Offering A Life

maxie at 3 in St. Louis
age 50, with Barbara at Meher Mount

"L'il Maxie" in St. Louis at 2, and 50 years later at
Meher Mount in Ojai, CA with my girl friend Barbara,
who is now my wife. (see our Wedding Page)

Whirlwind is as good a name as any to give more than 6 1/2 decades of human sensations, thoughts, feelings, words, actions, memories, intuitions, inspirations, desires and transformations.
Only the essence remains, and even as I, hopefully, go forward to several more decades of rich experience, I feel I can and must share some of the distillation the whirlwind has already left. Much of this titration carries a sublime bouquet: for the name of the whirlwind is really—GOD.

Touching the Soul
"Touching the Soul", a painting from 1989

Today I'm a 66 year-old man, living in the Bay Area of northern California. It often seems to me that a door opened around the time of my 21st birthday— age of "manhood"— that I'm still walking through it. It's been a life of wonder and horror. In retrospect, wonder predominates and keeps me going, imbuing me with a persistent need to try to share its glorious, silent, inexpressible essence. That accounts for the profusion of poems, stories,children's stories, paintings, prose pieces, humorous prose, jokes, original songs, and photos that you will find on these pages.

Life is beauty, joy, and suffering. Let us look on the suffering as "work"..."the labor of love to unveil your real Self," said Meher Baba. The beauty and joy speak for themselves, in Silence, yet somehow create the invisible reservoir that poets and artists have always drawn from, and always will."

"Fire of Meditation", 1997

For me, life was at first an unconscious stumbling forward. Each new activity was like a wrapped gift. I rushed to open every box, fumbling amid the ribbons with greedy fingers that could not move fast enough. Some of the boxes contained wonders. Others contained horrors. As I approached adulthood, I blasted myself out of my world with something I found in one of the boxes. I ripped away my life's fragile fabric of context and wound up in the depths of a black hole a million miles awy. A dream at the time dramatized this fact:

"Ancestors' Dream", 2000

I walk an ancient, wooden bridge over a fathomless, black chasm, protected by "white beings" who are ancestors. The bridge is rickety, broken, and without railings in places. Trying to get across one of those places, assisted by the white beings, I nevertheless fall, into the black abyss.

How many of us have in our lives experienced utter ruin? More people than I once believed. Such an experience, like Dostoyevski's when he was condemned to die in front of a firing squad and his sentence was only commuted after the rifles had already been raised, shocks one into awakening. But how long does such an awakening last?

I've tried to stay awake. Every day I fight "sleep", the unawakened life. I win a round here and there, or there'd be nothing to say on these pages.

But there is! This site is alive! It's the rich record of 3 1/2 decades of a divine romance. The site will never, can never be finished, for the experiences it describes lead to the infinite.

"Come when you can, leave when you must": a poster with those words in vital calligraphy graced the back of the door of the living-room-like office of a college professor of mine— office that was open, along with tea, pillows, and beautiful books, for students 24 hours a day. I'd love it if these pages can be a refuge like that for you. I'll try to keep them alive, to do what I can to bring them ever more alive. If you have any suggestions for interactive features, please send them to me.

Art breathes the life it describes, and that life, unmasked, is Divine.


My Book Is Out (published, August, 2013)
for reviews, excerpts, descriptions, and purchase:
Journey from here to HERE

cover: Meherabad Wall Tile

Faith of an Artist: Writings of Max Reif includes links to many pieces that have been published in THE MINDFUL WORD, GLOW INTERNATIONAL, LOVE STREET BREEZES, and THE SEATTLE STAR.

the REALnothings Online Store— Finally, beautiful, high-gloss note cards of some of the
images of paintings that have long been in the Galleries of this site, are available to you. Advances in printing and internet technology have made the printing of such cards possible, now, for a "little guy" like me. I'm proud to welcome you to my Store. My tape of stories, "Inside Jobs", is also available there.

BIG photo/commentary/poetry essay:
SF TO CHICAGO: Driving One of God's Countries- join me on my glorious road trip of early summer, 2006.

ORDINARY BEAUTY, MODEST MIRACLES: Max's Travel Journal, Summer of 2008
St. Louis, then to New Orleans via Amtrak, then on to LA via Amtrak, too.

Origins: The Birthplace Of a Tumbleweed: 12 Poems, a Short Story, and an Essay About Growing Up in My Home Town (University City, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis) — compiled for an upcoming high school reunion. Note: this will take you off this website, but keep clicking BACK, and you'll be able to return.

