Conceit

Standing at a rack of clothing, sorting through one-of-a-kind, second-hand items at a large store, I overhear a conversation between a cognitively disabled worker—a woman in her forties—and her manager-coworker, another woman who is in her early to mid-twenties.

“Are you headed home after you finish that rack, Marguerite?”  the manager intones, glancing back across her shoulder.  The manager is clearly bright, fast and on the move, keeping everything and everyone in the store up and humming.

“Yes,” the disabled woman answers with a broad smile expanding across her face, “my puppies are waiting for me for a walk and dinner.”  Her head tilts slightly to the left as her words drag out.  Her self-applied lipstick is gently defying her upper-lip line in a couple of places.

“How many puppies do you have, Marguerite?” the manager shoots back more out of politeness than actual interest.

“Three,” Marguerite responds with her smile growing even broader as she glows even brighter—thinking about her canine companions waiting at home.

This is the point at which I have to stop my mindless sorting and face my shame.  My second sight has kicked in.   When I look up from the clothing rack where I stand to see and hear the last exchange, the sheer brilliance of Marguerite’s spiritual space is stunning, holy and radiant purple—unprecedented.  Purple is the color I associate most with individuals on a committed spiritual path or with those in profound spiritual alignment.

My shame is complete, displacing all other thoughts and emotions.  Trained as a teacher, I had automatically engaged in the act of assessing the speakers’ cognitive abilities, without even looking up, sorting the conversationalists—just as I was pushing through garments on the rack—into their respective “groups” for learning purposes:  high functioning. average. low functioning.

But, who is the one requiring remedial learning and  a special class assignment?  I am.

Our spiritual state is not reflected in our intellectual prowess, glibness or verbal wit, nor is it even necessarily expressed when we extend seemingly socially appropriate or gracious words.  The quality of our spiritual state is best nurtured through a decisive action when we move our consciousness from the space of our minds into our hearts.  And, it is in our hearts we must plant the seeds of innocence, sincerity and respect for all.

Amazing Grace, Part VI

At night, after my first session with my second healer, I prayed japa-mantra style to ask about becoming a pure channel, changing the words up every so often to keep my mind focused and remain awake.

“Please make me a pure channel.  If it be Your will, O God, grant that I be made a pure channel by and for Divine Grace.  Render me a pure channel, if it is in my highest good.”

I suppose that I prayed for two hours or so, weaving myself a cradle in which to sleep with the subtle changes in the verb forms and with the different ways in which I like to address God, because when sleep came it was heavy and satisfying.

In the morning, I awake before anyone else with my physical frame frozen, immobile against the bed.  My husband is asleep next to me, completely unaware and unfazed.  The bedroom is suffused with Unconditional Love.  Light is emanating from four Light Beings who are present—one at each side of the bed.

Nothing in my upbringing could have prepared me for this visitation.  Nothing in my spiritual practice would have prepared me for this experience of God’s Unconditional Love.

There are no words.  I lay in a pool of Light and intense emotion.  The feeling of Love, at some point, so overwhelms me that I peel myself off the bed by rolling to my side and carefully rolling off of our low bed frame.  I am on the floor on all fours.  Still, the intense emotion is  present.  Then, like a woman used to her space, who has just spent two unrelenting weeks with a new lover, I crawl to the front door of our apartment; and, reaching up to open the door, I ask Grace to please leave.  Love left and my heart nearly broke.

Amazing Grace, Part V

“Have you considered the role of pure channel?” Elizabeth is looking at me directly.  This is my first visit to my second healer.  Elizabeth is intense, other-worldly—even as we go through the initial interview process.

“I don’t know.  What would that involve?  It sounds like a lot of responsibility.  I feel I have already been responsible and am still responsible.  The idea of taking on the role of pure channel makes me feel almost angry, as if a rebellion might be incited inside of me.  And, in physical, logistical terms, I cannot imagine myself walking up to strangers and giving them their personal, medical information.”

“Life is a process of co-creation,” Her statement hangs in the air.  Everything feels weightier in this space.  Words matter. Thought forms have density.  Actions are like heavy water.

Contracts are being reworked.

“So, who do you think you are?” Elizabeth presses.

“I do not know.  I really liked making art.  Beauty is important to me—creating beautiful things.  I miss that a lot.”

