My Mother’s Last Gift

essay, non-fiction 3 Comments »

Seven years ago today, my mother, best friend to her children, great friend to many, a star in the political world, a teacher and a writer, lay in a hospital bed surrounded by her children. Many a time during the last few months of her life, she would say, “Don’t hold a death watch for me. I will NOT die while you kids are in the room.” All of us kids rolled our eyes at this comment every time she made it. After all she was our mother and we were NOT leaving her alone.

On that morning in 2004 the Hospice nurses came into the room and assessed my mother’s condition. “Your mother has a good two weeks before she goes. There are signs of when the time is near and those signs are not evident. So if you all wouldn’t mind leaving the room while we sponge bathe her and change her night gown, that would be good. Give us ten minutes.”

All of us went to the coffee shop and sat in an outdoor courtyard. Within one minute of us sitting down, our cell phones started ringing: we were to return to my mother’s room immediately.

We ran through the hospital back to my mother’s room where one of the Hospice nurses informed us that our mother had just taken her last breath. Mom was right. She did NOT make her grand exit from this earth with us all looking on.

Mom, you always were a woman of your word~for this and a lifetime of many other kind and loving acts, we are all so grateful and blessed. And given the opportunity, we will choose you again.

With all our love,
nannette, ben, kellie, jennifer, amy, siobhan and tony

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By Chance

art, non-fiction, poetry 2 Comments »

This poem tells the true story of my father and my brother….and how one of my father’s paintings (he was a watercolor artist) found its way back to our family many years after my father’s death.

By Chance

This time
down in the basement
not far from the washer and dryer,
stacks of boxed Christmas ornaments,
a table filled with fly tying materials,
and shelves of things forgotten,
the son’s father allowed him to watch
and listen. The boy was seven.
He sat high near the work table,
next to where his father stood
as he swathed the rough textured Fabriano
with pale colors of moving water.
This will be the ocean, he’d said. Then he began
his vibrato whistle, like that of a wood-wind solo.
Pensieroso.

He whistled as the sable bristles,
an extension of his own long fingers,
dipped and twisted into the swirls
of thick titanium white, aquamarine,
emerald green, and ultramarine blue
on his pallet.
The son’s eyes followed
the brush’s movements while
his father created
an ethereal seascape for someone
who did not yet know
that by chance he’d see it,
have it speak to him,
make an offer
and carry it into his home—
a gift.

Azure liquid leaked from a sponge
his father wrung. He blotted in shadows
from the ocean up to the edge
of the masking taped paper
and then wisped thin lines of black
out lining the upper part of the indigo
and violet shadows
and the son watched
the dark run
into clouds.

Several more strokes
and a wooden weathered boat
tethered to a mooring buoy
emerged on the paper. Now he whistled
a shanty, as he worked
the impression of the rig.
A burnt sienna mast appeared and rose
into the overcast sky,
and then a loosely furled sail.
The father knew then what the son did not
and carefully drew
the brush from left to right,
to the stern. The father stirred
the brush in an old
peanut butter jar
full of blue-green water, whipped
moisture from it, set it down. He stepped away,
reached for an angular bowled pipe,
tapped tobacco, lit a match
drew in the smoke. The line of his
back tilted away
from the art and he ran
the pipe’s mouth piece across
his lips. He returned the pipe to its rest
and chose a finer brush, held it and waved
it like a conductor’s wand
through the air. He punctuated
the motion into white,
then black, then to the paper. This is a gull,
he said, and dipped again into the black
for the bird’s eye. The vibrato
in his whistle began
once more as a stiffer brush met
with a soft, washed-out yellow. Yellow bled out and away
from the sea bird, that stretched his feet
to light atop the mast.
In staccato fashion the brush dabbed in barnacles,
moss, sea foam, rippled reflections.
It’s magic, the son said.
Spirit, said the father.
Art is from God.

* * * * *

Thirty-three summers after
his father sold the painting
thirty-three summers after
his father died,
the son stood inside the frame
shop. Non-glare glass shards, soft
leaded pencils, gray gum
erasers, a rainbow
of matting scraps, metal squares,
velvety polishing cloths, Exacto knives,
moulding lengths, coils of wire, minute
brads, and powdery sawdust surrounded him.

