Best of Spirits

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Best of Spirits

The Mysterious Stranger

Picking up the phantom hitchhiker.


Q. When I was in
  New York recently,
Someone mentioned a
  "phantom hitchhiker" who
Supposedly haunts the
  New York State Thruway.
Sounds weird;
What's the story?
Dm Bb  G   C
B. A., Des Plaines
A: For the last five years,
The story has
surfaced periodically
Of a young, beared man
Dressed all in white
Who thumbs rides along
      Em       Dm  Bb  G
  the thruway.

When the fellow is
  given a lift,
the story goes,
He begins talking about
religion --
Then disappears
  from the car
During the
        Bb     Bdim
Dr Lydia Fish
of Buffalo State College
Is studying stories
of the phantom.
So far
  she has collected
More than
  sixty reports of
Dm7            G
The Mysterious Stranger

Mindful Webworks | Best of Spirits | The Mysterious Stranger, page 2
[The Mysterious Stranger]

5. [Slow & sultry -- hot]
Sunday Chicago --
  out in the street
People out walkin'
  around in the heat
So many you meet
Who don't give
  Dm         Bb    Bdim
  any of themselves
6. [Driving, rising heat]
Summer-bound city --
  out for a drive
The people are dead
  but the city's alive
The city's a hive.
  It's pretty if
  Dm                  Bb  Bdim
  you're just driving by

[Bridge #1]
Passing the towers
  that crowd by the lake
Thinking how much all this
  Dbmaj7     C
  city seems fake.

One person hitchhiking
  -- going somewhere
In a dress and old sandals
  a beard and long hair
I stop to help him
  in spite of my fear
He gets in my car but
     Bb          Bdim
  he gets in the rear
We don't say much
  after we say hello
Wondering why I stopped
  -- How this will go
I'm getting nervous
  and light up a smoke
When my passenger
          Bb     Bdim
  finally spoke (he said:)

Mindful Webworks | Best of Spirits | The Mysterious Stranger, page 3
"Sunday Chicago --
  what can a man do?
I'd be glad to help if
  I just had a clue.
So many of you who
Em         Dm
Don't give any
         Bb     Bdim
  of yourselves.
"Bummer-bound city --
  my friend I perceive
You are the kind who
  would like to believe.
If you will receive
  Your God in your heart
You can begin
To play your part."

Something inside of me
  started to burn
When he asked,
  "Do you believe
  Christ will return?"
I looked in the mirror
  -- he wasn't behind!
The whole thing
  must have been
  produced by my mind.
[Bridge to end]
Sunday Chicago --
  It's all been reborn
Ever since
       Dmaj7    C
  that morning.
As you can tell by the links below, the phantom hitchhiker has been around for a long time, and many other stories in many states can be found searching the web. I swiped the introduction from a Q&A column in a Chicago paper (which one I don't recall).

"The vanishing hitchhiker (or phantom hitchhiker) is a reported phenomenon in which people travelling by vehicle meet with or are accompanied by a hitchhiker who subsequently vanishes without explanation, often from a moving vehicle. Vanishing hitchhikers have been reported for centuries and the story is found across the world, in many variants...."
[*]Vanishing Hitchhiker in Wikipedia

"...Lydia M. Fish of the State University College of New York at Buffalo discovered in more than sixty texts she and her students collected locally that the current hitchhiker is likely to be "a beautiful young hippie clad in shining white" who engages his host or hosts in a conversation about Jesus and His Second Coming before disappearing. Sometimes he even leaves his seat belt buckled up..."
[*]The Vanishing Hitchhiker by Jan Harold Brunvand, 1981

"The core story concerns a traveller who offers a ride to a vulnerable-looking pedestrian, only to find his passenger has disappeared without trace. Later investigations reveal that the passenger was a supernatural entity, not a living human being at all."
[*]The Vanishing Hitchhiker at Fifty-Five by Gillian Bennett

Although stories of "vanishing hitchhikers" in Chicago date back to the horse and buggy days, Mary’s tale begins in the 1930’s. It was around this time that drivers along Archer Avenue started reporting strange encounters with a young woman in a white dress.
[*]Resurrection Mary -- Chicago's Most Elusive Ghost by Troy Taylor

[*]Chicago's Other Vanishing Hitchhikers! The Flapper Ghost & Others! by Troy Taylor

[*]Phantom Hitchhiker on Google Image Search

Best of Spirits

Sheer Poetry

The sheer poetry of it all is inarguable.

