"You can't not be who you're called to be"
A letter to my dear friend.
I wrote the letter below for my dear friend, second father and great teacher Robert Haas Tobey on the occasion of his 80th birthday after his children requested a submission from me into the book they were compiling to gift him. After I wrote about his passing last month, at age 86 years , many wrote me because they were curious, as it’s not a part of my life that I’ve talked about much until just recently. Much has been said about the man, but I wanted to write my own celebration of him. There is much to say.
When I found this letter, I realized that it said everything I wanted it to say. He finally put down roots later in his life in his beloved Damariscotta Maine, and became deeply involved in the community efforts to prepare their seawall for the coming onslaught brought about by impending climate change. At the same time, he became as devoted to permaculture and sustainable agriculture as he was to energy work and healing, but that was not surprising at all. He was a brilliant and highly educated man with a lifelong passion for walking his talk. He never stopped learning as far as I can tell. He spent the last decade of his life with his partner Ursula, growing the best raspberries and asparagus I’ve ever eaten and turning everything he grew into tinctures and amazing jams. Their entire basement was filled with food they’d canned and preserved that lasted all winter long. It was incredibly inspiring.
We’d walk into their home in the fall because we always came to help them put the hoop house to bed for the winter. We’d walk in after the long drive from Ohio and there would be a beautiful meal ready for us, made by them both from all kinds of things from the garden. While he watched us enjoying it he’d say ”Don’t ever forget…. This is what real wealth is!” and after a bite of one of his cobblers made with fruits from his little farm, I knew he was right.
We shared a real passion for single malt too, so we’d finish the evening with a wee dram or two, hugs, pets for Nina and quiet contentedness.
I think I am sharing this letter here because we all have something we are called to do…that thing that isn’t “normal” , but that makes our hearts sing. And if we’re lucky, we get to do just that.
Let me know in the comments what your thing is…..
"You can't not be who you're called to be"
Some people come into your life quietly, gently and leave no more impression than a soothing ripple of water that caresses you on a warm summer evening. That is not the case with my dear friend, and your father Haas, and I've always been grateful for it. Many people wonder how I became who and what I am...and this man has just about everything to do with it. He and my husband were the catalysts for a personal journey that was started perhaps centuries ago but wasn't actualized in this lifetime until I was about 24.
When I met Haas, he was in leading an Intentional Healing gathering in a living room in Lakewood, Ohio and we'd been advised to go see him by a wise and wonderful therapist who realized that she could do nothing more to help eradicate the almost crippling malaise that was plaguing my husband at the time. As for myself I had begun to experience literal fireballs of energy running through my hands and I didn't know what to do about it...it was frustrating to the point of madness.
I went to this gathering convinced that my husband was about to become involved in a cult and as we walked into the living room filled with assorted people from all different walks of life, I became pretty sure of it! The leader of the group...an obviously brilliant and highly charismatic man with a Merlin like beard and an equally piercing Gandalf-like visage began to speak. I must admit that every time he spoke, I found him really irritating...it didn't take me long to figure out why!
We began to talk about healing, pain and suffering and it didn't take long for my husband to begin to ask questions. "Why are we here..." repeatedly had become his favorite question. Gandalf began to speak to my husband in soothing, yet powerful tones and I felt Jim begin to relax. At the same time “Gandalf” (as I was privately referring to him by then!) looked up and said..."There's someone here with a pain in their leg and someone here who knows what to do about it. " At that point, my hands began to heat up and I practically started levitating off my chair. I sat on them...trying in vain to will them to stop. I perceived this as total weakness on my part, and I certainly didn't want to be exposed for whatever insanity it was.
(Jumping forward a few years Haas....I believe that it was the time that you put the rope around my neck and tied a perfect thirteen knot hangman's noose around it on that fateful Samhain that cured me of that fear!)
As has been prone to happen many times since that evening I found myself powerless to stop myself, so I rose from my chair and went over to the woman. I placed my hands on her and she immediately felt relief. The funny thing was, that for the very first time I didn't feel like a weirdo...I'd helped someone, and she was grateful for it. So was I, but I wasn't ready to admit the sneaking suspicions that I was having that this was not going to stop, no matter how much I wanted it to.
At the end of the evening my husband was talking to Haas, and I walked up. still a bit freaked out by what happened. Haas looked at me with his penetrating eyes and said..."So how long have you been a healer?".
I believe I said..." I'm not" and started to consider storming out of the room....
"Welcome Home" were his next words. When the heart hears its truth, it becomes impossible to deny. It took me decades really before I could lay my hands on someone without feeling as if I was about to be destroyed for it, but every time I do, I feel him next to me, guiding me and saying, "You can't not be who you're called to be".
Haas, I feel the fear and I act anyhow, which is perhaps that greatest gift you've given me.
Since then, we have worked together so many times and I have been so grateful for your guidance. Because of you and the work we've all done together, Jim thrives and there were one or two years when I wasn't sure that we would make it through. Because of you I have a marriage that's grown to exceed every expectation that I could have ever had for it and more.
We have this amazing son who knows that should he need one, he always has a grandpa who will tickle him with fat juicy bumblebees under his armpits. You should know that about a month ago when we were at Easter dinner, my brother-in-law keeled over in his chair from a combination of stress, a possible food intolerance and too much sugar. He literally turned the color of wallpaper paste. Of course, I got him into the bedroom and while everyone else was running around started to lay my hands on him. I yelled for Alex who came in, took one look at me, and immediately set his hands on his beloved uncle. He hadn't done any of the work in years and in fact avoided it like the plague “too weird mom”...sound familiar? We worked together for over a half an hour, and I watched his face. He still knew exactly what to do and he did it because love called him to. It was an amazing experience to feel, and I know that you know what I mean when I say that.
You have given so much to so many, but to me this is your greatest gift. You inspire love, intuition, trust, and most importantly fearless action.
I have always been glad that I gave in. Yes...I am a healer. Yes... I've been so for centuries. And yes, I’ve always been pretty damn sure that one way or another you've been by my side.
Healing does Happen....
We love you man...so very much.
Happiest of birthdays and wishing you so many more.
Beth, Jim and Alex