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Day 198 “The Mouth”

I was twenty-eight when I discovered, quite by accident, that I had the ability to channel the dead. A medium, I believe it is called.

Already a mother twice over, I had joined a woman’s Euchre club – a weekly respite from the tediousness of our lives. We alternated houses, sharing the burden of hosting. On one particular Wednesday, I arrived late only to discover that the card tables were not set up, and that two strangers had joined our group. “A surprise”, our hostess called it. The two women were psychics. Annoyed, I took a seat near the door – I had not been prepared to spend my precious freedom at some freak side show, and was planning to escape.

After muttering a few prayers, one of the two women fell into some sort of trance, and began to speak. “There is a man named John here,” she began in a voice not unlike her own. “He says he passed not long ago, before Christmas. Not a father, but a father-in-law.”

I suddenly paid attention. “Yes?”

“He says that you have abilities that you are not using. He says you know what he is talking about and that he is with you, and he will help.”

A warm rush washed over me. Pop! I’d had a close relationship with my father-in-law, and missed him dearly. To my relief, the women moved on, focusing on someone else in the room.

Truth is, things had been happening to me lately – supernatural things. I did know what he was talking about. At the end of the evening, I asked the ladies where to go next.

“Begin by having people, friends, bring you objects, preferably jewellery, and see what comes to mind.” They gave me a prayer to say for protection and left it at that.

My friends were game. It was innocent enough at first; I’d say the prayer, hold the object, then speak about what I “saw”. The information was never straightforward, more like a cryptic game of decoding, but I found I had a knack for unraveling the puzzles put before me.

I mentioned it to a cousin of mine, who showed up with a ring she wanted me to “read”. Assuring me that I did not know the owner of the ring, I performed my little ritual and settled in to see what would emerge. I suddenly felt a draft of deadly cold, and then something invisible rushing at me, knocking me off center. What the heck, I thought, trying to regain my equilibrium and starting again. This time I addressed the force, negotiating with the unknown.

“This person is no longer alive,” I sought confirmation. My cousin nodded. “I see a tall woman, standing proud and erect. She appears to me as a young woman, in her prime – not dressed for our era, but another time period.” This time the woman moved closer, waiting for an invitation. I let her in, but held my ground. “Your grandmother. She loves you very much.”

“Weird things are happening to me,” I told my family. They wanted to try it out. My mom and dad came first, with items from their parents. I relaxed more, allowing the spirits to work through me.

“Amazing!” my father said. “Nothing you could have known.”

“Definitely something to it,” my mother pronounced. “That was Dad all over. I feel like I’ve just spoken to my father.”

My sister and brother-in-law were skeptical. They brought a ring, but didn’t give me any background. This time I felt myself slipping away to another place, where the air was warm and tropical. I smelt a musty, pungent smell and imagined myself sitting on a porch with large green leaves around me. I settled into the scenery, mesmerized, relaxed. Somewhere in the distance I was aware of a woman’s voice, scolding. After sometime, I heard my sister calling me back. I was slow to emerge and when I did I described the image that had transported me. My brother-in-law had a funny look on his face.

“Do you not believe me?” I asked.

“Oh no!” he blasted me. “That was my Nan, all right! Don’t you ever do that again. You scared the living daylights out of me. It was her voice, for sure, and you even looked like her.”

While intriguing, this new talent of mine didn’t come with instructions or a manual, and I found myself extremely tired after a session. But I kept it up, gaining confidence in myself and my ability.

Then one day, I encountered an old friend at a Craft show. She and her husband created eerie images of ghostly figures by playing with photography. I mentioned my own relationship with the departed, at which my friend lit up. “I need your help. I think we are being haunted.”

“Don’t tell me anymore,” I warned. “I’ll drop by and see what I can do.”

We held a sort of seance. Gathered in a circle, holding hands, and saying my prayer, I then asked that the spirit who had been trying to connect with this family make itself known. Immediately, I was plunged into darkness. This spirit was anxious to communicate – a close relative who has recently died unexpectedly, two weeks before her wedding. Pushing back, I recommended that the family encourage her to move on. The session seemed to end satisfactorily, but her fiancee, who had not been there, wanted to say his farewells, so we set up another session.