Bells rang at the door—
unoiled hinges echoed its opening. A small
round, older man entered,
and in both hands he carried a large
paper wrapped painting.
Good morning, the son said.
The man placed the painting
on the counter, tore away the paper. It
means a great deal to me, the man said as he turned
it toward the son. Someone I loved
gave this to me. The man’s eyes
didn’t look away
from the art.
The son’s eyes focused
on a sea gull,
the yellow bleeding out and away
from it. The son ran
his hand down the glass
as though scanning prose and
rested his forefinger to the right
of the artist’s signature.
This is my father’s
work, said the son.
I sat next to him when he painted it. The man’s
eyes met with the son’s. He used to whistle,
said the son.

The man left the painting
for a new frame. The son
spoke to his mother, his sisters.
Come see, he said. The mother
set her hand near the name. The sisters
touched the frame.
The son stood back and realized
the sea. It is the ocean.
He watched and listened.

Two weeks passed and the son
called the man. I finished the frame,
said the son. The bells rang
at the door—the hinges now oiled
made no sound. The man stood back from
the painting, the ocean, the boat, the gull.
Your father would be happy, he said. The man
opened a manila envelope and handed the son
papers. This is a copy
of my will. The painting
will return to you one day. The son
did not meet eyes
with the man. Black type bled
through the yellow
highlighter—the son and the father’s name. The son
shook the man’s hand
and nodded. The son did not hear the bells
as the man closed
the door behind him.

Three days later the man
appeared again, carrying
a large paper wrapped painting.
This painting
belongs with you, the man said.
No need to wait
until I die.

Nannette Rogers Kennedy
November 17, 2002

This is the painting the man returned to my brother ~ it hangs in our home.

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Quote Recipe for 2010

non-fiction, quote 38 Comments »

quotesRemember what the airlines say~Put the oxygen mask on yourself first~

1. Drink eight glasses of water a day~heath practitioners everywhere

2. All happiness depends on a [leisurely] breakfast~John Gunther

3. An apple a day keeps the doctor away~anon

4. If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough~Meister Eckhart

6. It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes~St. Thomas Aquinas

7. The more that you read, the more things you will know~Dr. Seuss

8. If you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are doing it with your ability to attend to the moment~Daniel Goleman

9. If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk~Raymond Inmon

10.Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together~Thomas Dekker

Personal Growth

11. Be grateful for what you have~not envious for what you want~anon

12. If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought~Mildred Lisette Norman

13. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened~Dr.Seuss

14. Twelve laughs a day keep the doc away~Mary-Anne Reed

15. If you have nothing kind to say, don’t say it at all~all moms

16. Dream more while you are awake~anon

17. Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to~Unknown

18. Find something to love in everyone~anon

19. No one is in charge of your happiness except you~anon

20. Realize there is a gift in every moment ~ even the obstacles~anon

21. Whether you say you can or you can’t, you are right ~unknown

22. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but you can agree to see things differently~anon

Your human family

23. Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born~Anais Nin

24. Each day do something good for another~anon.

25. Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die~Unknown

26. What other people think of you is none of your business~W.Dyer

Life

27. And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years~Abraham Lincoln

28. Declutter~anon.

29. Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’~Yoda

30. Allow the best days of your past to be the worst days of your future~anon

31. We Are all One ~ me and many, many many others ~

nannette

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Listen to the Children

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Setting the Prisoner Free conclusion

essay, non-fiction 14 Comments »

Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation~Roberto Assagioli

Jump ahead six years to when I visited my cousin Gail in Pennsylvania.  For no other reason than proximity and lack of spare time, we had lost touch with one another for over fifteen years.  She called one hot July day out of the blue and suggested I come out to visit her.  After little more than a twenty minute “reuniting” phone call, I made airline reservations and two weeks later flew to her hometown about an hour south of Erie, in a small town called Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Gail picked me up from the airport—we recognized each other immediately.  We hugged, kissed, laughed and cried.  Once in her car she burst out, “I hope you don’t mind, but I made appointments for us with a psychic-spiritualist-medium up in Lilydale, New York.  It’s a whole community of psychics and new age people.”

I’d been to a  psychic or two in my life years earlier.  They were okay experiences, but nothing which compelledcrystal ball me to begin seeking out psychics on any kind of a regular basis.  Edgar Cayce, in my opinion, was blessed and an anomaly.  What was I going to say?  Gail had already made the appointments.

