A few weeks ago I visited with a friend who had recently lost his daughter-in-law. She had been dealing with cancer and things appeared to be going well, then suddenly her body gave way and within two weeks she was gone. His son was devastated… such a young man, with his wife gone. It’s a lot to come to terms with.
I expressed my sympathy and said something like, “She isn’t really gone.” Later on I realized how ‘un-comforting’ those words are. Of course she’s really gone from his son, who is never to feel her body in an embrace, never to hear her laughter, never to look in her eyes again. We love each other in the physical realm, and when the physical is gone from us, our loved one is very much gone.
So why do we say that our loved ones aren’t really gone? It is because we know we are more than physical: we know because we are the observer of ourselves. There is a stepping back place called consciousness, where we see ourselves doing things, thinking and feeling, and we know our body is the container. The more we uncover, the more we know it.
Naturally the question of what might happen with our consciousness when we are no longer are in the body comes to the forefront when somebody dies, or when we face an illness. There is grief involved and fear of the unknown. Anything that can truly help us to open up and trust is a great gift.
Some years ago I received such a gift. It became one of the foundational experiences of my life, helping me to understand so many things that came after. I haven’t told the story very often; mostly just kept it within myself. But I’ll tell it now, for my friend and all of you.
My sister was a ‘character’… some might say she had a strong personality, and she did! She was my childhood playmate, with whom I shared a box full of paper dolls and many years of life. She left her body when I was 34, she was 37.
I couldn’t go to her funeral because I was taking care of our mother, who was hospitalized many miles away. I heard that it was a beautiful funeral, church overflowing, people coming from five different states. She had touched that many lives: best friend to a whole lot of people.
I couldn’t stay in the hospital room with our mother either – there was just too much grief and I had to leave Mom alone: can’t watch her, can’t let her see me, can’t bear this, she wants me to go. So I went to my friend’s house, to her kitchen window, and I sat there, looking out at a slow, soft rain.
It was a June day, so green and grey. The trees and grass and the air were all green, and it seemed the grey sky was weeping with me. I noticed how the garden was in mourning, and I remember asking, “How can I live without her.”
At that instant everything changed. Her spirit overwhelmed me with the most incredible ecstasy – so great that there are no words. I wept again but this time in joy: the tears felt like they were streams of light running down my face, and my eyes were light, my mind was light, my heart was filled with light… to overflowing.
She had come to show herself to me: that she was entering something I could only call a field of energy, and this was her communication – Joy! And so I stayed with her for as long as I could, and then when the energy left me, I never cried again for my sister. When people would talk of her, or I would see her picture, I would say, “She’s fine.”
“How can I live without you?” Her answer was, “You can live your goodness… that is the Way. And here is Joy, keep it in your heart. We are eternal.” It was the gift she gave to me: a glimpse of a Being on a journey. My life after her departure took on a much more spiritual, mystical flavor… to uncover who I am, and live that.
I could tell you a lot of stories about my sister, including the heroic way she faced death. She set an example that bears out so much of what we believe to be true about how to be a human: live like you know what you’re doing, be kind and love people, help them, be a loyal friend, have some sense of style and beauty, laugh and enjoy, and don’t hesitate to speak your mind if you have to.
I have heard from her a few more times over the years, once being a very stern warning about my son’s health. “He’s going to die,” she bluntly told me. She had entered my consciousness when I was in a dream state, and had spoken to me in her voice, her energy. I woke up immediately, furiously angry that she had said such a thing. Nonetheless, I took him in to the doctor. He had leukemia, and he didn’t die. But her warning came in… it may have been just in time.
The story within the story: we are vast within ourselves, and we are communicating all the time, through thought and feeling, on many levels, with other human beings, with the natural world, and even with the spirit world. Everything is energy, and yes, we can get around, and Life is supporting us.
Have you noticed… we’re exploring and talking with each other like never before, putting it all out there. It’s the condition of the world pushing us to this global conversation. Since we know the world is mired and sinking, and we need some forward ground, it’s imperative to push ahead, to impact the collective, to lift ourselves out of fear, to move from thinking to Being.
My sister didn’t know a thing about mystical, metaphysical experience. What she did know was that God was within her… it was a matter of trust, in her own heart. An accumulation of trust becomes faith, and faith is far beyond thinking. It is a spiritual power, the power that can change things.