For those who

     understand             don't understand

no explanation

 is needed.             is possible.

But as to be human is to be poetic,

we can trust that every person

more than the brute,

any higher than

our troglodytic ancestors,

has touched the poetic

at some point in life

and can understand

in some way

The sheer poetry of it all.

How the work of the worm

serves the roots of the plants

which serve the lungs.
Mindful Webworks | Best of Spirits | Sheer Poetry, page 2

All the balances of harmony,

beauty, and truth we encounter,

integral in the complexity

of science and society,

we appreciate because we are

the appreciators,

the poets,

the reciprocal mindedness

of nature.

Being integral to it all,

we can't help but appreciate

The sheer poetry of it all.

The poetry of it all,

being inherent,

is inherently the revelation

of the Poet.

Patternscape clip

Best of Spirits

Eugene Lockhart played the judge

A degrees of separation thing

In Miracle on 34th Street (1947),
Susan & Santa the judge was played by Eugene Lockhart.

  1. Eugene Lockhart
    Geneis the father of June Lockhart.
  2. June Lockhart
    June played the mother on Lassie.
  3. The theme on Lassie
    Lassie & Timmy had whistling. (WAV)
  4. Another TV show theme that had whistling
    Goober Sings LP was The Andy Griffith Show.
    • MIDI version of the Andy Griffith theme.
    • Lyrics, never aired to the Andy Griffith theme.
    • Andy Griffith, itself a spin-off from The Danny Thomas Show, gave birth to numerous spin-offs, including Gomer Pyle USMC, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres.
  5. On The Andy Griffith Show,
    Andy & Opie the boy who played Andy's son was Ron Howard.
  6. Ron Howard
    Opie later played Richie Cunningham on Happy Days.
    • Before Andy Griffith, Ron Howard sang a solo in the movie The Music Man
    • After Happy Days, he became an acclaimed director
    • Happy Days directly or indirectly spun off several shows, including
      • Lavene and Shirley from which spun off
      • Lenny & Squiggy (early version of Dumb & Dumber… mercifully short-lived or urban legend?)
  7. In one episode of Happy Days, Richie Cunningham
    Richie was the target for an earthling-napping alien named Mork from Ork, played by Robin Williams.
  8. Mork from Ork
    Mork got his own spin-off series the next season, Mork and Mindy. Nanoo Nanoo.
  9. In the third season of Mork and Mindy,
    Mork & Mindy their baby was played by Jonathan Winters.
  10. Jonathan Winters
    Winters had one scene in the movie Penelope (1966) starring Natalie Wood.
  11. Natalie Wood
    Wood played the little girl, Susan, in Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
  12. In Miracle on 34th Street (1947),
    Susan & Santa the judge was played by Eugene Lockhart.

Best of Spirits

Be Sure to Say "Thank You."

People turn to God in their hour of need. But what do they do when they get answered?

Classically, generally, people turn to God in their hour of need. Right? I mean, it may not be ABSOLUTELY true that "there are no atheists in foxholes," but you can say NEED (as a person perceives it at the time, regardless of its validity) brings out the religious in people.

Of course GREEDY and THOUGHTLESS "NEED" tends to bring out the superstitious more than the highly spiritual, because people frequently get themselves into things and then expect God to bail them out. God's evolution toward that glorious age of light and life appears to require a fair amount of culling from the gene pool those who fail to appreciate God's will, as expressed in nature. Gravity, for example. Around our house we have the saying, the best time to ask God for advice is before you jump off the cliff. Asking God to repeal gravity, undo the carefully-crafted universe of the space-time continuum, simply because you forgot to wear a parachute, isn't exactly fair. There's an afterlife for sorting those things out.

And besides, quite often the real "need" is not at all what the person is asking about, but rather the true need is a profound metamorphosis of the world view of the person praying. Serious answers to utterly selfish prayers aren't really possible -- when there's not even a crumb that could have vague translation to the values level! Of those these them yea verily was it most truly bespoken, "Sometimes the answer is no."

The best of mortals, meanwhile, can sometimes through no fault of lust or sin, and despite the most sincere efforts, find themselves in powerful need. We have been assured by God's many good voices that the faithful can turn to God in the hour of real need. There's some rules. Exhaust every human resource, pray with wisdom and humility and faith and all that good stuff. You live in a universe of Others, all requiring your acknowledgement of their spiritual equality, and all clamoring for God's gifts and all looking for that divine Love the same as you. Understand there's an encyclopedia of things to be said about how the answer might not be what you expect, or could be long delayed, or might not come even in this life, and blah dee dee blah, which you have to keep in mind while still praying whole-heartedly and without despair and oh yeah remember to keep that fundamentally joyous faith thing going.