This time was very different. Right from the outset I felt something was wrong, and yet, I persisted, saying my prayer and preparing to give myself over. The lovers didn’t want to part. The man, hearing his bride-to-be’s voice once again, clung to my hand, vowing his undying love. I had to fight to regain control, and left feeling sluggish, unrefreshed.

Over the next couple of weeks, I grew more and more ill, until one day I happened upon a friend, who shared an understanding of the mystical.

“You have a spirit clinging onto you,” she advised me.

I knew who it was. With my friends help, we again helped this individual move on, and I immediately felt relief.

Stepping back from the situation and reflecting on what I’d experienced, I recognized that initially I was captivated by the intrigue – empowered by this “other world” connection, but quite obviously, it was not something that ensured my well-being. While I continued to contact spirits on behalf of others for some time, I no longer agreed to give over my vessel, so to speak.

Today, I do neither. I needed to step back and gain perspective.

The fact is, that being responsible for the thoughts and words that emerge from my own heart and mind are enough of a burden. Being a mouth for someone else, whose fate has transcended this earthly existence, is beyond me.

So, for know, this mouth is mine alone.

It was the spirit of the husband’s sister, who died two weeks before her wedding date. Unwilling to accept her fate, she had been clinging to her family, but the effect was frightening. We decided on a seance, to allow for final goodbyes, and to help her move on. Her fiance could not be present, so another date was set just for him. The first gathering went well, and I felt that the goal was accomplished.

The second session had a totally different feel. Just as I was about to begin, I felt an intervention from the other side. “Don’t do this,” I heard, but ignored it, pushing

culture · Family · life · memoir · relationships · spirituality

Tragedy Visits

Something’s happened to Billy!

I shot bolt upright in bed.  He had just been here.  I saw him standing at the end of my bed, but that was not possible:  Billy lived miles away in the country and it was the dead of winter.  How could he have gotten here?

I lay back down on my bed trying to piece together what had just happened.  Billy had been there, long enough to wake me from a deep sleep.

I’ve come to say good-bye, I remember him saying.  Tell everyone we’re okay.  That’s right, he wasn’t alone.  His little brother and sisters were with him.  All of them fading back into the darkness.

I couldn’t shake the vision.  Only ten years old, this wasn’t my first night visit, but I never quite knew what to do with them.  I dragged myself out from under the comfort of my warm bed, and shivered down the hallway to my parents’ room.  The first rays of a new day were starting to break the darkness.  The phone rang.

Mom was sitting on the edge of her bed when I entered, listening intently as Dad spoke into the phone.  She gestured for me to be quiet.

“Carl and Maureen?  Are they alright?”  My father spoke with deep concern.  I knew it was tragic.  “No, no.  Oh my God.”  He listened, shaking his head and tutting.  “Oh my God.  Well, thank you for calling, and please,  keep us posted.”

“They’re both alive, but they’ve had quite the ordeal,” my father said to my mother as he hung up the phone, then turning to me, he pulled me closer, sitting on the edge of the bed beside my mother so that we were all at eye level.

“There has been a fire,”  he started,  “at your cousin’s house.  I’m afraid it’s quite tragic.”

“I know, Dad,”  I reassured him.  “Billy came to see me.  Just now.  He said they’re okay.”

My parents exchanged that look; the one they always did when they didn’t know how to take me.

“Well, your cousin didn’t make it out of the fire.  None of the kids did.  All four……gone.”

The news that night showed the pictures.  The house had been reduced to a rubble of ashes, and from those ashes men were carrying away four small stretchers bearing the remains.  The remains of my cousins.  I had never been this close to tragedy, and I really didn’t know what to do.  That afternoon, in school, I’d broken down crying when the story we were reading talked about a fire.  All I could picture was Billy and the little ones being burnt alive.  The teacher had called my mother to come and get me.

“Come away from the TV,”  my father commanded.  “Damn them for showing those pictures! Can’t a family have privacy?!”

We turned off the set, but the images remained etched in my mind.

