Marvelous Marv by AnnaMarie Laforest
The thing about doing Reiki energy healing that Marv loved most was the way his hands seemed to disappear, or sink, into the client as he held them over key vertebrae points. He kept his hands an inch above the person’s back, yet the energy flow was so strong it felt like his palms were being pulled by a magnet to the body’s core, through the sweat clothes, the skin, the muscle, the bone. His fingers became psychic detectives, discovering whether the person’s chakras, like spiral ley-lines, were wound up tight or spinning out of control. To either of these extremes, he brought balance.
“I am always amazed at how hot your hands get,” said Ned, who was on the table at the moment.
“What you are feeling is your own energy engaging with universal Source,” said Marv. “See, my hands themselves are not hot.” If he had a dollar for every time someone said this…
He clasped Ned’s arm with his hands, and Ned felt that they were cool and dry.
“Well, Marv, you are quite a conduit, then,” he said, and settled into silence for the rest of the hour.
Ned had the body-type of a wrestler trying to fit into a business suit, but he started to relax on the therapy table as Marv slowly shifted his hands from an inch above Ned’s back to an inch above his head and then down to his feet. Ned felt quite languorous and, if he had to describe it to his boss, say, he would liken it to swimming slowly and unconcernedly in molasses or honey. Yes, he should recommend “Marvelous Marv” to his boss, he thought, just as he fell asleep. Marv kept working, murmuring the Japanese mantras he had learned in training. Soon he re-balanced Ned’s 3rd chakra, or solar plexus, the bane of middle managers.
Time always disappeared while Marv was in his Reiki zone, and before he knew it, it was 3 p.m. and he had worked on three more clients in as many hours -- one 1st chakra woman, with vivid memories of childhood abandonment, another 3rd chakra manager like Ned, and a singer with a shut-down 5th chakra, or, in everyday terms, throat issues. But now he discovered he was quite hungry.
His office was on the edge of town, at the threshold of ranch country, where twice a week he did pro bono Reiki on horses that were used in riding therapy for children with emotional or physical troubles. “Horses understand children’s energy,” Marv would explain to people in town. “They lend their strength gently, very gently.”
It was true that horse country energy was distinctly different from town energy, and Marv never had to explain to horse owners what Reiki was - they already knew the concept of “flow” and had no need to talk about it. They appreciated him for donating his time to the healing animals, and Marv loved grooming their manes and “sinking” his healing hands into their wide flanks.
Town energy, he had to admit, lent itself to better restaurants, so he stopped at the deli to have a shaved beef on rye, dripping with coleslaw, and the drink of the day, “long tall apple juice with wheat grass,” before driving out to the barns. He patted the bread of his sandwich, appreciating its freshness, and looked out the window at the building across the street – a building he knew well.
Reiki was Marv’s second career. He had been a middle manager like Ned, plagued with ulcers from years of careening between acquiescing to his boss, and bullying his own workers in order to “get the job done.” In 20 years, he had reached the top floor of the building, the one he looked at now across the street. How well he remembered going up the four flights every day, visualizing all the collateral damage he’d caused, as though he were climbing not stairs but a pyre of human bones -- one misstep and he’d fall to the bottom, hanging on to a skeleton with one hand, rib cage clattering onto the floor.
He vowed not to do another 10 years, but to retire early and work at something else. The question was, what?
In less than a week the answer came, through a young worker who had flown in from Hawaii for a mid-region conference. He was giving Marv a lift in his rental car to an offsite when suddenly he pulled over to the side of the road and stopped.
“Excuse me, just a moment, please,” he said. “I feel a migraine coming on, and I need to shift my energy.”
“What?” said Marv.
The man placed his palms on his temples and closed his eyes, and Marv waited. His face had a sort of bluish cast to it, Marv noted, and he hoped the fellow wouldn’t be sick in the rental car. But the young man placed his second fingers against the sides of his nose and pressed gently up into his brow bones. In about five minutes his face became rosy again and he opened his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Sorry for the delay, sir,” he said.
“Are you okay now?” Marv asked.
“Yes. If I get to it just as the first visual distortion happens, I can usually stop a migraine in its tracks.”
“Is that possible?”
And the man, pulling the car back onto the road, told him it was possible to shift life force energy through one’s intention, that it wasn’t magic, but a kind of energy physics. School children in the Eastern hemisphere, he said, were using Reiki to heal each other when they got hurt on the playground.
Marv suddenly remembered that he had been a volunteer for the March of Dimes during the polio epidemic of the 1950’s. Although he had barely been out of high school then, the painful faces of the children who were afflicted came back to him in a flash. How often had he massaged a child’s good leg, felt what it could do, and then turned to the atrophied leg, to try to coax it back to life. What he would have given for some intentional energy physics then!
He looked for a night class that very week, and studied for two years before actually leaving his managerial job, during which time he got rid of his ulcers and helped anyone else at work who was willing to be guinea pig.
Now he wiped a bit of excess coleslaw from his lip, stood up, bused his table, and got a water to go. On a whim he went back to the counter and asked if they had any scraps he could take. The counter-maiden laughed, but the manager knew about the horses, ran back and brought out some giant carrots.
“They’re bruised, but should still be tasty, Marv.”
