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“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
Swami Vivekananda

Some people spend their whole lives searching for their own truth. Some take the truths their families taught them or the church taught them and are fulfilled and happy with this. For these people it is right and none can gainsay this. For those who search for their truth, the questioners of life, death and all manner of things, their search may be long, yet we must hope that they eventually find what they are searching for.

What feels like a lifetime ago I turned my back on the beliefs I was brought up to believe. I was a questioner. I needed to know the ‘why’ of things. I couldn’t blindly accept what I was told. I was part of the new movement of people who wanted to understand their world, their place in it and where it was leading to.  Until I was 14 years old I thought I understood my place in the scheme of things, but I had reached a place filled with questions and I could find no-one to give me answers.

My Grandmother, my Nanny, was a beautiful lady. She had been ill for much of her life having contracted St Vitus dance as a young child which left her with a weak heart. She had such a strong belief in her faith, in God that despite all her travails she believed. In all honesty it probably kept her going through everything.  Her passing and the manner of her passing saw me reach a crisis in faith.

Beautiful memories

Beautiful memories  Nanny sitting between her brother, Alec and Grandad, her husband.

It was the first time I refused to cry. I refused to allow the mourners who had come to sit with the coffin, this was in the days when the coffin came home for the final viewing, I refused to let them see me upset or cry. It felt as though their eagle eyes were boring into my back as they watched me cross the parlor, waiting for me to break down in hysterics. In my self-imposed agony I refused to allow them that satisfaction. It is strange what thoughts pass through your mind at times like that. To this day I abhor open casket viewings.

There was no closure, I had important exams the next day and my parents, wishing to spare me the distressing funeral service told me to go to school. Whether this would have helped I don’t know, I only know that it hurt almost as much as losing her.  It also created an internal barrier which prevented me from going to the cemetery later.

I was a ‘good Catholic’ girl, attending a Catholic college and was a handmaid of the Blessed Sacrament. I went to mass every day at school and thought I might become a nun. That was about to change. I needed desperately to understand why, an all merciful God could take a beautiful soul in such a horrid and heartbreaking way. In a fit of despair I asked my school chaplain this question. I was told it was “Not my place to question the workings of God.” Further pressing on my part solicited the response the “I would be excommunicated for my heretical behaviour!” I was so angry at this callous attitude I believe I was quite rude. By this time I’m afraid God and the Church had lost me anyway.

I refused to go to church at school unless it was absolutely necessary, but refused to open my mouth at all, refused Communion and, but for my mothers deepest wish for us to continue to go to church would have stopped going with her also. I refused, in my mind at least, to have anything to do with a God who was so vengeful and cruel. There was no blessings to be had for me at that time.

It was a bleak time. The pain refused to lessen and my obdurate stance on refusing to cry caused Mum a lot of heartache. I also refused to go to the cemetery with the rest of the family. I took the better part of a year before I found my way there alone one day. There was no peace there for me. I didn’t feel God’s presence or his reassurance. I simply saw a sad and lonely place, filled with dark reminders of those who had been lost. There were no answers there for me only more heartache.

Even though we left England a couple of years later I hadn’t reconciled to going to the cemetery with Mum, always making my solitary way there so spend time trying to remember something other than the last time I saw her face. Perhaps that was the cruelest irony of all for me at that time.

I was wrong. It appeared the “all merciful God” had not finished with my lessons in his omnipotence. My granddad didn’t want to leave all his friends and family and come to Australia. It was difficult leaving him behind but there was a hollowness inside that this new pain simply sank into. There was plenty of time for introspection on the way over, between the insane bouts of high jinks. Yet the thoughts of “why’ and “what does come after’ never left.

There was a strange feeling a couple of weeks after we sailed. It coincided with getting underway after the long layover in Teneriffe. I woke one night to hear my granddad calling my name. Just that, but so clear I answered him. Then it was gone. A puzzle for me to think about.

When we arrived in Australia my parents were ushered into my Aunt and Uncles lounge and ‘the children’, of which I was apparently still counted as, were ushered into the garden in the broiling sun. Shortly afterwards we were called inside. As soon as I saw my mothers face I simply said “Granddads dead, isn’t he?” Despite the shock on her face she confirmed that he had passed away in his sleep two weeks after we left England, the same night I had my name called.  I had more questions than ever. So many things were piling up in my mind and I was looking for answers to them wherever I could.

In part two I recall the strange places I searched to find the answers to my growing number of questions,

Man learns through experience, and the spiritual path is full of different kinds of experiences. He will encounter many difficulties and obstacles, and they are the very experiences he needs to encourage and complete the cleansing process.”
Sai Baba

Blessings,  Susan x

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image from psychicconnextions.blogspot.com

Time is passing and never so quickly as this lead up to the festive season.  The original countdown of “the Twelve Days of Christmas” was  something played in all the shops, churches and homes all around me when I was growing up.  At times I miss the reminders from my childhood, they had a certain familiarity to them. We could, with absolute certainty, mark down the days to “the big one”  after hearing this song every day.  Like the Advent calendars our children used to love opening up each day, they formed a reliable measure of time, time already passed and time still to go. It had its own way of engaging the mind, heart and spirit and increasing that wonderful anticipation of what was to come.