"Memorial Day Riff In Downtown Oakland" — another poetic/photographic excursion into the wonders of the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. This one took place May 29, 2006. Note: The lay-out had been a little tricky, and I'm still working to get it right.

A Presidents' Day Excursion To North Beach, San Francisco— to treat myself like a tourist— a freelance photographer/poet. The journey was exciting. I hope you enjoy the results!

Oral interpretations of my poems by Andy Quinones , a gifted spoken-word vocalist. Recently, Andy and his musical collaborators have done "edgy" interpretations of my poems, "Love Letters in a Vault", "A Few Rooms", and "Fathers and Sons". Also, on his page, you can click on "Jazz Quartet", "Cities", and "Life Is Perfect, Sometimes", and hear them, too.

"School Days and Preschool Days, Too" a book of hilarious and touching anecdotes and essays about working and playing with young children as a preschool teacher and elementary aftercare staff member.

"THE POET'S LIFE", a humorous photo essay

To Climb Is To Fly: A Mount Diablo Adventure: a poem and photo essay describing a delightful Spring excursion to the massive and glorious landmark near my home in Walnut Creek,

The Hall of Famous Jokes: My dad, an amateur comedian, weaned me on hilarious jokes, some
of whose points I didn't fully "get" till I was 50 years old. These jokes are all golden classics.Be
prepared to laugh— if you've heard some 100 times!

A Whimsical Walk Through Berkeley, CA, March 29, 2005 , photo essay and narrative

Short stories/fables in streaming audio from a collection entitled "THE SOJOURN OF THE SOUL," written in states of spiritual intoxication in the mid 1980's.

buy! INSIDE JOBS: Stories for Adults and Other Kids , an audiocassete of 9 original stories including "The Dreamer" and "The Ballad of a Warm Cafe" You can listen to the latter by clicking the title, but this version doesn't include the cool sound effects and music that are on the tape itself!

Movie Reviews— love films and have written about a number of our favorites.

new! Mosaic Mandalas of the St. Louis (Missouri) CathedralI was only dimly aware, growing up, that my home town contained one of the world's great buildings. On a recent visit there, I took a few photos.


Coming To Meher Baba , a brief narration of the experience, way back in 1971, that set me on the spiritual oddyssey which continues to this day. I could never do justice to the experience in words, but have tried to convey something of its essence. (It all happened shortly after Pete Townsend's article, "In Love with Meher Baba" , which I didn't see till a bit later, appeared along with Baba's photo "on the cover of the ROLLING STONE".)

"Meher Baba-Inspired Writings" published in LOVE STREET BREEZES, GLOW INTERNATIONAL, THE MINDFUL WORD and elsewhere (part of the "Faith of an Artist" writings website)

Pilgrimage to Meher Baba, December, 2011: photos, essays, poems from a glorious pilgrimage to the Avatar's Samadhi in Meherabad, India

"A Day in the Life of a Courier" a whimsical little journal-book of writings from my previous job as a Delivery Guy.
There's quite a bit of content for a general (but silly!) readership here too, actually.

Pilgrimage to Hamirpur, India ,which Avatar Meher Baba called "My Heart" (photos by Jonathon Burroughs, Ron Greenstein and Max Reif, commentary by Max, links to othe Hamirpur info on the web)

"The King At The Palace"
: a record of interviews, pictures, and ads from the Meher Baba Movie Event put together by Irwin Luck at the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, summer of '04.

"Songs for Love" Songs by Max, dating as far back as 1976— streaming audio (on SONY's "acidplanet" site). I just re-listened to some of these songs. I felt it to be a kind of miracle, how
art can communicate the essence of an experience. I feel thrilled to share these with you. All the
songs on this site are about Love. Each expresses a throb of the Divine Romance. (Note, 2/06: I've
begun re-recording the songs for better volume and sound!)

"Minstels of His Love", an essay about Meher Baba music since the 1960s.Bob Brown, Jim
Meyer and others in "the old days", and how they put new stars in my sky with their glorious anthems to the Divine Beloved!

new! "Journeys with the Divine Beloved" poems, now in streaming audio: I feel these are very special poems. They were a gift. (I wish I could write like that every day!) Best way to access them is to go to the "cover page" of this collection. The first poem is "The Search". If you click on the link at the top, you'll get to the recorded version. When you click "Play", a new screen will come up. Then you can back-click the recordings page, move the "Play" screen out of the way, and follow along with the text. Clumsy. Hope I can make it simpler some day.


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general links Meher Baba links


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