spirit comes in feathers

A few nights ago, I got a text message from Brad, my friend Brenda Baker’s son. If you don’t know her or if you’ve not read of her here before, Brenda is my dear friend who died of bile duct cancer on May 9 of this year. She’s been very much present ever since, so when Brad said, “I have an interesting bird story if you have time,” how could I refuse? I called him up.

The interesting story he wanted to share was really pretty crazy, yet his voice sounded light and happy. Brad was sitting in the office in the front of his house ~ which used to be Brenda’s house ~ the night of Thanksgiving. It was nearing midnight and he was doing something online with lights off and the blinds closed. Suddenly, *POW!* something hit the window, hard, just a foot or two away from where Brad was sitting. It was startling, to put it mildly. The house sits at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. Having spent months and months in the front bedroom of that house in the last year of Brenda’s illness, I can attest to the fact that after 7 or 8 pm, 50th Drive is a ghost town

Being a young man and smart, Brad thought it best to investigate, but first he picked up a pistol just in case. What, after all, would be banging on the window on a quiet street at midnight? Brad opened the front door a few inches, peeked out, and was instantly overwhelmed by the onslaught of heavy feathered body and wildly flapping wings. A “really big” bird hurtled through the few inches of opening and shot into the house.

A bird in the house is a long-time nightmare of mine and Brad was just as unenthused as I’d have been. He was stunned to see the big thing flying erratically around the great room, finally coming to rest on the far wall, where it clung to the smooth stucco before slipping down behind the television. Brad couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing, so he rushed to look and, yes indeed, there were dark little bird eyes shining up at him in the dim light.

Though I don’t want one in the house, I am an avid bird person and I had to know what kind of avian critter would exhibit such odd behavior. There are mourning doves by the hundreds in Brenda’s neighborhood but they rarely fly at night. The two most common nightflying birds, owls and bats, are easy to identify and Brad knew it wasn’t one of those. As I quizzed him about the bird’s appearance, he just repeated, “it was big, really big.”

And so commenced the extraction, with Brad thinking all the while, “Mom, really? Did you do this??” As a show of “I’m here!” it’s funny, extraordinary, and it fits with two other instances in which Brenda has sent somewhat irritating or alarming messages to her son. In each of those cases she later confirmed to our friends who are mediums that she did indeed make the lights dim in the kitchen (no, son, you don’t need an electrical overhaul. I just dropped in to say hi!) and sure enough popped the bathroom lightbulb off its base as cleanly as if it had been cut (ta-dah!).

Why would someone in spirit send a sign like this? It’s not every day a big bird knocks on the window, then rushes the front door the instant it’s opened. In Brad’s case, I wondered if it took that to get his attention. He wants to believe his mom’s with him. He feels her at times. But the random penny or butterfly or rainbow isn’t enough for him. Enter the big personality of Brenda on her cherished son’s first Thanksgiving without her, and the dramatic, wildly flapping evidence of “I am really here, son!” If she was trying to get his attention, it worked.

As soon as I heard this story, I recalled the experiences of two gifted mediums, Suzanne Giesemann and Susanne Wilson, both of whom work with Dr. Gary Schwartz, a prominent afterlife researcher at the University of Arizona. On two separate days, before they knew one another, both of these tested, highly evidential mediums received messages describing how spirit is able to use creatures in the natural world to get our attention.

No, that’s not your mother sprouting feathers and beak, hurling herself at the window and flapping through the front door. But it is your mother (your child, husband, sibling, beloved friend, all of our loved ones in spirit) using the creature to connect with you. The spirits told each of the Sus/zannes, on two separate days, we control the birds with their permission. It’s kind of like remote control. And the birds think it’s fun! (You can read more of that here, in Susanne Wilson’s book, Soul Smart, page 83.)

This blending of consciousness sounds like madness if we’re thinking that, as humans, we’re a cut above the average feathered creature. But the truth is, we are the creature and the creature is us. I am you, you are me, we are all The Divine, in its many incarnations, and knowing that ~ really knowing it, gut-and-heart level ~ is to know with certainty that there is no death, no separation, and thus no permanent loss of love.

