes down to loving your broken legs, too. Why don’t we start with your toes? They haven’t moved for such a long time.’
‘Since more than two years ago,’ Rudy said sadly.
‘Exactly,’ the old man’s voice said. ‘Give them names!’
‘Huh???’ slipped out of Rudy again, sitting bolt-upright in his bed.
‘What would you like to call your right little toe?’
‘Little asshole’!’ exclaimed Rudy, ‘It hasn’t moved in years!’
‘Alright. And now give your right little toe a nice name. If you call somebody an asshole, they are usually not very happy about it, right?’
Rudy pondered this. ‘Why not?’ he thought.
‘Exactly,’ the old man’s voice said.
‘How about Cutie?’ Rudy asked quietly.
‘Great!’ came the answer.
‘Cutie’, Rudy repeated in his mind.
‘Exactly,’ said the voice of the old man in Rudy’s mind. ‘Right little toe: Cutie.’
Rudy became very sad. ‘But I don’t feel it at all anymore!’
‘That’s exactly why,’ the old man said in Rudy’s mind, ‘you should give it a name. That is how you bring the forgotten back to you. By giving them names. Nice names.’
‘And then?’ Rudy asked.
‘Then you repeat this name over and over, whenever you remember and as soon as you remember. And when you think about your disability and realize that you’re getting sad, then react immediately—say Cutie and think about your right little toe. Over and over, okay? You’ll be amazed! Maybe it won’t take long before you feel that little hoodlum-toe again. It depends on you too!’
Since the accident Rudy could only lie or sit, and he often became sad because of his disability. So he had lots of opportunities in the days that followed to try what the old man had suggested. He actually didn’t want to be sad, and he wanted to be healthy again, regardless of what the doctors or anyone had told him. So he called his right little toe Cutie again and again, and he felt the calming effect of that nice name. It seemed to him as if his right little toe was somewhat more alive again, and warmer, although he did not feel any movement in it.
That happened just a few days later. Rudy was sitting in the bathtub and was humming along to a catchy little song playing on the radio. His gaze fell on his right little toe under the water’s surface and suddenly it twitched.
‘Wow, Cutie!’ Rudy yelled out, ‘That’s amazing! Mom, come quick!’
Rudy’s mom could hardly believe it. She had often been unhappy because of the terrible prognosis from Rudy’s doctors, and she accused herself often for having done something wrong.
‘That’s so great!’ she said with a radiant smile.
‘You see?’ Rudy said, ‘And you thought I was crazy to call it Cutie.’
‘No,’ his mother said, ‘because you have been talking so much about that strange voice you heard.’
‘Oh, Mom, you often hear strange voices in your mind, don’t you? All your fears and worries because of me!’
Rudy’s mom quickly changed the subject. ‘Well, if your right little toe is called Cutie, what’s the name of your fourth right toe then?’
‘Wow, what a good question,’ Rudy answered, and thought about it for a moment. Then it burst out him: ‘Frederick! That’s it, Frederick!’
‘There’s a lot going on in your bathtub today,’ his mother said, and laughed.
And so it happened that as time passed, Cutie and Frederick began to wake up again, and stirred more frequently. What’s more, the other toes gradually joined in too.
Next in line was Rudy’s right big toe, who was named Tom.
The middle toe, then, was called Claire.
And finally his second right toe. His name was Little Paul. This second toe was the hardest for him to feel. That was because whenever he thought of Little Paul it usually only stirred something in Tom or Claire.
Well, anyway, by playing with his toes so much movement had come back to Rudy’s feet again! It didn’t take long before he could cut back on his pain killers, and then he even stopped taking them altogether!
His doctor was really excited. He said that he had never expected such improvements. Even Rudy’s legs had developed stronger muscles again. With things going so well, Rudy would not have to settle for spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. The doctor even prescribed instructions for Rudy to learn to walk again.
In the meantime, Rudy had given his left toes the same names as his right ones. To be able to distinguish them from each other he had given his right toes the number one and his left ones the number two.
