Arpil 24, 2015
Last week I and other loved ones said goodbye to Carla L. Rueckert, a friend and mentor whose impact on my life cannot be overstated.
I met Carla 13 years ago this month during a time of significant transition from an old life to a new. At that time I was awakening from an incarnational slumber to a deep-seated, previously dormant need to live a conscious, what I would call spiritual life, for the first time asking questions about the nature of reality, the meaning of existence, what I can do to help others, and, most fundamentally, "Who am I?" This was a difficult period as an old life died and in its place a new one, with a very different, broader worldview, was born. It was only in retrospect that I could situate that period of inner turmoil and darkness as one chapter in a much greater narrative: the journey of self-realization.
That journey or trajectory began when the metaphorical inner alarm clock first opened my eyes just before leaving for the Army around 18 years old, setting me upon a path that I am still walking today, a path of seeking the truth for myself. In the initial phases of that process, I discovered many helpful and partially illuminating sources of information, but it was Carla's little-known work that spoke, and still speaks, most powerfully to me. At no time before or since has a source of light reached me on such a bone-deep level. In her authored and channeled material, I had found my philosophical home. By home I mean that it reminded me of something forgotten long ago, lost somewhere in the dimly lit recesses of the subconscious mind. And in the process, the philosophy, cosmology, and spiritual/ethical principles shared by her tiny organization came to form both the foundation and framework of my own worldview, a perspective that emphasizes the underlying unity or oneness of all life, and speaks to love and light being the nature of all things.
Though I continue to seek far and wide, and have enjoyed many sources of enlightenment available on this planet, I have yet to encounter so universal, inclusive, elegant, sophisticated, internally consistent, heart-opening, and beautiful a philosophy as that which she and her group produced. It is entirely consistent with the reports of all mystics who unanimously affirm that all things are one - that everything we see and do, every person we meet, and every moment life is God, is the Creator knowing itself. The tears were many upon initial discovery, and the gratitude since has been unending.
Two years after stumbling upon her work, I had my first chance to meet Carla in April, 2002 at a small gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, in a weekend event that was high magic for me. Afterward I struck up correspondence with Carla, making a couple of visits to see her and her husband Jim in the following months, when, during another small event a year after the initial meeting, I was given the opportunity to relocate to Louisville to work more closely with her group, L/L Research. I couldn't believe my lucky stars.
Spiritual seeking had become the primary focus of my life by that point. Not because Carla or any source outside of myself elevated its importance, but rather because I had awakened to something and could not turn back - I needed to understand the greater picture, a need that has not diminished over time. As spirituality was the main driver, I wanted to be near others who were similarly engaged on the eternal quest to know the self - which is another way of saying, to know the Creator. No one in northeast Ohio was even remotely on a similar path, and I had no commitments of career or relationship, so I hopped on I-71 and soon as I could and headed south!
I've been happily in Louisville ever since. And in all the many adventures I've enjoyed, dramatic growth I've experienced, beautiful open-hearted people I've befriended, and the wonderful opportunities to interact with seekers from around the world bearing similar questions and similar philosophical approaches to life, I have Carla more than any other outside of my own parents to thank.
Carla and her husband Jim, but especially Carla, took me under her wing. She didn't play an active mentorship role in terms of instructing, per se - counseling my decision-making process or guiding towards specific outcomes - rather by her example, her philosophy, her essence, and the opportunity she gave me, I grew into adulthood. Any who knew me in my early twenties can attest to how different I am now. Though, like everyone else, I still have endless miles to go, I have come leaps and bounds since then, finding my own two feet, standing upright, and becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. There are many factors that have contributed to that growth - especially the healing catalyst of my current relationship with my wife, and the relationship with my past girlfriend - but it was Carla gave me the soil into which I could plant myself and grow.
Hers is a philosophy built upon the basis of free will. And for those positively oriented souls who wish to grow in a service-to-others direction, free will must always, insofar as it is possible, be respected and not infringed upon. The gist is that we can only serve others to the extent it is requested; each has their own inner compass and is their own authority. She held this attitude toward me as well, giving me the space to grow and, without interfering, meeting me with love wherever I was and in whatever my emotional state.
And among the many reflections that can be made about the extraordinary person Carla was, they all must begin and end in the heart, for Carla was truly a person if ever I met one of unconditional love. She saw all people at the soul level, whatever their outer behavior, and loved everyone with whom she came into contact.