How does it work for Brenda to take over a bird and send a message to Brad? The quantum physicists would suggest it’s a matter of intention. Brad’s grieving, Brenda knows it, and the wish to comfort him manifests in feathers and raps sharply at the window. Message delivered and, in this case, received.

There’s one mind, one energy of love in the entirety of what we think of as the universe and beyond. It is infinite, everywhere present in all things, always. Separation is not possible except in our humanness. It’s why our minds can be trained to get out of the way so the consciousness of a living being can connect with the consciousness of one we think of as dead. Mediumship is simply expanding consciousness beyond what we think is real ~ these human suits we wear, our busy little brains ~ and joining with all that is.

So oneness, consciousness, whatever. It sounds nice in theory, but can we trust it? Since Brenda departed in May, her friends and loved ones have been getting signs from her and having those messages regularly confirmed by Brenda with evidence that she was behind them. Though I was sure that this crazy bird was sent by my friend, I wanted certainty, so I texted Suzanne. She’s the most skilled medium I know and she connects with Brenda regularly. “When you get a chance, Brad had a really bizarre encounter with a bird. I think it was Brenda but maybe you could ask? I’ll tell you the details after.”

That wasn’t the time for a confirmation. Nothing came through from Brenda. I told Brad to trust his gut and I was, for once, trusting mine too. That was my message in this, when you know, you know. I knew without doubt it was her. And then today, an email from Suzanne. Brenda turned up to affirm that she did indeed send that bird.

Suzanne said, “She had me laughing out loud as she took credit for the bird and showed me the remote control.  She acted silly and apologized for just getting the hang of it … She showed me it was as if her guidance of the remote control had gone a little crazy and the poor bird ended up behind the television.  All the while Brenda is loving that it’s working, but a bit freaked out that the bird has crash-landed behind the TV.”

This made me laugh out loud, because Brenda and I used to talk about the birds and the concept of directing them by remote. We’d mimic holding remote controls in our hands, driving birds into walls, windows, cars. Oops! It was a source of much hilarity in the year before she became ill. That she was having trouble getting the hang of it also echoes a statement she made a day or two after she quit breathing. Though a student of mediumship in life, she found communicating from the other side a bit of a strain. “It’s as hard to learn communication here as mediumship was over there.” Clearly she’s mastered it now, but this new thing of driving birds? She hasn’t exactly nailed it. Not so far.

And yet the love that flew through that door was felt. I heard a tone in Brad’s voice that I’ve not heard since before Brenda got sick. It makes me weepy to think about it now. There is such a gift in knowing our loved ones continue. It doesn’t entirely remove the pain of loss, but it helps. It’s a promise. “I’m still right here, still with you.” That sound ~ of hope, of coming to believe that she’s not truly gone ~ I’ll hear that tone in his voice forever. It resonates deep in my soul. It’s the sound of love and trust, of a broken heart beginning to mend.

We are so very deeply loved. That will sound like a cliche until we actually get it, way down deep. And usually, when that happens, the very thought makes the heart swell and the eyes get teary. The love that is Everything revels in the wonder and beauty of all of us. We are constructed of that Love and we ~  you, me, all of us, even that fat flapping bird ~ are the direct result of Love expressing itself with so much joy it can’t be contained. It’s a wonderful, mysterious, magical world. Trust that. Let it settle in. I hope your heart expands. I hope your eyes leak.

excitations of love

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What if the universe is a hologram? What if everything that now exists or ever did can be called into presence given sufficient attention? According to the physicists, attention affects our reality. We’ve all experienced this to one degree or another. Buy a hot pink car because you’ve never seen one and suddenly they’re everywhere. That’s one small example.

But was given more meaningful example of this magic two years ago when I realized I didn’t know my maternal grandmother’s last name. I googled, then fell down one of those internet rabbit holes which are the curse of the curious. And suddenly there was a great grandfather I’d never heard of.

Hello grandpa Charles! It was quite a surprise to see a photo of this man standing next to my grandfather, a young face I recognized right away. Two days later I had a reading with the wonderful spiritual artist and medium, Valerie Kwietniak. In that reading, Valerie felt the presence of a male and with further discussion, it became clear that it was my great grandfather.

Let me say again: I knew nothing of him, yet there he was, showing up in a reading. Was he called into being by my attention? It seemed very strange.

