Chuck and Cristina Pavey sat across from me at a Royal Oak, Michigan, coffeehouse and leaned over the portable tape recorder, speaking over the din of whirling coffee grinders, the hiss of the cappuccino makers, and the ambient sounds of lively conversation. Chuck draped his arm around Cristina's chair during our talk, while she at times leaned into him, as if to help draw his energy to support what she was saying. . . . .
Open, direct, and passionate, they described how Reiki had brought them together and how their relationship grew from there. She, from Portugal, and he, a Michigan man and drummer by avocation, attended the same ICRT Reiki retreat in Watervilet, Michigan, in 1998. They still seemed amazed at how the universe conspired to bring them together and how their spirits instantaneously bonded.
By 1998, Cristina had taken several Reiki classes, but still wanted to learn more. She found that there was a Reiki retreat being offered in Michigan. And although she had never been to the United States, she was determined to go. And so she made preparations.
Chuck had been a drummer for a long time; it had been a childhood obsession. "For some of us, the pulse is always in us," he said. As a boy he'd wanted to play the drums, but his father had given him every other instrument to play. He finally bought himself a pair of bongos and began experimenting with different rhythms. But it wasn't until he pounded on an African drum that the pulse inside him was set free. The African drums seemed to talk to him.
Chuck and several other drummers were asked to drum at the 1998 Reiki retreat. The drummers have a special technique that combines Reiki energy with drumming and allows participants not only to hear the beat of the African djembe drums, but feel the percussion as well. Chuck calls this technique "Under the Drum." In it, a person lies prone under the drum while the drummers beat rhythms over his or her chakras. The drummers prepare by drawing Reiki symbols on the drum heads and meditating with their drums. While drumming, they tune into the energy of the person they are over and allow themselves to be guided to drum the rhythm and beat the person needs. The Reiki energy combines with the vibration of the drums and penetrates deeply into the person's body and energy field. This can open chakras, clear blocks, and get a person's energy flowing. The effect on the emotional body is really pronounced and seems to reconnect a person's emotions to his or her physical body. . . . .
As Chuck was playing his huge djembe, he saw Cristina in his peripheral vision. "She seemed to enjoy, almost more than anybody else that I've seen, the experience," he said. She lay underneath another drummer's drum, feeling the beat vibrate her chakras. He was determined, after the session, to get to know her. When the session ended, he approached her, but before he could properly introduce himself, she grabbed him and began doing Reiki on him. "I was fast," laughed Cristina.
They found themselves sitting beside each other at the same table for dinner that night. And then when the workshop activities were through for the day, they again were drawn to each other like magnets. They sat apart from the informal group and talked until the small hours of the morning while a storm gathered momentum.
Wind gusts beat rain against the windows. Lightning flashed and thunder exploded in the night sky. They continued to talk until it was obvious that both needed to get some sleep before the next day's activities. When Chuck reluctantly returned to his sleeping quarters, he found the window open and his bed drenched. "The only thing that was dry was my pillow. Everything else was soaked." So, he had no other choice but to return to the lodge where Cristina was. And they bedded down for the night on the lodge floor, listening to the storm rage outside.
Cristina only had a limited time in the United States after the retreat-one day-and she wanted to spend it with Chuck. In that one day, he drove her around so they could sit and leisurely drink coffee, then they had dinner together. She met Chuck's sister, daughter, mother, and neighbor. Chuck reminiscences about those hours they spent together: "We hadn't been sexual, but we had been intimate," Chuck emphasized. And Cristina remembers them as being "very spiritual-magical."
She says she went back to Portugal "with him in my head." She couldn't get him out of her mind. She wanted to experience a relationship with him. And on Chuck's part-well, he didn't know exactly what he wanted. They corresponded by email-she writing long, flowing letters, while he responded with terse comments. But he phoned, almost every day, and after this torrent of communication, both decided to meet again. . . . . .
Cristina's life has changed radically. "Even five years, and I'm still dealing with the process. But when you have a spiritual call, you can't refuse that." Christina became one of the drummers in Under the Drum and also helped produce their CD, Skinergy.
Both valued the spiritual life before they met and wanted a partner that resonated to this same frequency. They believe that Reiki is what brought them together and is what keeps them together. Reiki has helped expand their spiritual values in a mutually inclusive way, and has helped them establish common ground in their marriage. "We both breathe in and out on the same breath as it pertains to who we are and what our goals are and how we connect to the infinite," Chuck said passionately.
Both of them have learned through each other-as most couples do-but for introverted Cristina, who was taught to please others, her relationship with Chuck has helped her grow into herself. "I'm seeing myself as a more powerful woman now," she said. As for Chuck he says his relationship with Cristina hasn't changed his life, "but has expanded it and filled it with meaning and purpose."
Reiki is a powerful force in their lives. Chuck works with chronic pain patients through his business called Medcare Service, helping them manage their pain through electronic pain-control devices. "Assisting in the relief of suffering people makes me happy, which may be why I am able to say that I never had to advertise in Michigan. The business has grown and flourished by word of mouth."
Cristina has a Reiki practice called Inner Peace, and she uses Reiki in her Chinese massage. "I'm a Reiki teacher also. I started teaching two years ago and really love what I do. Reiki has opened many horizons in my life and has given me strength to handle many situations. It is important to me to pass along new tools to people in order for them to grow spiritually and find their inner selves. Reiki is your heart open. You are receptive. You are sharing. If the heart is open, there is unconditional love that wraps both people during the treatment, and somehow there is a melting of energies that dance into balance and harmony."
Toning and chanting are also part of her treatments, something that she has developed since being with Chuck and joining Under the Drum. She feels that sound therapy together with Reiki helps awaken parts that have been dormant and that "contain layers of information that have been repressed unconsciously." When she channels her chants, she feels that she is surrounded by angels in a beautiful, loving space. She channels Oriental and African chants in different tongues, which she believes are the languages of love.
In Chuck and Christina's drumming circle, each drummer is free to improvise, yet each beat contributes to the whole, creating a community of percussion. Each beat blends with the next until there's one overall rhythm that creates a profound sound able to stir the soul of whoever hears it. Chuck and Cristina's lives are like those distinct drum beats, merging into one heart rhythm.
Chuck and Cristina in 1998
Chuck and Cristina in 2011