I make the shift from the chair to the healing table.  Elizabeth uses a very different approach to working than the first healer.  From my perspective, this session feels more organic, less structured around specific protocols—as though some ancient blocks are being brought out into the Light.  During the session, I watch as the sculptural tools I have been carrying leave my body in favor of a beautiful, new pen and pencil desk set–quite exquisite.  I leave feeling significantly lighter and almost buoyant.

Amazing Grace, Part IV

Sitting in a firm chair, I face an entire bank of exquisitely crafted, wooden-framed windows. The sun is bright and beautiful as it streams into this new healer’s semi-circular space. Even though there are only two of us in the room, the space feels full—as though the angels are nigh. There is a peace and stillness pervading everything. I now understand why this healer seemed so far and away when we spoke on the phone.

She is carrying on not one, but two conversations at a time. As we speak about who I am, where I am going and why I am present, the council of angels seems to be weighing in, participating in her series of questions, as well as her responses.  I open our conversation thus:

“A lot of my life seems to be tied up in understanding how to deal with my intuition. Before I worked with the healer whom Doctor Helen first recommended, I only had infrequent ‘prophetic’ dreams and occasional occurrences of ‘just knowing’ certain things about some people. In the past, I realized that often outed people socially—inadvertently, not realizing that I was intuitive. Now, with my third-eye open, it feels like I am getting way too much information. Let me give you an example.

“I ride the university-hospital bus downtown. The other day, a family was riding the bus from the far parking lot. Their brother is in the hospital for surgery to remove a brain tumor. I could not help but overhear. And, all of a sudden, I am being told, ‘He needs to stop using his cellphone. He should not be eating meat for at least six to eight months. He is not getting enough fresh vegetables. Also, his schedule is too busy. If he wants to heal, he needs to make some significant lifestyle changes to maintain his physical frame.’

“Why am I getting this information? I should not be getting other people’s stuff. And, what good is this level of information, if I do not pass it along? I feel there is a certain degree of moral responsibility that comes with receiving all of this private, medical information belonging to other people.”

“Did you talk to the family on the bus? Did you give them this information?” Elizabeth asks pointedly.

“No. What would I have said? ‘Hi, I’m an intuitive, and I could not help but overhear your conversation. This information about your brother just came through, and I thought you should have it.’ I am barely among the living myself. I really don’t need any bad vibes from strangers because ‘the crazy lady on the bus’ is interrupting their already stressful lives.”

“Some people are grateful for information from a pure channel,” Elizabeth notes in a calm, even tone.

“I am not sure that I am up to it—not at this point anyway,” I respond.

Amazing Grace, Part III

“I want you to go see a different healer,” Doctor Helen was breaking into my consciousness with another recommendation. I had reached a plateau in the process of my physical repair.

“Someone else? Who?” I asked her. I felt some uncertainty about shifting gears. I had come a long way. Life seemed almost normal. I did not want to stop the healing process, the progress.

“I want you to go see a woman who used to work in the medical field. She works out of the healing arts building. When you call, tell her that I sent you.   Let me write down her phone number.”

Going  home with the number crammed in my pocket on a small slip of paper, I waited until late afternoon to make the call. The voice on the answering machine seemed ephemeral, other-worldly. Breathe. Relax. I left my information, indicating that Doctor Helen had recommended I call.

The call back came a day or so later. Again, I had that same sense that the person to whom I was speaking was somehow far away. We scheduled an appointment. When I made an inquiry as to her rates, I was amazed to learn that her services were more affordable than the first healer, with whom I had been working.

Given our tight, graduate-student budget, I wondered, “Why had Doctor Helen not sent me to this healer first?” Everything became clear during our first meeting.

Amazing Grace, Part II

Stepping into the home of my first official healer, I also step across the invisible threshold set up in my childhood, designed to protect me from illusion, traveling medicine wagons and promises of false cures.

“What an odd place to be,” I think.

The woman I am seeing trained with Barbara Brennan, which means she has done a substantial amount of self-work, as well as completing a full battery of academic science credits in anatomy, physiology and psychology.  She also possesses the gift of second sight—the means by which she does her healing work; thus, she can “see” energetically.  (Think Superman’s x-ray vision plus a clear view of all of the new-age aura phenomena.)

At some point during our interview,  I realize that I have actually met her once at Doctor Helen’s, where she turned away from me as though I were a street-walker with a heroin problem who had just crawled out of the gutter intent on crashing  Doctor Helen’s place for a plate of free food.  I wondered what she was seeing.  Her face readily confessed that, whatever she was seeing, it was not pretty.  The reaction seemed peculiar to me as I lead a pretty laced-up existence.