This was not, however, a personal achievement, so much as it was a manifestation of her own inner, and absolutely total devotion to the sacred dimension of life. Every fiber of her being was pointed toward living life sacramentally, as an act of devotion and worship, and it was Jesus Christ that was at the center of that orientation. Carla had experiences of meeting this being as a child. As her husband Jim wrote in the eulogy he delivered:
"A fascinating experience occurred because she had to wear glasses at such an early age. One day, when she was 2 years old, and when it was time for her to take her afternoon nap, her mother put her in her crib next to the window and closed the Venetian blinds. Before she went to sleep, Carla took her glasses off and put them between the blinds which were drawn for her nap. Then she laid down and saw that there was light coming through the slit in the blinds. When it went through her glasses it made a beam of light that she was able to use to slide out of her body and go to what seemed like a magic forest. The animals would communicate with her, colors were more vivid, and when she went to the center of the forest, there she would see Jesus. He didn't look like the paintings you usually see. His hair was long, matted, and dusty from the road. His robe was dusty too, and he never spoke a word. But when he held her hand and looked into her eyes, she immediately knew what unconditional love was. This experience occurred many times over the next few years. When she was five years old she told her mom and dad about the experience, and they told her that it was not real. It was in her mind. That she had made it up. So the experience never happened again. But her devotion to Jesus as her Lord and Savior began then and never wavered throughout her life. And from that point on, love would become her way of looking at the world. Those two parts of this experience never changed for her."
Carla's love of Jesus and lifetime in the church were of a non-dogmatic variety, though. She was what you would call a Christian mystic. She drew inspiration from Christian principles, but recognized that the universe, or God, or truth was too great to be contained by any one religion, or teaching, or philosophy; she knew there are as many paths to truth as there are people; that each person has a sacred right to find and discover what is true for themselves without it being imposed upon them. Indeed she recognized that there is no formulation of language and symbol that can capture the truth because each person IS the living truth that they seek. No teaching outside the self can deliver that. Words can only point the way within where each is working with and creating their own personal myth.
And it was with that attitude that, rooted in her love of Jesus, she joined a mechanical engineer and physics professor turned pilot, Don Elkins, to form L/L Research in the late 1960's, and to blaze together a completely novel and utterly unique path to the One by way of the discoveries they made and the information they received through their experiment. It is the path that they - along with Jim later down the road - forged which I gladly follow, finding a utility and sturdiness that continues to not only withstand every test I can put it to, but continues to grow and blossom in direct proportion to my own deepening awareness of the unity of all things.
The information that they discovered, which so profoundly affected every corner of my life, involved significant sacrifice on her part, but she and the other two in their small band never turned their material into a commercial product that is withheld from the seeker until a financial transaction is made. From the beginning they were of the opinion that if it can be of any help to someone, it ought be available for free. They stayed true to that ethos, and spiritual seekers from around the world, though small in number, have, as a result of coming into contact with this work, continued to be informed, illuminated, and even awakened to their own desire to seek the truth, often profoundly so. The transformations that others experience are real and often enduring; enduring in that twenty or more years later after first encountering this love and free-will centered philosophy, seekers are still feeling its presence in their lives and learning from its wisdom.
Sacred though Carla was, she wasn't stiff and rigid. She was a jokster, living life lightheartedly, laughing often, and approaching life as if each moment were not only a gift, but often a funny gift. She loved straight vodka and rare steak, devoured cheap romance novels, and spent significant hours being distracted to prime time TV dramas, NCIS especially.
But Carla was a person of considerable inner and outer discipline. Through each test of life and through long years of navigating the troubled waters we all know so well, she was relentless in tuning her attitude, calibrating her perspective, and aiming her will to a vision of optimism and, more deeply, faith. In the many daunting moments of catalyst that came her way, she had an inner surety that, no matter the outer appearances, all was well, she was held in the hands of the Creator, and her job in each moment was to find the light and serve others. To those outside her it seemed so natural and effortless for Carla to be smiling, buoyant, and ready to love, but deeper examination would reveal that what she made effortless was in actuality the result of long-term, intensive discipline. Carla was a person of exceptional will power.
She awoke each morning with that optimism. When selecting her clothing for the day her general attitude was one of, "What shall I wear to the party today?" That optimistic, faithful outlook was in no way blind to the many ills of the world, but through her discipline she consciously chose, and chose again, and chose again, to embrace and love life, glorying in the opportunity to be here and serve, praising most everything that came before her, and expressing her gratitude for life through both song and dance. Carla loved singing, especially hymnals through the church choir, but was liable to break out into songs of praise and thanksgiving at random moments throughout the day. And she loved dancing, spending her summers at a camp at Noyes School of Rhythm in Massachusetts as a young girl and dancing long into her older years until her body would no longer support her.