So Cutie Number 1 was his right little toe, Cutie Number 2 was his left little toe, and so on.
Rudy was very happy with his progress and time after time he drew pictures in his mind about how he would receive a great prize for his healing and his insights, and what great a speech he would hold.
‘Can you still remember what happened back then when your nervous disease started, the one you call an accident?’ the old man’s voice asked Rudy suddenly.
Rudy was just sitting on a stool in front of the bathroom-sink, brushing his teeth.
‘Let’s get to the bottom of things’, the voice continued.
‘But why?’ Rudy asked, ‘Everything is getting so much better already anyway.’
‘Because it is not only about loving your toes’, the old man’s voice said in a serious tone.
Rudy reflected. ‘Well, there was this stupid situation with Lucy,’ came to his mind, ‘and with this idiot, Charlie, who kept teasing me because of her.’
‘And how did you feel then, Rudy? What were you thinking about back then?’
‘He kept telling me over and over that Lucy would never be interested in me, that I was too small and too fat, that asshole!’
The voice of the old man repeated the question again: ‘What did you think then?’
‘I was totally pissed off,’ Rudy said, ‘I really wished him hell!’ Then he paused, and some tears came rolling down his cheeks. ‘That was so mean! That stupid asshole, that moron!’
‘Exactly’, said the old man in Rudy’s mind.
‘Did you ever forgive him, at any time during the two years that you’ve been ill?’ the old man’s voice continued in Rudy’s mind.
‘How’s that supposed to work?’ Rudy asked. ‘Am I supposed to just go up to him and say, “I forgive you for that”?’
‘No,’ he clearly heard, ‘you don’t have to say anything to Charlie. It would even be better that way, but you could also see that he’s as much a victim of circumstances as you are. Do you think he would have treated you so badly if he hadn’t been treated badly by his father?’
‘That’s true,’ Rudy thought. He had even once seen Charlie’s father yelling at him in front of the school.
‘And he passed that onto you,’ the old man said, ‘He passed his hurt, his resentment, on to you because he didn’t forgive himself.’ For a long time it was very quiet in the bathroom, and Rudy sat on his stool thoughtfully.
‘Remember what I told you during our first meeting in front of the mall, Rudy?’ the old man eventually continued, ‘“Bring love into your world and you will find the Great First Love.” Back when your classmates visited you the first time, you didn’t even look Charlie in the eyes.’
‘That was the only time he was there, anyway,’ Rudy protested, ‘He never showed up again after that!’
‘Would you visit somebody again who rejected you? So instead of forgiving Charlie—mind you, only in your own thoughts—you have cherished and nourished your anger this whole time over. And you don’t think something like that makes sick?’
‘I can be angry for as long as I want to,’ said Rudy, furiously.
‘Correct,’ the old man’s voice continued, ‘Absolutely right. You can be angry until you turn blue in the face. You can be upset until your anger takes you to the grave. And then the whole circus starts up all over again from the beginning. Because you didn’t get it. Because you still believe in being a victim of circumstances.’
‘A victim of circumstances! A victim of circumstances! What does that mean anyway?’ snapped Rudy, ‘I’m only thirteen!’
Now it seemed to him as if the voice was laughing brightly, like a girl, then it became serious again, and said, ‘A circumstance is, for example, when someone annoys you. And a victim is someone who can’t do anything about it except annoy themselves in return, or be afraid. And someone who forgives is someone who knows they’re never the victim of circumstances, and that they always have a choice. In the sense that they say, “Okay, that was stupid of that guy, but I’m not interested in being upset about him. I want to love him anyway, and therefore Water under the bridge!” That’s how simple forgiveness is. Maybe that’s why so few practice it. But forgiveness reaches a lot deeper still. It helps you get to where you really are.’
‘Huh?’ said Rudy.
‘The best way to imagine it is like this, Rudy,’ the old man’s voice said, ‘When something happens to you that upsets you, just say: Water under the bridge! Don’t even start hanging on to your thoughts about it. You just keep your grievance alive by doing that. Just say: Water under the bridge! This is what is meant by forgiveness. Because when you think or say Water under the bridge! you’re literally wiping your mind clean of emotions and anger and fears.’
