Sorry for the long span between this issue and the last one. I am recovering from a too-long bout of the flu, and hoping that it’s the last in a series of challenging experiences. Whew, what a wild couple of months it’s been. What would I have done without my breath and water practice? Valium?

But I am recovering from the flu, and beginning with the weekend I’ll be regularly available for readings again.

Many of you enjoyed Appreciation/Gratitude and Icky Rice. I’d like hear from a few more of you, and then publish your responses. So please write, just a short note is fine, and let me know what you’ve been doing with them.

Also, I’ve made a few minor changes to my Web site, so if you haven’t visited in a while, stop by.

But today, I just want to share a story with you.

This story belongs to a man I know. I remember it whenever I need to remember wonder and mystery. I give it to you so you can use it, too.

A few years ago I visited my friend in his studio. He had recently returned from his sister’s funeral. She was 50, and had died from a sudden heart attack. This is what he told me.

He had arrived back in Minneapolis after the funeral, and stopped to rent a video. He didn’t see anything in New Releases that he wanted, so he began scanning the shelves of older movies for something he would enjoy. As his eye lit on one particular title, he heard his sister’s voice — “Get that one!” Needless to say, he was stunned. It was so clearly her. “Get that one!” Still, it was a movie he had no desire to see, and he tried to move on. But her voice wouldn’t be silenced, it was adamant that he rent that one movie. Of course, he did.

He went home and put the video in the machine. He did not like the movie at all. He thought it was quite awful. And he knew his sister wouldn’t have enjoyed it either. But he’d committed, so he watched it through. Finally the movie was over, and the credits were about to roll, and he reached to eject the movie. Before he could press the button, the credits began. Then he fell on the floor and wept. He wept because he suddenly remembered.

He remembered a summer day when he was a boy, walking home with his sister. He was 9 years old, she was 11. They’d found a dime on the sidewalk the week before, when they’d accompanied their dad into town. Now they were in town on their own, spending their windfall. This family didn’t have much money, nor the things that money can buy — they lived on the edge of town, where they had a large garden, and kept a couple of pigs and a cow — and a dime between only two of them was a small fortune. They had decided on ice cream, they could each get a nickel cone.

Although they didn’t have much in the way of “store bought” goods, the family did have an old phonograph and a jumble box of records. A neighbor had given it to them a few months back. The children got to take turns playing a song from the mix of old records. It was an exciting game, to see what the song you’d picked would sound like. Except my friend’s sister never took her turn to play a new song. Every time it was her turn, she played the same song. It was a song she loved, but which everyone else was soon quite sick of. His sister and her song became a family joke.

As the two walked along, replete with ice cream, they were having one of those philosophical discussions that kids like to have. Soon they were talking about heaven and hell, and asking each other if they thought there really were such places. Is heaven a real place in the sky? Can there possibly be a place like hell? How could they know for sure? My friend told his sister, she being the older, that if she died before he did, she had to come back and let him know that she was all right, that she was in a good place. She scoffed, saying “How can I do that?”

My friend thought about it as they walked along, then he had a brilliant idea. He told his sister, “I know what you can do to let me know you’re in a good place, you can play that terrible song you always play.” She said, “How will I do that? I’ll be dead!” He told her that she would have to find a way.

Now there’s my friend, on his living room floor, weeping. Weeping because it was his sister’s song playing behind the credits of the movie he’d just watched. His sister’s same song.