And, with my ego in full form at that moment, I thought, “Healer or not, she certainly is no candidate for poker in Vegas.”

So, here we were, seated across from one another in her remodeled and meticulously kept office, having a brief interview about why I am interested in a session.  Doctor Helen sent me.  What do I hope to get out of the session?  Better.

“Pragmatic.  I must keep an open mind.  I must remain pragmatic,” I am almost humming the mantra of the hour as I make myself comfortable on the healing table.

We begin and my third-eye flies open.  This is amazing.

I watch as she works her way through my energetic centers, starting with the base chakra.  No serious stuff here.  Second chakra is a little wobbly.  Third chakra needs attention.  The filter is completely missing.  She realigns this energetic center, replacing the filter and giving me some tips about ensuring the filter’s proper placement and continued presence in my life.  Moving up, my heart seems to be suffering from some road burn.  I witness bits of gravel leaving.  Throat is cranky, looking something like the tin-man’s throat chakra needing some oil.

My third-eye is amazing, the crown-jewel of my system.  This would be my gift.  I feel profound gratitude for my new ability to actually see what is going on spiritually.  I will no longer have to rely upon merely sensing things, nor will I have to deal with people telling me I am excessively sensitive or, worse, that I possess an over-active imagination.  Second sight provides something of a visual confirmation for that which is unseen.  This is Reality.  My healthy skepticism will provide a balancing counterpoint to my gift.

At the top of my head, my crown seems to be over-stuffed, metaphorically, with antiquated space junk, which is logical in light of the mantra on pragmatism I have been using to integrate all of the new modalities and information coming in.  Where is the NASA clean-up crew?

We are finished.  The session is over.  I am left on the table with a timer ticking so that I do not rise too quickly.  It happened all too fast.  While I gel on the healing table, I hear water running in the sink upstairs.

And, although I am glimmering with Light, there is a fresh sorrow in my heart at not being able to stay in this state of Grace just a little bit longer.

Amazing Grace

Over twenty of us are seated around a large oval dining table, replete with all manner of edibles atop an antique-white tablecloth.  It was a group effort to bring everything and everyone together in celebration for our hostess’ surprise eighty-somethingeth birthday.

Words of thanksgiving, honor and gratitude rise to the dining room’s tall ceiling, as we take turns telling stories about how Doctor Helen managed to grant us additional time and space to live in and with a variety of medical diagnoses “too advanced, incurable, untreatable, permanent condition or—sometimes—inoperable.”

Between tears of joy and gratitude, Doctor Helen gestures with her arthritic hands, uttering “Sh, sh. That’s enough.”

Despite her protests, the stories rumble on.  And, we all celebrate living.

Over a year earlier, on the day I was scheduled to meet Doctor Helen for the first time, my husband stops the car outside of her home. I am not particularly hopeful or enthusiastic about seeing yet another MD.  But, a trusted neighbor recommended her work. Technically, Helen is retired and practicing everything but traditional allopathic medicine.  Coming from my recent experiences with allopathic medicine and from a skeptical, academic/medical home culture—where even spinal adjustments were considered akin to voodoo—I am not looking forward to visiting with any aspect of what Helen represents, whether it is traditional or alternative.

Before entering her home, my husband makes a point of turning off the vehicle and stopping me to establish eye contact.

“I want you to set aside all of your preconceived notions about medicine.  I don’t know what she practices, but I do know she put the color back into our child’s face.  I hope she can help you.”  This is coming from the mouth of an old-school doctor’s son.  I leave the car with this thought rolling around in my head.

Doctor Helen offers many new options to absorb, consider, experience, reject or embrace.  Fortunately I possess a broad pragmatic streak and high level of innate curiosity.  These two personality traits have allowed me to explore a broader range of alternative-care modalities than most individuals might normally consider.  Yet, just as I  found my new comfort zone in the realm of alternative therapies, Doctor Helen surprises me one day with another idea.

“I want you to go see a healer,” she announces.

“Why?” I ask in all earnestness.

“I think there are some old things that need to be addressed that the other treatments are not taking care of.  I can feel it here,” she says rubbing her sternum with the heel of her hand.

And, because Doctor Helen is the doctor, I capitulate.  “Okay, if you think that it is best, I will give it a try,” I respond dutifully.

After all, what do I have to lose?

