Do you ever feel as if you are…watched over? Protected? I did, last week.

I went hiking on a new trail. It’s what Sedona people do. It’s also what people all over the world come here to do, not only because it is ravishingly beautiful and awe-inspiring, but you can enter a trail and in a few minutes, be in wilderness. Sometimes the silence (if nobody else is on the trail) is, as they say, deafening. I’m a city girl, and until I entered a wilderness, I don’t think I’ve ever “heard” true silence before. It is quite an experience. Oh, occasionally, you will get the sound of a bird, or the wind rustling a tree, but if no one is on the trail, there are no human sounds. That kind of silence can put you in an altered state, the state you reach for in meditation. That’s why a lot of us do it. You can feel something in that silence you can’t name, but it feels like God.

At the entrance to some trails, there are signs that warn hikers to watch out for snakes and bears. These signs never stopped me.  Maybe I didn’t really believe them (you should). The trails I usually hike are popular (by that I mean you meet humans now and then), and I figure the wild life avoid them. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen any wildlife on a trail except once – two gorgeous mule deer, a doe and a fawn, once looked down on me from a shelf above, and that was all. Well, until last week.

As I said, I was on a trail I’d never been on before. I’d read about it in our local paper. I also went on a weekday when the tourists are scarce. The trail was exquisite – not too steep as trails here go, and dotted with the most beautiful cacti and wildflowers I think I’ve ever seen. It was also shaded – lots of trees. Ideal. And I was alone in the blessed silence. Had the God place all to myself.

But when you’re in the wilderness all by yourself, something kicks in. Awareness, maybe? Some kind of survival mechanism? A little ways in, I became acutely aware of my surroundings. I watched where I put my feet. I stopped every now and then and looked around me. I felt the wild life there, even though I couldn’t see it. I began to feel a little wary, a little uncomfortable. This trail felt different.  It wasn’t the challenging climbing trail sought by tourists. This was a walking trail, a trail for the locals.  People who know what they’re doing. Not city girls.

At some point, I saw a dog, making his way toward me, and behind him, two couples, aged like myself. One couple was obviously showing the trail to the other – visitors, and it seemed, city people like myself. I began to feel a little better.

“I thought the dog would have noticed,” I heard the taller of the two men say. I came closer to the four of them, and they were stopped, looking at something. “Don’t worry,” the man said, looking at me, it’s just a king snake.” And I got a look at my first snake in the wild. He was a beautiful creature, not too large, decorated in green and black diamond-like patterns. We all stood still while he slithered across the trail, calm as could be, as if he were used to seeing people on his trail all the time. The thing that surprised me the most about all that is that I wasn’t afraid. “That looks like a pack-rat’s nest,” the knowledgeable man said, pointing toward a tree, “and I guess he’s going in for lunch.” Now that stopped me. A harmless snake is one thing. Rats are another. I couldn’t see it, thank you God. I wouldn’t know a pack-rat’s nest from a hole in the ground (that isn’t a pun, but excuse it anyway), and there are some things I don’t want to know.

As the two couples made their way past me and back to the trail’s entrance, one of the women stopped, looked back and said, “Don’t worry. King snakes are harmless, but if you see a snake with a diamond head, they’re the ones to stay away from. But,” and here’s where she got me, “isn’t it nice that we were along when you got to the snake?”

And there’s the miracle. Out of all time and space, I was to meet these people at exactly the point and at exactly the instant a snake was about to cross my path. I wouldn’t have known that it was a king snake, or that it was harmless. I would have freaked out, for sure. Maybe I would have stumbled and broken my ankle, like a friend of mine did on a trail.  I saw nobody else on the trail that day, coming or going. I had to look after those people to make sure they weren’t angels. Or were they?

This kind of thing happens to me too often for me to just dismiss it, or chalk it up to coincidence. Something or someone is always put in my path when I need help, and the timing is always perfect. It may be something I’ve “lost,” like records for my tax return. It may be stopping in traffic, not knowing why, just before another vehicle appears out of nowhere. Did God, did my angels, put these people in my path at just the right time? What do you think?

