“May the Lord give you peace.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
On December 1st, 2018 my unforgettable friend Carol Schuldt painlessly left her body at age 85, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and heart failure. Thereafter, on December 8th, her body was interred in a wild nature place overlooking the Pacific Ocean, after spontaneous rituals and stories were shared by Carol’s friends on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Carol was a a legendary San Franciscan, sometimes known as ‘Queen of the Beach’ or ‘Mother Teresa of the Sunset’. She lived as a life-long nature lover and natural born shaman, authentically, intuitively, generously and spontaneously. (See Carol’s SF Chronicle obituary)
Carol and I had innumerable synchronistic encounters, after we first met in the 1980’s. And we repeatedly shared our many ‘miraculous’ synchronicity stories (a few of which are posted here on SillySutras.com).
Before meeting Carol, I miraculously ‘discovered’ and became a lover of St. Francis of Assisi. And soon after meeting Carol, I regarded her as a ‘female St. Francis’ who constantly communed with Nature, even with the sun, the moon, and many nonhuman lifeforms.
So in tribute to Carol’s transition, I write now about her spiritual history, and to tell how wistfully and intuitively I bid her farewell through our shared synchronistic harmony with St. Francis of Assisi.
Summary of Carol’s spiritual history.
Carol and I first met long ago while sitting at Aquatic Beach on San Francisco Bay (across from Ghirardelli Square), where I walked and where she often came to escape ocean fog and swim in the sun (without a wet suit). Afterwards we exchanged many “miracle” stories about our lives stemming from our countless experiences of synchronicities, or meaningful ‘coincidences’.
I deeply appreciated Carol as an amazingly free spirit with great instinctive wisdom and generosity. Before we met, she’d already become a ‘living legend’ throughout and beyond her San Francisco ocean front neighborhood. And many stories were written or told about her. For example, an excellent story: “A Benevolent Queen of the Beach” appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 25, 2000. And in 2005 Carol was interviewed on film by the SF Public Library, about her history and life in the ‘hippie’ 1960’s.
The Chronicle article told of Carol’s exceptional inner wisdom even from childhood, when at Catholic school she adamantly refused to worship a bloody Christ on a crucifix, and was the only child exempted therefrom by the nuns, who recognized her wisdom.
The article also told how Carol had dedicated her life to helping troubled souls – especially young people. But that paradoxically Carol experienced great family tragedy with all of her three children: her two daughters whose lives were lastingly impacted by drug addiction, and her son Pete who was permanently brain damaged in a childhood car accident. Because of her great generosity, especially toward needy young people, Carol was sometimes known as the “Mother Teresa of the Sunset District”. And as a daily swimmer/surfer she also became known as ‘Queen of the Beach’.
From childhood Carol was an extraordinarily intuitive free spirit. She never knowingly followed any prescribed Western or Eastern religious path, despite attempted childhood Catholic inculcation. Instead, she instinctively followed her own unique spiritual path of communing with Nature while surfing, swimming, sunning, hiking, biking, organic gardening, and helping troubled souls – especially young people.
Carol’s muraled house and organic garden.
Carol’s muraled house and aesthetic organic garden have symbolized her unique lifestyle as a ‘female St. Francis’. Especially noteworthy is an artistically beautiful St. Francis of Assisi “Peace & Joy” mural at her home’s entryway – a delightfully surprising tourist attraction for visitors to San Francisco’s ocean beach area. On Carol’s roof top (above the mural) is an artistic portrayal of ‘Brother sun’, her main deity, and unfurled above the roof is a red Tibetan prayer flag, symbolizing Carol’s respect for the Tibetan culture and Dalai Lama.
Thus Carol’s house has eloquently exemplified her simple inner-directed life of instinctively communing with Nature, often without concern for outer–directed societal standards.
Ron’s Synchronicity Story: “Goodbye St. Francis”= Farewell Carol
During forty years of living in the same San Francisco high-rise hermitage, my apartment has been adorned with many pictures and portrayals of St. Francis, my favorite saint, and of the peace prayer which he inspired. And until recently St. Francis in a stone statue also presided over my outside deck garden.
But in July 2018, I was obliged to remove everything from my outdoor deck so it could be renovated and repainted. Thereafter, I realized that I could no longer physically maintain my deck-top garden. So I decided to give away the plants and planters blessed by my St. Francis statue. While I’ve been looking for new homes for my plants, the St. Francis statue has been stored in an inconspicuous corner of my bedroom which is temporarily filled with many deck plants.
On December 1, 2018, my long-time neighbor and community gardener friend, Jan Monaghan, came to take pictures of my plants and planters, to help me find a new home for them. While showing Jan the St. Francis statue, I suddenly and inexplicably started crying, thinking and saying “goodbye Saint Francis”. Thereafter for several hours I remained tearful.
The next day, Sunday December 2nd, I learned (via email) that Carol’s soul had departed her body Saturday evening, and I intuited that while Ron was tearfully saying goodbye to St. Francis Carol’s soul was astrally bidding Ron ‘adieu’.
