Tag Archives: grace

Casting Off

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mother portrait

A new cycle was beginning.

Jean, our hospice nurse, spent time examining mother. She spoke with confidence and gentleness to my mother. Everything had changed. Since the episode a night earlier, Mother was now too weak to leave her bed. She was confined by her own weakness. Her world began to change. Only days earlier, she had sat in her wheel chair, eaten a normal meal and laughed with us in another room. That was to be her last foray outside of her bedroom and her last burst of energy. Everything was shrinking – her appetite, her mobility, and her own body. But her mind was still quite acute. There was no way I was giving up on her. I still thought she and I could get her through this, despite what the doctors and hospice said.

After Jean took time to get acquainted with Mother, she asked all of us to join her in another room. The mood was sombre as we listened intently. Now we were in the world of hospice, a very foreign country to all of us. Already installed in Mother’s room was the humming oxygen machine to assist her breathing when needed. We had refused bringing in a hospital bed, wanting mother to be in her own usual bed.

Jean explained what it meant to have palliative care. She showed us the powerful drugs, like morphine and lorazepam (for anxiety) that would be available for Mother to help ease her through the process. Luckily, Mom was not in pain, and we were grateful for this. Jean warned us that we should not count on our memory to remember when and how much medication Mother was given. We should have a journal. My brother, the ever organized and with a Navy pilot thoroughness, prepared the journal for us.

I made the decision immediately that I would be the only one to give Mother the heavy drugs. I was still her protector and wanted to prevent her from being drugged unnecessarily. Then we learned of the array of other hospice workers who would be available to help. Ever polite and grateful, we walked Jean to the door, thanking her along the way.

When the door closed, we stood stunned but coping. Bill and Judy would soon be returning back home, but they knew they would never again hear Mother’s cheery voice or see her smile. Each took private time with her, holding back tears as best they could until they left the room. They also knew that this would be difficult for Richard and for me and asked us to call whenever we needed help, no matter the time of day or night.

The four of us talked as Mother rested, still with her ever faithful Siamese cat by her side. We agreed on the plans for the funeral and who would be called in Ann Arbor. This would be the key part bill and Judy would play as we held vigil. As we talked, Judy continued knitting the pretty pink afghan she had been making for Mother as a Christmas gift. The afghan was only partially made.

On the morning that Bill and Judy departed, I stood in the kitchen alone with my brother. He said, “Judy cast off the afghan last night and is leaving it for mother just as it is.” She cast off, a knitting term that was a kind of closure on the item being made. Casting off is also letting the ship or boat be free to go out to sea. Mother was casting off her life as she knew it, and we were with her. The destination seemed certain, but the final journey was not yet charted. That was to be revealed to all of us, along with the ethereal lessons and miracles.

Judy left the afghan draped over Mother’s shoulders as she laid in bed. I tried to keep it there as much as I could, placing it to warm her neck. It was a parting gift made with love. At the time Mom took her last breath, that pink afghan was still warming her. But then, Mother had cast off permanently. She was sailing through clear and vibrant seas, and free at last. Soon she would bring us along.

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The Light. She Saw the Light.

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mother portrait

As I stood by mother’s bedside, talking to her and trying to reassure her, I was distraught. We brought her home and promised her that we would not send her back to the hospital and now the worst had happened. We did not yet have everything hospice would provide to help her and, from what I was witnessing, she could die at any moment. I felt helpless and wanted to cradle her in my arms for safe keeping. I kept telling her I loved her and everything would be okay. Even if she didn’t respond; I knew she would hear me on some level.

Over the years, I had many times felt that it was up to me to save mother. It was, of course, a foolish thought, but one that carried a shared agreement between us. She and I would both do our best, so we could enjoy more time, laughs and adventures together.

Now, I found myself running in and out of her room, down to the kitchen to get anything I thought might make her feel better – peppermint tea, cool water. I held her hand and talked quietly to her, I used some of my Reiki energy, moving slowly over her body and calling forth all healing. I prayed. I chanted my mantra.

In short order, Bill and Judy heard the commotion and came from their bedroom on the third floor and met up with me in the hallway. I don’t know why I hadn’t wakened them before. They would surely have helped.

“What’s going on?” they asked urgently. I told them I thought it was possible Mom was dying. It was the first time that they saw her in this state, even though it had been happening frequently in the hospital. They gathered around Mother’s bed, talking with her and trying to soothe her. Now they saw firsthand how grave the situation was. I told them I would call hospice and see if they could help.