I went on my way, as far as my strength would take me on the trail and came back, back across the place where I saw the snake. The snake was gone. And I was unafraid.

I embarked upon a spiritual path years ago. The death of my son left me with nowhere else to go. After years of study and experience, I am now aware of small and large miracles, “coincidences” that were overlooked in the everyday busyness of my earlier life. I see angels where there were none before. Sometimes, they meet me on the trail and tell me not to be afraid.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Psalm 91


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at or, for a signed copy, go to



Levitating and The Circle of Life


Last week, I wrote about my daughter Debbie’s recording of The Circle of Life from the Disney movie, The Lion King. Debbie sang the French version, L’histoire de la vie. Her gold and platinum record hangs on my wall. Can you imagine someone giving you such a thing?  That tells you a lot about Debbie.

I was asked to share her recording with you, and so I shall. Click on the link and enjoy the video.  Thank you Debbie, thank you Elton John, thank you Disney, and thank you to all the friends, guides, and loved ones who have completed the circle of life and have gone on to begin another.


I read a small article today on levitating. No, it wasn’t about actually levitating, but the exercise of rising above a situation that has you baffled or frustrated, in order to see it from another perspective. Notice, I said exercise. This is something you have to practice.
I encountered a situation recently that called for levitation. It involved someone who wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do. Oh, I hear you chuckling. But honestly, haven’t you ever wanted somebody to do something they just wouldn’t do? It’s really frustrating, especially when what you want them to do would make their life easier – no, better than that – it would make their life pretty wonderful. And, like a wilful child, they just won’t do it. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out.
I spent a couple of sleepless nights arguing with someone who wasn’t there, giving them all the reasons why they should do what I want them to do. And while I was awake, angry, and righteous, I’m pretty sure that person was sleeping like a baby.  Come on, tell me you haven’t done the same thing.
Anyway, back to levitation. I’ve noticed that whenever I am in a state of suffering (because that’s what this was), the Benevolent Universe comes to relieve me. It sends me a gift. The only trick here is that I have to ask for it.
On the night in question, while in the throes of my wee-hours agony (I couldn’t get to sleep and I couldn’t stop arguing with the invisible person), I remembered to pray. I asked the Universe (I called It the Holy Spirit this time) to change my perspective, and a few minutes later, this thought came to me: Why don’t you try to see this person as God sees them? That’s when I levitated. I rose above my desire to control this person and tried to see them – not as I want them to be – but as they are in the sight of God – beloved, accepted and embraced for who and where they are at this moment, and endowed with free will. All the things I want for myself.  It was the next morning that I came upon the article. It was like a telegram from God, confirming what I’d received during the night.
This kind of thing happens to me a lot. It’s not because I’m lucky. It’s because I have been in the company of spiritual teachers, and every once in a while I remember what I’ve been taught. Plus – I don’t like to suffer. Trying to control somebody else is almost the definition of suffering. It feels terrible and it never works. What a relief to remember that I don’t have to manage anybody’s life but my own!  When I get a little out of line, my job is to levitate. Get above my ego and adjust my perspective. My perspective. Everything else will go as it will.
I can just hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Now wasn’t that easy?”
Actually, it was easy. It only took a minute.  I got to sleep and didn’t worry the next day. We are all on our own paths, and we have the right to our own learning process. This all reminds me of when Debbie was a baby. She was my first, and I hovered over her and watched her like a hawk. One day, when she was getting used to standing alone, she let go of the coffee table she was holding on to, and tried to take a step. She started to fall and I caught her. My then husband watched me do this a couple of times and said, “You know, if you don’t let her fall, she’s never going to learn to walk.” I suppose I levitated then. The next time she tried it, I stood by but didn’t catch her and she fell onto her bottom. It was more like she sat down. I think it was in that moment that she got the hang of it, because she got up and tried it again, and sat down again. But she learned to walk, and learned to sing, and learned to be a mother herself. One might say it was the Circle of Life.
Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, order it at

The Complexities of Life

Life is up. Then it’s down. It’s happy, then it’s sad. It’s never wholly one thing or another. Life in human form is complex. The question is: can we get comfortable with that? Can we see that it is all right?

