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In Autumn of 1992 in New York City something wonderful seemed to fill the air. The Baha’i World Congress was about to occur, with 30,000 people from around the world coming together to celebrate.
I was introduced to the Baha’i Faith through movie-like circumstances the Spring before, by Jack Lenz, who was producing the music for a video I sang on in Bermuda, but that is a story for another day.
Something extraordinary was happening at that time in New York City. Hotel lobbies thronged with exuberant people, like huge families reuniting at last. Ballrooms were filled with exhibits, artwork and special displays, extolling the beauty of the Baha’i Faith and its Central Figures.
Huge tapestries, woven, gigantic quilts, sewn together by people from many countries, hung as a gesture of love and unity from the high ceilings of the Jacob Javits Center. A sea of chairs awaited the thousands of shining faces who would soon behold the musical outpourings of grace, devotion and upliftment. A many-tiered stage would host a glorious choir and several speakers, whose humble but strong sentiments echoed a vision for humanity becoming knitted together through love and hard work, through prayer and clear plans.
I had never in my life felt so much radiant love or seen so many smiling faces. My own cheeks ached from smiling as the contagion of this wondrously joyful occasion took me over. I truly felt, for the first time, the reality of the oneness of humanity, the primary principle of the Baha’i Faith, as explained here by Abdu’l-Baha:
Turn these souls into heavenly angels, resuscitate them through the breath of Thy Holy Spirit, grant them eloquent tongues and resolute hearts, bestow upon them heavenly power and merciful susceptibilities, cause them to become the promulgators of the oneness of mankind and the cause of love and concord in the world of humanity, so that the perilous darkness of ignorant prejudice may vanish through the light of the Sun of Truth, this dreary world may become illumined, this material realm may absorb the rays of the world of spirit, these different colours may merge into one colour and the melody of praise may rise to the kingdom of Thy sanctity.
Somehow, amidst this sea of lights, I found myself in the company of two souls in particular, again and again. I first met Richard, (who later would be my husband), outside the rehearsals for the World Congress choir. A bright spirit, he loved to share stories about the Baha’i Faith. I told him I was there as a guest of Jack’s. He was happy to learn that I was a singer and songwriter, as he was a musician and painter, as well.
I met many musical people who were not in the choir, but wanted to be around the music, in a room next to the rehearsal space. On one of those hangout afternoons, Richard said, “there is someone I would like you to meet.” I was happy to meet any one of this radiant community of love, so I eagerly said “Yes!”
It was evening by that time. We walked a few blocks to a restaurant named Casablanca, where we met a man wearing a little cap. “Christina,” Richard said, “I’d like you to meet Jimmy Seals.” Jimmy was not very tall, and I’m almost sure he was wearing corduroy. He seemed comfy, warm and welcoming, with a friendly smile and kind eyes. His demeanor was humble, but fully present and engaged.
We all sat down and within minutes our table seemed to be encircled by grace, or angels, or something.
I looked up – and I can still see it in my mind’s eye – the walls seemed to shimmer. I was deep into meditation at that point in my life. I was not into superstition, although I felt comfortable with mystical moments. There was something happening in this conversation that brought incredible blessings of a different kind. Jimmy and Richard told stories of the early Baha’is, Baha’u’llah, the Babis, the martyrdom of the Bab, Mulla Husayn, and the stories kept coming. We drank tea and coffee and ate angel food cake. We shared stories and laughed and talked until the late, late hours.
This happened night after night. It felt like we had entered a vortex. I could barely remember my rides home each night, and I could not wait for the day that would follow. I floated on those spiritual energies and would continue to for some time to come.
One night, perhaps the last time we all spent together, we went to Richard’s studio, with its microphones and guitars. We sat close, in a small circle. One by one we sang our songs, sharing recent musical creations with each other. Richard sang a beautiful song about a moth to a flame. He then handed the guitar to me.
I sang a song that came to me after my grandfather died, which had happened not long before, called “Ayayo.” It emerged fresh with the energy of a new song and my love for my grandfather. I finished and we all sat in the quiet for some time.
Jimmy said, “well, I guess I had better hang up my guitar up now.”
We laughed and understood the humble, self-effacing way he gave his compliment. As the night went on Jimmy gave many compliments, which made us all smile and laugh, enjoying the sweetness of those moments.
I felt moved and made shy by his generosity. I asked him if he would be willing to share a song. He humbly acquiesced, and there, he unfolded one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, quietly, modestly, allowing the energies of his pure heart and the light of the spiritual realm to appear through his voice and story.
The song ended and we were speechless. We took a long, silent pause to drink in the beauty and let it permeate our every cell. The chemistry of the room had changed, mirroring the title of his song, “Change the Copper into Gold.” After a time, he explained that the song hadn’t been released for some reason, but he gave me a cassette tape with a recording of it.
I cannot remember saying goodbye to Jimmy, and I am glad about that. It seems that when souls meet on a spiritual plane, in this Earth world, time and space and judgments and expectations evaporate. In these connections live a timeless, wordless beauty that pervades into the eternal. That is how Jimmy Seals is etched into my heart – eternally.
RELATED: The Life and Death of Jimmy Seals
Thank you, Jimmy, most beautiful soul, for being an extraordinary light on my path towards the Beloved. You brought so much joy and beauty into this world. You, along with another treasure, Dash Crofts, invited thousands of souls to the Baha’i Faith, through your concerts, firesides and songs, each, with their deeper meanings, played throughout the world, still, at concerts, graduations, restaurants, shopping centers, everywhere!
The songs of Seals & Crofts still fill our ears and our souls: “Hummingbird,” a code word for Baha’u’llah; “East of Ginger Trees,” (one of my absolute favorites); “Summer Breeze;” “We May Never Pass this Way Again;” and so many, many more. Jimmy, I know your reunion in the next world, with your dearest brother Dan Seals, another shining star, will be a glorious one – and I hope your reunion with your Beloved will be filled with so many blessings that they cast their light back over this world and your beautiful family. I’m imagining the choirs of heaven at your beck and call, precious soul.
Here is the song Jimmy sang for me (although I got the unplugged version) on that beautiful evening: “Change the Copper into Gold.” May we all transform the copper of our beings into the gold of our highest potential and love.