Published by the Blue Nib journal on 28th June 2020
She woke during the night. Her sweat-drenched nightie stuck to her skin, chilling her bones. Her head foggy and distanced. Whatever had made her wake was important. She knew that. But chasing a dream never worked. She knew that too. It was like running after a mist in the forest, that only rises faster, the nearer you get.
Her sleepy fingers searched for her pen and notepad under her pillow, and she vowed not to open her eyes, lest the shadows steal what little of the memory she had left. She scribbled something but sleep overpowered her. Not healthy normal sleep. The kind imposed upon the mind from a night of disturbance – leaving her hung over and irritable in the morning. A smell of sweet tobacco on the autumn wind invaded the rest of her dreams.
Multiverses, where souls live in many dimensions at the same time. Not linear. I wait for you.
In the morning, over coffee and a tasteless piece of toast, she read the scribbled words on her pad from the night’s intrusion. She had no idea what it all meant and had no true recollection of writing it. She could still smell the tobacco yet could not place it.
Her mind still murky, she rubbed at her eyes and temples hoping to return to some kind of normality. She was bothered by her scribblings. And the tasteless toast.
She showered. She scrubbed at her face and pulled a brush through her greying hair. She applied some lipstick. Not that she was going to see anyone today. But it made her look less haggard. It did make her feel better and she dressed for the day, went and sat by the computer, notebook in hand.
Multiverses, where souls live in many dimensions at the same time. Not linear. I wait for you.
She stared at the words. And she began to write.
I’ve seen these multiverses. Not just in my dreams. I’ve seen them when I walk in the woods. When I sit quietly in meditation or listen to the beat of the shamanic drum. I’ve talked to people about the possibility of past lives and the premise is always that past lives happen in a linear fashion. That we keep coming back to learn the song, or the dance, or the poetry of what it is to be human. Each life a reflection of the life before, bearing the scars and the accolades of what we’ve been and done and the choices that we’ve made.
But what if those lives have not been linear? What if there is no beginning and no end, no before or after? If we can see those lifetimes from where we sit, what if it’s happening all at the same time? What if our soul is born into the universe as a simple expression of energy? An expression of energy that wants to understand itself. Not judge. It has no ability to do that. It just experiences itself. Maybe our soul expands out, till it breaks into parts. It breaks into so many parts until it learns all of life’s lessons and then comes back to itself in the fullness of time. And only then can it bring back the song and the dance and the poetry of what it is to be human.
I’ve seen these multiverses. Not just in my dreams. But in the reflection of rain on the windowpane on a dull winter’s day. In the refracted light of a rainbow high above the trees. In the blue orange flames of a fire in the evening. The longings and yearnings that we endure. The if onlys. The what ifs. Maybe we are feeling close to another aspect of our soul that has what we want, what we long for, in another dimension? Can we not feel those other lifetimes in our bones? The lover that we know in our heart exists, but we just can’t find, however many frogs and princes that we kiss. The place we can paint with our eyes closed, because in someplace we walk its earth, taste its fruits, swim in its seas? But we just can’t discover it, however far we travel across the seas.
She stared out of the window at the damp grey skies. The wind was getting up and she huddled closer to the radiator, knowing that its heat could not calm the tide of desire surging inside her. Desire for what? For whom? She’d known this desire since she was a young girl. It was her familiar. A desire for another human being, as though half of her was missing. An ache every morning that she woke, wondering where that part of her could be. She called deep into the night – crying. Pleading. Sometimes pretending gratitude that her wishes had already come true. That was the New Age way to manifest one’s desires. Sit in gratitude for ever and a day and all the gurus and teachers would applaud your mindfulness.
Well, she wasn’t feeling at all mindful today. And gratitude could go to hell. All she wanted was that part of her that she’d been searching for. Since the day she was born.