I was in Los Angeles last weekend with people I love more than anyone or anything on earth—my three daughters and my granddaughter. Debbie, my oldest daughter and Celine, my granddaughter live there. Michaela, the youngest, had come out from New York on business.

Debbie called me with a last minute inspiration and said “Why don’t you come out, too?”  And I got lucky. My cat sitter had a cancellation in her schedule and she was free to stay with Dorian.  Then we learned that Niki was flying out from Washington, D.C., to round out the group. It was a spontaneous, star-studded turn of events. Heartwarming. Happy. Joyous. It’s not easy to get us all together. These are incredible girls, all of them— women, I mean—with careers and commitments. But we made it.

In spite of our scheduling “miracle,” we weren’t completely rounded out.  My granddaughter Elenni (Michaela’s daughter) in New York couldn’t be there because of her job. We face-timed our missing link and she was “there” for a laugh with us, but do you see what I mean? Therein lay the complexity. Complexity doesn’t spoil the joy that is ours; it is just life. It’s the way it works. The question is, can we get comfortable with it? Can we see that it is all right? The girls are conscious people, spiritual and awake. They were fine. So was I. We took it as it was, we missed our dear Elenni, and were grateful for the joy that was ours.

The meal of the weekend was a cook-out in my granddaughter’s back yard. It was elegant – lamb chops and teriyaki chicken, no less, and other luscious tidbits, like grilled pineapple. The table was set beneath a canopy fashioned by God – a full, lush avocado tree. Celine’s orange tree was heavy with fruit, as was the lemon tree. Something blue on a large shrub (I don’t know its name) was in full bloom, as were crimson hibiscus. It was California at its best. The weather was perfect; the food was delicious (the girls are good cooks). We laughed a lot. I was overflowing with love and gratitude. We are a tight group. Still…there was that little piece missing. And then, there was Zoe.

Zoe is Debbie’s cat. I slept in her room and Zoe (who sleeps there too) commandeered my little weekender. The bag was just her size, and from the moment I put it down, she got on it to sleep and never moved from it, pretty much the whole time I was there. We had to move her when I needed something from the bag. Finally, I just took everything out, so that Zoe, seventeen years old, frail and ill, could have what she wanted. My granddaughter’s two dogs, on the other hand, were young, robust, and feisty. They’re pit bulls. Big. Commanding. Another little complexity.

On the last night I was there, I went to a real Hollywood party. A friend of ours, whom we’ve known for many years, is a film director, and a movie of hers was premiering on television. The “watch” party was at her house – a dream place that looks like you think a movie director’s house would look like—high on a hill with the lights of LA twinkling below. Glamorous food. Some of the cast members were there, humble, shy, and friendly. Not a sign of ego. Normally, I am not a big fan of parties, but I had a great time. Every once in a while, though, I thought about Zoe.

The next morning, I packed my things in bags and left my weekender for Zoe to sleep on. She looked so sweet, curled up like a baby. I couldn’t take it from her. I drove back to Sedona through the Sonoran desert. It is a breathtaking drive in the spring. The desert is in bloom and so spectacular that at times I was compelled to cry out loud, “Oh, my God!” But it takes about eight hours, with a stop or two for gas. Breathtaking drive, God’s beauty, long hours, fatigue. There it was again.

When I got home, I texted the girls – it’s what we do when we travel – and asked about Zoe. Debbie had taken her to the vet that morning. She texted back that by afternoon, Zoe was gone.  Amidst our great joy of being together, there were tears and loss. We had loved Zoe for seventeen years. She was family. She was also failing; we all knew that, and nobody wanted Zoe to suffer, but still. There it was.