About a year later, my friend Sandy Soulsister, another gifted medium, offered to do a Zoom reading for me to see if we could make contact with some of the more than two dozen children I’d cared for who’d been killed. In particular, two teenage boys, Rico and Adrian, had never left my heart or my thoughts though they’d been gone since their violent deaths in the early ’90s.

The reading was a great success. Both of my boys came forward with evidence, messages, and so much love. And then, nearing the end of our time together, there was an excitation — a swirl of energy — and suddenly bubbles and orbs and prisms and sparkles were everywhere. Sandy said, “Lynette! Are you blowing bubbles?” Shocked, I looked more closely at the screen and I could see them too.

What looked like bubbles were orbs which zoomed across the screen and ascended en masse in a curtain. Then there were prisms of light and tiny sparkles darting out of the bookcase behind my chair. At one point, my eyes were drawn to the space just past my screen — in my real life room — where one twisting prism flashed before me and was gone.

Were these excitations of the pure love that we are? The energy in that two minute light show felt like it. Were all of those little lights conjured up by the children I had cared for after their deaths and before, then sent to express love or possibly gratitude? That astonishing reading created as many questions as any I’ve ever had, but one thing was certain: the bonds of compassion and love and caring that connected me to those dead children years ago still exist.

My friend Brenda has said, “I am Brenda for you because that’s how you recognize me. But that’s not who I am.” When called upon by her many friends, the Awareness picks up that old suit of Brenda clothes (which carries with it the story of her life), shakes it out, steps inside, and voilà! Brenda is present once again for those who know and love her. She’ll be that for as long as we need her to be.

In fact, Brenda is and always will be present in her true form. There is only One of us in this universe, in all of existence. We are all aspects of that magnificence. All of us. As teacher and evidential medium Suzanne Giesemann has recently and beautifully described it, we are the effervescent bubbles of an irrepressible love. Pure joy, an exquisite love so divine it can’t be contained, and thus it creates, and in the creation — that excitation — we come into being.

She describes us as shiny little bubbles reflecting to those around us a story: dancing, playing, experiencing one another and ourselves in all of the aspects of our humanness. We’re living right now what we think of as real life, and while it is very, very real in this instant, in the end it appears to be little more than a lucid dream shared by those of us who still breathe. My Brenda’s first words: “I just woke up! They really are people suits.”

Someone else I know (a trustworthy, highly ethical medium) who’s channeled Jesus was told by that presence, “you know me as the Nazarene so that is how I come to you. But that is not who I am now.” What? How could Jesus not be Jesus anymore???

But truly, how could any of our loved ones disappear? It’s a constant fear of grieving people. What if they won’t come to me, my dear ones? What if they’re gone forever?
Many grief stricken people have found comfort in the book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, in which Annie Kagan describes how she learned to connect with her bad boy brother in marathon meditation sessions. But quite a number of those same folk are driven to throw it across the room when, as the story unfolds, Billy’s presence begins fading as he reunites with Source. (Spoiler alert: he returns, rising out of the holographic ether. It’s a great book.)

I read it that way too the first time. It was as if Billy were being wiped out, erased. In reading those words, I was wrecked to think that Mike, my soulmate, the love of my life, could disappear. In fact, in being absorbed by the Universe, Billy was being revealed for what he really is: That, the One, All That Is, Awareness.
You are that. Me too. We all are.

Billy didn’t disappear. He dropped the charade that he was Billy. Yet those we love in spirit will always show up for us in the way that we know them. Eventually, when there’s no one left in this dream who remembers that particular excitation of love, maybe that energetic wrinkle of the universe is ironed out. Maybe it’s a kind of cosmic housekeeping. Imagine if all of the thought-bubble-energies of every living thing which had ever existed were still actively vibrating? It could get awfully busy and cluttered.

And yet, as evidenced by my great grandfather, and by those nearly two dozen dead children called forth by Sandy, by Brenda’s wisdom and the words of the Nazarene, and by Annie Kagan’s brother, Billy Fingers, once the thought or the request is sent out into the ether, the energy of it calls upon the One to don that old suit of clothes, that story, and make an appearance. Thus there’s Brenda. There’s Mike. The great grandfather I’d never even heard of. There are all of the stories we know in this time and place of our lives present once again.