Sanctity (Old & Naked)

Sitting in a chair in the hallway of a very large hospital, I am waiting to visit an elderly friend—loved by many.  A young, male internist reached the door of my friend’s room moments before I did, ushering himself across the threshold in one broad, brusque motion.  Rounds.  I defer to his sailing white coat and take the chair immediately outside of the door to await my turn.  The corridor feels hot and stuffy.  Leaning my head back against the wall, I close my eyes.  I cannot help but overhear the conversation filtering out through the not-quite-closed door.

Full of hurried efficiency, several comments are made about items on “the patient’s” chart.

I listen as my old friend responds in an even, educated and amazingly patient tone, relating further pointed details about medical history that might be of specific interest to a young, virile student of medicine.  Such detailed reporting is an act of respect.  Despite being very sick, my friend has retained his eloquence and singular sense of humor.  I smile involuntarily with admiration, at his bravery and basic human decency.

The internist, however, is all business and not biting at the hook of humanity.  The internist, I think, is a cold, dead fish.  All science.  Specimens.  Dissection.  Cadavers.  Diseases.  Formaldehyde.  Pathology.  My friend is a case.  I reason that maybe the internist has been here for twenty-four hours.  No.  He looked too fresh.  The white coat does not even nibble at the bait of decency cast before him.  I sense my friend is suffering at this lack of the most basic recognition.  One warm live human being, albeit sick, with a heartbeat would like to talk with the other warm, live human being who has come to check in on him.

“Hel-lo-o?  Is anyone home in that lab coat?” I root silently for my friend from the hall.  “Do you hear yourself?”

Then, in an unprecedented move from intellect into ego, so unlike my friend, I hear him attempt to pull his social trump card, “You know, when I am not in the hospital, I serve as  ____________ (a socially important person).”

The internist remains impenetrable.

“Is that it?” I think.  “We become old and naked—with nothing but a flimsy gown draped about a fragile frame—and we cease to exist as human beings?  What if my friend had been a tradesman with no social trump card to pull in this hospital game with the internist?  What then?  What happened to the inviolate nature of life?”

C.S. Lewis had it right:  You have a body; you are a soul.

Christ Like

“How Christ like can we become?”  This was the question posed to a group of us attending a program being lead by an Orthodox Christian Priest.

Before even being able to seriously entertain the question, I ran—SMACK—right into issues within my own theological baggage compartment.  Who knew my luggage car had become so overfull?  My train of thought ran along the lines of, “How dare he even entertain the idea that any of us could ever attempt to become perfected—as Jesus was.”

I had been taught to revere Jesus and his work from a formal distance, walking a full three spare feet behind him in deference to his status.  Jesus was someone of mythic proportions, an extraordinary god-human-being who walked an earth in and of the past.  In my mind, I always maintained a respectful distance, as one would grant royalty, from the person of Jesus, his life and his ministry.  Jesus had become Other.  I had to open the door on my mind’s rolling train to boot some ancient luggage from the car, so that I could even think about the proposed question.

What would it mean to become Christ like?  In truth, it would mean embracing some of the East’s most cherished spiritual principles.  Non-attachment:  Drop your nets, follow me.  Take my cloak, for I have two, and you have none.  Non-harming:  What you do to the least of these, you do to me.  Or, appropriate placement of one’s vital energy:  Leave the kitchen, listen to me.  Do not speak, until the words are given to you.  Selfless service:  Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.  And, ultimately, surrender to a higher power (dedicating the merit—of one’s life):  If required, release the cup of poison, and take the cross.  This is living of a different order.

 

A Rumi Kind of Day

The whole of my being is humming with gratitude and joy.  The weather has shifted, and the heat is milder, kinder for pedestrian travel.

Rounding the corner on a block where I do not normally walk, I pass three houses when a toddler steps out from behind a parked vehicle in one of the driveways, arms waving wildly as I pass.    This is a holy gesture, a blessing of the highest order.  I want to bow to him in a formal and dramatic fashion—in honor of the Rumi* story I know—but we sparkling souls settle for reciprocal wave of joyous enthusiasm over the gift of this day.

*On his way to work, the great Persian poet and mystic, Jalal ad-Din Rumi, is said to have bowed to each young child he met on his path.  One day, after Rumi had already conferred the blessing—a simple bow—of acknowledgement to each child in his sight, a young boy was seen running across a neighboring field.  The boy’s arms waved wildly, while he shouted, asking the Master to wait.  The boy did not want Rumi to pass without receiving the gift of his blessing.