She also loved to be busy. Work was not a four-letter word for Carla, it was her means of giving and playing in the gardens of the Creator, especially her literal garden where she would spend many an hour pulling out the weeds and singing/talking to the plants, and especially in the kitchen where she cooked as a means of service, imbuing each dish with the most important ingredient that came from her unfailingly opened heart. But by the time I met her, her body was no longer able to dance, and her time pulling weeds in the garden was growing short, though we did have some good times in the kitchen together, especially when combining a glass or two of wine with the cooking.
Her path might also be described as one of subtraction. Each of the activities that Carla loved in life were gradually removed from her abilities, from dancing, to walking, to exercise, to cooking and cleaning, to singing in the choir, to eventually even typing, limiting her ability to exercise one of her strongest incarnational gifts: writing; she was such a gifted, creative writer. Eventually even doing her beloved NY Times crossword puzzles, and reading itself - no matter how big we made the font on her Kindle - became outside of her possibilities. But against all testing and limitation seemingly imposed upon her by an increasingly crippled body, her faith was as steady and as bright as the Sun which no Earthly weather could extinguish.
But while living from the open heart isn't easy for anyone in this world - anger, blame, judgment, retribution, condemnation are often so much easier - it was a special crucible for Carla. Her medical difficulties were chronic. I've never met anyone with a frailer physical vehicle beset with more troubles. The experts had been predicting her imminent death from age zero, but through will, faith, and support from others, most especially Jim, Carla made it to the ripe age of 71. Her cross though was difficult to carry, especially during the final four years of her life. Bound to a hospital bed with an open wound on her back from a spinal fusion surgery, her physical suffering was enormous.
But where most would falter, myself including, Carla's spirit trumped the condition of her body. She always kept smiling, never complained, and found ways to be of service to others even from her hospital bed. Devoted to service as she was, she demonstrated in her final years that service needn't be about *doing* anything in particular, though we can be of tremendous help to others through action, but more fundamentally that service at its most powerful is a service of *being*. Before we say a word, lift a finger, indeed before we breathe, we are effortlessly emanating our essence - our primary vibratory signature or state of awareness, you might say. This is happening without our doing anything, and it is a function of our depth of realization of oneness with the Creator.
In that regard the more that we do our own work in consciousness to open our hearts, clear ourselves of fear, reduce judgment of self and others, and honor unconditional love and the Creator in each we meet and see, our light grows stronger. We shine into the darkness of this illusion, and where light meets the dark, the dark is cast out.
Carla radiated this light. That light was palpable to those who knew her personally and those who knew her through her work. She was by any measure an exceptional person. She was exceedingly honest. She was truer to herself than most I have met - seldom relating to others with any mask, persona, or pretense - and hers was a light that illuminated my life and the lives of many others around the world.
But she was not alone tilting at windmills and triumphing singlehandedly. She was one half a two-part system, a strand of rope inextricably bound up with another: her husband, companion, and caretaker, Jim. The rock that Carla stood and rested upon was that offered by her absolutely unfailing, unwavering husband. No matter her indomitable will, faith, and inner strength, Carla could not have made it as long as she did were it not for the indefatigable support system that Jim provided. Jim is an equally beautiful and noble human being, and so often when I speak of Carla's work here, I am speaking of *their* work, but his tribute will be for another day.
When I first met Carla there was, admittedly, a bit of hero worship. But as our relationship deepened and became more authentic, I stopped placing her upon a pedestal so that a friendship of one soul to another soul could grow. Though there were small moments of interpersonal catalyst, and Carla's own human follies became apparent, my respect and admiration only increased as I witnessed the mysterious marriage of the error-prone human made of flesh and the conditioned past, with the light of the eternal soul within. Carla made that light more conscious, and manifested it more purely through unconditional love. Grounded in the dirt of this world, she was one of the most noble people I've known.
I didn't see her in a mother role, but I believe I designed this life to help support her and Jim's work. I loved helping Carla and making her happy. It always gave me an extra glow when she would express approval for my L/L work, when she would use a term of endearment and call me "bud", and when, upon reporting to her of the work I did in for L/L Taiwan, and another occasion or two, she replied saying, "I couldn't be more proud of you if you were my own."
Special though she was, she would say that she's just a bozo on the bus. I was lucky beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to ride alongside Carla for a time, a fellow bozo and traveler, to be given the honor of a lifetime to combine my personal passion with vocation in representing her organization, and to, above all, be her friend. I will always miss her.