On the drive to Lilydale, Gail and I talked non-stop about our similarities.  We shared much in common philosophically and spiritually.  She had become a doctor of naturopathic medicine and I, while having finally graduated, had gotten married and had three children, was back in school working on my master’s degree and still reading tons of spiritual material.  Nonetheless, nervousness flowed through every vein about this psychic appointment.  I kept looking out the window, staring at the gray sky “snake oil, fortune tellers and crystal balls and eyes of newt.”

For the last few minutes of the trip there, it began to rain and I planned my approach.  Under no circumstances would I offer one ounce of information during this reading other than my name.  No way would I let any facial movements show this person any sort of approval/disapproval or agreement/disagreement with anything said.  The closer we got, the more these thoughts took on a mantra-like quality.

We pulled into the gated community, parked the car and began walking, with out umbrellas, up a hill toward rows of small Victorian homes, one right on top of the next.  The rain was cool and falling hard.  We turned on to a sidewalk leading up to one of the homes.  A sign hung on the outside door “Session in Progress.”  Wet, we sat on a covered porch in rocking chairs, mine moving at quite a clip, and chatted about how the other members of our families were doing.  A moment later the door opened and a woman of about forty held the door for the previous client.  Then she asked which one of us wanted to go first.  Gail insisted I go in first.

I followed the woman into a small room, sat in a chair noticing the frayed purple scarf wrapped around the woman’s neck.  She shook hands with me, placed a tape in a cassette player and began with a prayer.  After the prayer she quickly explained that she would do all the talking and only asked that I nod if anything made sense.

Within five minutes my jaw dropped, tears ran down my face and I was in a constant state of nodding.  The third right-on-the-money piece of information she gave, “A man is here.” The psychic turned her head as though she was listening to someone in the room.  She nodded her head.  “He is very sorry, very sorry.” I watched as she continued to listen.  “His initials are W and C.  he took his life in front of you?  He wants you to know he is so very sorry.”

victorianporchBy the end of the hour I was dumb struck.  My cousin Gail had no prior knowledge of the things this woman told.

After the session, I stepped out side, sat in the chair on the porch and wept the entire hour Gail had her session.  It came to me:  Warren was afraid to die alone.  I forgave him.

Incidentally, Gail came out of the reading disappointed that very little the woman had to say to her made any sense.

~ ~ ~

A year and a half ago in 2008, a young twenty-six year old woman named Vicki Van Meter, known for piloting a plane across the United States when she was 11, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  My cousin Gail lived next door to the Van Meter family.  Gail found Vicki dead.

Gail phoned me after the incident, rattled, shaken, in shock and saddened.  She told me how hard it was to find some one who really understood.  “And, where is the gift?” she asked me.

“You may not know for some time.  I’ve just discovered another one of mine~to be the someone who can truly hear and understand what you’ve gone through.”

After an hour or so of listening to Gail’s story of what had happened, Gail said, “You know, thank God I found her and had her body taken away before her parents got home from out of town.  What if they had seen what I saw?”

“Gail,” I said, “there’s your gift.”

This story began in 1986 with the self-inflicted gunshot death of Warren.  Over the years I’ve written this story in several forms~none of which seemed to say what I wanted to say.  During the writing of this recent version, I stopped in the middle to search for the journal of letters to Warren.  I looked and looked and have decided there must be some reason I cannot find the journal (and this coming from someone who rarely if ever throws away a list, let alone a journal).  I believe the reason probably is that I don’t need to relive this story at the level.  That part I have let go.  No, it is not something I will ever forget, and sometimes I still move my head when sitting at a stoplight, but I will remember the gifts.

nannette

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Fingertip to Fingertip

poetry No Comments »

Pillar2-Supernatural-GodCreates-Man-Sistine-ChapelOn a ceiling
in Florence
fingertip
reaches for fingertip
to unclothe
the Divine Encounter.

Upon contact
faces evolve
and unwittingly
drop
their identities.

Hands cease
wringing
and meet sweet
Palm to Palm ~
a mirror
gesture.

In an unmarked
passageway, Time
dissolves in the Disappearance
of the Self.

And in an instant
a whisper in the Soul
bursts the notion of
“I” and “alone.”

Absolute awe
washes the mind
and at once
understands
that just as White
foaming Waves
cannot separate from the Sea
neither can the Soul
uncouple itself from God.