Debbie is a singer, and she had a big hit a while back. While living in Paris, she recorded the French version of “The Circle of Life” (L’Histoire de la Vie) for the soundtrack of the movie, The Lion King. Niki found it on YouTube and sent it to all of us. And that’s it. The circle of life is life as we are able to see it, complexities and all.  But the complexities of life are not without purpose and meaning. I believe there is a Divine Order and that Love has created it. We are just in a place where we cannot see it with human eyes or understand it fully with human hearts. Yet, in those moments when we are comfortable with our limits and accepting of the complexities of life, we are in a state of peace. In those rare, beautiful moments, we know that everything is fine, and we are safe, and loved, and at home, as are those who have gone before us.

Zoe as we will remember her – young and happy


See the Sonoran desert in bloom at


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to



Dear Friends:

I am traveling today. I am with my daughters and my granddaughter in Los Angeles. I am one of those lucky ones who still have children and grandchildren with me, even while I have a child in spirit.

Tomorrow, Memorial Day, please remember the mothers and fathers who have lost children in wars, children who have lost mothers and fathers in wars, and all the beautiful beloved ones who have fallen on battle fields. Above all, remember that nobody’s gone for good.

See you next week.



How To Learn From A Roach

Fear is sometimes a survival mechanism. When I’m hiking alone in a wilderness area, for example, I don’t go off the trail. Who wants to disturb a rattlesnake? It makes sense to be afraid of a rattlesnake, but most of my fears are unfounded. The thing about unfounded fear is that it can drive me to do or think things that, in my right mind, I wouldn’t approve of. For example, I killed a roach the other night. Actually, I murdered it.

Just for the record, there are wild roaches out here in Arizona. I’m not kidding. These aren’t the everyday roaches that live in your kitchen. These are the ones you would see on a Nature show. These guys roam the desert and occasionally find their way into a house. And they’re big. Maybe not as big or as scary as the flying roaches I’ve seen in South Carolina and Texas, but they’re big enough. Here’s the thing. They don’t fly. They don’t bite, and as far as I know, they don’t carry diseases. They’re just creepy and unpredictable.

The one I murdered the other night still bothers me. I was on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, (isn’t that always the way?) and this roach was between me and where I was going. He was lying on his back with his legs twitching in the air. Ordinarily, when I encounter something in my house that belongs outside – like a spider – I’ll scoop it up between two pieces of cardboard and just put it outside. I hate killing things. I mean, they’re God’s creatures, aren’t they? Still, I murdered this roach in a most brutal way. He was too big to step on (ARRRGH), so I got out my can of RAID and sprayed him. Drowned him is more like it. And here’s the horrible part. The poor thing’s legs kept twitching until he died.

It was murder, all right, because I killed something that was on its back. In my mind, that is just unethical, but I was driven by fear – the stupid kind, the kind that has no basis in reason. What did I have to fear from something that couldn’t harm me, something that was so much smaller than I was, something that was helpless to boot?  What was I afraid of – that it was going to jump on me? Crawl into my bed? That’s highly unlikely. And even if it did, it wouldn’t hurt me. This is the kind of baseless, mindless fear that drives us human beings to do things that are against our better natures. It drove me to an act of brutality. I know it was just a roach, but the instinct to kill it – for no good reason – was in me. Is in me.

The actress Katherine Hepburn once said, and I am paraphrasing: A sin is something you feel remorse about afterward. Now I don’t happen to believe in sin as a concept; I prefer the concept of error. But whatever it is, if I feel remorse about it afterward, I know it was wrong. And I know it was wrong of me to kill that helpless little creature because I couldn’t go to sleep afterwards. It may not have been wrong for somebody else. It was wrong for me.

There is a lot of fear in the air these days, and you all know what I’m talking about. Some of it is justifiable. It has cause. Some of it is that survival mechanism activated. But I’ll wager that too much of it is based on a lack of something within ourselves. Faith, maybe?

