Set me a seal upon your heart,
As a ring upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
A flame of the Eternal.

Song of Songs viii 6-7

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mandy's Prayer is Answered -- in Less Than 24 Hours

Journal Entry
Saturday 2/21/2004
New Moon
Early Afternoon

In light of the prayer I said last night, what happened today was truly extraordinary. Still, it shouldn’t be so surprising if we believe that our prayers are answered.


“The remote’s broken,” I said while attempting to change the channel. “Nothing’s happening!”

Hmmm… becoming a familiar scenario, isn’t it?

All right… okay… let’s check the batteries. Finally, I got off my duff and went to the garage. Let’s see, where did Max put the battery pack? Rummage… grope… fumble fumble…. not here I take it.

Before long, I ambled my way to the kitchen to look in the hutch by the phone. Well, after tossing out some junk at the top of the pile, I spotted something. “Yay, a whole pack of double As!” I hollered like an anthropology student on her first dig.

Regardless, I didn’t stop there; course not. You see, whenever Mandy finds a pile of stuff, she has to poke around till she hits bottom. Hmmm, what’s this? And there, underneath the batteries like a lost pup, was the handheld recorder Max used to keep in his pocket. I chuckled remembering how he liked to tape his project notes and other vagrant thoughts while sitting in traffic; a great way to make the most of otherwise wasted time.

But I wondered if the old machine still worked. Soon to find out…. I jerked the contraption out from under the rubble. It’s a wonder I didn’t break the darned thing.


Fumbling around, I finally notice something. “Geez, there’s a tape in it,” I holler, as if my mother were still around. So, I set it on the counter, press “Play” and turn it up full-blast.

No sound… nada.

Okay, maybe it’s reading the end. So I rewind the thing and press “Play” again.

In order to maintain some semblance of patience, I sit back on the barstool and tap… tap… tap. It’s like a day goes by.

At last, a buzz… a treasure unearthed from a time gone by as I perceive a familiar timbre. Sitting up, I say, “Man, it’s Max.” Like a small child who’s just opened her first Christmas gift, I’m in total awe. The recording may have been made back when, but this is happening now, for me. I brush back a tear because the tiny ribbon has captured the character and tone of Max’s voice so beautifully. It’s like he’s here right now, talking to me. Bowled over by his words and thoughts, I’m powerless to keep the water from my eyes; so I just let it flow.

From the start, I’d been amazed at the nature and depth of Max’s ideas. His tendency to “think outside the box” had a way of defying time-tested notions – catching people off guard, testing me all the time, and sometimes even inciting me to riot. We had so many heated (yet fun and thought-provoking) debates. I think one of Max’s primary purposes here on earth was to challenge people. And that he did, but in a rewarding way. After sitting down to dinner with Max, you went home with more than you came; a thought, a feeling, insight into something new, perhaps even a totally different reality to ponder. I can truly say no one ever left our table indifferent.

The recording ends. I eject the tape and try to drum up a title. “Hmmm, I’ve got it,” and with a felt tip pen, print the words:

On Art and Life: The Philosophy of Max Blau

I’ll keep this tape forever, Max.


But I must remember to make copies for our friends, so I scribble a note and pin it up on the board in the kitchen. Then, as if he can hear me, I say, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind, I titled your tape.”

You see, Max never titled any of his work unless his employer requested it. He even disliked borders or frames around works of art. Guess that’s another way he thought outside the box. In fact, Max reviled titles, labels and limitations of almost any kind, just as he despised the way people are often labeled.

In short, Max was my hero. But how could you possibly tell?


As the last rays of a blazing sun reflected off the patio chimes and onto the living room rug, I sat cross-legged on the floor and replayed the tape. It relaxed me to hear Max’s calm voice and his amazing views on life. And as the glittering lights danced on the blue rug, I listened to the tape again and again. Before long, day turned to dusk and with a wrinkled sleeve, I wiped the salty crust from my face. “High time for a nap,” I said, gaping and lifting my arm just enough to pull down a pillow. Then, before you could say short circuit, I slipped into a stupor.

Hours later, I awoke to patio chimes proclaiming another blustery night. And, as I got up and watched the cut glass flicker in the light, this way and that, it dawned on me that Max’s tape had seriously – if not joyfully – diverted me from my noontime plans. So I pulled up the remote and installed the new batteries, at last. Then, reverting to the channel surfing of yesteryear, I did a little test.

“Okay, everything’s working fine. Just needed batteries, that’s all.”


Humor has a way of relaxing me. So I dial around in search of a sit-com before bedtime. After all, it’s Saturday night. Yet, despite my desire for a little lighthearted entertainment, thoughts of the day capture my mind like an old time movie. Soon I realize that I don’t need a TV set at all – the show that’s burning my brain has me rapt.

One by one, the events of the day materialize like pictures moving in string formation. And what they reveal is astounding:

1. The remote control is broken

2. But is it broken or are the batteries dead?

3. I search for batteries in the garage and hutch

4. Finally, I find an unopened pack of batteries in the hutch

5. Now I find Max’s tape recorder, buried just underneath the batteries

6. Then, to my amazement, a tape of Max’s voice is still in the machine

Ironically, in the formlessness of the dark, the undeniable sequence of events unfolds, shedding light on an unseen reality. Like a flying portrait, “The Big Picture” virtually hits me in the back of the head.

“Oh my God,” I cry, looking up at the ceiling – like I can view The Man. “How did I not get it?” I ask, arms outstretched. “How could I not see?"

Last night I prayed to hear Max’s voice. And, in less than twenty-four hours, You answered my prayer.

Mandy's Prayer to Hear Max

Journal Entry
Friday 02/20/2004
New Moon

Despite all the incredible happenings that have given me hope, I realized I am missing Max again. For one thing, I miss his voice – the one I heard on New Year’s Day, nine days after he died.

Tonight I prayed to hear him again. “Forgive me,” I said. “I hope it isn’t wrong to ask for such a thing. Will You please let me know?”