I’ve chosen that double-dip name for my blog (Sophy-wisdom), first because Sophy is my Christened name, spelt like that, with a “y,” and then because all my life I’ve been straining and struggling to find wisdom.
I don’t know what to make of some of the odd things that happen to us all. I’m thinking of lost items vanishing and turning up again exactly where you’ve looked a dozen times. As if the objects decided to go for a hike, globe-trotting, sight-seeing. Not long ago I lost my favorite set of keys on my Celtic key chain. One moment it was in my hand, and the next it had vanished. I thought the set must be in my apartment (since I had JUST used it to open the apartment door), but no amount of searching sufficed to find it. The set was gone. Mysteriously. Continue reading
Not long ago I was asked to speak to a small group about prayer and praying, which are rather distasteful words to most of us. And yet we’re praying all the time. Thoughts are prayers. When we’re worrying, we’re praying for what we don’t want to have happen.
When we’re struck by the beauty of the spaces between the branches of the trees (this
is where you see the angels, by the way), or when our hearts lift in thanksgiving, praise
and adoration for this pretty little world—we’re praying powerfully. Why? Continue reading
In the past months I’ve been going through one of those dark periods that fall over me
now and again, of dismay and despair.
My distress was so great that I felt the greatest kindness I could offer anyone
was silence– inflicting no words, blogs, bubbles of vanity or boastful confidence on
the world. So it has been months since I sent out a blog. And in that time much has
happened, with most of it only increasing my anguish. How hard it is to hope that with
God “All things are possible” or that (in the words of St. Julian of Norwich) “All will be
well… All manner of thing will be well.” How hard to remember that angels surround
us, loving, guiding, guarding, and always – always – bringing out of something terrible
great good. Continue reading
Part II ~ A Feral Feline Spirit of Love.
I tell a lot of angel stories in this blog, as well as experiences of baffling coincidence and spirits and Afterlife. This story is about an animal angel. It was told to me by Jill, who lives in Tennessee. Jill is a recovering alcoholic, in the AA Program. Her sponsor, Vic, died in 1999 after a short illness, and she hosted a reception for his family and friends at her house. At the time she had been trying to befriend a black cat who walked along her fence every day but who would jump off and run if Jill came closer than fifteen feet. He would actually hiss and spit if she spoke to him.
A word about her relationship with Vic. In her early sobriety her sponsor listened patiently to her “emergencies” and spoke to her often on the phone. He was more social than Jill, so much so that she sometimes felt pressured, to the point of wishing privately at times that he would phone less frequently or suggest fewer meetings. But she had difficulty setting boundaries. Then he was diagnosed with colon cancer. and all her boundary issues seemed insignificant. With his prognosis of death, she couldn’t spend enough time with him. Continue reading
Atheism And Faith
I know many agnostics and atheists. The other day I was talking to one, a man I like, and curious to know why he espoused this faith, I asked him if he had ever had an intuition or spiritual experience, that blink of the eye in which you see an aura or into other dimensions? Laughing, he answered No. As far as he was concerned there is only the physical world, into which he was born by copulation, and out of which when his life is over, he moulders in the grave, that’s it. He does not question the things that have occupied me from my earliest childhood: questions like, Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? Is there life after death? Where was I before birth? The questions can all be asked in another way: Who am I? What’s going on?
I stand at the opposite pole from my atheist friend. I have had numerous experiences, visions and insights as sudden as lightning flashes. Afterwards, you cannot forget what you were shown. You may not quite believe it, but neither can you forget. I am not alone in this. Numerous people have been graced to have their senses opened and see into the spiritual world and at the same time to live in this natural plane as well. I have seen, for example, that the Divine is not in space but in love. Angels surround us with love and when we love most deeply, then are they closest and most visible. I have seen that a spirit or angel is not composed of material substance and therefore cannot be seen by normal sight but with the heart – the spiritual eye. Is this why my friend, who was reared in a hating, bitter and abusive environment sees only with the physical eye? Certainly to do so would act as a protection against the fist he expects to clobber him. But I think there’s more. Continue reading
Like many people, I’ve been trying to swallow the latest Colorado massacre, and how it is possible for a mentally ill man to buy 6,000 rounds of assault-weaponry firepower without anyone noticing anything untoward. Or to carry weapons into a movie theater without being stopped. Are we truly so powerless? Or apathetic? Or are we simply cowards, our elected officials corrupted by the NRA?
Couldn’t we make it against the law to buy the bullets for an assault weapon (these being designed to use only against humans)? Couldn’t we require that anyone buying more than one weapon is automatically checked out by the security agencies that are supposed to protect us from Terrorist Attack? Couldn’t we ban assault weapons (dream on!) and keep only our hunting rifles?
In the 12th step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (and many other groups from Narcotics or Gamblers to Sex Addicts Anonymous), the first Step is to admit to being powerless over addiction. The second step reads, “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
Surely that’s what we need in our society now – a little sanity. In addition to assault weapons, I’ve been thinking about how it is that we “come to believe.” There are two ways. First we “believe” in something because we’re told to. The problem is, that many of the things we’re told aren’t true. For example, that the possession of assault weapons brings us Freedom instead of Fear. Or here’s another: “Opportunity knocks but once.” That aphorism was drilled into me as a child. It’s totally false. Opportunity knocks over and over again, so generous in the Universe, so unstinting is the Spiritual Grace that pours upon us daily. All we have to do is notice—and then give thanks. I think our angels love to be noticed! I think when we give thanks that they turn themselves inside out to offer More!
