Thursday, January 8, 1970

The Anointing

Event: Late October 1965; Updated: 10 August 2011

She came as Mike and left as Michelle. I will never forget those few evening hours in late October 1965 at The Ranch of the Way on Alba Road near the little town of Ben Loman. We had eaten fruit from the trees outside: apples and pears; perhaps something else. An egg breakfast would be coming in the morning, fresh laid offerings from resident hens, with fresh drawn milk from goats.

John David Arnold (a lapsed Episcopal priest) had brought me to his Ranch after we’d met earlier that evening at The Big Red Barn in Scott’s Valley. I had sung extemporaneously at a folk song festival at the Barn after the scheduled program had ended. Al and Patti di Ludovicco befriended me and had shared their last $2 on something to eat when they learned I was hungry and after hearing my impromptu performance. John David was also in the audience and offered me a place to stay that night.

When John David and I arrived at the Ranch, “Mike” had already been there a day or two and was the only other person at the main house. She, like I, had been invited to the ranch by John David to rest and be safe. She had fled a professional burn-out situation just up from Big Sur Hot Springs (later to be known as Esalen) to escape exhausting physical and spiritual work at the Springs. She was noted for her talent and ability, but had to get away to recharge her spirit. I knew nothing about her.

We three talked quietly into the night. They asked about my life and I told them I was new to the wilderness, having just two weeks earlier lost career, family, church, reputation, money and almost all my friends—virtually everything I had held dear. Suddenly I found myself without boundaries. I’m not sure, but I think I also sang a little, probably the birch tree song.

Then I asked about her—what did she do. “I’m a masseuse”, she said as a matter-of-fact.

Innocently puzzled, I asked, “What’s that?”

“Take off your clothes and get on the table!” she commanded.

Shocked and surprised, I dared not disobey. I’d never had a massage, nor been intimately touched by a woman in my adulthood other than by my now estranged wife. Nervously, I crept into an adjacent bedroom to disrobe and wrap myself in a white towel I found on a dresser. In the meantime she, too, had disrobed and spread the big dinning room table with a white tablecloth.  A large jar of olive oil was near head cornier of the table in preparation for what seemed would be a ritual.

It was more than that.

What happened on that table was a veritable anointing! As I lay face down on the table, eyes tightly closed, both hands clenched in fists, she turned me over, removed the towel, and literally drenched my frightened, uptight body with oil and went to work. Hour after hour she worked, but I could not relax and take in the care from her hands. Eventually I felt her begin to lose energy and become tired.

Then she began talking to me, telling me of things about myself I’d never told another. “You’ve been hurt”, she said. “Every cell in your body is screaming in pain for love. That is what I do. I pour love into bodies!” Hearing such evocative words, I began loosen. And with this tiny opening, new energy swept into her as well as me, as I then experienced a process that literally transformed me on that table. Physical changes began to course through my body as I gradually opened up to her caring hands. All embarrassment vanished as I eagerly took in this new love, even including an erection. As the process ran its course, I sat up in wonder, marveling at the wondrous changes I was feeling.  She, too, now sitting at the foot of the table with widened eyes and looking into mine, had changed from “Mike” into “Michele” during those magical moments. Both of us had experienced a radical, profound if not  miraculous transformation.

But then I began to feel awkward as I perceived she was feeling amorous and wanted me to bed her.  It was too soon. The transformation was too new and I did not know how to graciously decline her obvious desire or to express my wonder without hurting her feelings. I simply did not know how to respond in any way but awkward and inelegantly stumbled off to be alone in the bedroom where I had left my clothes.

The next morning I awoke and came in to sit at the kitchen table. John David was busily preparing a breakfast of eggs, fruit and milk. Michelle came in a little later, saying nothing and deliberately not once looking at me. Her whole demeanor expressed disappointed and humiliation.

Alarmed at this, I began talking directly to John David, expressing my gratitude for what had happened last night.  “Last night I felt loved like I've never before known”, I began. “It was a love that could only have been administered by a woman, like her who is sitting at this table, and I feel blessed and so very grateful.”
As I spoke I saw her eyes fill with tears and acceptance. Then silently arose and went outside to climb a tree and sit on one of the branches while hugging its trunk in continued silence.  John David turned to me and said, “Eugene, I think she has now received what she came for” and then began explaining things to me to address my ignorance, such as the gay condition.  

After what seemed like hours, Michelle came into the house and walked confidently up to me. Taking both my hands in hers she softly said, “Thank you. I’ve never met a man before and will never forget you. Now I am going to India.” I never saw her again, but never have I forgotten the miracle of her God-given, powerful, loving and healing hands. 

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