It didn’t matter if you were religious or not, the celebration would go on and the true roots of the celebration and songs were lost in the annals of time. It’s how religions overtook each other and left only remnants behind.  It’s also only in recent years that the arguments over what we are celebrating and who the celebrations belong to have arisen to cast a cloud over what has been a joyous time between the darkness and dreariness of winter and the coming of spring. Perhaps it is easier to remember why Christmas was celebrated with such joy when you recall the old days, the conditions people lived under and how the turning of the seasons held such an importance to them.

Yet that is another story in itself.  Battling my demons, and when I say this I think of a children’s animated movie called “Sword in the Stone”.

image from tumblr.com

After a monumental and hilarious battle between the witch and Merlin, the witch finds herself bested, confined to bed , green with purple, red and blue polka dots covering her and the antidote – sunshine.  On hearing this there is a wonderful rant and she screeches “I hate  horrible, wholesome sunshine”.  I’m sorry to say sunshine and I don’t mix. I burn like flammable material, finish up looking like a well cooked lobster minus the butter sauce, but nowhere near as tasty! I hide from one air conditioned place to another throughout the heat of the summer, grateful for the sunshine and rain, in moderation, but equally grateful to return to cooler days as autumn finally arrives.  But I digress, these were the demons I referred to.

The Universe looks after us at all times, even when unasked, even if we don’t believe.  I do believe and I was immensely grateful that I was paying attention to what was happening today.  I was in one of my favourite haunts, a bookstore, searching for a gift for my daughters boyfriend.  No hardship there, it took my attention from aching back and feet and the truckload of packages we were juggling. I had seen the book I thought would be ideal but decided to ponder a little more as I lost myself amongst the shelves of books.  With time and my back  telling me I needed to make a decision I asked Ray to collect the book I had seen an hour earlier.

He was standing not two feet from me with the book in his hand when it suddenly flew out of his hand and landed in the aisle. The lady standing next to him looked startled to say the least, but then again, so did I.  Rule number one, and totally inviolate, you cannot buy a book or give one as a gift if it has been on the ground before being given to the recipient. Especially if it may have, heaven forbid, a crinkled edge. A dog-eared book is a sacrilege! Yes I have strange “rules”.   The book was fine but for me that was it, that book would not be leaving th shop with me. It was also the only one of its kind in the store.

image from thebaremidriff.blogspot.com

We left, one gift not purchased and I was sore and disappointed.  On the way home my phone rang. I was not really inclined to answer but I knew it was my daughter calling, “thank heavens for little girls” (Maurice Chevalier), and I knew I needed to take it.  We talked of Christmas and shopping and gifts, and books, a book for her boyfriend.  I could buy David Gemmell or Raymond Feist, (I almost bought this), but put it back when I saw a Brent Weeks omnibus. It was the omnibus which went flying.  This was the ONLY book I could not buy she said – because she had already bought it for him, but Raymond Feist would be brilliant!

I may have to make another trip to a bookstore – such a hardship for me (ahem!) but I know what I will be buying. (Well, at least one of the books I will buy).  I am so grateful Spirit was watching over me today and helped me from buying the wrong thing. Talk about ‘right timing’, I was trying to be so mindful of all the recommendations she had passed on previously and had started to get tired. I was fully present with the situation, in my favourite store I am always fully present. Ok, I was fully present with the task at hand.  Even in a bookstore I eventually still get tired.  I was concentrating on her boyfriend, being fully present with all I knew about him and what I was trying to do, because buying a book a really important, it has to fit with the receiver or I’ve failed!  I thought I had succeeded when, whoosh, through the air it went. I got the message, and I fully accept that without Spirit’s help I would have bought the wrong thing and would have had to exchange it – if I could.

I am very happy, truly grateful for my Guidance, love shopping with my husband (it’s a special treat), have that wonderful feeling of peace inside because I know Spirit is with me always, and I can spread my attitude of gratitude around the world for everyone to share. Thank you Nicole, thank you Ray and thank you, my wonderful spiritual helpers and Magical Beings everywhere.

image from virtualbeauties.blogspot.com

May you find magic in your life today and everyday within the small or large appearance of gratitude in our lives.

“When we become more fully aware that our success is due in large measure to the loyalty, helpfulness, and encouragement we have received from others, our desire grows to pass on similar gifts. Gratitude spurs us on to prove ourselves worthy of what others have done for us. The spirit of gratitude is a powerful energizer”. – Wilferd A. Peterson

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