“Thanks, Bill!” He caught the bag the manager tossed him, patted his stomach, and loped down the street to his car.
At the barns he distributed the carrots and began working with his first horse, Marty, a 7-year-old buckskin gelding with a buttermilk coat, whose eyes, with ebony markings, seemed eager to see him. Marv started with the curry comb to stimulate the horse’s lymph system, and whispered his Japanese Reiki mantras as he went along. When he had worked loose some debris, he picked up the dandy brush to whisk it away.
In the next stall Daisy, a pure white filly with yellow eyes, waited patiently.
As he reached for another brush, Marv noticed an older ranch hand, a man with sun-drenched skin, walking toward him and the horses. The man was pulling a plaid shirt on over his sleeveless undershirt and Marv could see that his muscles were strong and wiry. The man waved to signify that he did not want to interrupt, and Marv continued brushing, patting, murmuring.
He did not notice the man when he finished with Marty and went to Daisy, but the man was there, and when Marv came out of Daisy’s stall to fill a water pail, he saw him squatting against the outside wall.
“Hi,” said Marv.
“Hey,” said the man. Marv saw that the man had very long, very old hair, caught in a rubber band in the back. His neck, as well as his face, was cross-hatched with age lines, deep and russet in hue.
“They talk to you?” he asked Marv.
“The horses? Um. No. But I feel their energy.”
“They’re tryin’ to talk with you,” the man told him.
“Yer too busy muttering in that strange language to hear ‘em.”
So Marv spent the next few years learning how to hear the horses. The old ranch hand’s name, fittingly, was Sam, and he was patient with Marv, advising him in turn to be patient with the horses, who were likely to talk about things that mattered only to them.
“And why not,” said Marv. “Isn’t that what we all do?”
Soon Marty and Daisy were communicating with Marv. They told him directly which muscles hurt (certain child riders kicked hard with excitement), and they told him about their favorite parts of the ranch land and how the rabbits in the bushes scolded them if they trotted too close. They also told him about the bruised children they worked with, and that these “damaged” children were almost immediately able to “hear” the horses consoling them.
Old Sam talked a lot about the Spirit of Horse. Evidently all the horses on earth were part of One Spirit of Horse. It made sense to Marv as Sam talked, but every time he resolved to tell anyone else, he couldn’t remember how to explain it. He wrote it down, and took his notes with him when he had lunch at the deli one day with some new bosses from across the street. But when he pulled the notes from his pocket, his writing looked to them like a scrawl, or a pile of coleslaw, and they could not decipher it.
Instead they talked with great energy about the changes they were making to the company. They thanked Marv, and thumped him on the back for his earlier service, and as they walked back across the street they commented on how old he looked. Marv noticed that some of these newer bosses had no imbalances in their 3rd chakras, and with that he had to be content.
One day while currying Marty’s buttermilk coat, and thinking about Spirit of Horse, Marv realized that the part he didn’t quite get was - if all horses are part of one big horse spirit, then where do they go when they die?
“We join up with Spirit,” said Marty.
“The Great Horse Spirit?”
“Then, what happens to you as Marty?”
“I disappear into the One, but I’m still Marty too... Marv, did you see how those rabbits ate all the cabbages over by the marigold patch? The marigolds are supposed to repel pests, but those rabbits –“
“Wait, wait, -- so when you’re there, are you Horse-Spirit-conscious or Marty-conscious?”
He pictured a child’s jigsaw puzzle crammed with horses all losing their definition as someone snapped them into their slotted place inside the frame.
“It’s not an either/or, Marv.”
“Then what is it?”
“Both/and, of course.”
Marv became so enveloped in horse philosophy over the next few years that when it came time for him to die, he had forgotten to try to figure out what happens to humans.
He found himself in a kind of swimming state, paddling with his arms through a pleasant goo, like molasses or honey (he remembered a client saying this once), swimming slowly and unconcernedly until he came to his place in the Great Human Spirit.
In the golden midsection were rows of translucent homes that looked like honeycomb ribs. Some belonged to his ancestors and he waved at some recently-departed relatives who were swinging in their honey-spun hammocks at the front of the row. He swam up a spiral of golden muscle fiber and found himself moving through the Heart, where he passed Old Sam’s place. Sam had a front yard of lush green and lavender clover, and a field of oats out back.
But Marv was being pulled further up through the goo. He recognized being in the holy Throat, or neck, and his pathway, like a tube now, was a glistening turquoise, etched with symbols in a cobalt blue, the 5th chakra, the colors of the nightingale.
But Marv kept swimming until he reached a rich purple softness, like a giant Persian cushion, and there he sank into an immense comfort, at the same time discovering an immense “knowing” of what the rest of the One was Doing, Thinking, Feeling. Without needing his marvelous hands to scope the energy, he knew what the people in the Head were deciding, what the people in the Heart were feeling, where the people in the Feet were going.
If he’d thought about it before he died, he would have assumed that he was to become part of Spirit’s Great Hand. But here he was, in the violet Eye, the 6th chakra, where he could See Everything from his window -- all the concocting of the lively new bosses, all the cavorting of the children who were no longer bruised, all the contentment of the horses in the Great Stable.