As I spoke with hospice, I explained that mother had not yet been admitted to their system. She was scheduled for this the next day.
It never occurred to us that one day would make such a difference. We had none of the powerful drugs hospice would bring the next day. I begged them to tell me what to do. They did their best. We were all helpless. They suggested we dial 911. We all said no. We were on our own and frightened beyond measure. Mother would have to make herself live through that long night. And she did. But something happened to her that night that I did not, at the time, fully understand.

When Mother was again able to speak, she looked up at the ceiling and repeatedly pointed to something. “The light” she said, wistfully, “Look at the light.” She smiled slightly and turned to me. She thought that I could share what she saw. I could not, but I was very familiar with these words as a common statement made by those who have had near death experiences. They usually saw a light not describable in this world and one that brought enormous peace.

I believe now with certainty that, during that night, my mother parted the thin veil separating life and death, as we termed it. She had crossed into the Light of Eternal and Divine Love. Now everything would be different for all of us. Now she would be teaching and showing us, in her own way, that she had already seen where she was going.

More Memories of Memorial Day

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mother portrait

“I’ll be seeing you.” This refrain played over and over in my head that first Memorial Day after my mother’s passing. It seemed that it was inserted into my memory bank for a special reason. Oddly, it was also the first time I so clearly understood that my mother had the ability to place herself into events, books, and even manifest items and occurrences by her own power. Both Richard and I were mystified and not just a little bit confused by all of this. For some reason, I thought that, if someone wanted to communicate after they “died,” they sent a tidy little sign that they were okay and not to worry about them anymore. And that would be that! My mother clearly had something bigger in order.

“I’ll be Seeing You” is a popular World War II song. It is a poignant piece, and, because I like music of that era, it is a favorite of mine. It’s meaning reverberates for me still about seeing “you” in all the old familiar places, that this heart of mine embraces. I love the lyrics that end with “I’ll be looking at the moon but I’ll be seeing you.” Most of us think of this song as referring to a romantic relationship and of those separated by the necessities of war. I was surprised when they took on meaning about a different kind of separation, a separation “beyond” the world. As this story unfolds, you will grasp the meaning more fully. It is all about love and not just any trivial love, but one that is transcendent. It is about a love that feels like your heart is bursting open in joy.

In my last writing, I explained the astonishing coincidences within the book on tape Richard and I heard en route to Ann Arbor. I see now, in retrospect, that my mother was in high gear that weekend. In fact, she presented what I have called her “piece de resistance,” one of her highest achievements up to that time. It is about the violets, one of the themes we have come to see as her “go to” form of showing her presence.

Early in the spring, well before Memorial Day, I always take pleasure in planting grass seed in our lawn. It is quirky, but I am thrilled when the grass comes up and the lawn looks more beautiful. Over the years, I have hired others to do this, but I never like the results. I guess it has something to do with my lovingly putting down the seed by hand and throwing top soil all around and then waiting…

The spring after Mother’s departure, I again set out to seed the lawn, but this time there was a big surprise for me. Large portions of the lawn were radiant with purple violets. I know my lawn. Those were never there before. In wonderment, I immediately knew they must be a gift from my mother. She would know how I would remember all the years we trekked into the woods near our home, dug up violets, and transplanted them onto our property. Even as a little girl, it was an adventure we enjoyed and relished. We would ooh and aah over the different colors and varieties that we discovered, even yellow violets. I cherish this memory.

And now, as if by magic, they were blooming all over the lawn.

A few days later, Richard and I went to New York to visit out of town friends. In a hotel room where we have stayed frequently, we discovered that there was something new there too. In the entryway to the room was a lovely botanical print of a violet, hung so we couldn’t miss it. Whenever we entered the room, there it was. That picture was never there before.

Coincidence?

Then comes Memorial Weekend and we are traveling to plant the flowers at the cemetery in Michigan. Along the way, Richard and I decided to stop in Ohio to visit his ailing brother and our sister in law. We had formulated a plan that Richard would take his brother out for lunch, while I would entertain his wife at another restaurant. They were encountering some hard times with a serious illness, and we wanted to lend support.

My sister in law, Joyce, had carefully chosen a charming little quaint cafe.
We entered and were taken to our table. My eyes grew wide when I saw what was in the centerpiece of the table — it was an antique cotton handkerchief, exactly like one my mother used when I was a child. It was emblazoned with violets all over it. I was stunned. I noticed that none of the other skirted tables had handkerchiefs under the glass on them. When the waiter came to our table, I asked him about the handkerchief. He gazed at the centerpiece and seemed as amazed as I was. He said he had never seen something like this before. (Am I in the twilight zone?) Then, by some quirk of fate, he started telling me that this grandmother had just died and he had seen her image that morning. (I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone now for sure.)
Joyce and I have often marveled at the almost surreal time we had in that restaurant that day.

