Look around you. Sooner or later, either you will find them, or they will "out" you. They are everywhere. It doesn't take Halloween to stir up our ghosts, particularly those ancestral creative spirits that have been with our people throughout time.
Some of you have met them in your dreams -- a frequent haunt, if ever there were one. Remember the last time you were visited in dreamland by someone who has passed on? If we are willing to suspend disbelief long enough to imagine the ancestor has a message relevant to life in the now, we just might come across a priceless font of original wisdom that can help us navigate our way through situations that have been unsolvable up to now. The following is a case in point.
Consider the 37-year-old woman who became a stepmother to four teenagers who were grieving the death of their mother to cancer. Although in waking life the stepmother happily worked as a teacher with children she loved, she couldn't seem to "get it right" when it came to her newly-inherited brood at home. Nothing made them happy. Her self-doubt escalated, and she developed a peptic ulcer. I suggested she keep a dream journal after asking for a dream.
Her "dream weaver" answered the following night: "I am walking along the shoreline of the ocean. Suddenly, my grandmother, who passed long ago, appears. She puts her hands on my shoulders and says: 'I have brought with me a medicine man.'" He appears suddenly by her side: a very ancient man with deep eyes, a plume of feathers in his dark hair, and many intricate tribal tattoos, wearing only a loincloth. "He turns to me and says: 'Be in good relations with all things. Begin with your own self, reflected in this mirror. This will heal the wounds that bind you and all sentient creatures. You can accomplish nothing of lasting value without this.'"
When Madeleine shared his words, tears streamed down her now-blushing cheeks. "I've always felt the outsider for as long as I can remember, just like now. I've never known how to be just like everyone else. Something always nudges me to color outside the lines. Even though I've tried to fall back in line, I can't. But my granny was the one person who accepted me 'as is.' Whenever she came to visit, her arms opened wide, and I knew I was home. She encouraged me to be me no matter what. I guess I've forgotten her message until now. I've tried so hard to please Barry's kids that I've begun to lose myself. I want to get me back. The kids are undergoing their loss, and so am I. Maybe we can learn to be good to one another."
Dreams are sacred texts from the soul. Our own original wisdom speaks in infinite forms, always encouraging us to return to who we are at the level of heart and soul, reconnecting with what heals and restores vitality, joy, and connection to all creation, including paying heed to the murmurings of the silent ancestral voice that lives in the stillness, are ripe in nature, and can be found in any spiritual practice that helps us pay attention, stay mindful, and embrace the unknown and unknowable in the moment.
In the newly-released film Cloud Atlas, originally a novel by British author David Mitchell, we are reminded of the interconnectedness of our lives, with the power to heal through love or destroy through lust for power and bottomless thirst for "more." An oft-repeated line bears repeating: "Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. By every crime and act of kindness we birth our future."
Perhaps this is why our neighbors to the south have celebrated the Day of the Dead for more than 3,000 years this time of year. Our Hispanic brothers and sisters believe that neither is death the end, nor is our task to be fearful of it, for we are bound together from that "womb to tomb." Wisely, they dedicate their creative acts on El Dia de los Muertos, once more, this week, to connection and gratitude to those who have gone on beyond the mystical veil we call death, and others call a door to the next classroom.
The following principles can assist re-connection with your own ancestral wisdom if you would like more confidence and direction:
1. Pay attention. The "wisdom way" speaks in endless ways. Many accounts have been shared of after-life experiences in which unusual phenomenon, such as inexplainable blinking lights, watches stopping and the like, occur without reasonable explanation. If it does, consider playing with the idea "if this were a message to help me right now, what might it be?" Free up your creative imagination and you will be amazed.
2. Wherever you go, there they are -- that is to say, previously-untapped wisdom. Often, a trail is left behind. How many of us have come across an old letter just when needed most?
A man I know who lost his only son two years ago on Christmas Eve had mocked any sort of spirituality all his life. At 82, he told me: "I'm too reasonable for all that. It's fine for others, but not for me." Two weeks after his son's funeral, he said to his wife: "I'd do anything to find him here back again." One hour later, in cleaning off some shelves, his wife came across a book and picture, which fell on the floor. Behind the picture frame, a letter was found tucked into the back from this same son. In it, the young man expressed his gratitude to his parents, as well as his wishes for them for the rest of their lives. The letter was dated 12 years before he was killed in the plane crash.
3. Trust that help is available if you are willing to embrace the form in which it comes. After my own mother died, there were times I would see an older woman who reminded me of her, and I would find myself staring, particularly at first. In dream life, there were other times when she would visit. Eventually, I began to consider the timing of these appearances. What might my mother represent that would be helpful to my present dilemma? Whenever I have asked sincerely, in the privacy of the heart, an answer has come, maybe not in the time frame I wanted, but always when I profited by it most.
4. Enlist your creative imagination to prepare a feast or act of kindness that honors the wisdom that has gone before you, now passing through you. Watch what happens, and be glad! Consider doing this with a hand-selected small group of others who are willing, and your results will be magnified exponentially!
Love Letter to the Non-Believer:
You are right! Everyone's way is his or hers to live out. I am not arguing this. All I am saying is that I feel your struggle, share your pain, and mourn your unlived life along with you. I hope, from the deepest part of my heart, that you will give all this a rest and begin to receive the treasure that is meant to be yours. I do not wish to intrude.
Yet, as I, your sister, love you as I do, the urge is deep in my own heart and soul to make inquiry of you:
The question is: Are you willing to trust that more help is available to you than you have known before? The question is: Are you willing to trust that you are not alone?
The question is: Are you willing to connect with what lies deepest in you, beyond your idea of what you must be to be loved?
The question is: Are you willing to go beyond convention, explore new frontier, take courage in hand and discover how the ancestors carry on through you?
The question is: Are you willing to free your heart from all that constrains it, release your spirit from all that binds you to old wounds?
The question is: Are you willing to know yourself in ways that transcend even death?
Be the Love,
Your Turn: What supports you best to reconnect with ancient wisdom, with the gifts of your ancestors? When and how have you found this most useful? How have "hints" come from those who have passed on? I'm listening! Thank you for forwarding this.
A continuing thank you for the ongoing outpouring of support during this period of finding new footing, quite literally. I am most grateful.
Gratitude for your amazing way of embracing The Love Project: Coming Home. It can be a great gift for those you love. A number of readers have decided to use it as a focus in their book clubs, sharing its lessons with others, mutually benefiting.
For more by Dr. Cara Barker, click here.
For more on the spirit, click here.