The Lady in Lace

With a faltering marriage and intermittent health problems, I was feeling emotionally drained and spiritually abandoned. My quest for healing and wholeness in body, mind, and spirit seemed, ironically, to be tearing my life apart.

Becoming weaker and weaker over a period of months, I had to pry myself out of bed to take care of my family and home. As one diagnostic test after another showed that everything was normal, I certainly began to question the meaning of that word!

One Sunday afternoon as I lay on the bed, exhausted and sick, hot tears filled my eyes. Feeling totally alone, it seemed that I was completely unable to change anything in my life. As I drifted into a half-dream state, I prayed for courage, for the strength to endure with my sanity intact until some answers came. Some of the emotional pain subsided, and I found myself drifting, floating on a cloud over a beautiful field of wildflowers. It was lovely, and in that moment, I felt safe and peaceful.

I suddenly realized I was on the ground, sitting among the flowers, watching a woman in white approaching from a great distance. I was filled with anticipation and curiosity as the woman moved toward me quickly and effortlessly and then stopped about five or six feet from where I sat. She wore the most beautiful long, white, high-collared lace dress, and her long hair was pulled back softly from her face.

I looked deeply into her eyes. Somehow I knew her, but from where? She smiled with such depth of love and tenderness that my heart swelled within me, and I wept, feeling the tears soak my face.

“Who are you?” I asked. Her answer unfolded in my awareness without a single word being spoken. She was my grandmother!

The beautiful woman before me was my mother’s mother, who had died in an influenza epidemic when Mother was barely six months old. She smiled again when I asked her why she had come to me. Speaking directly to my heart and soul, my grandmother explained to me that I was going through a uniquely feminine experience, something that is part of the emotional and spiritual lives of all women, the phase of a woman’s life that often brings great pain and suffering.

She said that my own healing of this passage would bring healing to the other women of my earthly family. I knew then that, as I endured the process and eventually healed myself, my daughter and future granddaughters would be able to move through this time with much greater ease.

Grandmother wanted me to know that I was not alone and that, just as she had watched over my mother, she had always been with me and would always be watching over me. I learned that day that I came from a lineage of women of spiritual strength and presence. Understanding that I had within myself the strength and ability to endure and bring healing to myself, I knew that I would grow from it and be able to help the women who would come after me. This passage, successfully navigated, would greatly enhance my own spiritual and emotional journey toward wholeness, as well as that of succeeding generations.

Returning to full consciousness a minute later, I felt as though I had slept in Grandmother’s healing embrace. Tears of gratitude and awe flowed through me.

The following year, when visiting my parents, I asked about my grandmother. My mother got out the one surviving photograph of her mother. It shows my grandmother at her wedding, radiant in her long, white, high-collared, lace dress, her long hair pulled back softly from her smiling face.

(Published in a collection of stories compiled by Lee Lawson (copyright 2000) in a work titled: VISITATIONS from the afterlife, True Stories of Love and Healing – published by HarperCollins books. Chapter 13, pages 197-198)

Follow-up:

I was diagnosed several months later with overlapping conditions. The diagnosis came just in time to prevent me from becoming comatose and was treatable with short-term heart medication and a diet specific to my biological needs at the time.

This experience led me into a more balanced and healthy lifestyle, which I live to this day. The doctor and nutritionist who led me back to health taught me to recognize and prevent further such episodes. Today I live without prescription medications and am healthier and stronger than ever. My gratitude for them is without limit.

Yin/Yang as Contrast

In my last entry I referred to dark/light as an example of Yin/Yang. The first thing that comes to mind when I think in these terms is black and white photography. This is one of my favorite artistic mediums. The edges are much more apparent than they are in color photography. More is left to the imagination because of the lack of other colors. The shadows or dark areas give definition and clarity to the light. Rather than working against the light, the dark supports the light, making it shine brighter.

In belief systems grounded in judgement, light and dark are seen as good and bad. The terms positive and negative carry connotations of judgement, even though scientifically these terms denote opposite sides needed to create a balance of function (as in the two ends of a battery + and -). When we automatically judge something as negative or bad, we deny ourselves the understanding that balance requires two sides to act as counter-weights for one another.

Emotions are judged harshly if they have been labeled as negative. Fear is deemed negative in the Western mind and yet, in Eastern philosophy, it is seen as one of the Master Teachers. Legitimate fear can save your life. Unrealistic fear can paralyze you. Learning from your fear can increase your self-awareness and nurture your spiritual growth. Sitting with an intense and uncomfortable emotion brings insight and often healing. Sit quietly and ask “Fear, what have you come to show me?” Then listen with an open mind and heart for the answer.

I have shifted the way I language emotions because even extreme happiness can stress the body and the mind, creating imbalance. I now assess (rather than judge) my emotions in terms of intensity. I am currently experiencing wonderful times with my family and the intensity of joy and fulfillment feels overwhelming at times. If I were grieving, it would be tempting to fight against the experience rather than embrace it. In both cases, it is a matter of the intensity of the emotions I am experiencing. As the intensity rises so does the sense of being overwhelmed. In both situations, the answer is to embrace the experience and be aware of what I need to remain balanced physically, mentally and emotionally. Imbalance in either direction (joy or sorrow) can, over time, lead to exhaustion and illness.

I am passionate about life. Human beings experience life through their senses and that includes emotions. When I am out in nature, I stop and drink in the visual wonder of it all. I take deep breaths and smell what is around me. I close my eyes and listen. I pay attention to the memories and/or emotions that these sentient stimulants evoke in me. I want it all.

At the same time, I seek balance so that my responses (physical, mental, emotional) do not toss me around or throw me against the walls of my life. Been there; done that. It is exhilarating to soar (yang) and necessary for my health to come back to earth (yin) and walk in balance.