There’s such comfort in this certainty: they will always be available when the stories of us need the stories of them to keep moving forward, to heal from grief, to feel the love again of those we’ve lost.

The universe is a hologram. It’s all there, ready and waiting for a spark of energy — a thought — to create; for some aspect of the One to shine forth. We’ll all go Home one day, dropping our costumes, waking up from the dream, and then we’ll finally see our Self as the blindingly beautiful One that we are.

You are blindingly beautiful right now. This instant. I see you. I hope you see you too.

With love, Lynette

*And here’s a little magic with this post: I’d started half a dozen pieces and nothing seemed right coming on the heels of the grand Emergence2018 conference in Salt Lake City. I have been thinking about this disappearing thing ever since seeing the movie Coco. There is such a lesson in that film but it’s always seemed a little backward: disappearing after we die is a very good thing, not the sad event depicted in Coco. Having coffee with friends Monday afternoon, I looked up to see this in the window. Question answered: write about (never) disappearing. Write that all is always well. Because it is.

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forgiving the unforgivable

Years ago, about seven months after my husband died, I was driving across town on a glorious spring day, top down on my little car. I was thinking of the circumstances of Mike’s illness and death, of the countless instances of extreme neglect and serious errors which led to cardiac arrest, subsequent kidney failure and, ultimately, a resistant, hospital-acquired pneumonia that took his life a month after his sixtieth birthday. I was filled to overflowing with anger and sorrow and guilt. Could I have prevented his death? Did I fail him?

To say that life seemed unfair and unjust is an understatement and I could not get over it. Mike was dead and I was as stuck as I’d ever been in my life, with rage my constant companion. Hatred of the doctors who neglected my husband reached the level of obsession. I couldn’t find a way out of the agony of living in my own skin. I couldn’t control my thoughts and even sleep was a torture, with constant nightmares replaying the horrific night I watched my husband stop breathing, helpless to save him.

As I drove that afternoon, I could feel the warmth of the sunshine and the wind in my hair, seasonal experiences I adore, but they were meaningless. I wanted revenge and punishment for those who’d harmed Mike, and for one particular doctor, the most terrible long-lasting suffering. That this kind of thinking was foreign to me prior to these events increased my distress. I’d become a stranger to myself.

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Seeking distraction, I turned the radio to the local NPR station. The Moth Radio Hour was broadcasting stories of the experiences of ordinary people. A man was speaking about his daughter, about how he and his wife had adopted her as a result of their work in the civil rights movement. As I listened to the words, the story turned tragic. By the time Hector Black’s voice cracked recounting his tale, I was crying so hard I had to pull over. Safely parked, I devoted my full attention to him. I was riveted by the tragedy of his life and then by the aftermath.

And the aftermath, astonishingly, was forgiveness. As he described learning to love the man he felt had destroyed his life forever, I began to experience tingles and then shivers all over my body. As Hector Black described hugging a murderer in prison and extending forgiveness and love, the top of my head opened wide and a dark mistiness swirled out of me. What was it? Suffering? Rage? Unforgiveness? I have no idea, but something real lifted out of my body in a stream, a cloud, and when it was gone, I felt a lightness I’d not experienced in years.

As Hector Black ended his powerful story of forgiveness and love, I realized that all of the hatred which had consumed me was gone. I felt peace for the first time since the devastating night Mike was abandoned in ICU two years before. It was extraordinary. Some things are simply beyond words and this is one of them. I was living in unrelenting emotional pain so intense it was physical, and seventeen minutes later it was gone.

So nice story, right? Lucky me. But why share it when it was purely a gift? Is it possible to create something like this? I know that my transformation that sunny afternoon truly was a gift of grace. I was so deeply mired in a murderous rage (and I mean that literally) and so nonfunctional as a result of PTSD, I was certain that I was irretrievably damaged. I was daily living a looping replay of what happened to Mike in the hospital and I was powerless to stop it. Decent sleep was impossible and during my waking hours, I developed richly detailed fantasies of how I would kill the doctor who ruined our lives. Detailed. The rest of my life was just a haze of rage and weeping and grief. From that disastrous state, I was rescued by a spiritually transformative experience, an STE. But again, so what? I didn’t do anything to make that miracle happen. It’s not replicable for someone else.