On Monday morning, realizing that my St. Francis statue needed an appropriate new place to stand, I decided to move it to my my high-rise hermitage view living room, where I spend most indoor waking hours. So I telepathically told the saint in the statue that (on returning from a brief walk) I was moving him to a perfect place on my living room wool carpet, and that I would find an appropriate indoor pedestal for him there ASAP.
Soon thereafter, I took a brief walk on nearby Vallejo street. After walking for about fifteen minutes I noticed an amazing manifestation miracle. Amongst a curbside pile of discarded objects, I saw a perfect pedestal for St. Francis, which I carried home. On returning home, I moved St. Francis to a new perfect place on my living room carpet where he now resides on that miraculously manifested pedestal. And just as Carol’s St. Francis mural appears below a red Tibetan roof-top prayer flag, my St. Francis statue stands beneath a red Tibetan Kalachakra thangka mandala, symbolizing Ron’s respect for the Tibetan culture, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Moral of the story?
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great,
pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature,
and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire
“Miraculous synchronicities in time,
are meaningful reminders of eternal Reality
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
After briefly blessing this world as a female St Francis,
the divine soul we’ve known as Carol Schuldt,
has returned to the Sun,
from where she’ll reappear eternally
for endless new lifetime adventures,
in endless new forms, of
And so it shall be!
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“Though we can’t always see it at the time,
if we look upon events with some perspective,
we see things always happen for our best interests.
We are always being guided in a way
better than we know ourselves.”
~ Swami Satchidananda
When I was growing up, my parents subscribed to the Reader’s Digest magazine, where I sometimes read a continuing feature called: “The Most Unforgettable Person I’ve Known”. It mostly told stories about people who were unusual because they were inner – not outer – directed; people who were ‘self-actuated’ and authentic. And I began to appreciate and respect such people.
Particularly since my mid-life spiritual awakening, I have come to recognize and especially appreciate people who follow their heart and not the herd. Of all such people I’ve met, my friend Carol Schuldt is one of the most extraordinary – an amazingly free spirit with great intuitive wisdom. We met long ago while sitting at Aquatic Beach on San Francisco Bay (across from Ghirardelli Square), where she often comes to escape ocean fog and swim in the sun. Since then, we’ve had innumerable synchronistic encounters and exchanged many “miracle” stories about our lives. [Other synchronicity stories about our magical meetings are linked below.]
Carol is such an extraordinary person that, she’s become well-known throughout and beyond her San Francisco neighborhood; so newspaper and magazine stories have been written about her. An excellent and recommended story: “A Benevolent Queen of the Beach” appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 25, 2000.
It tells of Carol’s exceptional inner directness even from childhood, when she adamantly refused to attend obligatory church services at Catholic school and was the only student exempted therefrom by the nuns, who recognized her extraordinary inner wisdom. The article also tells that Carol has been dedicating her life to helping troubled souls – especially young people – but that paradoxically Carol has had great family tragedy with all of her three children: her two daughters whose lives were lastingly impacted by drug addiction, and her son who was permanently brain damaged in a childhood car accident.
During the many years I’ve known Carol, she’s almost always been in good spirits whenever we’ve met. But when I saw her on a recent foggy June afternoon at Aquatic Beach, Carol seemed uncharacteristically melancholy and taciturn. And even though she had come to the beach to swim, Carol decided to stay out of the water because she was cold – a rare occurrence. As we parted that afternoon I wondered what was troubling Carol. The next night my question was answered.
Carol excitedly phoned to tell me this story, about a “miraculous” incident that had just happened:
First she explained that she had been in a deeply melancholy state for several days because of an apparent staph infection and because she’d just had great difficulty with her mentally ill daughter Simone who was then living with her. So Carol began feeling very sorry for herself and was nostalgically dwelling on happier family days when her daughters were growing up, and before their lives had gone amiss with drugs and mental illness.
Unable to shake off her deep melancholy and nostalgia, that evening Carol had just impulsively jumped into the fog-enshrouded ocean across the street from her house. Carol told me that she couldn’t recall ever before doing that, rather than swimming earlier in quieter, clearer and more secluded places. After a brief swim she emerged from the water, crossed the street in front of her house and was just about to retrieve some things from her car parked there when another car stopped beside her. A handsome man – about her daughters’ age – got out and addressed Carol.
He asked: “Are you Celeste and Simone’s mother?”
“Yes”, she replied.
Thereupon he said:
“I was in love with Celeste. I’ve never seen such beautiful girls. You raised them to be beautiful and strong.”
Then looking directly in Carol’s eyes, he said: “Mom, it’s not your fault.”
Whereupon he got into his car and drove off, leaving Carol in a state of amazement.
On entering her house, Carol excitedly called me to report this “miraculous” incident while it was fresh in her memory. As Carol spoke she seemed lifted out of the dark melancholy miasma which had enveloped her. And as we talked I typed the above quotes (on my iMac) with tears in my eyes and chills up my spine – psychic signals of the deep importance to Carol of this meaningful miraculous “coincidence”.
For Carol, this incident confirmed that she has been a good mother, and is blessed with Divine protection. How do you interpret it? How did the Universe arrange it?
Ron’s moral of the story: Look for the hidden blessing in every difficult experience.