‘And this is supposed to work?’ Rudy asked incredulously.
‘It’s just a matter of how serious you are about it. If you say Water under the bridge! with determination, then it works. If you say it half-heartedly, then it will only work partially. It’s up to you and your determination. After all, your mind is your mind. No one else has a say in your mind, only you. If you allow grievances and anger and fears to settle in, then you will experience agitation and anger and fear. If you say, “I want to experience love and joy and freedom, so Water under the bridge! to bad experiences and bad feelings!”, then you make way for all the good that the universe holds in store for you!’
‘It’s really that simple! That’s why so few are doing it, because it seems too simplistic to them. Few imagine what a huge responsibility they have as to whether or not their lives move gently, whether they really enjoy life or not! ’
‘But in regards to your question: saying Water under the bridge! will give you much more than a pleasant life. It helps you, as I said, to get to where you really are. And where are you really?’
‘Huh?’ exclaimed Rudy one more time, ‘Well, here in the bathroom, where else?’
‘And so? Are you really utterly happy and pleased here in this bathroom?’
‘Well,’ said Rudy, ‘so-so.’
‘So, no,’ said the old man’s voice in Rudy’s mind. ‘And would you like to be where you are totally happy and pleased?’
‘Of course,’ Rudy promptly replied.
’So,’ the old man said, ‘this place, if you’d like to call it a place, is nowhere else but right within yourself. Within your mind. After all it’s your mind that is your center. Or do you believe your body is your center? Never, ever! And one usually only recognizes this after bringing love into one’s world. Into the entirety of one’s world. And this works easiest by saying Water under the bridge! to all the negativity one recognizes within one’s mind. ’
’I’ll share a phrase with you now. Remember it, think of it often, and write it down. It will bring you home, sooner or later:
What I really am can be found
nowhere in greater abundance and joy
than precisely wherever I am
right in this very moment.’
‘So, how are your toes doing?’ the old man’s voice asked Rudy, after he had scribbled this mysterious phrase down on a piece of paper on his desk in his room.
That’s when Rudy suddenly realized that his toes had been moving as though they were tapping along to some music ever since he had first heard the old man’s voice inside. In the beginning, when only a little sensation had returned to his toes, it had been very subtle, but the more and the longer he had thought about their new names, and the more they had woken up, and the more he had had contact with the old man in his mind, the clearer that dancing had become. How come he hadn’t realized it earlier?!
‘Yes, um, I’m just realizing,’ Rudy stuttered, ‘that my toes, somehow they started dancing!’
‘As if they were singing along to a beautiful, joyful song?’
‘Yeah, that’s exactly it!’
Eighteen years had passed. Rudy was sitting one day in his favorite café for lunch, and was about to get up to pay and rush back to his office again. There was still so much to do today. Now that his agency was finally getting going, there was more work than ever. The old, slightly yellowish, worn piece of paper that he always carried with him in his wallet slipped into his fingers again. While he reached for his cane, he read thoughtfully again what was written there:
What I really am can be found
nowhere in greater abundance and joy
than precisely wherever I am
right in this very moment.
‘My gosh,’ thought Rudy, ‘that was so long ago. And I still don’t understand it yet.’ He hadn’t thought about his toes for such a long time. Perhaps that was the reason why his health situation hadn’t improved from a certain point onwards. Perhaps that was the reason why he had needed a cane to walk with for almost twenty years.
‘That might be the reason,’ the old white-haired man said, standing before his table, beaming at him. Rudy almost fell off his chair. It was the same old man from back when he was a little boy! For years he hadn’t heard his voice anymore from within, let alone seen him! The old man didn’t look a bit older. Yet this time he was dressed utterly nobly in a sand-colored suit, and peeking out from under a dark blue silk scarf in the middle of his chest on a fine gold chain was a small, apparently very old golden watch, with a clockwork wheel and a numberless clock face. But with no clock hands…
Fascinated, Rudy stared at the impressive appearance of the old man. Years ago, back in front of the mall, he had been dressed very ordinarily. Now he appeared like a king.
