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The Living Tithe

On the morning of Wednesday, September 19, 2007, I awoke at 4 am in a reclining chair by my wife’s bedside at University Hospital. Earlier in the week, she had spent her nights thrashing about, clawing at the veil of unconsciousness. Now she lay subdued, breathing softly, her life force spent. I had just been given the message that today she would succumb to lung cancer. We had been married nearly 36 years‐60 percent of each of our lives and I had no idea how my remaining days on Earth would continue to have meaning without her.

The message of her imminent death came to me not via nurse or doctor, but through a small, still Spirit‐voice that I’d never before experienced. Immediately awake and alert, I began a 90 minute “dialogue” with Mary Ann’s spirit, which was vibrant and lucid but locked within her unconscious body. Our communication climaxed when I tearfully implored her spirit to come live in my soul and received an eager positive response. Since that movement, I’ve been grappling with how a dual‐spirited soul lives a life true to the values that initially attracted us to each other and sustained us through our decades together.

So I set out to discover all the hidden aspirations of my other‐directed soul mate in a quest to discern how we might proceed in our relationship across the death divide. Leafing through a pile of her personal papers a few days later, I discovered a two‐month diary from the summer of 1969. She and a friend had just graduated from Cornell with degrees in Human Ecology (largely home economics). The two of them had decided to share an inner‐city slum apartment and press the limits of home economics to see just how minimally they could consume. The results: they each lived those two months on $17 per week for all expenses.

No wonder she had responded with tears of joy when two years later we met and I confided that I had in mind a life that would at all stages challenge myself to consume as little as possible in order to have the maximum amount to return in restitution‐for the crime of global corporate greed that indirectly bloats the wages of all of us in overdeveloped nations, often to our chagrin, though we accept the privilege to the world’s lowest‐income folks, and that I was asking her to join me in this lifelong journey We were a match made in heaven, and we forged a dual‐unit entity that was mutually enhancing and spawned multiple positive feedback loops.

Chuck Hosking lives in Albuquerque, N.Mex. He is a member of Harare (Zimbabwe) Meeting, and he actively promotes Southern African Yearly Meeting's Zimbabwe Relief Fund through Schenectady (N. Y) Meeting.

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