A Little Duck Comes to a Seance

                 A Little Duck Comes to a Séance
A dear friend had to have her beloved dog “put down” recently. I shared her grief and also this true story about animals who have passed into spirit.
I often attend a Spiritualist church, The Church of the Spirit, on north Central Park in Chicago. Spiritualism is a recognized religion out of the Christian tradition but with the added belief that “communication with the so-called dead is natural and scientifically proven”, as one of their affirmations states. This is what is unique to them – a long tradition of people developing their intuitive abilities and receiving communication from the so-called dead, as well as general psychic abilities.
I was attending a “Spirit Circle”, an experience somewhat like the old stereotype of a “seance”. Anyone present might share an impression they receive for someone else in the circle, but the assistant pastor was leading the circle and he is very gifted in this.
At one point he said “Quack, quack! Quack, quack! (pause) Does anyone here relate to a duck that has passed into spirit??”
No one else spoke up, so I shared that there is a duck special to me, who apparently is in spirit. I told the story:
I was driving westward on Golf Road, a busy road, bringing my son back from a treatment. I suddenly saw a little duck crossing the road in front of me and I slowed down almost to a stop, honked my horn to hopefully scare it back to the road’s edge, and then drove on. Had my son been more alert he probably would have hopped out and sent her back but he wasn’t well at all. I drove on, but then saw in my rear view mirror the two lanes of cars about to race out of the red light behind me. I didn’t know whether the little duck had returned to the side of the road or not. If not, would another driver be braver than me and stop all the traffic to let the little duck cross, or get her back to the roadside? Would all the traffic stop? Or would she be – splatter on somebody’s front bumper in a moment? I never knew. My choice had been made to drive on and there was no going back in those split seconds.
After that, I never forgot that sweet little duck! I felt so bad about the probable outcome of my wrong choice of that moment that I had to do something to assuage my conscience. I committed my credit card to sending $30 a month indefinitely to The Nature Conservancy, which buys wild land and preserves it exclusively for wildlife to continue living wild. That’s the only hope little ducks have of staying alive – to have land set aside for them where humans will not be at all!
So – here I was in the Spirit Circle and a duck has shown up saying “Quack, quack!” through the medium! Rik said, after hearing my account, that “Yes, she’s now in spirit and she has forgiven you and feels fondness for you; she feels your love for her!”
What a healing for me! And what a surprise, to both the medium. myself, and everyone there! How special to learn that animals also return to spirit and have understanding, awareness, and feelings. I wonder if they “go through a tunnel and then see The Light, the Source of life,” as most near-death-experiencers seem to experience?

Dealing with Sven, or How To Write A Difficult Letter

Dealing with Sven,


How to Write a Difficult Letter

Some years ago I wanted to write a letter to my dad to say some difficult things that I just felt must be said. I consulted with my sister Mary, who understood him better than I, and she said “Write a shortletter, with only one point. If you say too much he’ll get lost in it. Then she told me about Sven.

Sven was a Swede who worked for a farmer in our area. (You know I’m a Swede so I can tell a story about a Swede). One day the farmer decided to pay Sven by check instead of by cash. He told Sven “You take this to the bank and they’ll give you your cash.” “O.K.” says Sven.

Off he goes to the bank. The teller takes the piece of paper and turns it over and tells him to sign the back. “Vat? No Vay!”  says Sven and he grabs the check and goes stomping out.

A couple days later he goes to the bank in the next town and presents the check. The teller turns the check over and starts to explain and Sven reaches to grab the check. The teller grabs him by the ears and bonks his head on the desk three times – Bonk! Bonk! Bonk!   Then she pulls his head up again and says “Sign here!”   “O.K.!” says Sven. He signs the paper and she gives him his cash.

A couple weeks later Sven is in the local grocery store and runs into the president of the local bank. (This is obviously small town Michigan) “Sven!” says the man. “I haven’t seen you in awhile. Where’ve you been? Anything the matter?”

Oh, I’m banking at de bank in de next town now, cuz day explain tings better!” says Sven.

So,” repeats my sister- “Sven is dad. Don’t write something complex, just short and simple and only one point.”

   In recent times I’ve had to do difficult communications with someone over serious matters with possibly large consequences.   I’d wake up at night with anger, thinking of what I’d like to say to this person. In the dark, I’d scribble down what I was thinking so that I didn’t have to carry it on and on in my head. This enabled me to go back to sleep peacefully. Then over days I accumulated a satisfying number of choice phrases that “I’d really like to say.” But in the calmness that this method enabled I was able to sift through all my choice phrases and (sadly) throw out most of them as I measured the possible result of saying all this. I could focus in on a simple clear communication of the most important points I needed to communicate in a way that might best be heard by the other.

    I seldom respond quickly to difficult emails or communications; I find it best to sleep on things, often have another person read what I think I’ll send. My goal is to be heardabout something that’s difficult for both of us to talk about, something over which there’s controversy and emotion. Keeping emotions quiet and out of the discussion gives me the best chance of being heard. I even try to bring myself to a place of respect and LOVE towards the other, at least as “God” or their Creator loves them. This enables me to write the very best letter possible.