‘You should change that,’ the old man said. ‘Or better, you could change that, Rudy.’ Rudy couldn’t speak a word. He realized that the numerous other guests at the café weren’t seeming to take any notice of the impressive old man.
‘Change what?’ he stammered, confused.
‘You need to take more time for yourself. For your healing. Or do you want to hobble on a stick for the rest of your life? Take a vacation. Two weeks. Take two weeks of vacation and concentrate again on what is really important. Lucy can keep your business running just fine.’
‘But she needs so much time for our little Paul. I don’t want to burden her with that,’ Rudy replied after a pause for reflection.
‘Lucy can do it just fine,’ the old man said, and added with a twinkle, ‘don’t forget, she is a woman. And it does your son good to know that his father is doing something reasonable too, not just working on his career.’ With that, the old man pushed across the table a postcard that pictured a hut at the edge of a little mountain lake in the bright shining sun, address included.
It had been raining for days, actually since the moment Rudy had arrived at the little wooden hut in the mountains. Through the window he saw rain pelting down on the mountain lake. It was grey, gloomy and not at all hospitable. Rudy rinsed his breakfast dishes in a small, rusty basin in cold water. There was no warm water available, which in itself brought him close to tears again. How lonely he felt in this melancholic mountain hut! What a crazy idea to come to the middle of nowhere for two weeks! At home he had a family and work and friends. And here? So what if he simply spent the rest of his life walking on a cane?
What he was missing the most, however, was the inner voice of the old man. He didn’t hear anything inside himself except his own agonizing thoughts. He had often asked inwardly, ‘Where are you? Where are you then?’ The only answer he had heard again and again was, ‘I am present. I am with you.’ But these few words hadn’t changed one bit his miserable feeling of being abandoned by God and the entire world up there.
‘How about getting in touch with your toes?’ was suddenly present clearly and brightly inside him.
‘Why the hell should I be interested in my toes?’ Rudy blurted out. He wanted to be in his familiar environment again! With the people he loved!
‘That will come,’ was thought inside him again. ‘You are never alone. Are you listening? Never!’ That was the voice of the old man!
‘What does that mean, “I am never alone”? Not a soul is here!’
‘No other human body is here,’ the voice corrected him. ‘You have no idea how much soul is present! Now get in touch with your toes.’ The voice sounded so determined that Rudy immediately did as he was told.
Already two hours later he was feeling much better. He thought again and again about Cutie, his little toe, about Frederick, his fourth toe, about Claire, his middle toe, about Little Paul, his second toe, who was still a bit reluctant, and about Tom, his big toe. On his right foot, as well as his left. With Little Paul, his second toe, his little son came to his mind, and his darling, cheeky laughter. Actually, it was because of this second toe’s name that Rudy and Lucy had called their son Paul…
More and more distinctly his toes had moved during his practise and had played and tinkled with one another, as if they were instruments that had had to wait a long time to be used. Eventually Rudy noticed that his whole body had become more agile through his toes’ play. During the previous lonely days his body had literally rusted. Now it began to stretch and expand delightfully! Rudy filled his body with a yawn as loud and unrestrained as a hippo’s!
During a later limping-along walk in the rain, Rudy inhaled the clear, drizzly mountain air deeply, and without warning an unexpected sense of happiness shot right up through him. Where did that come from? The weather was still lousy, there still wasn’t a soul in sight, he was still alone, but somehow he felt clearly: he wasn’t alone! ‘That’s crazy,’ thought Rudy.
For some reason, from somewhere, Charlie came into his mind. ‘He’s probably trying to hit on Lucy again, now that I’m away,’ he thought.