Fingertips
extend for the contact
to reveal and translate
the Divine Encounter:
We are One.

nannette rogers kennedy

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Serendipity (conclusion)

essay, non-fiction No Comments »

The next morning, Sunday, I had an eight-thirty seminar. I didn’t care. I was going to the rosary instead. At 6 wayneda.m. my eyes opened without the use of the alarm. I showered, dressed, had a cup of coffee, pulled the rosary from the bottom of my computer bag and headed off to the lobby. I couldn’t find Immaculee anywhere. Instant disappointment. I scrambled my way to the front desk and asked about it. Nobody knew anything. They referred me to the registration desk for the conference. I asked the women at the conference registration desk who all looked at me like I was some kind of nut. I explained that this was an impromptu sort of thing arranged late last night. One of the women got on a walkie-talkie and someone radioed back that Immaculee was meeting with some people in the bar. I took off running and laughing at the fact that this rosary was taking place in a bar.

When I arrived there were about fifteen women sitting on couches and chairs around Immaculee. There was one space left on one couch. I promptly sat. Immaculee was answering some questions regarding her experience during the genocide. Then she passed out copies of information about the rosary. By now it was eight-thirty and the group had dwindled (people left to get to their seminars). Immaculee explained the rosary itself, holding up her rosary. My eyes almost popped out of my head. Other than the fact her rosary was clear crystal beads (mine are blue crystal) our rosaries were identical, same crucifix—an unusual crucifix—and everything. While I’m fairly certain this rosary I held came from my mother’s home, I’m not sure just how it came to be in my computer bag.

When the prayer/meditation of the rosary eventually got underway, Immaculee interjected throughout the meaning of the sorrowful mysteries. From the time we made the sign of the cross at the beginning until the sign of the cross at the end I wept. It was like someone turned on a faucet. I wasn’t heaving or hysterical, but tears kept a slow steady trickle down my face. The small space we sat in had such an incredible spiritual energy that it is beyond any words. As we prayed I noticed we were now down to eight, the exact same number of women who spent 91 days in the bathroom in Rwanda together. It was so powerful. I had no Kleenex with me and at one point I stood and walked over to the closed bar to grab a napkin or two—no napkins. I’d asked the women on either side of me if they had a Kleenex and they did not. Consequently the dress I was wearing served as sponge. When we finished the rosary, I hugged and thanked Immaculee. I bought a cup of coffee, walked outside, and sat by the pool. It was Sunday morning, early still, and I was the only one there. The following is my immediate written response:

November 13, 2005

Chills surround me from my feet to my head even though it is probably seventy-five degrees out here. I’ve just said the most powerful rosary with Immaculee from Rwanda. To feel in my heart even the secondhand pain this woman has endured and her glowing energy of forgiveness is so much for me to take in and accept that the emotion has risen to the point which my body cannot contain it. My cry comes from deep within and cannot help from spilling down my face and on to my breasts, where I can feel my heart pounding beneath. I have no Kleenex now, nor did I during the rosary. The tears are so deep. Immaculee has suffered so much, spending 91 days in 3 x 5 bathroom with seven other women, going in weighing 120 pounds and leaving the tiny cubicle weighing only 65 pounds. Her father, mother and brothers were hacked to death with machetes—ethnic cleansing. I do not understand this hatred. She said the rosary everyday, several times a day, with the rosary her father gave her when she fled into hiding, and she knows that her love of Christ and God are the reason she survived. Every time she got to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” part of the Our Fathers, she stopped as she says she always does whenever she says the rosary because she doesn’t know how she could ever forgive those that trespassed against her family, but she knows she did. How powerfully beautiful for her to be able to say the rosary at all, but to say it with an honest knowing of those words, and to be reminded each time she professes this part of the prayer that she does know the true meaning. It’s beyond my scope of comprehension. She begged and prayed for God’s favor and had a faith that willed it so. While she led the rosary with the seven of us, every one of us cried. I have no rights to complain. Just before the sorrowful mystery of Christ carrying the cross, Immaculee said, looking into each of our eyes, “What we must remember is that Christ carried His cross under such painful conditions,” she paused and began to cry. “What we must remember, is that God, Christ, do not want us to cry, but rather remember that Christ died for us, and that all of us make sacrifices, and that we are very connected. We are all one as is evidenced by our tears.” I will never be the same person as I was yesterday, never. And here I sit beneath a gorgeous blue sky, bathed in sunlight, sobbing into a pool towel. Oh my God, thank you, thank you, thank you. Immaculee, bless you and thank you.

Not one day has passed since this event that I haven’t thought about it. The Prime Mover conducts such extraordinary symphonies. While I know the music is ubiquitous, it is in hearing each note and listening for its significance to the entire piece which creates the spiritual encounter. I am forever grateful, blessed and fortunate.