So, let's say you do all that. And maybe your request for reasons of the universal good actually qualifies for the fast-track reply. We're talking that whizbang miracle-from-outside thing here, not one of those personal internal attitudinal metamorphowhozises.

Funny thing about getting our prayers answered in this life. Seems like God rarely puts on his George Burns skin, says, "Hi, I'm God!," hands you a big bag of money (with a big green "$" on the side) and solves all your problems with a bewitching nose twitching. Sure God can change water to wine (good wine, too, and in party quantities) anytime it seems appropriate. As a general rule, though, the showy miracles tend not to uplift the spirit of the individual and the universe, so even when we get answers, they seem to come from "within the system."

Over three decades as students of health & nutrition, Mary Jo and I've often seen simple natural remedies perform remarkable healing. Sometimes we (I say we but Mary Jo is the far better student) have been called upon as counselors (non-professionally) to our fellow mortals. Quite simply, quite often, folks get better. It's personally satisfying to have helped steer them to healing. A simple vitamin deficiency correction can seem like a miracle, especially to the one who had been ailing. So, now and then, someone will try what we're pretty sure is the right solution, but will report back to us that the "medicine" (whatever treatment) "didn't do anything… the condition just went away on its own." Right. We see that "going away on its own" a lot. If fact, since what we study is what you might call natural remedies, then natural healing, if any, is all we ever see. If a person doesn't understand this, that's okay. The fundamental purpose, healing, is achieved.

So, the parallel: When God answers you, it's not (usually these days anyway) via the bolt from the blue, charioteers from the sky, or the dramatic angelic rescue... not as often as it is a seemingly natural confluence of fortuitous events. See, here's the trick, and here's why I'm sucking up the bandwidth with these words. Sometimes the answer you get can be exactly what you asked for. But it can be so subtle you didn't even know you got it, or the answer came so quietly you didn't even realize it was the solution to your screaming dilemma.

Since we frequently are asking for something bad NOT to happen to us, it's not always clear when the threat has passed; maybe there wasn't a big "whew! we're okay now" moment; or, time just passed and the dreaded didn't develop. So, at some point, you might realize, your wishes were answered, but maybe... maybe you don't think back to those prayers. Things just worked out, or you got busy because you got the job, or it turned out not to be cancer, or Billy came home safe, or the IRS said they owed YOU money... and life goes on... and the next crisis occurs, and you get busy with that... but one way or another... you don't realize your appeal to the Almighty actually was answered, and timely, and well, and even perfectly, and you got just what you asked for and completely MISSED IT!

God is always busy right now answering your very own personal deepest, most heartfelt prayers, perfectly answering every single one of them (note rules above), whether you realize it or not. I was raised that if you get something nice, you ought to say thanks. I've never been very good at writing those thank-you notes, and that's not my mom's fault; she tried to teach me. However, an attitude of gratitude not only seems in order, but helps keep the system healthy.

Thoughts to the world from a warm spring day in Oklahoma,

Best of Spirits

Pain and Pleasure

Acknowledging behavioral stimuli

You say you want to go back,
Dm                   C
change what has been done,
      F           Em
But experience is fixed and as
  Dm              Bb
unyielding as the sun.
You'd like to look ahead into
  Dm          C
tomorrow afternoon,
      F                 Em
But potential times lay hidden like
    Dm               Bb
the dark side of the moon.
You're running from the present.
        Dm                 C
 Moment still keeps flying by.
          F             Bb
Now's the only place to work in.
            Eb           C
 Here's the only time to try.
    Am                G
The present, past and future are
     F                C
 but three links in a chain.
    Am                 G
Our future's pleasures lie in hope
      F             Bb
 of escaping living pain.
Eventually we're born.
            Dm               C
 We have to leave the womb behind.
 F            Em
Eventually we see ahead,
     Dm             Bb
 the tomb is all we find.
The past is pain we can't escape.
    Dm         C
 It pushes us ahead.
       F                Bb
That's why we build for what we know
       Eb               C
 comes after when we're dead.
    Am             G
But now is all you have today
     F                 G
 you have to drink the cup,
    Am                    G
And hope your past has prepared you
        Bb      C      D3sus
 for... what is coming up.

Signs pointing to Heaven or Hell