‘They are completely free people, Lucy and Charlie,’ he heard the old man’s voice inside. ‘What concern is it of yours? Let them be.’ Rudy stumbled and barely caught hold of a tree trunk. ‘Now, roll from heel to toes as you walk on!’ The voice suddenly didn’t sound at all friendly anymore, but rather extremely strict. Rudy took fright and spun around, as if someone was after him.
‘But Charlie should leave Lucy alone!’
‘Negative. You are to leave Charlie and Lucy alone. Do you really believe that just because you’ve married Lucy she’s not free any more? Lucy isn’t some sort of booty you’ve captured!’
‘If only my cell phone would work,’ said Rudy, ‘then I could call her.’
‘It wasn’t for no reason that it quit working when you got here,’ the old man replied. ‘Now roll from heel to toe.’ Scowling, Rudy marched on through the rain back to the hut. ‘Roll over,’ the voice of the old man repeated. ‘Feet are not stumps, you hear? Feet are like magic wheels that roll your body through life. And wheels roll.’
‘Ok, boss!’ Rudy snapped, and told his feet, ‘Roll over!’
‘Exactly,’ said the voice of the old man in Rudy’s mind. ‘Always touch down with the heel first. And then roll the foot over the outer edge, then the ball of the foot and the toes roll forward. And don’t keep propping yourself on your cane first, otherwise you’ll forget to use your feet. Are you listening? First roll your feet and then use your cane for help, but only if it is necessary.’ Rudy complied. ‘Yes, exactly, now we’re getting there, bit by bit,’ the voice resounded with a chuckle. ‘And don’t forget your pelvis! It has to be swinging along like a ship on your magic feet-wheels!’
Rudy made a serious effort to bring all of this together. ‘And stop forgetting your spine! It has to be swinging on your pelvis-ship as well! And loosen your shoulders! Relax your neck!’ Rain and sweat started mixing on Rudy’s forehead. He stood still and took a deep breath. ‘Your head always has to move along, Rudy. Don’t forget it. It’s like the crow’s nest lookout set on top of the mast of your spine, so to speak. And it sways along, of course! Alright, keep going! You’ve rested long enough.’
‘Take it easy!’ Rudy hollered out into the rain and hobbled onwards.
Five more days passed and Rudy made distinct progress with his walking. As much as the old man’s voice annoyed him at times, he made a sincere effort to comply with it. What else was there to do in this gloomy solitude anyway? It didn’t stop raining and he still didn’t have any cell phone reception. And still no one around. Just a falcon could he see at times in nearby trees or at the edge of the little mountain lake.
Rudy had just returned from a walk, and he let himself fall wearily on a wooden chair. On the sisal rug in front of the camp cot crept a thin earthworm. ‘Boy, will I be happy to return home,’ he thought. He carefully picked up the earthworm with his fingers and threw him out the door.
His glance went out the window to the wobbly handrail which surrounded the hut. He heard a nearby vigorous beating of wings. All at once the falcon landed directly on the handrail in front of his window, peering inside with a fierce look. When he noticed Rudy, the falcon pecked sharply with his beak to the right, then to the left, then to the front, flapped his wings powerfully a few times, and abruptly burst out with a glaring cry that froze Rudy’s blood. He screeched directly at Rudy, then pushed elegantly away from the railing with his claws and disappeared into the grey, rainy sky. Rudy’s hair stood on end. The scream of the falcon had pierced his bone marrow. All weariness was as if blasted away. With a beating heart he fell onto the cot and stared up at the wooden beams.
‘And? What did it say, your bird?’ rose inside him.
‘“Wake up, Rudy”,’ Rudy stammered. ‘“Wake up, Rudy,” it shrieked,’ said Rudy silently, and closed his eyes.
‘Breathe,’ said the old man’s voice inside him. ‘Breathe calmly. Breathe slowly. Calm down. Come home.’
Rudy had fallen asleep.