Billy’s parents weren’t at the funeral; they were still in the hospital recovering.  It was just as well, I thought, this was one sad place.  A single coffin sat at the front of the church, bearing the bodies of all four children who ranged in ages from two to ten.  Billy had been the oldest, just two weeks younger than me.  A line of sobbing people extended from the coffin and out into the cold February day.

I had no right to be there, so I shrunk back from the crowd, hoping no one would notice me.  We always fought, Billy and I.  He was full of mischief, with deep brown eyes that twinkled with trouble.  He just had to look at me to fill me with rage.  It was only two Sundays ago when we’d had our last fight.  I wish you were dead!  I’d told him.  And now he was.  I hadn’t said it quietly, either.  I’d yelled it in front of all my other cousins and my aunts and uncles.  I was sure they all knew it was my fault.

After the funeral and burial, we all gathered at another aunt’s house.  While the adults drank tea and coffee and ate tiny sandwiches with no crusts, the cousins removed themselves to an upstairs bedroom.

“It’s just awful,”  my cousin Kate exclaimed.  “Can you believe it happened?”

“He’s okay,”  I blurted.  “I saw him, and he said he’s okay.”   I explained my nocturnal visit.

“Why would he come to you and not to me?”  Kate and Billy were closer, and actually got along.
“I loved him.  You didn’t.”

“I loved him, too,”  I protested, “It’s just that he made me so mad.”

We all fell silent.  They knew what I meant.  Billy was a tease, and could be a total pain.

I didn’t really want him dead, I thought.  I just wanted him to stop pestering me. 

The horror of our loss hung in the room between us, as cold as the icicles visible through the frosted pane.

“I wish I’d seen him,” Kate said quietly.  “Then I’d be able to believe he’s okay.”

I had seen him, but I wasn’t sure that made it any better.  The sorrow was still pretty raw.  He was still gone from our lives, and every time we got together, his absence would be a huge black hole.  Billy, who’d been so full of life, so wild, and energetic, was now dead.  It just didn’t seem possible.

It was the winter of ’69 that I first learned that even though life exists beyond death, it doesn’t minimize the depth of sorrow felt at the loss of a loved one.

creativity · memoir · spirituality

Intuition and Understanding

First notice how you are feeling – physically and emotionally.  Notice any thoughts.  Set all this aside, then take the object in your hand and allow any thoughts, feelings or sensations to speak to you.

These were the instructions my teacher had given me.  My cousin Lynne and I were trying out psychometry:  the art of reading energy from objects.

Immediately, I felt light and expansive.  “This person is deceased,”  I speculated.

“Correct.”  Lynne’s job was to bring me objects and test me, without telling me anything about them or their owners.

“I see a woman, tall and thin like yourself, but dressed from another era – like that old photo of Grandma and her sister.”

“Okay.”

“I feel a lot of stiffness in the neck and upper body, maybe signifying rigidity, or an unwillingness to look at viewpoints other than her own – stubbornness.”

“Yes, you could say that about her.”

“She is showing me a violin.”

“She played.”

“And I feel a warmth towards you – she’s showing me a picture of a younger you, running in a field.  She seems to be indicating that you were a happy child, carefree.   And, I have the smell of baking, like fresh bread and pies.  This is fun!”

We decided to expand the experiment to involve others.  I introduced the technique to my meditation circle and we all brought objects, and photos to test our intuition.  It was amazing to be able to connect with another person, unknown, and have an experience of understanding.

Beyond the superficial magic of the moment, this experiment taught me much more.  It taught me compassion.  I learned that it is important to look beyond appearances, because what lies within is not always what an individual shows on the outside.  My ability to “read” others brought many people to me over the years, and with it the realization of how important it is for each of us to feel understood.

(Image: thespirituniversity.com)

adversity · life · memoir · spirituality

The Diving Accident

The moment I felt my foot slip, I knew I was in trouble.  I attempted the flip anyway, wanting to impress my 10 year-old friend.

I didn’t pull out on time.

My head hit the bottom of the pool, and as my neck snapped back, I was intensely aware that this was the end.  Now paralyzed, my body sunk.  My eyes sought the surface of the water, searching for some hope, but all I could see was a blinding light.

