Doone felt the life-force ebbing slowly from her, like the wake from a boat disappearing back into the dark waters. She was getting old. She was terrified of death; yet it loomed ever closer. As the chugging engines of the train belched clouds of smoke past her window, Doone strained to see the old familiar landmarks of her childhood. Shadow towns loomed and disappeared through the grey of a Scottish evening. She pulled at the collar of her tweed coat, hoping to gather some warmth around her tired bones.
She had buried her husband decades ago. His grave now silent and cold. The idea of her own interment seemed bleak and terrible in its finality and her faith was in tatters. Taking her last journey to Scotland, to say goodbye, fashioned an urgency within her. With yellowed leather suitcase duly packed, she had left her daughter’s home, the grandchildren watching as she left,
“Love you all.” She had waved her hand, absentmindedly.
Sitting on the dark blue waters of the bay, Oban town reached out from her childhood and reflected back at her. The islands, standing in timeless motion in the dusky sea glinted a watery orange hue with the setting of the autumn sun. Sail boats bobbed and the echo of their tinkling masts seemed somehow disconcerting. Street lights made phantoms of the evening strollers.
The old stream train wheezed and spluttered into Oban station. Doone climbed down on to the familiar platform; unfamiliar faces pushing past her. She picked up her battered suitcase and headed for the exit. An uncanny sense of fate encouraging her as she headed towards the town.
Across the road from the harbour, Doone recognised an old building with a crooked front door. Her destination? Or her destiny? Breath wedged in her throat as she put her hand on the stiff latch and pushed the door ajar. It was five minutes to six. Nearly closing time.
“Doone Robertson ! Why I do believe it’s you !”
Alarmed at the sound of her own name, Doone felt a prickling sensation spread through her, leaving goose bumps on her skin.
“But it IS you, Doone. I would recognise you anywhere, even after all these years ! Why it must be fifty years since I saw you last. I could never mistake those mysterious eyes of yours. It’s me, Doone. It’s me, Morag. Your old friend.”
Doone looked at her childhood friend in wonder. Morag Campbell! Frail, like herself and slightly ethereal but there was no mistaking her. The women silently embraced. They stood for a while holding hands, gazing into each other’s wrinkled and time worn faces. The clocks stopped their ticking. The world stood still. Fifty years of stories and of lives lived, passed by them and for a moment the two old friends were children again. Doone saw reflected in Morag’s eyes the years of her own youth and Morag saw her own, reflected back. What could these two old women say that could ebb away the years with more wisdom than the gaze they held now?
“I can’t stay with you Doone. I have to leave now. I need to be, …. … elsewhere.”
Doone felt her newly awakened heart tremble.
“But before I go, I want to buy you something. To remember me by. Please, don’t stop me. Please. I want to buy you a gift.”
Not listening to Doone’s protestations, Morag chose a bottle of perfume from the shelves nearby,
“If my memory isn’t playing tricks, Doone, this one was your favourite when we were young! I remember spilling it once on your bed.”
Taking Doone’s wrist, Morag sprayed musty cologne on to her old friend’s skin. Remembrances of heather and deer; tartan and bagpipes wafted between the two women. A tear found its way down Doone’s cheek and was wiped gently away by an age-weathered hand that was not her own.
“No tears my dearest. Not today. Only celebration of old friendships. Of lifetimes. Of things to come. Trust me. Always”.
Morag paid for the purchase, handed it to Doone and left the shop without another word.
Sitting in rays of sunlight, Doone stared out across the Bay. Her landlady brought her morning porridge and placed the local newspaper on the table as she left. One glance and Doone was repeating the words of the headlines over and over, her head spinning.
‘Morag Campbell, aged 76 years, formerly from Oban, lately of Paris, France, died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by her family in her home in Rue Scribe, last evening at 6pm. Madame Morag was the founder of Musee du Parfu, the famous perfumery in the centre of the city. ‘
Doone was smiling, raising her wrist occasionally and inhaling deeply. The sun was shining out from behind opaque clouds over the highlands. And the train belched it’s smoke as before. A bottle of perfume lay gently on her lap.