A few years after that remarkable experience, I discovered the magic of silence. No music, internet, or television. Only silence, meditation, writing, and BEing for a minimum of 24 hours. It’s never become easy. I still rebel against it at times, but I do it because it changes me and wonders have come from this practice.

In that first summer of silence, I picked up Colin Tipping’s books Radical Forgiveness and Radical Self Forgiveness and, as a result, decided to spend two quiet days working through the process of self forgiveness. I’d been released from the need to forgive others by my STE, but I was left with myself. Radical self forgiveness became my focus.

I’ve always been 1000x harder on myself than on others but we’re all different in our forgiveness needs. And while I’m no stranger to making amends, having worked the 12 steps for over thirty years, there were still bothersome memories that would rise up like smoke, memories of bad behavior, how I had harmed others. And coming fast on the heels of the memories, the old uglies of self judgment, self criticism, and, at times, that most wretched of the self-punishments, self loathing. The word even sounds grotesque and the sound doesn’t even come close to how it feels.

I was 59 years old when I commenced that work. I was ready to end the rehashing of the past, once and for all. I hadn’t a clue how to make that happen, but I longed to be free. My state of being at that point was increasingly aware, filled with love, and coming to know my own divinity. My newly polished little soul was crying out for these splinters of unforgiveness to be gone. And so the book, Radical Self Forgiveness. I spent two days of silence reading it, working it, following every step and recommendation, and finishing with a fire and a release. COMPLETE release. COMPLETE self forgiveness. It was stunning.

Radical forgiveness of self or others is a step by step process of recognizing the Truth about who we are. (And I’ll give you a hint: despite the way this life looks and feels, the separation inherent in living with this human suit, there is no other.) New thought people will have an easier time with Tipping’s books, but anyone can follow the process with an open heart ~ or enough desperation ~ and relief will be the end result.

Why do any of it, this hard work of letting ourselves and others off the hook? For freedom. For joy. For peace and love and true happiness. Because lack of forgiveness leads to judgment, which leads to separation, and that is not how we’re meant to live. It doesn’t feel good, not at the core. Our souls know better.

Every spiritual path stresses the importance of the natural qualities of the soul, the Bible’s “gifts of the spirit,” being one version. Forgiveness is the red carpet to knowing who we really are. Beloved. Cherished. Connected. Never Alone. That’s the true marvel of life, that one, that we are never alone when that’s so often how it feels.

So there are two stories here, one of forgiveness unasked for, a gift of grace, and then there’s a different kind of forgiveness, the result of a major effort and a lot of work, but readily available to all. Both experiences led me to freedom and with that, the deepest, most delicious gratitude. I shared the first for the hope and for Hector, and the second because it can take you there, to peace, to transformation.

I know there are people who sail through life untroubled by their own behavior or that of others, and if that’s you, goddess bless. Carry on. But even if you don’t struggle with forgiveness, maybe you know someone who does. And maybe you can pass it on, that there’s hope. Hector Black’s story is worth listening to just for the beauty of it, the proof that despair can be transmuted to love. But if your eyes ever pop open at 3 AM, the result of a memory which causes you heartache, remember this: forgiveness saves lives and bestows upon the forgiver the gift of a life worth living. It is life-changing and available to all of us, a treasure we can give ourselves.

Here’s Hector on The Moth talking about how it is possible to forgive even the unforgivable and what happens when we do. Love really is the answer. It is. Always.

(And a little magic with this post. On Sunday, I asked my guides what to write about this week and I heard “forgiveness.” Monday a friend sent me a message which said, in part, “Forgiveness is here for you now. Can you partake of it?” I can. I hope you can too.)

home again

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When Mike died I became Homeless. I didn’t actually know what to call it then. I only remember how bereft I felt hearing the last beat of his heart, how it changed everything. The world at 3 pm on September 23, 2012, was vastly different from the world one heartbeat later. It even looked different. The light, the sounds, the people roaming around. It was as if it all fractured. Mike was gone. How could the world go on?

