Milk Bottles

glass milk bottles


When my children were small, we lived on an army base in Germany. It was in the early sixties, a time when milk came in glass bottles. They were delivered by a milkman, who would pick up the empty bottles on his next scheduled round. One bright, sunny day, I walked into the kitchen and found my three children, Debbie, Niki, and Eddie (Michaela had not yet been born), staring up at the empty milk bottles I had washed and placed on the kitchen table. “Kids,” I said. nobody answered. “Kids,” I said again, a little louder. Still no response. Curious, I got down on my knees to see what had them so enraptured. From their vantage point, the sun coming through the window had turned the bottles into sparkling, rainbow-colored prisms. In a few minutes, the light changed, and the magical crystals turned again into milk bottles. They turned to look at me with eyes wide with wonder. We all smiled, and I had a moment of immense gratitude. We had shared a moment of wondrous magic.

And nothing had changed but the way we saw the milk bottles. I thought about that when I got a phone call from my friend who told me that the magical man whose life was changed by stars, the man I wrote about last week, died this afternoon. I am happy for him. He is well, safe, and happy. That’s the way I see him – no more cancer, no more tears. I see the night sky twinkling with another new star.

I cannot change what is. I can only change the way I see things. And thanks to three little children on a sunny day in Germany, I’ve learned to do that. Because I know that milk bottles are not just milk bottles, but are also sparkling, magical crystals. I know that there is nothing but life, and I know that Nobody’s Gone for Good.


starry night



Helen Delaney’s book, The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide is available on

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I Believe in Magic

I have a friend who is going through sad days, maybe the saddest of her life. Someone she loves is very ill. But as she has done every morning for years, she goes to a nature preserve that is near her home, or she will just go out into her garden, and take photographs. But they are not just any photographs. They are pictures of magical moments when nature’s creatures stand still for her – owls, praying mantises, baby foxes, dancing birds. They pose for her, perform for her. I think it’s because they know she’s magical. She has published books of photographs taken in Valley Forge National Park and in Tanzania. She has photographed brown bears in Alaska. Years ago, I climbed the Great Wall of China with her, and saw it through her eyes. She is fearless in a way that magical people are: they see the wonders of the world, and they say yes to them – yes, yes, yes, they say, I see you. I know she is going to be all right.

And this week, I sat with a friend who is dying of cancer. He told me a story of how, one wintry night, at a turning point in his life, he laid down on the ground, looked up at theĀ  starry sky, and became right-sized in the world. He cried when he talked about leaving the ones he loved, his wife, his daughter, and his grandchildren, and we who had come to visit with him cried too. But it was the magical story of the stars, and the look in his eyes when he spoke of it, that stayed with me. He is going to be all right, too. He told us so.

If I believe in magic, if I see the Universe as something miraculous and benevolent, it is because people like these have graced my life – ordinary, mortal, magical people. They are not magical because they believe in a Universe that is manifested in the indescribable beauty of the stars, the earth, and the creatures upon it. They are magical because they see it.


Read about other magical people in my book, The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide, by Helen Delaney. Available on

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Acts of Futility


Beloved. Did you think our love had ceased to be, that we were gone forever because of the funeral pyres? Oh, no, Beloved. The fire did not consume us, nor could the desert wind and a thousand years keep us apart. Love is greater than fire, and wind, and time.

These are the words of Lukhamen, the Spirit Guide who came to me after my son died. I could hear them echoing around a church in Charleston, South Carolina and a mosque in Nigeria, where praying people lay slaughtered.

And I was able to remember that death was my teacher. And that the ones who committed the brutal acts of hate and terror were also my teachers. They were here to show me the meaning of futility – poor, useless acts of futility.

As if anyone could destroy life! As if bullets could destroy the Spirit that lives within each human heart. As if we hadn’t seen it time and time again – the rising up of hope from the ashes of violence. As if death didn’t bring us together, as if love did not live on, even amidst the sorrow of burying our dead. As if more and more of us are not awakening to the truth that we are all in this together. Forever.

My beloved Temple of Luxor has been threatened by terrorists. African American churches have been burned in my country. And still love is here. As if destroying our buildings could destroy the love that built them. As if we would not build them again, and again. Because life is forever. Love is forever. It is greater than fire, and wind, and time. And bullets. And poor, useless acts of futility.


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Look for The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney at Now available on Kindle.