Earth is crammed with heaven, every bush afire with God. Those who see take off their shoes. Those who don’t see just pick blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I have learned that if we are attempting to learn our spiritual lessons while also having great passion the gates of heaven will open and communication to and from the spirit world will be possible. Yes, I’m talking about spiritual communication!
I first experienced this spiritual communication years ago when my young son was in the hospital having emergency surgery. I sat in the waiting room all alone because my husband was out of town on business. There, frightened and praying, I gazed out the window at dark grey clouds restlessly moving back and forth in the sky and a wondrous thing happened. Those dark, angry-looking clouds parted and a beam of sunshine appeared. This burst of sunshine reminded me of scenes from religious movies I remembered seeing as a small child in Catholic grade school. The beams of sunshine were said to represent God’s love pouring down on us.
Was this parting of the clouds a coincidence just then? You may think so, but I didn’t. I think somebody up there was hearing my prayers and wanted to give me a sign that they were listening. Soon after the sun appeared so did a doctor telling me all went well in the operating room. Relief!
I’ve received lots of spiritual signs and messages in my life. These messages have come to me in a variety of ways – over the radio, through music, by way of books, or sunshine beaming through parting grey clouds or lighting up particular passages of a manuscript. But once I became a Lady of Letters these spiritual messages found yet another way to reach me. They began coming to me through the mail. Spiritual correspondence in the form of postcards and letters.
There was the time I was deciding whether or not I should accept a position as children’s choir director at my church. I did have a degree in music education and experience teaching music in schools as well as working in the Education department of The Cleveland Orchestra, but I had never studied church music. What to do? Should I or shouldn’t I take this assignment? Help in answering this question came to me the very same day as the job offer. for when I returned home this is what I found in my mailbox.
A postcard from Austria and not just any postcard,
but a postcard picturing The Vienna Boys Choir. Was receiving this postcard a coincidence? I didn’t think so and now, twenty some years later, I’m still leading the children at my church in song and having a great time doing it.
Here are just a few of my singing angels.
On another occasion I was reading a book about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. My Dad, whom I loved very much, was failing. I knew I would be needing a lot of spiritual strength to get through the months ahead. Though I had always been tuned into spiritual life, I needed a lot more depth and wisdom to cope with the loss of a love.
In reading the biography of Francis I learned of his struggle toward spiritual growth and related it to my own spiritual struggle. I learned how in Perugia Francis experienced what he called pergation, that is, a purging of his shallow, earthy material values, but in Perugia he was not yet instilled with solid spiritual ideas and habits so he felt lost. He was struggling then as I was struggling at the time.
I wondered if I studied the life of Francis perhaps he might become a sort of mentor to me, a mentor who could guide me through this material world of ours into a place of peace and understanding. Could he be reaching out to me through this book that I was reading? I wondered. Should I be taking notes? Should I record Perugia in those notes. Perugia! I never heard of that place. Did it matter?
Well, I took a break from reading because I needed one about then and I decided to get the mail, and did I get mail! I got a postcard from Perugia! I kid you not! What unbelievable timing! That friend touring Europe made her way from Austria to Italy, but did she send me a card from well known cities like Rome or Florence or Naples? No! She chose to send me a card from the little town of Perugia. And when did that card arrive? It arrived just as I was reading about Perugia, Saint Francis and pergation for the first time in my life. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Saint Francis did become a mentor to me and now Francis is one of my favorite saints and “dead friends”.
In the following months after meeting Francis my faith grew and I continued working at my spiritual lessons. My Dad also continued to fail, and then…he died. But I received yet another spiritual message to help me through his loss.
I was working on an arrangement of “Silent Night” for my children’s choir. Just as I was singing the words ‘sleep in heavenly peace’ the phone rang. It was my brother-in-law calling to tell me my dad was now in heaven. Yes, he was sleeping in heavenly peace. Wow!
There were other spiritual messages that I’ll save for another time, but all this is leading up to a remarkable letter I received in the mail, spiritual correspondence, this time from my Dad. The correspondence was once again most remarkable because of its timing. First of all, the letter arrived after my father had died and furthermore, it was in answer to questions I had asked my Dad minutes earlier.
To set the scene it was my Dad’s birthday. I wondered how I should celebrate his special day now that I could no longer drop over to his house bringing cake, balloons and presents. So I sat by a window once again looking up to heaven filled with great love and passion and there I proceeded to pour my heart out to him.
I asked my Dad all sorts of questions. Where are you now? What’s death about anyway? How does death work? How do I carry on without you? How do I celebrate your birthday now?
Of course I never expected an answer, but I got one. It came, yes, when I went to the mailbox and fetched a letter addressed just to me. The letter came from a member of The Letter Exchange, that wonderful organization which connects letter writers everywhere to each other. But it wasn’t her letter which was so magical. It was another paper within the envelope that amazed and delighted me. This extra message was not mentioned by my pen friend yet it addressed all the questions I had asked my Dad just a few minutes earlier.
After reading the first sentence on this, “Death is nothing at all”, I knew this was another of those very special spiritual messages I get from time to time when I’m not only working at my spiritual lessons conscientiously but also when I’m filled with great passion.
I continued to read very slowly, one sentence at a time, holding on to each thought because I was sure this message was coming directly from my father. Maybe he interceded the letter from heaven as it flew through the sky. Why not? The spiritual realm works in mysterious ways.
So before I share my father’s letter with you, this very special spiritual correspondence, I’d like to encourage you to not only work learning your spiritual lessons, but also to work living your life with great passion for then joy will be yours as faith grows. And I encourage you to share your joy and faith as I share mine. Why? You know. Sharing doubles the joy. And now…
The letter from my Dad
“Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old, familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.”