My daughter is still talking about her experience at the conference. She too, believes she has had a true awakening.

mmiI have shared this experience with a dozen people. I even bought the recording of the night’s lecture and transcribed it so I could read parts of it to those with whom I have shared my story. The beauty is that everyone has thanked me for sharing and I feel I have made a positive impact on their lives. One elderly gentleman, that I didn’t really even know with whom I shared the story, wept and told me that I was the best thing that had happened to him in a long time, and that that in itself was a gift I must carry on: be the best thing that happens in some one’s life every day for the rest of my life. That’s a good goal, don’t you think?

While I’ve written a thank you to both Dr. Dyer and Immaculee, the best thanks I can give to them, is to tell this story and attempt to spread the inspiration. I hope it inoculates you with just a fraction of the spiritual energy it gave me.

Nannette Rogers Kennedy
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Serendipity (part 4)

essay, non-fiction No Comments »

Immaculee Ilibagiza: Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you for your kind welcome. I know my story is a sad story, but it has been a story that gave me experience of great spiritual growth and different understanding of how what really matters in life. So I am really grateful for what happened and what I’ve learned from that experience. When I met Wayne, [she is speaking to Wayne Dyer here] thank you so much for giving me this chance to share my story, I read his [Wayne Dyer’s] books and I listened to his tapes, I kept asking myself why someone like this wasn’t in my country before the genocide because it was all we needed for people not to think about the killing. So what I mean is, I hope you know what gift you have to have people like him teaching what he teaches.

Like he told you, I was on Easter vacation, home and we heard that the president died. My parents and my brothers who loved me very much, I was their only daughter. They insisted that I go to hide with a Hutu neighbor they trusted. I went to him and told him what my parents told me. He took me to the bathroom in his bedroom and I found there seven other women. We were eight. The space was a little smaller than this table. We sat there and were told not to say a word, not to make a noise, because if anyone knows we are there, they would call the killers. He told us he won’t even tell his own children. We were happy for his generosity. All day long we were listening to a radio which was next door in his room. All the news was talking about was how to kill Tutsis. They say to kill children, not to forget the women, old people, that they had to cleanse the country. That was said by the new president who had just taken over. The ministers, the whole country was just going crazy. They killed in public places, even in churches and then they started to say on the radio, encouraging all the Hutus to go to each house and search to see if there is any Tutsis hiding.

Then they came to our home. I looked surprised. I remember I was stretching and I saw through a curtain of a small window. I saw outside like three hundred people. I fell down. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t talk. They started searching. I had the rosary that my father had given me when we were separated. I just started to pray. I couldn’t remember for a minute any words really, in my mouth. I was so scared. I could not even tell you how much you feel when you have to experience something like that when you know people are five inches away looking for you, and if they find you, they will kill you. They searched everywhere in the house, in the ceiling, in the top of the house, in every room, they went under the beds. They opened every suit case, saying that maybe babies are hiding there. I was so scared.

I was talking to God. That was my only refuge. I begged him to save me. There was no choice. I didn’t want to die . . . I kept saying that if you say that if we ask, You will give. This is the one thing I am asking you in the world. Please make it happen that they don’t find us . . . I was really praying so hard. I remember, and I don’t really know if this was my imagination or my mind, but it was almost like a vision. I saw Jesus standing with us and heard Jesus say, ‘I know you are praying so hard. Don’t worry. I will put a cross in front of the door. And no one will ever come across.’ I saw the cross. It was almost like I was helping Him put the cross on the door. I stood out of my body and I was feeling like a spirit, and pushed the cross on the door. I was happy. I knew that we were protected. And after that I could see the cross. It was a cross of light . . . There was just a light. I was happy and a few hours later, the killers left. The only room they didn’t search: it was that bathroom. The pastor came back two hours later and said that they would come back many times. We didn’t know when they would come back. It was so painful to wait, because we heard them singing all day long outside. And any time they passed by, we thought they were coming for us. I heard so many voices in my mind, so many bad thoughts of how I was going to die. That was the only pictures that were going through my mind. How they were going to rape me, how they were going to cut my hands and my head. Just the thoughts were so heavy, so poisonous to my body without anyone touching me, and I was asking God I just wish these thoughts can stop, but I couldn’t help it.