When he woke up, his whole body was glowing. He opened his eyes. ‘Water,’ he thought. He got undressed, ran naked to the little mountain lake and jumped straight into the icy water. When he had swum just a few strokes he realized that he had run to the lake without a crutch! Shivering with cold, Rudy, like a hobbling duck, stumbled back to the hut. He dried himself quickly and thoroughly, and began to dress himself. Finally, he sat on the wooden chair and dried his feet, every toe separately. While doing so, he spoke every single toe name lovingly: Cutie, Frederick, Claire, Little Paul, Tom. Left foot, right foot.
Suddenly it seemed to him as if he heard his toes singing! What now?
‘Just listen,’ the old man’s voice said in his mind. And Rudy clearly heard a gospel song, a joyful, infectious melody, to which his toes sang!
‘We love to live, yippie-dee, yippie-doo,
Love to walk, yippie-dee, yippie-doo!
Together we are a beautiful star!
Yippie-dee, yippie-doo, yippie-doo-be-doo!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
We love to live, yippie-dee, yippie-doo,
Love to walk, yippie-dee, yippie-doo!
Together we are a beautiful star!
Yippie-dee, yippie-doo, yippie-doo-be-doo!’
‘They will lock me up in a nut house,’ Rudy thought, grooving along without a care.
‘Ok, my friends,’ he finally said to his toes. ‘Let’s go for a walk on the wild side!’ With that, Rudy boogied with loose steps out the door.
‘What on earth is this?’ slipped out of his mouth as he raised his eyes. It had stopped raining!
‘Very well,’ Rudy said to himself. ‘We won’t let that spoil our mood, right, my friends?’
‘Never, ever, honey! Never, ever! Oh yeah, sweeheheet hohohoney, nehever, ehehever!’ his toes sang back, enjoying a proper kneading with every step.
The sun broke through the clouds more and more, and when Rudy sat down on the only bench around, near or far, it shone powerfully directly down on him.
‘Oh, my God,’ Rudy thought, ‘How beautiful this life is!’
For a while he sat still, with his eyes closed, and simply enjoyed to the fullest the bright warmth on his face and hands.
‘Do you remember the sentence on your piece of paper?’ the old man’s voice asked inside his mind. Rudy couldn’t think of the words. The paper was somewhere in the hut. ‘Then open your eyes now,’ the voice said.
‘Why?’ thought Rudy. He felt such a marvelous peace inside himself. Like warm, liquid gold. Only when a tear ran across his cheek did he open his eyes and wipe the tear away. Well, this was incredible!
Abruptly he realised he wasn’t separate from anything he could see! Such a thing as a Rudy-person did not exist at all in reality! Although of course it was him who experienced this miracle! Everything around him now sang, ‘Me!’ Everything was Me!
He was all of it! All of this was his world! His experience! These trees, this path, this little lake with the hut on the horizon. These couple of clouds that just dissolved in the sky, this sun, the little bug that crawled across his hand!
Rudy’s mouth hung open. His chest glowed. ‘What a peace,’ he thought.
‘Yes, living peace,’ the voice of the wise old man said, as he appeared from out of nowhere, standing before his bench, smiling at him. ‘You will never forget this, Rudy.’ With that he turned away and began walking down the mountain path.
‘Will we meet again?’ Rudy called after him.
The old man stopped and called back without turning around, ‘It’s not necessary, Rudy! Now you are me!’ These words echoed in Rudy like the beat of a drum. He didn’t understand a word and yet he understood every word!
‘Now I am you,’ he muttered. ‘Yes, exactly!’
Then the old man turned towards him and shouted laughingly, ‘Your cell phone is working again. Why don’t you call Lucy?’
And turning away and continuing on, his voice reverberated, ‘Oh! And don’t forget about Charlie! He’s been overseas for a long time. When he returns from his business trip, give him my best regards!’
Rudy’s toes tinkled boldly. Then there was silence and the incredible living peace again inside his mind…
Translation by Andreas Pröhl and Kushla Gale, © Christoph Engen, 2014
THE VEIL OF THIS WORLD
The wall of this world only grows thin
through the love that we bring.
And at last it becomes a beautiful veil
that breezes along as Love’s divine tale,
displaying each instant God’s blissful eternity
to the eternally free.