I learned of an acronym for fear the other day: Forgetting Everything’s All Right. Way down deep inside (and some days it’s deeper than others) I know that everything really is all right. I know that everything that is happening has a purpose of which I may not be aware, and I know that a benevolent Universe is in charge, but I forget it constantly. It is in that state of forgetfulness that I can lose my head and do something that isn’t what my higher, believing self would do. It doesn’t have to be an act; it can be a thought, or a thoughtless statement. I am capable of directing my fear at a human being and thinking or saying dark things about that person, even though I do not know what living their life is like. Let me assure you, that is murder of a kind.

I have to recognize misdirected fear when it comes, understand that I am capable of it, and nip it in the bud. Name it, own it, and dump it.

That doesn’t mean I can’t speak or act to prevent bad things from happening. I can and I do.  Yes, I embrace causes and work on political campaigns. My country is my responsibility. But there are people I do not want to hang out with.  There are people who are mindless, ignorant, and mean.  There are people who are loveless and there are people who act out of fear and hurt others. God help them and their karma. But the assassination of someone’s soul out of fear is not something I want in my head, in my heart, in my energy field, or on my conscience. If they’re doing something dastardly, they are, in all likelihood, already on their back.

Sorry, little roach. Really.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at or, for a signed copy, go to

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama

Moma 001

Dear Friends:

I wrote this last Mother’s Day. I couldn’t think of better ways to remember my mother, and so I re-post it here. The older I get and hopefully the wiser, the more I understand how fortunate I was to come into this life with this remarkable soul as my mother. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, those with children living and those with children in spirit. 


This beautiful lady is my mother. She gave me her whole heart, and the better part of her life.

Thank you, Mama,

For sitting next to me at my son’s funeral, and never letting go of my hand. You were grieving, too, but I fainted, and you forgot everything but me. You held me up. Thank you for always, always holding me up.

At the end of your life, and in the deepest throes of Alzheimer’s, for never forgetting my name. For showing me that love is greater than any disease.

For tending me round the clock when, newly arrived from Germany, I came to you sick with pneumonia. For taking care of a six-month old baby and three active young children, while I recuperated. For climbing stairs all during the day to bring me medicine and meals. For coming into my room in the middle of the night and adding a blanket to my bed.

For taking care of my children when I went to work, too poor for child care because my husband was in law school. For when, in your sixties, you fed them, cared for them, kept them safe and loved. For never making me feel guilty.

For, when I got divorced, never saying, “I told you so.” For never judging me. For showing me how to let someone make their own mistakes, and learn from them.

For marching me down to the Philadelphia Board of Education and demanding that I be admitted to a high school that was known for its high academic standards.

For defying the principal of my junior high school when he tried to convince you that it would “damage” me to send me to school with more privileged, better educated children. For saying, “We’ll take the risk.” For teaching me to be brave, and to never listen to anyone who tells me I cannot fight for my dreams.

For scrimping and saving for piano lessons. For giving me a love of music. For teaching me that money, or the lack of it, cannot keep you from feeding your soul.

For never successfully teaching me – no matter how hard I tried – to make your fried chicken. For teaching me that some things can’t be duplicated.

For ignoring my anger when you made me wear leggings to school on cold, snowy mornings. For making me eat a hot breakfast every morning. Yes, and for making me swallow castor oil! For teaching me that sometimes somebody knows better than we do.

For making a fire in the furnace before I got up every morning. For washing my clothes in the tub. For walking me to school on icy mornings. For teaching me that sometimes loving somebody is hard, daily work.

For never criticizing me. Ever. For knowing how harmful that can be to a person’s soul.

For how your hand felt on my brow when I was sick. For teaching me that love is healing.

For going to work when I was in high school. For bringing your paycheck home in bags for me so that I’d dress as well as the more affluent girls, the girls whose fathers were doctors and lawyers. For always making me feel proud of my father, who was a policeman. For that enormously expensive graduation dress. For teaching me to study hard, that how I presented myself to the world was important, and to never, ever apologize for who I was.

For never doubting that I would go to college. For forgiving me when I dropped out to get married. For cheering me on when I went back.

For giving up your career as a teacher to be my mother twenty-four hours a day. For never looking back. For teaching me that when the choice is yours, not to resent it.