That was the moment I think I heard an angel make a suggestion to me. It was the best decision I ever took in my life. I told myself, maybe if I pray every minute of my life of the day, these thoughts might be able to shut down. It was such good idea. I told myself: okay, I’m going to do it. As soon as I got up, I used my rosary to say my prayers and meditate on the bible on the life of Jesus. As soon as I get up in the morning, I started to pray. I would pray from like 6 in the morning until 10 o’clock at night, to the minute I fall asleep. The next day, I did the same thing. It was so good. I was able to spend a day without having these thoughts that were burning my body. And then as I was praying, every prayer talked about love. Every prayer talked about forgiveness. I knew in my heart, there was no way I can forgive these people who are killing me. I hated them. I wanted them to go to hell. I was thinking that maybe they killed my mother. And I thought, I hope God agrees with me. I mean it was a good reason not to love them, not to pray for them. Any time I reach this part of the prayer, and for those who don’t know the rosary, on one rosary you say seven Our Lord’s prayer. And any time I reach this part, ‘Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ the first days it was okay. The next day I feel like I’m lying to God. I wish I could take this part out of the prayer. But yet it is God who say this prayer. It must be true.

So, one time I was really feeling like a liar, I sat there and I told God. ‘Look, I cannot pray for these people, but maybe help me out. I just want to be so sincere with you because I want your favor so much. That minute I surrendered everything. I give God all my thoughts, everything. Control me. Tell me what to do. I was praying one time, meditating, and I remembered the words Jesus said on the cross when He said, ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they do.’ It was almost like I never heard those words before. It was so powerful. It was so clear to me that they cannot possibly know what they are causing. In that minute, I forgave them. We spent three months in that bathroom. We came out when the Tutsis liberals who have been in exile for thirty years, captured the country. And then we were able to come out. When we came out, I found out that everyone in my family was dead, my mom, my dad, my brothers, my neighbor Tutsis, my school mates. The whole country was dead bodies all over. I thought it was almost maybe the end of the world. Or the beginning, but one thing was real.

The forgiveness I’ve experienced, the love I got in the bathroom about God was so real, it was a gift that helped me relieve the pain of losing my parents. I am so grateful. I found out I was always the one concerning people. I even went to the prison to visit the killer of my parents. I wanted to find out how I would feel. As I saw him suffering, sitting down, a man who was respected. I really did feel compassion. I couldn’t believe that sin could bring somebody in a situation like that. If he couldn’t think of it himself, if he couldn’t love himself, to protect himself from coming into that situation, how can he think of me? How can he think of not hurting me? I knew for sure that he couldn’t know what he was doing. And I forgave him. My life today, all I want to do, all my thoughts, my decisions, I just want them to be based on love, on what God would do in my place if it was Him because I know as humans we make mistakes, and we can really make big mistakes. I hope and I think with forgiveness and love, unconditional love we can accomplish peace on earth. As Anne Frank said, the Jewish girl who was in hiding just like me, I really still believe that human beings I wouldn’t hurt and I hope we all help each other, pray for each other more than hating each other. Thank you for listening. Thank you. Thank you.

What a beautiful soul. What an example of life, love, mystery. By the time Immaculee reached the point in the story where she met the killer of her family and knew that he knew not what he had done, I was not ashamed of my anger and disappointment and antipathy toward my family, but moreover, I was gifted with an epiphany: It was in my power to find relief from the gnawing sensations of such negativity. The spiritual energy in that room was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I’ve never felt like I felt during the time this woman spoke. Never.

For the next ten minutes or so, Wayne Dyer spoke about the power of spirit and faith and the fact that that was the only reason Immaculee survived. She came back to the stage for few additional minutes and talked about how she had learned the English language while she was hiding in that bathroom from a French-English dictionary that had been left on the back of the toilet before the room had became a hide-a-away. Immaculee now lives on Long Island with her husband and two children. She works at the United Nations and will be speaking for the next year on the power of faith and forgiveness.

Just before closing the lecture, Wayne Dyer briefly mentioned that one of his eight children has suffered a great deal from drug addiction and that while she is doing well now, and in recovery, he would have approached that issue differently today. It was an odd aside because it didn’t fit with anything else he was saying. He even said that he didn’t know why he’d brought it up. Then he added he would stay for a while after the lecture to sign books. I looked over to my fiancé and my daughter. “No way,” I said. It was late and we were all exhausted and had a full schedule the next day. Quietly, we walked back to our room. I was still in awe and didn’t have much to say. I was trying to process the experience. My daughter asked me if I was okay. All I could say, “right now I’m overwhelmed.”

