The Power of the Shadow: Part Two

I drove to the Hyatt and visited the Ladies Room. Relieved of my body’s most urgent demand, I entered the Starbucks bar, always a place of comfort for me.  As she made my latte, I told the barista all about how I couldn’t get home. I guess I was a little tearful by this time. “Oh, my,” said she, “I hope I can get home. The race runs by my road, too. Here you are,” she said, handing me my drink, “it’s on the house.” That was the first act of kindness of the evening. I didn’t notice it at the time, but my anger had begun to lose just the tiniest bit of steam. In the dining room, I told my story to the waitress. It seems as if I couldn’t stop talking about it. She was a great listener and so sympathetic and kind, I just couldn’t continue fuming. I ate my dinner, went back upstairs to the coffee shop to read the newspapers to kill time. I had reached my town at around 4:30 pm. Now, it was close to 8:00 pm. I was really tired now.  I decided I’d try one more time, and if I couldn’t get through, I’d go to the police station and demand…something. My plan wasn’t clear, but I was sure they owed me a way to my house. The fifteen minute drive from the Hyatt took about half an hour, and the first policeman I encountered (at one of those awful intersections where runners were still blocking the street) was also kind and sympathetic. She told me to go back to my street and ask the policeman there to let me through. She had been standing there in the cold for a long, long time. Still, she was patient and soft spoken and helpful. What IS it with these people? I thought. They won’t let me stay angry. And I SO wanted to stay angry.

When I reached my street, the policeman remembered me from four hours ago. I was really ready to cry this time, and I guess he saw it. “Follow me,” he said, “I’ll get you there. I’m going to walk in front of your car.” With his body between my car and a horde of runners, he slowly but surely walked me to my driveway, directing the runners to one side. I thanked him and told him my father had been a cop and how much I appreciated his help. At that, his face lit up. I’d been thinking about my father all along, and how he used to help people out of tough situations, and wishing he were there to help me. Now I think maybe he was.

The last straw, so to speak, was Missy. She was standing at the end of my driveway with a cowbell, cheering the runners. It was cold, it was dark, the wind was blowing, and there she was, shouting, “Come on, you can do it!” I have no idea how long she’d been out there. She was glad to see me and I was glad to see her. “It’s the last lap,” she said. “This is when they need cheering the most.” For the first time, I actually stopped to look at them. Tired beyond belief, these athletes who had begun at 5:00 am swimming in icy waters and cycling over a hundred miles, were almost done. They had carried on, hitting God knows how many walls and pushing through them. I had never seen such fatigue. And such courage. And here was Missy, cheering them on. My transformation was now almost complete. Anger, or the Power of the Shadow, had dissipated in the face of kindness and courage.

In a little while, as we sat at my kitchen table, Missy in her sweet way, took the last bit of resentment out of my heart. Her phone rang. The call was from the family of the athlete she had housed. “We’ve got an IRON MAN,” they shouted. Their daughter had made it. They were at a local restaurant celebrating. “Come on over,” they shouted to Missy. She was tired, but she said, “I have to go over to say hello.” My street had cleared enough by now, and Missy went out into the darkness to share their joy.

And that is how it works. Darkness cannot prevail when exposed to the light. Anger cannot last when it is faced with kindness. The Power of Love is greater than the Power of the Shadow. Every time.


The Messenger IMG_0416Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. It is available at and at the News Center in Easton, MD.

The Power of Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies


Yesterday, I got chocolate chip cookies in the mail. They were homemade, wrapped in cellophane, and tied with a ribbon, along with a note from a young woman I’ve known since her childhood. Her note said she’d had a dream about me. In her dream, I was dragging around a huge bag of chocolate chips and telling everybody that I needed cookies. When Bill died, this same young woman sent an enormous box of cookies, varied and exquisitely made. They were on my dining room table for the friends who crowded into my house after the service. Random acts of kindness? I don’t think so. They came at the perfect time, and in just the right quantities, appropriate in sweetness and love, as it were, to the pain in question. And let us not discount the dream.

As it happened, I needed cookies. I watch the news on television, in the worst possible way. It is a terrible habit. In endless loops, I listen to stories of racial hatred, religious hatred, hatred in all its forms, violence, murder, war, and death. A few days ago, I must have reached a saturation point, because a bit of despair dropped into my spirit. My natural state is to view the Universe as benevolent (as my friends who have listened to me endlessly exclaim this will attest), but I had a moment of weakness. I came perilously close to believing that this world was more weighed down with hatred than with anything else, when something happened. A box of chocolate chip cookies appeared.

Things like that happen consistently in my life. Say what you will, there is a pattern here. Call these occurrences coincidences, if you like. The thing is, these acts of kindness, small and large, reconfigure my energy. In that, they have great power. And I can, enriched by kindness, be kinder toward those I encounter, especially those who are difficult to bear, those who are suffering, or those diminished in ways I cannot understand. I can be kinder to myself, and turn away from televised pain.

If the acts of kindness that come my way are mere coincidences, I accept them, as if I’ve won some sort of undefined lottery. But if they are genuine gifts of Perfect Love, in perfect time, I will believe that there is a Light in the world that is greater than all the hatred we can create. I have seen that Light, on occasion, as love in the eyes of my family. I have heard it in the voices of my friends, as they answer the call of someone in need. I have felt it in the hands of a shaman healer, received it from someone who can hear messages of hope from beyond this physical world. Sometimes, it appears in a story, like the one told to me by a Spirit Guide, and sometimes it comes as a box of chocolate chip cookies.


Happy Easter to my friends who are celebrating a joyous Day of Resurrection, and Chag Sameach to my friends who are celebrating the joyous Festival of Passover.


Update on the book:  The artist who is creating the cover had surgery on his hand. It is healing. All is well.