She was restless. Her hazy dream from the night before kept nudging at her but her recall was dwindling with each hour. She pulled on her warm coat and stuffed her feet into her walking boots and headed outside. She always thought better when out in the fresh air. Her little corner of the world was beautiful, in all weathers. Surrounded by ancient hills, holding the memories of kings and queens. They’d loved and fought and vanquished for so many years, that the land abounded with the history of them all held in the wind that pushed and pulled at her as she headed for the woods.
It was calling her, as it always did, when she felt like this. The wind. Its own disquiet mirroring her own. Once amongst the trees, she kicked at the autumn leaves and they swirled around her in concentric circles, herself the centre of their chaos. Burnt oranges and yellow hues rose up around her, teasing her mood.
The watery sunshine bounced childlike off each leaf and she half imagined faces of the sidhe, the wood nymphs and the fairies, in each reflection; fallen twigs crunching underfoot as she walked. She thought she heard her name, called from a long way away. She walked faster, the colours of the trees moving with her, as she headed for the lake.
When she reached the water, she found her favourite rock and sat, curled up to keep herself warm. The old fairy tree sheltering her back from the pursuit of the wind. The flat weathered stone was surprisingly warm, laid out as it was, catching rays of the sun.
She wondered how many people had sat here over the millenniums of time. Who else had taken shelter from the weather here? Who else had laid their hands bare upon its ancient skin over the calling of the years?
‘I have,’ she heard the chattering of the birds around her say. And then she heard his voice, ‘and me too. Before, and now again, today.’
His voice rang through her in a resonance that spoke to every cell she owned. She would have held her breath until she realised it was already still. Each sense she had swelled in natural echo to that voice she knew as his. She tasted the memory of him on her lips. She heard his gentle whisper in the quietening of the wind and felt his touch raise hairs along her neck. And then she smelt the lingering sweet tobacco smoke, honeyed on his breath and her recollections from the night before came back to her.
Her heartbeat flapped its tiny wings inside her chest. She looked down then onto the surface of the lake, hardly daring to believe the shadows there. The ripples on the water did not obscure what she knew she saw. The rock she sat on, rose up in deep reflection of itself, and there she sat staring down, with the old weathered tree at her back.
But beside her, instead of empty space, there he was, in deepest contemplation of her face. His features just as she remembered them, the squareness of his jaw. The deep brown eyes that always bore deep into her soul, and his tender arms embracing her, in reverence; just like before.
She closed her eyes and yielded to his familiar touch. She laid her head upon his chest and listened to the beating of his heart; the twin to what lay in her own breast. For a while, all was quiet and still, except the rhythm of the two. She felt as young and as beautiful as she had ever known herself to be.
But as with all things from this world, life’s experiences are short-lived. Neither of them had any cognizance of how much time they had embraced. Everything, including the hours themselves, had stood still in honour of the meeting. In reverence of the holy wooded place.
They had talked long and deep into the shadows of the day. And danced. And sang. The poetry of their lives enfolded in the beauty of the woods. Somehow, through their love, they had managed to tear a doorway into both their present worlds; hers and his. Both worlds, where the other did not exist.
And someone, somewhere had allowed this consummation to take place. And for the fullest day they had shown each other glimpses and remembrances of other times and other places. Other worlds and distant lands, where their love still takes place. Lifetimes of togetherness. And times of loneliness – like this one, where they’d failed to meet. One part of both their souls entered these places, alone and sad. Leaving an eternal cry inside them both.
But as they talked, they also laughed and slowly realised that, without the experiences of the longing, the experiences of their love would not be as exquisite nor profound.
‘I feel nothing here without you, except deep emptiness.’
He held her close, his voice ringing like a song thrush.
‘I feel the same way too. But, remember the love we share throughout those other times. Throughout those other spaces. It won’t be long, my love, my heart, until we’ll join at the fulness of the day. Then each part of each of us will come back together, returning to our whole.’
With those words of his, the world began to dim. The ripples grew more vibrant on the lake yet the trees around her stood unearthly still. The wind lifted its voice again and beat against her face and the doorway made between the worlds, consumed him. His reflection gone. Her senses with him.