After the shock of reading the newspaper, Doone had raced back to the pharmacy where she had met Morag. Without ceremony and holding onto the counter to steady her nerves, she spoke,
“Excuse me, but was I in here yesterday evening with a friend of mine? Did you see us? Did she buy me a bottle of perfume?”
“Yes Madam. You were with Morag Campbell. We knew her well. Are you ok Madam? You’ve gone very white.”
With something indiscernible healed in her heart, Doone was ready to leave Scotland. All fear diminished. Death, dying, a cold silent grave, all gone. The gift Morag’s apparition had given her had come in the disguise of a bottle of perfume. But it was so much more. Morag had given her the gift of life. A life without fear.
As the clouds smiled and the train chugged along its tracks, Doone’s Soul awoke. She was saying her goodbyes to Scotland. With a passion she had not felt for years, she was going home to enjoy what life she had left with her family. Death, she decided, could wait.
He hovered, about to dive. His iridescent blue plumage caught in the cool warmth of the spring sunlight and reflected in the waters below. Prey in sight, under the pale rippled surface of the river, the hungry bird pulled his feathers in tightly in anticipation of his next move. A gentle hum interrupted his rapt gaze and with a flip of his stubby tail, he darted to the river bank, all thoughts of his tasty meal deserted. An old low wooden boat came into his view. With its engine barely audible, the slow moving boat rounded the bend in the river almost indiscernible against the untidy woodland at the river’s edge. A woman sat tranquilly in the bow, hand trailing through the blueish grey water, leaving memories like shadows from her fingertips in the boat’s wake. Reflections of bright green from the new Spring leaves of the beech trees and wisps of silvery bark from the birch wavered ghostlike in the ripples around her, dancing on her face like shadows. The man at the helm gently guided the fisherman’s boat through the river’s meanderings; his eyes gazing along the banks either side of him; the tall reeds and yellow iris reflected in his expectant, silent eyes.
The man’s faint intake of breathe made the woman and the bird both look up. The warm breeze whispered as time froze. The tableau in front of them came into view through the mottled light. A majestic stag stood, head raised, nostrils quivering. The splendid prongs of his gilded antlers bronzed in the sunshine. A beautiful doe stood beside him, her flanks twitching slightly in rhythm with her breath; her gentle eyes alert, watching. Their fawn, almost imperceptible in the camouflage of his dappled young coat, as transfixed in time, as his parents. Humans, deer and bird were vividly suspended; the universe holding its breath from the absolute beauty of it.
With a snort, the stag raised his head and with the fluidity of one in flight, he, his doe and their young fawn, leapt and turned as one. The white of their tails dazzling, tantalizingly, as they ran. They were gone. The clearing, where they had stood, seemed suddenly silent. With a sigh, the boat traversed the corner and disappeared too, from sight.
With no more distractions the bird ruffled his spectacular feathers, raised himself off his stubby little legs and with the speed and grace of one so proficient in his hunt, he soared into the air above the river once again. Watching, elongating his body into a streamlined lethal weapon, he finally dived. As he emerged again through the surface of the water, spangled droplets glistened on the scaly skin of a fish as it thrashed in its final death throws within the bird’s beak. Rainbows of colour, in seeming communion between water, scale and lustrous blue of the bird’s feathers, fell across the water as he rose. Belabored slightly by his prey, he flew slowly to the protection of the river bank and the kingfisher, in all his brilliance, silently relaxed and began to eat his meal.
I thought I would publish a short Inspirational Talk I gave recently at the Cork Mediumship Spiritual Divine Service and I hope that you enjoy reading this .....
Good evening ladies and Gentlemen. Its lovely, once again to be back in Cork at this Divine Service and I hope that I can share with you some inspirational words tonight that you might find thought provoking on this cold spring evening.
One of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism as taught by the Spiritualists’ National Union is personal responsibility. It teaches us that the acceptance of responsibility for every aspect of our lives and the use, to which we put our lives, depends entirely upon us. We are given the freedom of choice, or free will, and the ability to recognize what is right from wrong.
