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Amy Spies

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Thanksgiving Karma

Posted: 11/23/11 11:31 AM ET

It could be the beginning of a time-travel Thanksgiving tale: Connectedness = Karmic Gratitude. Miracle in the City of Angels. And yet, it really happened, once upon this time.

A few days ago, a thin envelope floated down out of the blue onto the grounds of "The Tree People," an environmental non-profit refuge in concrete Los Angeles. The letter was found by homeless man Raul Flores. A former mortgage banker and homeowner, Raul now spent his days cleaning his new 'outdoor community home,' Coldwater Canyon, a hilly wooded area between Beverly Hills and Studio City. Raul's eco-cause inspired a canyon homeowner, Jackie, to become his advocate and helper.

Raul showed the rescued envelope to his friend Jackie, wondering what to do. Raul thought to deposit it in a mailbox, but there was only a six-cent stamp on the right-hand top. Even more strangely, the postmark read '1953' -- 58 years ago! Talk about snail mail. But the envelope was in decent shape. How could it have survived for so long? For those of us who've longed to find a way into another dimension, this had the makings of a miraculous gift.

But this Thanksgiving tale twisted like the canyon in which its letter had landed. Coincidence or Karma -- Jackie recognized the names of the husband and wife to whom it was addressed. She was a longtime friend of their son, whom she met in another city, a man who was not even born at the time the letter was written.

Jackie drove the envelope through atypically storm-drenched Los Angeles canyons, facing dangerous flooding to deliver it to the recipients' son. After much fantasizing and discussing, a relatively rational explanation surfaced. It turned out that the young doctor to whom the letter was addressed in1953 had died in his late 70's after a fruitful altruistic career as a pediatric surgeon; his widow had just sold their longtime home at age 86. The envelope must have been parted with by her along with the house, possibly in a box donated to Goodwill, ironically the name of the oldest son mentioned in the letter. Maybe the Goodwill truck turning on a canyon curve got jolted by a BMW or Bentley barreling to a meeting at a movie studio in Studio City. The letter escaped past palm trees and pools, landing at the roots of an old redwood tree. The homeless former mortgage broker mindfully saved the message. He and his helper tripped through time, connecting someone who had passed in Ohio to his nephew in California. The envelope headed for burial was resuscitated; the family involved was bestowed a holiday gift of reconnection. What will happen next? Does the letter have more stops in its journey to e-maildom, recycling, and beyond? Will it lead the son and the letter writer's children to explore old family secrets and create a new chapter together?

It is, thankfully, a small, karmically-wired, miraculous world after all. Meditating on the cogs in the wheel of this delayed special delivery blends with the mindful eating I am practicing this Thanksgiving. Thinking of individuals who planted the corn, watered the soil, picked the yams, and plucked the cranberries, I acknowledge their labors and lives, feel the connection and hope for an enveloping 'us,' and wrap the homeless volunteer mailperson and his helper in my appreciative embrace. I am grateful.