She sat, feeling the pathos of all things. Feeling the heartbreak and the longing, still.
But she smiled as she rose to walk back through the woods. Tobacco smoke suspended in the air. The autumn leaves still played around her, then fell, leaving a carpet of gold at her feet. The woods were her blessing, the trees her friends.
She could feel them beginning to settle for winters coming. The sap had fallen, and the fungi round their roots had let go their spores and dug their heads back down into the soil. The lichen wrapped liked woollen blankets around their bark, for warmth.
She would visit daily, leaving nuts out for the squirrels before their hibernation and collect a few sweet chestnuts for her fire. She loved this slowing of the year.
Her grumpy demeanour of the morning, full departed, and with a memory to cherish dearly, she found herself back home. Back over to the woods she took a final look. She had met somebody today, of that she knew.
Thanking the Galway Review for publishing this story on 6th June 2020
Barefoot in the Temple
By Pippa Slattery
Barefoot, she is careful to pick her way across the ornamental tiles, vigilant not to tread on the flowers, or the offerings of fruits, sweets and incense. A tiny bird flies in through the open doors and darts past her as she walks. She desires only the obscurity of the shadows and keeps herself small against the cool marble walls of the temple. With each step her senses are assaulted by the honeyed aromas of prasada; the consecrated sweetmeat offered and shared amongst the people after each ceremony. The waft of clarified butter and condensed milk hangs heavy on the air but combined within their sweetness she knows the surprise of almonds and cashews, pistachio, coconut and rose water will await her. Her mouth waters as she remembers the taste of it from yesterday’s puja. It was the first thing she had tasted on arriving at the ashram; the over sweet nectar proving such contrast to the bland rice and unseasoned daal of the later evening meal. Incense burning in every crevice of the walls makes her feel heady and somewhat nauseous. She lowers her eyes as a plume of the aromatic smoke swims around her. She is surprised at the calming effect it has on her, like a gentle hand stilling her nervous breath with its touch. She sees an empty area near the flower offerings and settles on a cushion away from the other visitors, away from the local people and away from the watchful gaze of the monks. Jasmine and marigolds interlock and entwine themselves around the rhododendron petals on the golden plates on the floor. Reflected hues of purples, blues, whites and yellows dance in the fragments of evening sunlight radiating from tiny cracks in the rafters high above her head. She is here seeking solitude from her hectic life. Yet she yearns for connection, for love, even for touch; a conundrum for her – a journey too complex for her to understand. Solitude and connection are not usually sought after as companions. For now, she will find some solace in the ancient wisdom of the sacred temple and pray, to whoever may be listening. She closes her eyes against the recollection of the lonely footsteps that haunt her life, while the people around her breathe in a soothing rhythm, as silently as they can.
She sits there awhile, uncomfortable on the hard, cold marble floor that she can feel even through the plump cushion. She’s never been one for sitting still and her lower back fights against sitting in any yogic position for more than a few minutes. No one else is fidgeting, no one else uneasy in the pure act of sitting. She notices that she is slightly ashamed. Again. Of her body. Why does it have to embarrass her now? Why can’t it just sit still?
She closes her eyes. She breathes in slowly through her nose, just like she’s been taught. She holds her breath for a heartbeat and then slowly exhales through her mouth. She concentrates on her breath. In and out. In and out. Her body begins to relax. Her senses heightened by the way of breathing. She hears a gentle padding of small footsteps approach. And they stop beside her. She doesn’t want any company and hopes this person walks past her. She keeps her eyes closed to avoid unnecessary communication, like she always does. Stay small, she thinks, and they won’t see me. She hears the gentle breath of someone close beside her. She feels them sit down, their warm gentle skin brushing hers, and something solid invades her being. On opening her eyes, she finds, to her amazement, a little girl, no more than three years old has come to curl up on her lap. A little Indian girl with sweet oak coloured skin and hair and eyes the colour of charcoal. Barefoot like herself, in a simple dress and with flowers in her hair. The little girl has no self-consciousness at all. She smiles up at her and suddenly, wonderfully, reaches up with her little hand and touches the older face, wiping away a tear she didn’t even know was there.