In relation to this, I would like to suggest to you tonight that we are living in extraordinary times. Frightening and scary times to be sure, but certainly extraordinary. And it is time to allow our lives to become extraordinary and to take back our personal responsibility for ourselves, for the society in which we find ourselves living, our personal happiness and the teaching of personal responsibility and happiness to our children.
It may feel that many things are collapsing around us today. There is much sorrow and confusion all around the world as the structures we have known and trusted in for so many centuries are no longer serving us in the ways they used to. Our governments and politicians around the world no longer seem to be on the side of their peoples. Our education systems, our religious churches, health systems, corporate institutions are in a mess. Wars, threats of wars, crime and the huge increase in suicide and mental health issues and chronic illness are all that we read in our papers and see on our tv screens. And many people are frightened of where this is all leading humanity and what is to become of our beloved Mother Earth.
But tonight I want to ask you to look beyond the fear and the chaos that this collapse of the structure of society as we have known increases, and see the joy in the chaos and see it as an invitation from Spirit to allow ourselves to become extraordinary human beings and an invitation to take back personal responsibility for our future. We have been ordinary for too long and we have obeyed man made rules for too long. We have taught our children to behave, be good, be perfect. To sit quietly, be seen and not heard, learn their ABCs and 123s, be sensible, go to college, get a job, raise 2.2 children and tie themselves in a mortgage keeping themselves and their families enslaved to a system that no longer works. The pressure on our young to do all these things, as we have done before them, has created so much stress. Too much stress. And our young ones, especially now, are staying caught up in their egoic minds - battling against their Spirits to stay afloat and losing sense of the adventure life is meant to offer us. Trying to make sense of the chaos when it can’t be worked out by the mind alone.
I ask us to close our eyes, put our hands on our hearts and feel our essence once again. Sit still every day in silence and listen to our hearts and re-connect to our passions, our life force, our Spirit and listen to the wisdom that comes from within the silence and feel the excitement that our Spirit was born to experience.
We didn’t come here from the Spirit world to be perfect. Life isn’t meant to be perfect. Our Spirit came here from a place of perfection. We chose to come here to experience life and love in all its aspects. I believe life and love are meant to be crazy and chaotic and messy and passionate, for we came her to experience everything being alive can offer us.
Years ago I was working with young people with horses and ponies and I was being trained as a riding teacher. A leading professional in this country asked the question why were we losing all our good riders at the age of 15/16 and not keeping them to go on and compete for their country. I suggested then that we put too much pressure on our young today. They have pressure at school to excel. Education has become about nothing more than how many points they achieve at Leaving Cert and the pressure on many is becoming untenable. And then they do extra-curricular stuff after school, theoretically to relax, but they are pushed to excel in these things as well. Exams, grades, competitions, A teams, be it ballet, music lessons, sports, riding, their teachers push, we parents push, they push themselves and strive and strive for perfection - or the top results or the top position. Where has the joy gone in kids just making music, going for a gallop on a beach, kicking a ball? How can we re-kindle, re-ignite the flame of passion and joy in our lives and the lives of our children? How do we help them do this, re-kindle this, through the ordinary things in life, that will lead their lives to become extraordinary.
First we have to release the pressure like taking the lid off a pressure cooker. We have to stop looking for results, stop looking for excellence and perfection. Stop comparing ourselves and our children with what other people have, what society tells us is acceptable and find instead what and where our and their passion is. Find the ordinary things in life that turn us on, and by finding the joy in each of them, make our lives extraordinary.