Once in the room, I made a visit to the bathroom. When I came out, I picked up my purse, Wayne Dyer’s children’s book I’d bought earlier and looked at my daughter and fiancé who had made themselves comfortable. “We have to go back,” I said. They both looked at me as though I lost my last remaining marble. “Let’s go before everyone is gone,” I insisted. “Something is telling me we need to go back and get our books signed.” While it is nice to have books signed, it is not my modus operandi to do so. We all headed back to the ballroom.

We returned to the lecture hall where about forty people remained. Twenty or so were gathered around Wayne Dyer, ten were huddled around Immaculee Ilabagiza, and the others seemed to be people who worked for the conference. We stood in line and listened to people praise Wayne Dyer for all of his contributions to helping people with spirituality and watched as he signed the books. Mary, my daughter, is generally quite shy, but when Dr. Dyer made eye contact with her, she immediately said, “I know what your daughter went through. I’m a recovering drug addict.” I had a knee jerk reaction of being choked up. I was very proud of her. Dr. Dyer looked at her with such kindness and said, “That’s why I said that bit about my daughter. I said it for you. I couldn’t understand why I brought it up. How long have you been clean?” Mary told him four months. He asked my daughter if he could hug her, which he did, and he kissed her—for a time she swore she was never washing her cheek. He then told her she now had a job to do, to tell others of her experience, and spent several minutes asking her questions. He did sign our books, and my fiancé took a picture of my daughter and me with him. We thanked him and began to leave.

rosaryI turned to my daughter and fiancé and said that I had to speak to Immaculee, that I needed to touch her, to hold her. I had no book for her to sign. We got in line to see her. I had no idea what I could possibly say to this woman. When it was my turn, I approached Immaculee and asked her if I could hug her. She opened her arms and we held each other. I said the only words I could utter: “Bless you.” She said, “You are so kind to me.” Then, a friend of Immaculee’s suggested to Immaculee that she might want to say/teach the rosary in the morning. I almost fell over. That’s why my computer bag made it to the conference. It wasn’t for the computer which didn’t work. It was for the rosary sitting in the bottom of the bag. I told Immaculee I would definitely be interested in saying the rosary with her. She thanked me and told me she would see me in the morning. What was happening to me? All of these “coincidences,” which coincidentally I don’t believe in, were occurring in such an orchestrated fashion that I knew I was in the mystery and part of something very extraordinary and sacred.

conclusion tomorrow

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Serendipity (part 2)

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meditation

continued from yesterday

Over the next five years I read and reread this book and another Wayne Dyer book, The Power of Intention. I purchased the CD’s of both books and listened to them so much that I actually had to replace them both. I made back-ups so that I wouldn’t go broke replacing them. I have introduced so many to people to these books and CDs that I’ve been asked if I work for Wayne Dyer. My pat answer, “I work for God, as does Wayne Dyer.”

So last spring, I finally made the decision to attend a Wayne Dyer lecture. I’d first chosen the October Wayne Dyer conference in Dallas. For a myriad of “everything happens for a reason” reasons, I ended up changing my reservations to see Dr. Dyer in Scottsdale this past November.

I need to backtrack a bit and add some history here to demonstrate the synchronicities which occurred prior to my arrival in Scottsdale. In August of 2003, I moved my then 8 year old son, fifteen year old daughter and myself from Fort Collins, Colorado to Kansas City, Missouri to care for my dying best friend, my mother. It is a decision I will never regret. My mother lived just short of a year after our arrival. Six weeks later we were preparing to return home to Colorado when my son was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease which caused us to stay on for another year in Kansas City. My young son was on 70 mg a day of prednisone for seven months—a fate, in hindsight, worse than the disorder itself—and the doctors told me the next step was chemotherapy. What put my son on the road to recovery was him talking to his kidneys and demanding that they heal and me deciding to wean him off this terrible drug. He believed that if Wayne Dyer’s daughter could get rid of a chronic skin condition by talking to her “bumps” (p94, Spiritual Solutions) then he (along with prayer) could make his kidneys well. He has been in remission for several months now. During this extended and unplanned medical stay in Kansas City, is when I decided that I would somehow or another see Wayne Dyer in person. I needed a live “Wayne Dyer” fix, as it were, to get myself back into the spiritual swing of things.

