‘He can’t understand you,” the doctors had said apologetically when they saw me speaking to him, feebly attempting to pour the endless stream of love I felt upon him. I read him stories of healing, letters I had written to him in the sleepless nights and sang softly in his ear. “He is unresponsive,” they would say as they rubbed their knuckle into his sternum.
“They know so much,” I thought, “And yet so very little.” I still didn’t quite understand how others could not hear what I heard and feel what I could feel. This man, this now frail and tiny man, was communicating with me more clearly than I had ever known. I could feel his presence within me and a peace about him that the appearance would belie.
Looking down at this tiny, impossibly frail body swaddled in hospital blankets, I mused that nobody would ever believe the harshness his voice once had, or the terror he would strike in the hearts of his three youngest children each night when we saw the headlights of his car from the picture window. We would sound the alert that he was home, each scampering, checking that things were in order, hoping we hadn’t forgotten anything. Surveying quickly to make sure there was nothing that we knew might set him off. We knew that the later it was the more alcohol he had poured down his throat and would try greeting him in a sweet tone, hoping that we could assuage the unpredictable outbursts of anger that might erupt at any moment.
Dad was a harsh man and a hard worker. The depression era had instilled in him that stern, matter of fact view of life that comes from deep struggle. His hands were hands that were accustomed to hard labor and his words seldom suggested that love was behind them. He attempted to assuage his deep pain with a steady stream of alcohol each night and was expert at criticism and blaming his six children for his troubles. I spent many years in anger and felt a seething hatred for him, for both all that he wasn’t and all that he was.
He could have split us up after mom died–six children, five of them still at home, the youngest only seven. He had never done a load of laundry or cooked a meal. I don’t even remember his presence much prior to her passing; he was just the man who yelled at night and threw things…including our mother. I was often told that he was having a bad diabetic reaction. “What a terrible disease that must be,” I would think with my young, trusting mind. He didn’t get much better through my teen years and would often throw my things out on the lawn in reaction to just about anything. At sixteen, I was kicked out of the house once again and lived in a rented basement but I would eventually be allowed back.
I left dad’s house as soon as I could but the deep wounds went with me. I managed to put myself through college while drinking, doing drugs and living wherever I could find a floor but never staying long enough to get too close to anyone. I clung to the tiniest hope for a different experience. I looked in education, in men, in status and money but the emptiness, the gaping hole and hunger within was not to be satiated by my many attempts.
I knew nothing of a spiritual approach to life and categorically rejected the Judeo-Christian perspective of my upbringing; I saw religion merely as a means to control the masses and the beliefs held by adherents as pure myth at best. God and that Jesus guy were judgmental figures somewhere “out there” that were pointing a finger at me and not a source of comfort in the least.
Finally, I began to search in the one place, and I do mean probably the only place that I hadn’t tried…within. This new inward journey offered the first glimmer of hope in my young and torturous life and immediately showed promise where all other efforts had failed. I clung to it as an infant to its mother’s breast contentedly drinking of the sublime nectar. I did not know that I had begun the only journey that has meaning in the world. I did not know that my life would soon never be the same. I had no idea that everything that I had ever experienced was leading me to this. And I did not know that very soon the world was going to unzip and lay open for me to see beyond her façade; that I would see with new eyes and hear with new ears and that those things that I struggled to understand would soon feel more natural than breathing.
I came to the awareness that all those that had failed me by not being what I needed them to be were not responsible for my emptiness. I saw that these many people, these many things, could not ever give me what I longed for and neither did they need to—they could not because what I was looking for had been within me all along. I had simply not known where to look. I had been fishing in fields believing that I could be fed. My hunger pains were silenced as I was led to the water and it was always in the only place it ever is…within my own being.
