I left Sedona wrapped in a warm, sunny blanket of peace and joy. I came back to a wet, dark night in Maryland and things started to go wrong as soon as I hit the ground. The clerk at the hotel near the airport (I didn’t want to drive two hours at night after landing so I’d decided to spend the night there) told me to wait for the shuttle at the wrong place. I waited and waited. No shuttle. Tired and cold, and after another couple of calls to the hotel (and another clerk), I moved to the right place and the shuttle and I finally found each other. The driver was angry and I wasn’t feeling too kindly myself. But I did something that was almost right. I told him it wasn’t his fault (suggesting that it was the CLERK’s fault – I could have left that out). I also gave him a generous tip. Let me not spread discord, I thought. I’d just completed a five-day intensive spiritual workshop at the Unity Church in Sedona and I was still feeling pretty light and not a little prideful about it. I was aware that no matter what was going on in the world, I was responsible for my thoughts and the vibes I was sending out. We all are connected and our energy is transferable. Let peace begin with me, I had been taught. The driver took the tip and from the look on his face, none of my “positive energy” transferred. Ah well, back to the real world.
But is it? Or is it the world that I am creating? If everything in this world is an illusion (with God the only reality), then the illusion I am living in is the one I perceive. That’s what I’ve learned. The spiritual path is not an easy one. It requires constant work. I have to recreate my world every few minutes. The peaceful, loving one lasts only so long.
I had been so filled with peace and positive thoughts in Sedona. For example, I discovered a group that meets at the Unity Church for parents whose children have died. Is this group a home for my book, The Messenger, and for parents who, like me, have suffered the ultimate loss? Perhaps, when I come to live there, I can be of service. Perhaps that is why I am called there. This was significant for me; the thought of it filled me with hope and possibilities. Is there anyone who doesn’t delight at the road opening up before them?
And then came today, when nothing went right. I took down two less than perfect suitcases from the attic, cleaned them, filled them with two old winter coats (still good, of course) and other warm clothes, and loaded them into my car to take them to the mission on the main street of my little town. I rang the bell in the back (as I usually do) and opened my trunk, preparing to hand over the suitcases. A woman came to the door with reindeer horns on her head (her Christmas hat) and told me not too nicely that they “didn’t accept donations after one o’clock on Saturdays.” I looked at my watch. It was 1:20. WHAT? I thought. WAIT! But by this time, she had shut the door, leaving me in the alleyway with my open trunk. WHO TURNS DOWN DONATIONS? I’m thinking. Two other donation sites (you know, the ones with the big yellow boxes) warned me not to leave anything but donations in bags. Was I annoyed? What do you think? On the way home, I saw No Parking signs and port-a-potties indicating the Christmas parade that was to take place this evening. I’d be locked in my house again. (Remember the Iron Man race?) Nothing happens here, it seems, that doesn’t shut me in or out of my street.
Back home, deciding grumpily that I’d remain inside forever, I nevertheless tried to do something else useful. I’d register online with the power company so that I’d eliminate my paper bills. I’M STILL TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING HERE, GOD, I’m thinking. I went through their convoluted process (including giving them my mother’s maiden name), and as soon as I got to the end, the screen flashed a message telling me there had been an error on the page and that I’d have to go back to the beginning – which was blank when I got there, of course. Filled it out again. This time, it claimed that I had not read the silly scroll right – you know, that thing that proves that you’re not a robot? The third time, it claimed that my account number belonged to somebody else. I threw my paper bill on the floor. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON TODAY, anyway?’
And then, something clicked. I had to laugh. If I believe all the stuff I say I believe, then this is pretty funny. I know the spiritual path is work. I know that staying with the peace of my soul is not easy. But knowing isn’t enough. The leader of the workshop in Sedona told us this would happen. Whatever we think we know will disappear if we don’t practice it. And so…I set myself up, just to see if I could remember how to return to the Peace that underlies everything. Now I’m laughing, saying “Okay. I get it, God. DUH.” Everything is exactly as it was when I was on Cloud Nine, in the sunny warmth of spirituality and the company of other like-minded seekers. Peace was always there. Nothing changed but my perception. Now that my roadblocks have been duly noted and I realize that I put them there so that I might learn – no practice – returning to serenity, I might do something really useful. I might put on a warm coat and go see the parade, or string some Christmas lights, and end my day with joy and peace. I can do that. It is, after all, my birthright.
Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. It can be obtained at http://www.Amazon.com. Give it to a friend for Christmas.