I just have to share one more story here. When I began counseling at Triton College, one of the first people to come to me was a Kurdish woman from Iraq, in her burka, with a serious family problem. Her father had two wives, 6 children by the first, 9 children by the second, all the children were adults now living around the world, and the father was getting old. He had built a large house for the two families, the first family on the first floor and the second family on the smaller second floor. The two wives and families hated each other. The second family claimed the first was given more meat than the second, better clothes, etc. Now the two wives still live in the house and maybe a couple grown children. The dilemma: when the old man dies, who will get the house?  “We’ll be actually killing each other over this,” said the young woman, the peacemaker.

    I listened to this and at first panicked, thinking”What on earth can I say?” But then I remembered Sven. This father seemed clueless, never understood why the two wives and families hated each other. So I told the young woman the story of Sven and my own father. She laughed and nodded, “Yes, this is him!” I told her, “Write him a short clear letter, to the point: “Dad, we will all be killing each other if you die without a will. Please write a will saying who will get the house.”

She went away and a couple weeks later I saw her in the hallway and asked how things were going. She said her father had just sent a video, which she expected would tell everyone his wishes about this. She hadn’t had a chance to see it yet but was hopeful it would say clearly for everyone how he wanted things to be.”

I’m amazed that Sven is such a universal person!

When It Might Be Valuable to Fall Apart


When It Might Be Valuable To Fall Apart                    9/14/12

This is such a difficult time of year for me; many great losses have come to me in September. Today I’m in tears remembering three years ago when my son was in the last two days of fighting for his life.

About now (three years ago) he said to me at 6 AM when I stumbled in to give him meds “I feel like I need to cry.”

Myself, I’d been crying often, scared of what might be coming, when I was alone in the car driving from here to there. I remember sometimes wondering when Tom got to cry as he never had privacy anymore. But not taking this as a nudge from Higher Guidance, this “wondering” just sat there in my head as a “wondering”. I assumed that somewhere somehow he did cry when he needed.

But this was not so.

At that moment at 6 AM here’s what I was thinking. I was exhausted. And I was afraid that if he started crying I would also cry and there was so much to cry about that we’d never stop! We might fall apart! We needed to stay strong as this big surgery was coming up shortly. Besides, Tom was a man almost 40 and so much bigger than me (6 feet to my 4’10”) I didn’t know how to put my arms around him anymore. Later, though, I thought to myself “I could have just climbed up on the bed beside him and put my arms around my son. This is what a mother should do!” Instead I said dully, “Some people watch sad movies to get themselves crying. Would you like to watch a sad movie?”

“No,” he said. And that was the temporary end of that. I stumbled back to bed.

How pathetic!

Later that day he shared something with me. When he was little, I never told him that “boys don’t cry.” I knew the world would tell him this sooner or later; now I know that I’d have saved him SO MUCH SUFFERING if I’d just taught him this myself – that it’s OK to cry in private but not in public. But I didn’t. In fourth grade his teacher demoted him from high math to middle math and he cried. She took a baby bottle from somewhere and sat him on a chair with it in front of the class! He said he never told us because he was afraid we’d make a fuss at school. He was also regularly and seriously bullied later on the school bus and didn’t tell us. As a result of these experiences, he’d stopped letting himself cry. I remember that even after his father died of a heart attack, I didn’t see him cry but I assumed he did in private. Now I was realizing that all the subsequent pains of his life had been stuffed down by him, never allowed to flow out through tears and heal.

Here he was with a large tumor growing in his lung, like a second heart growing in the wrong place when his first heart had been wounded by several tragedies in his life, including the recent failure of his marriage. I can’t help wondering if crying might have saved his life, letting these growths subside! For me, I couldn’t keep going if I didn’t let myself cry as needed.

Sometimes after he died I’d sob so hard I was afraid I’d have a heart attack. But I’d bring myself down gently and then sleep. I’ve always felt the need to sleep at least briefly after crying. Besides the rest for my eyes, my brain feels like it wants to go down to the slow brainwaves of deep sleep for just a short time to recover something. Then I magically get up and go on with my life! Crying is an incredible relief, though at times I feel scared that I’ll never stop.

That morning when I failed him, failed to help him cry, I was afraid we’d both fall apart; I thought we needed to be strong. What I hadn’t noticed yet was that crying makes one strong! It frees the tensions inside so one can stand up and do the fight with all our might!

Tom had a significant dream early after his diagnosis with cancer. He saw himself in a museum. As he walked through with his buddy, he saw children sitting on the floor here and there alone and in pairs all beat up. As he walked into a new room some men attacked his buddy. Tom tried with all his strength to pull the men off his buddy but wasn’t strong enough. He woke up.

Museums are about past time. I believe his “buddy” was his body. Something was showing him that the past had taken a toll, and healing had not happened for those events. Now his body was being attacked …

What if Tom had felt as free as I (a woman) do to cry, at least in private, whenever he felt the need? Perhaps this is one reason women live longer than men! And men often die of heart attacks, their hearts excessively strained. What if we didn’t fear letting go and “falling apart” as needed , trusting that whatever’s natural is what is needed and will ultimately lead to natural healing? Now I see all this, but like so much of learning – I only have the learning as a result of bungling – too late! Why couldn’t I know this before? Not only have I learned the importance of crying, falling apart if necessary, but also of following my intuitions. Stopping and paying attention to that quiet little voice that whispers so gently “I wonder how Tom ever gets to cry when he has no privacy?”