She looks around, aware of her own presence in this foreign temple and sees a group of women looking at her questioningly. They make to come and take the little girl away, signing with their looks of mortification and hand gestures, for there is no common language between them, asking if they should take the child away from her. But she smiles back at the group of women in their colourful saris and their silk and woollen shawls. She sees they have other babies and children to cope with and sees how laden they are with their gifts and offerings for the puja. She holds up her hand and smiles, surrendering to the child still smiling on her lap.
Instinctively her hand goes to the child’s head and she starts stroking the rich black hair. She begins tentatively, anxious the child might take fright and run, startled, back to the women. She really wants this little girl to stay with her. She has no idea why. But the more she strokes her hair, the more peaceful the child becomes, and she feels the little one snuggle up, drawing up her knees until she is fully lying against her breasts and her womb space. As if the space were meant for nothing less. And she holds her there. She picks up a flower that has escaped from the ceremonial gold plates and gently strokes the child’s face with it. The orange yellow of the marigold making a golden shadow pass across her skin. It tickles the child and makes her giggle quietly. She drops the flower, embarrassed that the child has made a noise in this sacred place, but the child mimes quickly that she wants more and puts her little finger to her lips, indicting she’ll stay quiet. The child leans out over her lap and picks up her own flower from the floor. And she begins to stroke the older face, in intimate parallel to what this woman is doing to her. They mirror each other in their movements, the little one, staring up trustingly, searching deeply into her eyes.
She closes her eyes, the embrace of the child held strongly in her own. She conjures the memories of embracing her own children. The three with her. The one who never took breath. And she thinks of what her mother said to her, in the time of this deep sorrow.
“Why?” she had asked her mother, over and over again. “Why?”
She has never understood why her daughter had to die. She still doesn’t understand. The life within her womb simply went quiet one day. A simple non movement that shattered her world.
With no answer to give, her mother had asked a question in return. “Why, when I plant four bulbs in the garden, do sometimes only three come up to flower?” Her mother had no more to offer her in her desperate plea to understand. But over time, the memory of her mother’s words had helped her. She remembers the snowdrops that had magically appeared under the sleeping magnolia tree, the day of her daughter’s funeral. It was late January. She returned home after placing the tiny white coffin in the grave in that cold and desolate graveyard overlooking the winter sea. Tiny white heads held on impossibly slender green stalks had pushed their way through the frozen earth while she had gone. She remembers how she had longed for the world to just stop. To stand still. To stop revolving. She could not comprehend why she was still breathing. Not until her older daughter came and stood beside her to look at the snowdrops. Her young pudgy hand pushed into hers and she looked down into the fathomless sad eyes of the one so young. She’d leaned down and picked her up and tucked her inside her coat for warmth. Both the child’s and her own. And they had watched the snowdrops together. The little white flowers dancing in the icy wind, refusing to bend or break even under the cruellest of squalls. And she knew she had to keep going. She had to keep breathing. For the magnitude of the love she had for her little girl. Held here in her arms, sheltered from the winter cold, within her arms. Her eldest child. And her love for the child blossomed stronger, even through the bitterest sorrow she had ever known.
Year on year, at the end of January, mother and daughter, then mother and children, would stand in silent wonder each time the snowdrops appeared. Always the memory of the baby that could never be, etched on their faces. Every year, when they appeared under the magnolia for the anniversary, she wondered how many bulbs had been planted to produce so many abundantly happy little flowers. Had one, or some, never flowered? How many bulbs decayed into the mulch and compost of the earth to give back nourishment, to offer life, to their family budding and flowering above? Sustaining those above them, with all they had to offer in their own waning, back to the earth, as little flower heads above endured and thrived through the inclement weather of winter days. There, in their existence, to offer the first joyfulness and cheer of Spring. The innocence of young death so exquisitely represented by the beauty of the living.