For knowing that love is the great healer of every scraped knee, every broken heart, every disappointment, and every failure.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.


Thank you, dear friends, for the lovely comments about The Messenger. There is a chapter in it about my mother and a special gift she gave me. I hope you will enjoy it. By the way, her name was – is – Precious.

Look for The Messenger by Helen Delaney on








I Got Nothing


Dear Friends:

There are some days when you have nothing to say.  Today is one of those days for me.  Nothing in my head. Nothing on my mind.  And for that, I am grateful.

Have a wonderful, blessed week.

The Well

Life can turn on a dime. In one split second, a single event can send you crashing through the surface of your life into what I think of as a deep well, wherein lies the truths you never sought and never needed to find. That is what happened to me when my son died. It was something so shocking, so demolishing, that everything that lived on the surface of my life and my mind was reduced to rubble. There was nowhere to go except into the well.  Or die. It was that simple.

There is a line from the movie, the Shawshank Redemption, when the character Andy Dufresne says to his fellow prisoner Red: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I made the choice to get busy living, although I don’t know how or why. The choice did not come from the surface of my mind; it was capable of nothing more than contemplating suicide. The choice to live had to have come from my soul. Perhaps that is the well. Within that well is the part of us that knows better, the part that knows that dying is nothing more than a delay, and that the plunge into the well will come sooner or later. I believe that we are destined to know why we are here, that we are more than the busy creatures who are consumed with accumulating stature and possessions. I believe that we are destined to know who we really are: the perfect, stardust children of God.

I never stopped to think about the possibility that there was that well within me, that something bigger and deeper and wider was going on behind and beneath my daily rituals. I simply didn’t stop.  It took my son’s death to stop me. It took away everything that was small and trite and everything that glittered like gold. It took away my control. It took away my illusion of control. It stripped me clean of all ornaments and accessories, and left me in the well, naked and empty-handed.

That was thirty-eight years ago, and I can still feel the shock. But what has come of that shock, that plunge into the well? Nothing more than an awareness. An awakening. The ability to stop or to be stopped and ask, “What does this mean, and how is it meant to help me?” Eddie’s death gave me that.  It gave me the well. It gave me the understanding that every soul decides when its purpose in any lifetime has been fulfilled. The timing of Eddie’s passing into spirit was his, not mine.

Not everyone is stopped by something as devastating as the loss of a child, thank God. But we will all be shaken awake by the Hand of Something Loving, so that we will know that life is more than the perceptions we receive from our daily work and striving. It may be a health crisis, or the loss of a job. It may be getting a job. A broken leg. It may be winning the lottery. It may be getting married or getting divorced. And yes, it may be the death of a loved one. At some point, we will be stopped, and we will learn something, hopefully in this lifetime.

And there is joy in that. There is joy in the knowledge, the surety that there really is a reason for everything, that there is an answer to every pressing question. Oh, but it takes work. Nothing this valuable is free.  It takes time to discover our truths. It takes concentration and persistence. It takes determination. As for me, I have to commit to prayer and meditation. I have to read the works of great teachers. I have to hear my intuitive voice and trust it. I have to hang around my spiritual buddies who work with energy, people who understand that underlying everything is Love.

I am in the middle of a lesson right now. There is a strain of flu that is going around Sedona, knocking down my friends. I, who am never sick and like to brag about it, got knocked down as well. It was at its worst two weeks ago (I didn’t write my blog because I was down with what thought was a bad cold), but the thing about this strain of flu is that it sticks around, and while you may not be totally bedridden, you can suddenly feel lightheaded, sick, and tired. For some it lasts three weeks or more. I’m in my third week now and frustrated because my body wants to sleep at odd hours and it won’t obey my commands to go, go, go. Some days I feel normal and others, like today, I feel frustrated because the tiredness and general malaise is back.  Some of my spiritual buddies out here feel that it is a cleansing. Perhaps they’re right. Whatever it is, it has stopped me. But it has made me remember that there is something bigger going on. Always.

