Yesterday I had a visit from a fellow pilgrim who had had an unusual experience last week. She wanted to talk about it with me in order to validate her experience and to get my opinion about whether it was just her “imagination”. It is a wonderful story and I have her permission to share it with you…
Last Monday, Valerie’s mother-in-law Betty, after a long illness, passed away in hospital in the presence of Valerie, Valerie’s husband, and her niece Davina, who was Betty’s grand-daughter and carer in recent years. It was a peaceful passing and the family sat quietly, nobody saying anything for about a half an hour. Suddenly, Valerie felt a tremendous burning sensation at the crown of her head and a feeling of sharp heat pulsed down through her body, right down to her feet, like a bolt of lightening shooting through her. Without thinking she stood up and rushed over to Davina and embraced her, sobbing heavily. Davina returned her hug and began also to weep. After some time, she released her embrace and returned to her seat where they once again continued to sit in silence for some time. A feeling of serene peace settled into the silent room. Later on, Davina thanked her for that precious moment of sharing, which she said had made her feel full of peace and also extremely close to her grandmother.
Apart from the strange surge of heat, what was unusual about this event was the way that Valerie experienced that embrace. Firstly, although she has had her share of grief in life, Valerie is not the kind of person to sob openly, not ever. Also, while she sobbed she had the sensation that she was outside her own body watching with fascination and a very clear mind at this strange scene, acknowledging to herself that this was really out of character. You see, living far away from her husband’s family, Valerie wasn’t particularly close to Betty or Davina and although she felt sad at her mother-in-law’s passing they did not have the kind of relationship that would have provoked such an uncharacteristic outpouring of grief.
What Valerie felt, she told me, was that her body had somehow become a vehicle for Betty’s spirit in order to send a healing embrace to her grieving grand-daughter. It was this feeling that she wanted to talk to me about and asked me if I thought it was just her imagination. But I have known Valerie for some years now and I know that she is a deeply intuitive person capable of great compassion, with a big warm generous heart, developed over many years of committed spiritual practice. So I reassured her that her experience was very real and not to dismiss it lightly because the result had been such a precious moment of love and healing for Davina. Valerie added too that the feeling was somehow so clear and clean and nothing but a sensation of love that didn’t seem to be coming from any one person but just filled up the space around and through her.
I don’t think have any particular beliefs about the afterlife or what happens when we die, but too many people have recounted to me stories like Valerie’s for me to doubt in any way that there are mysteries that we cannot understand and that weird and wonderful things happen to us when we least expect it. I also believe that although we do not need to find rational explanations for wondrous events, I do think it is important to fully embrace and acknowledge these experience and not to dismiss them with rationalising or over-thinking. Miracles are events that do not have a rational explanation but which, nonetheless, fill us with awe and wonder. Miracles happen every day, but cannot be experienced without an open heart and curious mind free from fear.
When your spiritual practice matures, your heart opens more and more and wondrous events occur that cannot easily be explained. I believe that any experience with an outcome of compassion, love and healing is proof of a mature spiritual practice, regardless of how irrational it may appear to be to the rationalising mind. It is the heart that is speaking, sharing its deep wisdom, its unconditional love. And the accompanying feeling of awe and humility in the face of that experience just further proves the depth of the wisdom. I hope that Valerie’s story inspires you too to open your heart and mind to the miracles all around you.