She feels it all, here in the temple. Time no longer linear. No then, no now, no coming. She feels it all happening in this moment; the distinction between past, present and future no more than an obdurately determined illusion. The birth of her children allegorically held by the child in her arms.
The explosion of joy as her first daughter was born. The absolute and unconditional love, which had been there from the realisation of the pregnancy, finding form and nature, becoming tangible as her first born was placed in her arms. The Maiden had become the Mother, in all teachings of the word.
The breaking part of her life as her second daughter arrived without breath, without life. The memory of that shatters her heart. The second expression of unconditional love. She had become the Wounded Healer but at the time had no understanding past the word wounded.
The relief, adoration, and celebration of her third daughter. The third expression of unconditional love to bless her. She barred her teeth if anyone came near them; she had become the She-Wolf; had become Kali, had become the Protectress.
Finally, the arrival of her son. She remembers the gaze they held as he entered the world. With it came the understanding, the recognition of Spirit, the recognition of Souls. An ending of desire. A beginning of completeness. The fourth and final experience of unconditional love to embody her life.
Through the birth of her children, she had evolved from Maiden to Mother, from Wounded Healer and Protectress to Crone.
She opens her eyes. The little Indian child is sleeping. Her long eyelashes soft on her cheeks, too beautiful to witness; a smile playing on her face as she dreams. Holding this child, and immersed in the memories of her own children, come the memories of her own childhood. She breathes through the memories gently today, for fear of waking the sleeping child. Some memories are happy. Some sad. Some fearful. Some shameful. Some black. Her passage through these memories in recent years had led her here to India, for answers, for healing. Maybe even for redemption; her own and others. And a softness overpowers her. A softness that is tangible; like the petals of the flower offerings, taking on a substance of their own in the subtlety of the temple prayer. A softness for herself. For her story. For the stories of all women. She sits up a little taller, no longer desiring the obscurity of the shadows. And she notices the connection she has with the child, and like the ripples of a pebble thrown, to the connection she has to the smiling women who sit nearby.
A rustling sound near a jumble of offerings causes her look up. The tiny bird is flitting from flowers to fruit and from fruit to flowers, stopping to look over to her and the child. The bird’s plumage is caught in the fragments of the evening sunlight and for a heartbeat, the colours rebound around the walls like the silent prayers of the temple. She feels the bird’s essence in her own.
We are all connected. The child, the prayer, the women, the bird and me.
As she watches the bird, a calm floods through her. She notices she is sitting quietly still and has been for a long time. Her body and herself no longer at war. The small child still sleeping. She, softly alert. And she allows the connections to permeate. The child, the prayer, the women, the bird. And she allows the connection to herself, realising there is no difference between any of them. The connection is real. It is the connection and the tangibility of love.
(c) Pippa Slattery
This little story was published in the wonderful journal Tiny Seeds in April 2020. Please take a look at their journal - they plant trees for every story published. Such a good cause and such a lovely publication that is read in 95 countries world wide.
There was a day when my pen alone captured an exceptionally visual experience and I realised then that a pen could offer as profound a memory as any photograph. I was in a boat. On a river. And he hovered, about to dive. Iridescent blue plumage reflected in the waters below. Prey in sight, the hungry bird pulled in his feathers, in anticipation of his next move.
A gentle hum interrupted his gaze and with a flip of his stubby tail, he darted to the riverbank, all thoughts of his meal deserted. A wooden boat came into view. With its engine barely audible, it 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 traces of memories trickling from her fingertips, in the boat’s wake. Reflections of green from the beech trees and wisps of silvery bark from the birch wavered 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; 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 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 seemed strangely silent and 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. Watching, elongating his body into a streamlined lethal weapon, he 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.
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.