Maybe what’s going on is nothing more than a little gift of time. Maybe the Universe is saying, time to rest, daughter. Maybe it’s time to lay back on your pillow and look out the window at that fabulous blue Arizona sky with its white, cottony clouds. Maybe it’s time to remember how good sweaters feel and how good chicken noodle soup tastes – like it used to when you were sick and your mother gave it to you. Maybe you need to take some time away from the dismal news to watch a good movie in the middle of the afternoon, or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe, when you’re used to getting up early, you need to turn over and go back to sleep and have a beautiful dream. Maybe you need a tad more compassion for your friends that are down. Maybe it’s time to be grateful for the wonderful health you enjoy most of the time. Maybe…oh, well, you get the point.

We’re all loved, dear friends. And everything we need is in the well.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to




Dorian and Charley

I’m lucky. No, it’s more than that. I’m blessed to live in a place that people like to visit. No, it’s more than that. People love to come here. It’s Sedona.

My friend Christine came to visit last night. She’s driving across country, in a big jeep that’s ingeniously tricked out, with her dog Charley. Does this ring a bell? Christine’s dream was to relive John Steinbeck’s motor journey, chronicled in one of his most beloved books, Travels With Charley. Steinbeck wanted to “reconnect with America.” While I’m sure this trip (she started in Maryland near where I used to live, visited her parents in Frederick, Maryland and Wilmington, North Carolina, and then started out for California) has reconnected Christine with America, it has also reconnected her with herself. That’s the kind of reflective person Christine is. She named her dog Charley with this adventure in mind. And she’s not just on a motor trip. She’s moving. She’s taking up a whole new life in California. Brave? You bet. Courageous? Yes. But more than that, Christine has said yes to that Marvelous Force within us that tells us to live, live, live— because life is beautiful and more abundant than we can imagine.

This young woman has seen more of the marvels of her country in a few weeks than most of us will see in a lifetime. This is a big, beautiful country with spacious skies and a wealth of national parks and monuments (God willing they will stay that way). She came to Sedona from one of the marvels of the world– the Grand Canyon. Her destination is Santa Cruz – maybe. I say that because Christine is following her spirit; she is surrendering to life as it presents itself.  Her journey is not an impulsive spree. It’s beautifully thought out and carefully executed, one day at a time. She has learned that you can follow your spirit without living dangerously or foolishly, that you can live with your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. I fully expect her to find what she is looking for—a place on a mountain beneath a giant redwood tree. Why not?

This adventure is close to my heart, having made a journey of my own, and having embarked upon a life of surrender as well. Like Christine, I pulled up roots, and came out to Arizona with my cat, Dorian Gray.

Which brings me to today’s sermon. Are you smiling? Today it’s not about me and Christine—it’s about Dorian and Charley. Dorian is a loner. He’s never lived with another cat. He’s certainly never lived with a dog. He is king of the house, and king of me. And then, there is Charley. Charley is the most laid-back, coolest dog I’ve ever met. Charley has seen America with Christine as if he were born to it (and I personally believe he was). But he’s not small. He’s a border collie mix. So…Christine and I were wondering if she was going to be able to sleep in my spare room or if she’d have to sleep in her jeep. Because of Dorian.

We introduced them carefully, and waited for the worst. We underestimated these animals. They took stock of one another, no war broke out, and at one point, Dorian joined Charley on the bed. Dorian, who doesn’t know what it is to peacefully co-exist with another animal, joined Charley on the bed.

I’m not going to say that they became best friends. But what they showed each other was respect. The benefit of the doubt. And space.

What if human beings were able to meet each other on this sacred ground? Can you imagine what this world would be like? Dogs and cats. Men and women. The powerful and the vulnerable. What if we could put aside our hard-wired fear, our stereotypes, our prejudices, our need to dominate, and just…trust that the next person we meet who is not like ourselves, the next person we may be predisposed to dislike, is just…another soul who, on the inside, is identical to our own?

Here’s to Dorian and Charley. An example to us all.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney.  Find it at For a signed copy, go to