My own daughter become very confused when she was about to take her 1st Holy Communion at the age of 6. She blurted out that she didn’t know what to believe. Daddy believed in nothing. I talked of Spirit and meditation and personal private relationships with God and her teacher was telling her that if she was good she would make the Holy Mary very strong and if she was bad she would make the Devil even stronger. And she cried and she broke my heart. At that moment I pulled the car over to the side of the road and told her to close her eyes. I told her to put her hand on her heart so she could feel it beating. And then I asked her, “what makes sense to you? What does your heart tell you? What is your passion saying to you? Not what Daddy thinks, or what your teacher thinks, or what I think. What do YOU think?” And as we sat there I saw the passion come alive in my daughter. Her tears dried and she smiled. And since then I have had the privilege to watch her become extraordinary. She is someone who really does follow her passions and makes them a reality. She is not concerned with what others think she should do. She never went to college but took herself off around the world instead. Her life is extraordinary and passionate and she lives every day in her ordinary work, her humble sweet home, her relationship, listening to the wisdom of her heart and her Soul and not her egoic mind.
We can all of us live extraordinary lives. We can stand up and do something about the things we don’t like or that no longer seem to serve us or our communities any more. We can chose how we want to live on this extraordinarily magical and beautiful planet of ours. Each one of us can make a difference. The Dali Lama once said that if every child on this planet was taught to meditate by the age of 8, which to me means finding a personal relationship with Spirit, then there would be world peace in one generation. So lets teach our children and ourselves how to sit in the silence - that Gap where we find God - in the essence with Spirit and re-kindle at the same time our passions and our ability to see and live the extraordinary lives that awaken us to our true purpose for being here in our little corner of the Universe on this amazing Mother Earth of ours and try and make a difference every single day. From the small things, the ordinary things, like recycling that annoying coke can today or sitting and making a cup of tea for that lonely person living down our road - or doing something special for ourselves, falling in love with ourselves and not putting it off. Sit for 5 minutes with the sun on our face, do one thing that comes from a place of passion today and forget one thing that comes from that egoic place of what I should do, or what i shouldn’t do. Look in the mirror today and say simply, “I love you”. Tell someone you are close to, today “I love you” and don’t put it off until tomorrow. Start saying yes to life and slowly we will learn to be extraordinary and do extraordinary things and teach our children that it is ok not to follow the path laid down by old societies ways that no longer serve us, or them or our planet. But to be brave and bold and passionate and to follow their hearts. For i believe if we follow our passions and our hearts, and if we learn to fully connect to Spirit, to really listen to Spirit from within, we don't’ become selfish or self centred but we find our true purpose in life, the true meaning of why we came into this world, this body, this lifetime and we can really make a difference and help get this world of ours back into balance.
This world was not made from apathy or following any rules of science. It was made from chaos. It was created from the passionate union of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine - the two aspects of Spirit, in total chaos. And in that chaos, beauty was created in the Universe. So we can CHOSE to see the chaos around us in society and in the world right now as scary and frightening and stay stuck in fear, or we can CHOSE to go into the chaos willingly and start creating the lives we really want from our passions and by listening to our hearts, through love. Each one of us, whatever age we are, can invite love in and CHOSE to be extraordinary by celebrating the very ordinary things in our lives that we love. WE can chose to awaken our passions. WE can chose to live from a place of love and let fear finally go, once and for all. We can CHOSE not to be perfect. We have eternity to go back to being perfect, once we pass beyond the veil and live a life after death as we will hear so much evidence of tonight. A place of perfection and bliss. So chose now not be perfect. Get down in the mud of life and experience everything you can. The ordinary stuff of life. The messy love, the chaotic love, the passion and above all allow ourselves to become extraordinary by falling in love with the ordinary things and taking back personal responsibility for all our words, for all our deeds and for all our thoughts.
Which would you prefer: to slip back into the Spirit world at our end time and say, ‘well i suppose that was ok, or worse, think, thank heavens that is over …….” Or do you want to return beyond the veil, slipping and sliding in sideways, saying “whoa - that was an amazing experience - I learnt so much - I made a difference - I lived everyday through my ordinary days turning them into an extraordinary life” !!!!
Go out. Teach your children they can make a difference by falling in love with the ordinary things in life. Make a difference yourself. Chose to be extraordinary and live from love. Its what we came here to do.
To finish with the wise words from a poem by William Martin from ‘Ancient Advice for Modern Parents’
“Do not ask your children
to strive only for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
For then the extraordinary will take care of itself.”
God bless and enjoy all life has to offer. Thank you.