It does, of course, no doubt about that. It goes on and on and on, endlessly it too often seems. At a weekend retreat with some of my dear ones a couple of months ago, I became aware of what Mike really was for me. He was more than a husband, more than the love of my life, more than my best friend. He was a very special place of absolute safety and love. When I lost him, I lost that. I was adrift, even after I started coming back into myself, as the most crushing grief was wearing itself out.

The longing to leave this existence was persistent the first few years after his departure. Oh, there was happiness in there. The worst of the agony of loss abated. But lord have mercy, I wanted to go. I wanted Home back and he wasn’t in this world.

In the fall of 2016, my spiritual teacher, Suzanne Giesemann, released a meditation CD called “Journey of Remembrance.” The whole thing is a wonder, but the first time I listened to the first cut, the actual Journey, I heard the voices of Home. In the resonant tones of Sanaya, Suzanne’s guides who inform all of her work and who provided the input for JofR, I heard the promise of getting to go Home again. “You’ve gone off on a journey… for just a little while.”

“For just a little while.” I know this life isn’t forever, but to hear that in spirit time “for just a little while” is like the blink of an eye was a healing promise that made my heart sing. I can’t properly express what that meditation did for me except to say that it cured my Homesickness. Took it away. A four year plague vanished in 30 minutes. Any time I was beginning to feel that ache, that longing to get out of here, I could listen and be transported.

The cure was solid and left me with a sense of joyful anticipation about what was going to come next in this life. Who’d have thought that after too many years spent slogging along, just going through the motions, crossing off the days of my sentence here like the most hopeless prisoner, I’d again find excitement in being in this world? Cured by a 30 minute meditation? I was. I found myself again happy to be alive.

And then, an unexpected relapse. After my sweet friends, Brenda and Grace, died in May, I was once more fed up. Too many of the people I love are in the misty state and while they’re constantly shouting at me (“Enjoy your life! You have no idea how short it is! We’ll be together again soon enough! You have a purpose, live it while you’re there!”) they were really pissing me off for much of the summer.

Hearing of Brenda’s great bliss in being suddenly transported from “here to Here,” her description of what it’s like to die, was maddening. Grace was last seen strolling down our favorite beach, saying “you were right, Lynette. It’s gorgeous here, and the love! OMG!” And Mike. Always with me, but NOT HERE WITH ME!!! Really? Why am I being punished by being left behind? Even my parents weighed in with happy news from the place I’m not. This life again felt like a hell and I don’t even believe in that worn out old lie. It was Homesickness in full force. Misery.

And then something changed. Doesn’t it always? Thank you, Universe! It started with a Divine experience with a shaman, my beloved Raven, in New Mexico in June and it continued at a gathering with my precious ones in Pennsylvania in August. All of the pieces came back together. There’s a wholeness on the inside I haven’t felt since before Brenda and Grace, but it’s even better. I’m back to Not Homesick, but this new and improved version is an exquisite state of being in which I am so at one with gratitude I feel as if I’m overflowing at times.

There’s a sense of being filled up, bursting with the Love of the Universe, perfectly okay with being here ~ excited about it, in fact. These are feelings I’ve missed desperately. I’m glad to be aware again of the magical possibilities in being human “for just a little while” and fully awake to the fact that I’m more than that.

Home now is a state of being and it’s entirely my own. It is knowing Who I Am while wearing this costume of Lynette. It’s being fully engaged in the play while knowing I’m just an actor. It’s knowing that the Light of Consciousness exists as fully in me as it does in all things. I can lose my awareness of Home but Home never leaves me. It’s impossible. I am That. (FYI: you are too.)

I’m Home again. I’m surrounded by the most beloved friends of many lifetimes, gifts of my husband’s death (and there are always gifts in tragedy if we are willing to see them, as hard as that is to stomach when the loss is fresh). It’s heavenly to share this journey with others who also know the truth. I am so grateful. Mike’s leaving six years ago brought me here. Brenda and Grace added to the journey. Each loss can make us greater if we allow it. I’m thankful. I miss him, I miss them all, but I know the truth now.*

*And this is how it works. As I’m wrapping up this little missive, I click a song on Spotify only to hear instead the music that will always remind me of my Brenda and her last 48 hours. These little bits of magic, like breadcrumbs through the forest, remind us we’re not alone. That makes for a real heaven on earth.