I notice unusual tree trunks, especially those that twist, turn and spiral. These spirals are the results of nature’s remarkable responses to environmental stresses. For example, an uneven burden of heavy snow will trigger the trunk to spiral itself. This action strengthens the base while allowing the upper branches to bend and sway with the wind. Since we only get to see this twirling trunk when the bark is gone, this phenomenon is not as rare as we might think. Nature is the great adapter.
We humans also have the means to respond to life stresses. We have the mind-body-spirit triad. Our bodies feel sensations and our minds to help us navigate change. Sudden cold weather? Put on a coat. Too sunny? We find shade. But what about spirit? Pierre de Chardin said we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. But what do I know about my spiritual being? I have read our spiritual element is more about a knowing than about an understanding. We know when our spirit soars and we know when it wanes. These days, I know my spirit is more of the latter.
Intertwined: A Mind-Body-Spirit Balancing Act
We have been in Stay-Home mode for over nine weeks now, and airports are still down 97% of its former capacity. There was talk of some states relaxing restrictions, so I thought I should travel before it returned to the busy status. So, with great trepidation, I booked a return flight to my home state of New Jersey, leaving a community with a low number of COVID infections to a state with one of the highest.
Questions racked my brain. Is traveling safe? Was I doing the right thing? What precautions should I take? Should I wait longer for a medical breakthrough? Much like the spiraling tree trunk, I could feel an inner twisting of my soul. Was this my way toward inner strength?
I did fly home. Airports looked like ghost towns. At least the few people I encountered wore face masks. Upon arrival, I began my isolation: two weeks of self-imposed quarantine. Like the rest of us, I was in a world of unknowns. My first day back, I aimlessly wandered throughout the empty house, as unsettled as a nomad. Uncertainty tore into my equilibrium. How can I regain my balance?
Negativity weakens the partnership between body, mind, and spirit. – Deepak Chopra
With my spirit waning and my body aching, I turned to my mind to read all I could find on spirit and angels in our lives. I found a broad scope of theories and beliefs. Some said to look for pennies showing up in unusual places. Others said to look for white feathers, specific scents and special music. I wondered how do we know what is true? Then remembered this: My spirit will experience a knowing, the way it did a few years ago.
Of all the tender moments my mom and I shared while she was on this earth, we seldom said, I Love You until that last day. But these words came from the beyond, not from her stilled lips.
It was 1984. I was headed south from Denver to Pueblo, Colorado, a three-hour drive, where my mom was having a medical procedure, to determine if she needed heart bypass surgery. Mom was afraid of any surgery, especially anything dealing with her heart, so I was going there to support her. About halfway into the drive, I switched the radio dial to listen to a favorite DJ whose program began at 11:30. It wasn’t long before I felt a very real and loving presence right there in the car. It was as though my mind and body went on autopilot and my spirit took over the next few seconds.
Without question, I felt my mother’s presence in the car with me; it was a complete knowing. I was held in a cloud of love. Then I heard the words that played like musical chords, “I LOVE YOU”, followed by this question: “Is it Ok?” Again, with complete understanding and without any pause or earthly context, I knew she was asking for my blessing to leave this earth. I felt her spirit lifting to a beautiful place. Sensing the full spectrum of the moment, my own spirit generously answered, “Yes, you deserve this.” As she ascended to a wondrous place and I felt her happiness. But only for a second. She was gone and instantly my mind snapped me back to earthly reality. The full realization of what just happened hit me cold: my mom died. Fear overtook me and I painfully voiced these words, almost in regret, “Wait! No! I didn’t tell her I love her.” Then the most beautiful indescribable chord resounded.
When I arrived at the medical center, a staff member kindly took my hand leading me to a small room to tell me what I already knew. I felt the finality of loss, but I also knew she passed over into divine light. For the next few weeks, I continued to feel her loving presence. I even saw a vision of her standing by my sleeping baby, her granddaughter. Months later, I happened to see the death certificate: Date of death was August 3, 1984. The time was 11: 32 am.
And then I remembered these knowings from family and friends . . .
—Kara asked the wedding planner to choose songs from the standard wedding playlist for her walk down the aisle. So when her dad’s favorite song, Moon River, began to play at the moment she began to walk down the aisle, Kara knew it was a message from him, that he was there in spirit. She just knew.
—Ernie lost his long battle with cancer, but not before he and his mother talked about the other side. He told his mother would send her a sign. Months later, she felt the urge to sweep the back steps. Satisfied with her task, she returned later and saw two shiny pennies. She scratched her head wondering how she might have missed them earlier. No one had come to the door. Then she picked them up, looked at the dates and was startled. One was dated Ernie’s birth year and the other was dated the year he died. Curious but maybe not totally convincing, it happened again: Two copper coins, same dates. The third time it was a dime and a penny. Eleven cents. He was born on the 11th. Same dates. A mother knows.
Endings and beginnings. Heartbreaks and small joys. Embracing and distancing. It is all part of a larger story, a whole alphabet soup of emotions, yet I do not wish to be tethered to fear. I choose hope.
And then, as if to punctuate my renewal, I began my walk and only a few feet into my trek, I looked down and at my feet I see a white feather, and I know.
What is your knowing? In your distancing, are you finding that your portals to spirit are awakened? Are there unexplained spiritual experiences you have kept to yourself?