I lived in a place, a state that simply cannot be described. It is an awareness of things that the world is blind to but is all around. It is a state of nearly constant wonder, amazement and deep peace. I saw everything differently and began to see dad through kinder, gentler eyes as well. I actually began to enjoy him, but even in this new light, his house was still not a place I ever wanted to live again. God had other plans.
I am able to hear a very clear Voice of sorts that often leads me very specifically. I refer to it as a voice for lack of a better word but it’s more like a deep inner impression that is very clear, unmistakable, and comes with a sense of deep conviction and understanding. But sometimes we are not as open to this kind of direct guidance and circumstances must squeeze us in the direction we are to follow, and I was being squeezed. I found myself with no where to live and not one door open but dad’s house. There was no possible way I would have ever “voluntarily” lived with him again but without another option, there I was.
One day, as I sat on his sofa, I whispered to myself in confusion, “Why am I here?” The Voice that I had come to recognize and trust responded instantly, “You are here for a reason.” I felt a peace and calm come over me; a confidence found only in the Divine and thought, “Well, that’s all I need to know.”
Dad and I baked cookies together and decorated cakes. I redecorated his house over the next months from top to bottom while he looked over my shoulder teasing me. One day, as he stood in the doorway to the living room, I looked up from the latest creative project as he playfully joked with me, and I knew he would be leaving soon. Not long after he was in the hospital taking his last breath while I spoke softly in his ear.
In those last months, I came to utterly and completely ADORE him! I had seen the truth of him during this time and our relationship was wholly transformed. His inestimable value was so evident to me it literally took my breath away. Everybody saw that something had occurred between us and even while lying in the hospital seemingly no longer able to communicate, he spoke to me of many things, including when he would pass. He became this peaceful presence that others remarked about in amazement.
Dad thought success was found in making money and having things…things that he never had. He didn’t understand why I didn’t find these things important or why I was interested in spirituality. The morning after his transition I awoke to him singing within me; he was a man of few words and when he spoke it was usually harsh and critical so it took me a moment to make the connection between what I was hearing within that morning and dad. It was him but not the man I had known; the presence was sweet and kind and had a gentle laughter about it. “My beloved daughter, friend and spiritual sister,” he said, “you helped me more than you can comprehend right now when I did not know. You are doing the only thing that has any importance, and now I am here to help you.”
A deep sense of grief descended upon me after he passed. Still quite young, I felt utterly orphaned in the world. I had seen such beauty in my father, the man that I had detested, and now he was gone. There was a black hole of grief that I thought I might never see through.
I wish I could say that the darkness was healed after a short time but it wasn’t. But then one day this heavy grief that I thought might never be healed was lifted from me like a feather. The healing came with the realization that there is not one thing in this world that is permanent…not one. All form ends. All form ends and its only purpose is to help us along to learn more of our relationship with God or Truth, and thus more clearly of our real identity and the identity of all. This is the only purpose.
The purpose was never to have form last forever but to raise our thoughts to what does last forever. It is to bring us to the place where we walk in the conscious awareness of what is real and of what lies beyond the form into infinity. So that right here, right where form seems to be, we are able to look through it to that which does last forever, that does satisfy, and is forever safe and reliable.
The loving God I had come to know had not forsaken me for I could see that what I thought had happened never did and that right now we–dad and I and all–are forever enveloped in Its loving arms. I would not change one thing. I would not change one of the thousands of tears I’ve shed. I would not, for they were the elevator to Everything. We simply cannot be apart. It is just impossible.
From that first profound mystical experience to today, my focus has been on demonstrating that there is nothing that is beyond healing. It is not the seeming change in form that matters, the meaning is in Love behind it. It is one thing to look upon problems and declare their unreality, however; it is quite another to come into the clear realization of this fact and then watch as the seeming problem is transformed to reflect the truth we are knowing. My relationship with my father that was once antagonistic at best and abusive at worst, was utterly transformed and unrecognizable even beyond his passing. This and the healing of the subsequent grief have stood as a testament to me that there is no relationship that is beyond healing.