The second way we come to believe is through personal experience. I want to tell two stories – both heard in the same day–because I’m superstitious enough to believe that when things come in twos and threes like that, they must be paid attention to.
How often have our Guides and Angels crumpled the warp of Time to create an amazing coincidence, or showed you in a period of unutterable despair the unfathomable degree to which you are loved. Both stories require “giving up” or “letting go” of our puny efforts at control.
The first comes from my friend Margaret Dulaney (she runs the fantastic Blab, www.listenwell.org., which is well worth listening to). She was taking a walk in the woods one day and thought to herself: ”I am now going to think as a Quaker and trust that God will at any moment get in touch with me.” Not a minute later, the loveliest scarlet tanager flew to a nearby tree and cocked his head to get a better look at her. A scarlet tanager is a shy little forest bird. He flew from tree to tree, accompanying her on her walk, each time cocking his head to get a better view. This lasted, she says, a good three minutes. She almost expected him to land on her finger, he was so curious. Here is a link, if you’d like to see what a scarlet tanager looks like. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/scarlet tanager/id
My friend is deeply spiritual. It was God’s way, she says, of saying, “Here I am! Am I not sooooo lovely?!” But I laugh at her. I think it was God’s way of saying, “Here you are! Aren’t you beautiful? Don’t I adore and admire you? Look how beautiful you are!”
The other story was told me that same afternoon by a German friend who had heard it on German television, and for those of you who speak German here is the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7o6TqyXYi8.
A man decided on his three-week holiday to hike to see a friend of his in Austria, a journey of about 500 miles. He set about his trip with Teutonic thoroughness, gathering maps and trail guides and settling on how far he could walk on any day and where to stay and how to eat along the way. Only once did he get lost, and after wandering without success he became so distraught that he finally spoke aloud: “God, show me where to go!”
At that moment an old man came round the corner. “I’m not God,” he said, “but I can show you how to find the trail.”
In this case the man had spoken out loud, though we don’t know how noisily he called out– or how quietly. I like to think the old man was his Angel coming to him in human guise; but maybe he was simply a living human placed by divine coincidence in just the place and time to help our lost hero—the Angel using an ordinary human, to guide him to the path.
I hear these stories all the time, and surely if they happen like this to us individually, aren’t the hierarchies of angels likewise guiding us toward societal sanity? We’re not supposed to murder one another. We’re not supposed to help the deranged acquire weapons of mass destruction. Not so many would be hurt if he’d had access only to one hunting rifle. Only to a knife. Only to his fists.
Can we come to believe that a higher power will restore us to sanity? an we begin the Third AA Step and surrender our fears and our lives into the care of a caring, loving God, and then do the footwork to change those conditions that we can? We could begin by standing up and challenging the violence of the NRA.
And A Little Child shall Lead Them:
Thoughts on Death.
I’ve had some health issues lately, and notice my mind veering toward worst-case scenarios; which leaves me musing on how nothing makes one think of death so much as illness, unless it’s aging with its uncomfortable elbow-jostling toward the downward slide. Yet that’s not true either. I remember how when I was a vibrant 23-year-old I suddenly woke up to the horrifying idea that someday I would die (AGHH!). Blink out!? Be Gone? How could that be? Night after night I lay in bed beside my husband struggling—straining—to find a solution. Finally, I forced myself to stop thinking about it: all we can do is live. Now I notice how my little grandchildren, even at the age of five or six, are aware of death. It’s not their own they fear, however. They are scared their mother will die, or their father. I don’t think they had this recognition earlier, at say three or four.
Perhaps at that earlier age the child, still “trailing clouds of glory,” sees farther than we do, piercing the veil between the worlds. Here is a story from a woman I met recently, Vera Green. I find it comforting.
Vera’s mother’s nickname was Gigi. Before she died at 93, Gigi was very close to her three-year-old great-grandson, Tristan. This took place in Frederick, Maryland. Tristan was originally a twin, but his sister, Taylor, had died in utero, so that Tristan never knew her and had never heard her name. One day, his mother was standing on a ladder, painting a wall, while the little boy played at her feet. Suddenly he called out the window, “Hi, Gigi,” and returned his attention to his toys.
“What was that?” asked his mother.
“I just saw Gigi out the window. She was holding Taylor,” said Tristan. And went back to playing.
I heard also of a little girl who began talking to her departed grandmother one night as she was going to bed.
“Who are you talking to?” her mother asked.
“I’m talking to Nana. She’s right there,” she said, pointing. “Nighty-night, Nana.”
How odd that during all those months when I was struggling with the terror of my own demise—extinguished, blown out – Poof! — that no one mentioned it won’t be like that. I who had been reared an Episcopalian with a good grounding in the Bible and Christianity completely missed the idea of a spiritual dimension, of hope.