Richard and I continued our journey. As we rode along, I took note of the umbrella shaped May apples flowers blooming along the side of the road. I had not seen these since I left my childhood home and, you could guess it, my mother and I also transplanted those wild flowers onto our property. There also seemed to be many billboards and churches and signs about God and Jesus. One that could not be missed was a gigantic sculpture of Jesus coming out of the lake in front of the “Solid Rock” church. I felt as if all of this was more than riding along a highway through a part of the Bible Belt. I already knew that everything happens with purpose and that I learned through yoga, not through Christianity.

But there were more plans afoot. As I look back now, with far more understanding than I had then, I can imagine my mother rubbing her hands together as she gleefully plotted her next surprise. She was holding onto these and was poised to present them to include my brother and sister in law, Bill and Judy, with whom we would visit and do the ceremonial planting of the flowers for both my mother and my father.

We never knew what wonders we would behold from minute to minute. This was becoming a great adventure into the land of miracles. Anything could happen now!

The 52: Lesson Thirty Nine — Many Paths to Truth, What is Yours?

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butterflyblueskyHenry David Thoreau wrote:

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.

Over the years, I followed many paths, though I am not sure I always knew what I was seeking.  There was the path of my childhood faith, then the path of rebellion when I disavowed all that was religious or spiritual.  Even so, I was pulled toward discussions about God, either positive or negative.  Then something “happened,” and I was walking another path.  My journey has seen me forge ahead on different paths, but they were now all leading to one place — to Truth, Realization, Eternal Life and Love, the Divine, amd to God.  While yoga and the ancient texts, so resonant with wisdom, opened the first doors and still is the mainstay of my understandings, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, and just about any system that is heart-led, is now my passion.

What about you?  Have you seen “take-aways” and “aha” moments in writings that emerge from a source different from some spiritual path you have followed?

LESSON THIRTY NINE

THE PATHS TO TRUTH

Many are stubborn in the pursuit of the path they have chosen,

few in pursuit of the goal.

Friedrich Nietzsche

You’ve met them.  We all have.  People who embrace a belief system, then fight (sometimes to the death) in serving that path, even when they seem clueless about reaching the goal of Truth and what it is.  We might call this blind faith.  And it is, in many ways, a dangerous thing.  It is a sort of fundamentalism that stretches across the spectrum of religions but also may be  planted deeply in non-theistic thought, like atheism, or political correctness.  It hinges on the belief that we (the believer) is superior to others who disagree.  It loses touch with the common and more important themes of forgiveness, love, compassion, and non-duality.

I have had quite a learning curve in understanding what it means to know Truth.  I will never forget being with my friend who introduced me to the Siddha Path of Yoga and the guru system.  I was too naive then to understand that she was there as a teacher and guide for me.  One day, after she had visited me in my home, I drove her to a car rental.  As she got into the car to continue her journey,  she waved to me with a broad smile and said, “I intend to become fully realized in this lifetime.”  I raised my hand to bid her adieu, as her words engulfed me, and a kind of astonishment  began to sink in.  In my child’s mind (spiritually speaking), it never occurred to me that someone would actually become enlightened NOW, in this life.  Didn’t that take lifetimes?  Weren’t we far from the mark?  Weren’t we too imperfect? How could this be?

This was before I understood that we are already “realized” and we just don’t know it a lot of the time, if ever.  That we are already the Light of Love and God.  That we have always been that and always will be that.  That, when we understand and trust that we are in the loving arms of Grace or the guru or Christ or Buddha or God, that we can relax and be guided.  That most of us think this “world,” this material place, with all it sensory input, IS the whole deal.  But that is NOT what we, as eternal beings, believe.  That we are, in fact, already perfect.  Yes, I said PERFECT.

Then I came to see that all the subsequent “paths” I walked, in tandem with my early Christian and yoga studies, pointing to the same thing.  It might have been the writings of Rumi or years of study in A Course in Miracles or The Sedona Method and many others.  The veil was parting, the Truth was emerging, the wonder was abundant, and mystical events were unfolding all around me.  Nothing would ever be the same again!

These are some questions to consider:

  • Does the path you follow lead to forgiveness, love, acceptance, and kindness for ALL beings?
  • Do you believe that, whatever your belief system, that you are unconditionally loved at all times?
  • Do you feel empowered by your path or diminished, not quite good enough, because of it?
  • Are you happy and fulfilled on your journey?
  • Does fear play any part in the belief system you follow?  If so, does this feel comfortable for you?
  • Do you love and accept yourself completely on this path?