Distracted, I momentarily forgot my predicament.  Why have I never noticed the sun from here before?  I wondered.  An avid swimmer, I loved swimming underwater with my eyes open, performing tricks and pretending I was a mermaid or a dolphin. This day, I decided to practice my ‘Olympic’ dives.  My friend, who was a year older, wasn’t quite as brave.  I might have been showing off a bit.

It’s not the sun, I realized.  The white light was encompassing me now, and with it I felt a deep sense of calm and peacefulness.  My moment had come.

Come home, the light beckoned.

But I just got started!  Do I have to?

No.  You can stay, but you have to know it won’t be easy.

It’s okay, my mind responded.  I am strong.

You will have to be strong, but you will never be alone.

A force of love lifted me from that water, and I watched myself climb the ladder and collapse on the ground.   Then I was me again, shaken and trembling, but alive.  My friend had disappeared.  I hoped she’d gone for help, but when none materialized, I knew I had to make myself move.

I escaped that day with a cracked vertebrae, and a summer of sleeping on a hard board while it healed: a hardship I would soon forget.  The memory of that white light, though, has never left me.  I was nine when I had my first taste of how sacred life is, and learned that it is not a destination, but a journey.

dreams · life · nonfiction

Full Circle

The day was unusually warm and sunny, and like most young people my age, I was anxious to break out of school and enjoy it.   Instead of boarding the bus at my usual stop, I decided to attempt walking to the transfer point downtown.  Not a seasoned driver myself – I was only nine – I knew no other way to get downtown then to follow the bus route, so I set out nonchalantly, skipping and humming happily along.

After close to an hour of walking, with nothing familiar in sight, I grew weary.  Spotting an approaching bus, I made the decision to board.  Finding a seat near the back, I was relieved to finally be sitting down.  I glanced out the window to see if I could gauge how far I had come, and guessed I was probably close to where I would have to get off and transfer.

I glanced across the street, and was suddenly struck by a feeling of deja-vu.  The building across from me was not one that I had ever noted before, and when I read the name, I didn’t recognize it, yet, something about this place seemed known to me.  There was a bus stop in front of the building, but I knew I had never taken a bus from that point.  A woman was looking in my direction and as our eyes met, she had a sudden look of recognition.  I smiled back, but couldn’t place her either.  The bus moved on.

Years passed and the incident on the bus was forgotten, until the first night I decided to record my dreams.

I had enrolled in a course at the local university that examined the relationship between visions, dreams and God.  The first assignment was to record our dreams.  I had fourteen dreams that night.

In one, an unseen person has hold of my hand and is flying me through the city, leading me downtown to where we stop in front of a building.  It is not a building I am familiar with, although something is twigging in my mind.  As I stand there, contemplating its significance, I glance across the street to where a bus has stopped to take on passengers.  I lock eyes with a young girl seated on the bus, and in an instant I know where I am.  My twenty-eight-year old self has circumvented time and space, and come face to face with my nine-year old self.  I am the other side of my deja-vu.

A full circle.

(Image: funny-pictures.picphotos.net)

life · nonfiction · spirituality

Wrestling With The Unknown

A dark shadowy figure passed the door of my office.  It moved on all fours and had a very feline shape, like a panther.  I followed it down the hallway and into the empty room at the end.

I knew this was no earthly creature, but I did not expect the force that hit me as I entered the room.  Doubled over in pain, my chest was drenched in sweat, and my head was reeling.   A foul odor filled the room, rendering me nauseous.  I stumbled to my knees, then collapsed on the floor.

“Mom?  I saw something that looked like a cat come this way.”  Marie had been working reception in the foyer.  I heard her just outside.

“Stay away!” the words came out gurgled, as if I was choking.

“Are you okay, Mom?”

“No!  Something’s attacking me!  Stay out!”

“What should I do?”  A good question, and I was wondering the very same thing, but the violence of the attack overwhelmed me and I couldn’t think straight.

“I just feel so sick!  Get a bucket.”

I’d never encountered anything like this before.  I was certain it was some type of demon, but what, I didn’t know.

“Throw the pail in here, but don’t come in,”  I advised my daughter.

