My father, Frank Pfeiffer, passed away last night after a long battle with lung cancer.
Frank Pfeiffer 4/7/1933 ~ 5/1/2014
Song of My Father
The man sat on the stage before his unseen, unseeing audience. Picking up his blue guitar, he played a melody over an alternating bass line. After an introduction, he sang the first verse of his ballad, a poem without words. He sang of an adventure without a beginning, a quest without a goal, an adventure without end, a pilgrim without a pilgrimage.
The elderly man sat on the riverbank, watching the waters flow by him. He rested here from his toils, drawing some sense of fulfillment and completion from the flow of the stream, the gentle whisper of the breeze, and the warmth of the sun. Occasionally a trout rose to the surface of the waters, vibrant in its speckled scales. The man had no desire to catch these trout; he was content to watch them, sharing this moment with them as they revealed themselves to him.
A young boy approached. Holding out his hand, the boy said, “Grandfather, come with me.”
The elder stood without the ache that had so long accompanied him in rising from his seat. He took the boy’s hand, and the lad led him away from the stream, along a dirt lane.
Presently, they came to a forest unlike any the man had ever seen. Every tree, every bush and each blade of grass in this forest held a vibrancy unmatched within the elder’s memory. At any moment, he expected this forest to begin dancing, the very trees and stones capering about in a ballet that was at the same time full of life and also full of peace.
“What forest is this?” the man asked.
“This is the forest of your good deeds,” the boy told him. “It is the forest of your dreams. Every thought that you have ever had has sprouted here, extending its roots deep within the earth and its branches far up into the sky. This is your garden. Is it not a wonder?”
“Indeed. Does everyone possess such a forest?”
“Everything that lives weaves its own world of thoughts and emotions. And as everything that exists possesses consciousness of some sort, the production of such gardens is infinite.”
“And what of the baser, petty thoughts and feelings that troubled me so much?”
“Touch this vine.” The boy indicated a woody vine hanging from a tree close by. “Close your eyes and follow it.”
The elder did as he was told. He felt his awareness flow out through the vine, down into the ground and through the Earth. His awareness was drawn up through other roots and he found himself looking out through the bark of another tree. This tree stood in a different forest. Here all the plants were blighted. They were deformed and stunted. Their leaves were withered and dying. This forest felt ill and diseased, as were the animals that lived there. As he looked out upon this other forest, the trees around him were dying, falling apart and decaying. The woods were being returned to the Earth, composted into their basic elements. The elder felt it was a good thing that this forest was dying before its blight could spread elsewhere. Even as he thought this, he felt his awareness being repelled, returning to the former woods and most grateful to do so.
“All ill thoughts and feelings produce such diseased representatives. They are short-lived and as a rule they do not spread. Only when many people share such ill thoughts do the malnourished forests grow. And even then the blight fails as soon as people stop reinforcing it.”
“I am sorry that I ever birthed such a tortured creation.”
“Do not harbor regret. That is an illness all its own. Take your lessons from the contrast and allow yourself to thrive.”
They heard a faint noise elsewhere in the garden.
“Come.” The boy whispered. The man tried to walk as silently as the boy. They came to a small glade. Parting the leaves of some flowering fruit tree, the boy directed the elder to look out into the opening.
There on a bed of lush grasses, the man witnessed a beautiful doe giving birth to a fawn. It was a miraculous event, watching the fawn being delivered, cleaned by its mother and nuzzled into standing on its wobbly, gangly legs. The deer were attended by fireflies that fanned them with their wings.
A firefly flew in front of the elder’s face. He could swear it smiled at him. Then it landed on the neck of the doe, and there the firefly was transformed into fairy — like a mote of light fashioned into a tiny living being. The fairy combed the doe’s fur and sang to her a soothing song.
“This fawn, as all things born in this forest, is the product of your love. Your love and simple acts of kindness are the most powerful things that you can do in this lifetime.”
“Business and government, science and art all mean nothing?”
“Not if they are done out of kindness. Not if they are an expression of love.”
The man watched the fawn nursing as he considered these words.
“Come. There is more to show you.”
They crossed a small wooden bridge over a playful brook, laughing as it caressed the waters of the stream bed. On the other side of the stream, they approached the largest oak tree that the man had ever seen. This tree was hallowed; it was a sacred cathedral in itself. Each footstep in approaching this oak was placed as a meditation; to come into the presence of this tree was to become intimate with the divine.
“Touch the tree.” The child placed his hands on the bark. The elder followed his example.
He felt a sacred awareness flowing through this tree as a hymn to life. And from within himself, he heard his own voice rise up to join in the chorus. His own awareness flowed through the majestic tree, flowing with the awareness of the oak. Together they danced through the oak’s roots and out into the Earth. Through the Earth they communed with every other sacred garden. All of these infinite gardens sang together, throughout time and space, and outside of time and space.
This was the choir of all existence. It sang through all matter, through the ethers and through spirit, in all probabilities. In this choir the man was at one with the universe.
As he sang, his voice was filled to overflowing with love. And through his love the song of existence was enriched ever further, enriched beyond measure.
Through this song, the man came to all infants in their mother’s wombs, enriching their gestation with love. He embraced everything as it inhaled its last breath, ensuring that final breath was filled with love. His awareness, and his love sang in every atom, as it blinked through the infinite spectrum of probabilities.
The man found himself back on the riverbank. Before him were innumerable pathways, all open to him. An uncountable number of these pathways led to lives lived throughout the range of time. An unnamable number of these pathways led to other creatures on the Earth and elsewhere throughout the universe. An undefined number of these pathways led to the spirit realms. And an unwritten number of these pathways led to the full array of material existence.
The boy spoke to the man. “In the fullness of time you will choose which of these paths to take. Once the moment is ripe, you will know which path is for you. Take care to walk this path in love, sowing kindness at every step, as you now know that all of these paths are one path, and this path is yours to walk as you will.”