It is not my role or my goal to try to persuade you to join a certain path. Everyone has free choice and can make this decision on their own.  I only hope that you will consider the possibility that this world is not all there is in life.  You could find that going within is be far superior to projecting outward.  You might be “looking for love in all the wrong places” when it is already right there, within you!

There are so many paths leading to Love.  I hope you will choose one, open your heart, and experience ecstatic joy.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writing, go to wwwdeannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty Seven — Forgiveness is Divine

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butterflyblueskyDo you hold grudges?  Do you let resentment and hatred surge through your being?  Do you think that forgiveness implies weakness and steals from you the “right” to be indignant, furious, and angry?  Are you “proud” of your capacity to punish someone by banishing them from your midst or by spreading terrible words about them?  Did it ever occur to you that the one most hurt by all of this is YOU?  That you are “drinking the poison and expecting someone else to die?” Is it possible that lack of forgiveness is really a sign of fear?

It was Alexander Pope who wrote :

To err is human, to forgive divine.

Aren’t we all human?  Don’t we all make mistakes?  Haven’t we all stumbled and failed at some time in our lives?  Isn’t there some dark shadow of guilt or shame lurking in the recesses of our lives?  Is it too radical to consider these possibilities:  From the depth of love that resounds in our hearts, we can — and must — forgive others.  And coupled with that, we can  — and must –forgive ourselves.  What will be the outcome?  Freedom!  True freedom.

Can we be forgiving about our own times of lack of forgiveness?  Are we big enough, strong enough, powerful and loving enough to choose forgiveness? That is the focus of this lesson.

LESSON THIRTY SEVEN

FORGIVING SETS US FREE

 A Course in Miracles is the awe-inspiring book that has the capacity to transform anyone who follows the course.  (Studying it has been one of the most pivotal experiences and best decisions of my life.)  Forgiveness is a key theme.

Fear binds the world.  Forgiveness sets it free.

Lesson 332  A Course in Miracles

Imagine what your life and world would be like if you shed the burdens you have carried by refusing to forgive.  We, as humans, have carried so many foolish notions on this subject.  Not long ago, someone was telling me about a woman who was generally kind and loving, but “if you crossed her once, she never forgave you.”  This was told to me with a hint of admiration for the woman who never forgave, as if she had some stupendous power, like a Mafia Don,  as if it was a sign of merit and strong character.  One mistake with her and — BOOM — banished forever.  I wonder if she would have ever considered these words from George Herbert:

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.

Forgiveness must go in all directions, passing through all relationships, into what we perceive as the past and the future, from one generation to another and globally as well.  I think of the damage done to families that have held onto angers, like the Hatfields and the McCoys.  This brings to mind political stances (like Democrats never forgiving the Republican politicians for something or other (you can reverse the party title for the same effect) or citizens of one country bearing the blame for “sins” committed long before they were born, such as longstanding anger with anyone from the Mideast or Europe or the United States  or fill in the blank.

If we are to wipe the slate clean, it has to start somewhere.  How about starting it yourself, with you?

Now take a calming few breaths, quiet your mind and try some or all of these ideas:

  • Are you aware of a long-standing anger you have harbored for someone? Or maybe it is a surge of anger that started just yesterday?  Can you actually see that person through a lens of forgiveness, trying to fathom who they are and what it may feel like in their shoes for a minute or so.
  • Can you entertain the possibility that you are harming, not them, but yourself by holding onto these emotions? That actual physical symptoms, like high blood pressure or depression may be a result of lack of forgiveness.
  • If it helps, you can always write a letter, which you will not send, to the person who has “wronged” you.  Get it off your chest (notice what this phrase means with regard to your heart,) whatever has to be said.  Then let it go!
  • Can you dig into your past and find the place where you began to believe your were unworthy, unloveable and unforgivable?  Can you look at it now, see that the past is over, and let light merge into that spot?  You might visualize the “you” from the past and send love, saying “I love myself completely NOW,” to that person that your were then.
  • Try seeing your long perceived “enemy” in the same light.  Aren’t we all just doing the best we can to get through life?  Aren’t we all capable of mistakes?  What if you chose to spread Love instead?  Do you think this is all silly and a waste of time?  Have you ever tried it? How about setting the ego aside for a little while and making a new choice?  You can do it, you know.
  • Be patient and kind with yourself.  This way of forgiveness may not become a habit overnight.  It may take a little practice.  Give it some time and see how you feel.  Remember to keep loving yourself all the time.

Here is a quote attributed to Mark Twain, the legendary American author and humorist.  I think it expresses a profundity beyond measure.