“Mom, I’m scared.”

“Don’t be!  Whatever this is likes fear.  I’ll be okay.”  I only wish I felt as certain as I sounded.  I heaved into the bucket as the pain ripples through my midsection.  I felt like I was on fire.  What was this thing?

I tried to focus on my breathing and center myself, but the waves of nausea and the sheer physical pain made it almost impossible.  I was determined not to let this thing get the best of me.

Night was coming on and the only other person still in the building would be leaving soon.  I didn’t know how I was going to drive home.

“Get Robert,”  I called to my daughter.

I could see that Robert was alarmed when he saw me.

“I need to get home, Robert.  But I can’t get there in this state.  Can you take us?”

I don’t remember the ride home, but I do remember Robert’s helpless look as he left us in the driveway.  Inside, I left Marie to explain to her father as I closed myself away in the bedroom to battle it out.  I steeled myself for the fight, but it seemed the more determined I was the greater the force that hit me.  I wanted to unleash my growing rage on this unseen foe, but somehow I knew that would only add fuel to its fury.  The more I fought, the greater the suffering.  I was growing weaker by the minute.

Then I remembered a book I had read in my last year at university:  The Man Who Wrestled with God, by John Sandford  It was recommended by my religious studies teacher, and tells the story of Jacob, who is about to ascend the ladder to Heaven when he is tackled by an unseen opponent.  Jacob fights and fights, until he realizes that he is wrestling with God, and that the only thing to do is surrender.

I knew my only hope was in giving over to God.  I’d had a dream once, where God picked me up and cradled me in His hands.  I needed that now, so as I centered myself, I imagined that my mattress was the hand of God, and that with each breath I surrendered deeper and deeper into the hands of a loving force.  I imagined myself falling through the blackness that had threatened me, and landing in a place of comfort and love.

Love yourself, were the words I heard to guide me.  Love yourself just as you are. 

“I can’t,”  I wanted to cry out, but I knew the message was right.  I didn’t love myself.  The nausea washed over me again.  “Okay, okay,” I thought.  “I love myself.  I love myself.”  And suddenly, I realized that I could love myself.  That if I could see me through God’s eyes, I wouldn’t be so critical, but would behold myself with forgiveness and acceptance.  So for the first time in forever, I felt okay with me.  And as this new sensation dawned, the darkness receded, and with it the pain and vomiting.

The battle was over.

I had found calm in the eye of the storm, and it saved me.

dreams · Family · life · Love · nonfiction · relationships · women's issues

Lifelines

The forest is thick with the smell of new leaves, tinged with the lingering winter musk.  The trees here stretch endlessly upwards, their trunks a testimony to the timelessness of the place.  Rays of warm sunlight reach downwards, creating pockets of warm glow.  The soft moss and dry earth beneath my feet cushion my steps.  Birdsong fills the air, adding to the aura of enchantment.  I come here to meditate.  This is my oasis:  a calm, nurturing retreat where I can find renewal.  I breathe deeply and allow all my senses to revel in the beauty.   A crackling of twigs alerts me to the presence of another.  A horse and rider come into my line of vision and stop.  The young man’s eyes meet mine, and there is a rush of recognition.  He is young, maybe mid twenties, with thick dark hair, and dark eyes.  I feel that I have known him many lifetimes, and that ours has been a relationship of deep and abiding love.  “I am coming back to you,” is all he says, and I feel my heart leap with joy. 

The unexpected vision and accompanying emotional surge forces me back to consciousness.  The meditation had been so deep and relaxing that it find it hard to shake off the drowsiness.  It was so real.  I open my eyes to find my friend, Sam looking at me.  “It’s a boy!”  I blurt out.  “You’re going to have a boy!”

I was right about the boy, but the message was not for my friend who was so desperately hoping for a child.  It was for me, who although I thought I was finished my childbearing, was about to discover myself pregnant again.  My dark haired, brown-eyed boy was born the next fall.

Mothers know that there is an unseen cord of consciousness that runs between them and their children.  It is first experienced when they wake up seconds before their sleeping baby.  Or maybe earlier, in the dream time.