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A Prayer for Rafael Stoneman, to Keep Him Safe

Freddie, Charlie Hopkins, and Rafael Stoneman. Photo by Natalia Budantseva.

By Charlie Hopkins

“I figure if Ramana wants me to drop the body, he’ll make it happen, and if not, HE will keep the tree standing.”

I was painting a big three story Queen Anne

off a forty foot ladder, up near the roof line

when God whispered in the ear of the ladder holder

“You’re not needed here. Walk away.”

So he walked away

and when the steel toes of the ladder kicked out

I fell

hitting the roof of an ugly family room tacked on in 1971

the year you were born.

That saved me.

But I kept on rolling off that second roof and hit a 6×6 cedar post

planted upright in the garden for no discernible reason.

Finally come to earth with only my collarbone broke.

There were other falls.

Thirty-five feet off an apartment house I was decking in 1972.

The roof over the third story porch broke loose and I went with it

fast and furious like a bird on fire

but peaceful too, like it was happening to somebody else.

Landed on my back in a pile of boards.

Three cracked vertebrae, a week in the hospital and out.

God said “It don’t hurt that much.”

Funnily enough, he was right at the time.

Just starting to now.

I fell off a concrete dam into the Blanco River when I was a kid

but didn’t drown.

Fell out of a hickory tree, twenty-five feet or so, in 1959

grabbing at limbs that tore holes in my arms, screaming all the way


Jumped off a roof once, testing a parachute made from a cotton sheet

that had cowboys printed on it, firing six guns out of both fists.

The air was so thick with damp, I thought that I could walk upon it.

But that one doesn’t count.

Other falls I don’t remember so well anymore.

They say forgetfulness and loss of grip are gifts of age

and I agree with them.

In 1988 after that collarbone business I went to my Guru

Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj!

Beautiful, fierce and kind, all at once, just like a little child

whose best friend is a cobra.

He gave me blessed vibhuti, a chunk of sacred ash used for initiation.

Said, “Keep this in your car. You’ll be OK.”

That’s what I did, moving it from the glove compartment of one junker work truck to another

until that last one caught fire and burned

nearly taking the whole neighborhood with it!

By this time my Guru had passed on

becoming the breath that all of us breathe forever and forever

and forever.

Now if I fall, I will not be falling. I will fly.

All I’m saying, Rafael, is be careful my friend.

You are needed here and you are much


Rafael Stoneman working in tree

Rafael Stoneman in his natural habitat

Text copyright © 2015 Charlie Hopkins.
Photo at top of page by Natalia Budantseva.

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Related Books

I Need to Feel You Every Moment in My Heart by Robert Adams

I Need to Feel You Every Moment in My Heart

By Charlie Hopkins

Charlie’s poems rattle a nerve deep in the core of the Heart. I came across a poem of his on the Internet one day and was so moved that I found a way to email him and request permission to post his poem on my website. An email friendship ensued and after some six months or more, my wife and I drove over a thousand miles to meet Charlie and his wife Carol (the inspiration behind his work). Charlie is an unassuming man who was not concerned about publishing his poetry in book format. I found out how to set it up on Lulu and with Charlie's final edit I Need To Feel You In Every Moment In My Heart is now available.

Charlie writes in such a way that I can only imagine that every woman would want to be cared for and loved the way he feels. Being a part of this book is inspiring for me because there is a live current in Charlie's words that causes the river of love in the Heart to flow rapidly.

—Rafael Stoneman

See it on Lulu.

This page was published on June 16, 2017 and last revised on June 17, 2017.


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