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: WHO is Reading These Words?

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butterflyblueskyThere is a presence within you

that has never suffered.

It lives in joy that has no cause.

                                      It is who you most deeply are.

These are the words of Jan Frazier, the author of When Fear Falls Away and The Freedom of Being at Ease with What Is.  Jan writes and speaks with a depth of authenticity that is often breathtaking. I met Jan a few months ago when she spoke in New York City, but I have long been impressed by her writings and her experiences.  She encountered and describes a spontaneous enlightenment and, with it, all fear fell away from her.  She was transformed.  I would like to say, she learned ” in a twinkling of an eye,” just who she is and what truly matters.  Spiritual change can occur like that — without warning or expectation — the spark is ignited and nothing is ever the same again.  Jan knows this.  I know this.  Do you know this?  Do you think you have to be someone special for this to happen? 

Imagine being at ease, no matter what happens in your life.  A good beginning in finding this kind of peace is in finding out just who you are.  There are time tested methods that can encourage such an awareness.  Meditation is perhaps the most well-known and has the capacity to draw inward enough for the True Self to become better known to you.  Some people find being in concert with nature as a viable means to bring about the connections.  Or it could be through chanting, dancing, singing, or doing nothing out of the ordinary at all.  Sometimes we remember who we are completely by surprise, as if Grace descends upon us in all its glory and for no reason at all.  You weren’t even trying.

It helps to be open to this kind of wisdom and changes.  Just to know there is someone other than your most commonly accepted self, in the world, opens the door.

So please re-read the last lesson.  Entertain the notion that you are as magnificent and full of love as you can imagine.  Just because you don’t see this side of yourself at this moment, does not mean it is not true.  Even if you find this incomprehensible or ridiculous, does not mean it is not true.  Caste as much cynicism upon it (I did that for years), but all the skepticism I could muster did not mean it was not true. 

You are beyond any dream you could ever have about yourself.  Believe it!  Then see what happens next.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings, go to www.deannemincer.com and visit me on Facebook.

The 52: Lesson Nine – Why Meditate: Some Thoughts

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butterflybluesky

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest

you can give yourself in this life.

Sogyal Rinpoche

These are the words of a Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen Lama.  He describes meditation as going home and revealing our true heart.  His most prominent writing is a book I value greatly, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  His words resonate with a Truth that transcends any particular path, which is one of the goals of my own work — to show the commonalities between the many spiritual paths.

One of the most renowned and respected Christian writers of this or any era is C. S. Lewis, a favorite of mine.  In England, he was an Oxford don who converted from doubt to devout Christianity.  He even engaged in fantasy works of fiction.  You may know him as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.  He said:

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence and private:

and therefore, starved for meditation and true friendship.

And this from The Holy Bible:

Sing unto him, sing psalms upon him,

meditate upon his wondrous works.

Psalms 105:2

Some may see the last quote more as a contemplation rather than meditation but the idea of meditation is frequently mentioned in Christian writings.

Yet meditation is more associated, to many of us, as an Eastern teaching.  It is true that many of Western faith are less familiar with the concept of meditation.  In most cases, meditation is a solitary practice.  Even while I meditated in the company of thousands of others, it was still my meditation.  Its great benefit is the promise of  an authentic experience of God consciousness. one to one, if you will.

So this is the purpose — Divine Consciousness,  Yes, as other benefits, we can experience less stress, being more centered, lower blood pressure and many other healthful results, which are not a small thing.  But meditation can bring about union with a higher power, with Divine Love, with God, with Eternal Life.  Now THAT is something really big!

As we conclude this week on meditation, though we will return to it again soon, do this:

  • Follow the earlier suggestions for meditation.  Now, as you prepare to meditate, ask for guidance and Truth.  Ask for Grace.  ASK!  Let your meditation be encircled with love and kindness.  Then just meditate.  Stop thinking.  See how this feels.
  • Come to a place of acceptance.  Let the meditation just be what it is.  If your mind went off on a grocery list or a bill to be paid or the next action of the day, be accepting.  Okay, that is how it was today.
  • Don’t give yourself a grade. “Well that was a lousy meditation, I might as well give up.”  In truth, just about everyone thinks that at some point.  Let it go.  Just keep meditating in whatever way you can.
  • If you just can’t meditate, for whatever reason, be okay with that too.  Even long time meditators may hit a patch where they have trouble.  Be kind to yourself.  Everything will unfold just right.

Keep me posted!  Everything about these lessons is about reaching out with love.  If this has helped even one person, my heart will sing with joy.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to www.deannemincer.com