Just before moving back to Colorado this past October, I ran an estate sale for my mother’s possessions, going through every closet, piece of paper, file, drawer, box, etc., in her seventeen room home to separate the seed from the chaff. This experience in and of itself is one I don’t care to do again, but the actual selling of the family home of forty years was one of the sadder good byes I ever made.

While I am the oldest of my mother’s six children, I was the only one who did not permanently reside in the Kansas City area. Therefore, the trustee and executor of the estate fell into the lap of my brother—the next eldest. Quite unfortunately, my brother is an alcoholic, and consequently, has not dealt well with the death of my mother, the selling of her belongings or ultimately the family home. In a nutshell, there were many disagreements over the handling and sale of our family home. This caused a major division of the family—something none of us foresaw at all. For my part, I was deeply hurt through words, actions, and seemingly complete disregard for the fact that I uprooted myself and my family, not only with the intention of caring for my mother, but also of making sure we all stayed as close as we’d always been despite any familial “dysfunctions.” In the end, I left Kansas City, angry and prepared to never speak to half of the family, particularly my brother and my godmother, again.

November finally arrived, and my fiancé and I could hardly wait to get to Arizona to see Wayne Dyer and several other inspirational speakers at a conference called “Celebrate your Life.” We also looked forward to a much needed respite away from family trauma/drama. Three days before we left, my laptop computer caught a heinous virus—I’m a writer and, silly as though it may sound, I wondered how I would survive the Celebrate your Life conference without my laptop—the repairman told me it was highly unlikely that he could get it up and running before my departure date for Arizona. Pens and a pad of paper would have to do—I somehow suspected the world wouldn’t end without a laptop.

Two days before we were to leave, the woman who was supposed to take care of my seventeen year old daughter while I was away, had a death in the family and could no longer help us out (my daughter has been struggling with drugs/alcohol and the law, and could not stay home unattended). I called my ex-husband out of state and asked him to please come up and stay with the kids. I re-explained how long I’d been planning this event. I reminded him that previously he assured me he would help out if anything fell through. He could not come. I became furious. He doesn’t work and has the means to get to Colorado. I picked up the phone, called the airport and bought an expensive instant airline ticket for my daughter. I was not going to miss this event. I needed to take care of myself for a change—as is suggested by all airlines, I needed to put the oxygen mask on myself first so I could then help those around me.

The night before we left for Scottsdale, the computer repairman showed up at my door with my fixed laptop. Delighted at this surprise, I placed it next to my luggage and smiled at how things worked out.

part 3 tomorrow
nannette

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When Paths Connect

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Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born~Anais Nin

Did you ever wonder what twitter is all about? I often hear, “what good is it?”

In my other job I work for a nonprofit organization. Part of my job involves using twitter to get the word out about this organization. For those of you who don’t know about twitter, it is a free online communications tool that allows its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are messages/posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and sent to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.

During the first month of using twitter I listened to a conference training call on the “how tos” of making twitter work. One of the most surprising tips I learned (besides that this form of communication is the way of the future because it gets information out so quickly): Don’t exclude followers whom you may believe think differently than you. Granted a great majority of my followers are of like mind.

I have followed quite a number of people who have different political views, philosophies of life, careers, etc. In retrospect, this was good advice. I didn’t want to simply preach to the choir (I do, however, check people’s profiles and messages they have recently sent because there are some unacceptable crumbs in the twitter world who try to trick you into pornographic sites and some only know how to tweet foul language).

Over the past several months I have tweeted hundreds of positive thought quotes, information about the nonprofit organization, reposted others’ interesting and thought provoking quotes and information about other charitable foundations and causes. Reciprocity is a key in using twitter. This is the means of building relationships and credibility with your followers. I now have over 3000 steady followers and the number is always increasing. And I have managed to surround myself with many, many positive people. This is one reward I’ve found through twitter~I am constantly inspired by others.

All along I’ve been asking people to visit the nonprofit’s website, but recently I’ve added “let us know how you heard about us upon signing into the site.” Not only has the traffic to the site dramatically increased, the majority of the people visiting say they heard about the nonprofit through twitter. All the work (and fun) is paying off. This too, is part of the payoff.

But, I received my best gift ever, just last week. One of my followers, a young man (I’ll call Craig), who remains quiet among the more “poetic” tweeters. He is a DJ for a radio station and sends messages about music, which I believe it would be fair to say, we don’t really share the same taste in music. He is one of the people I followed to have variety amongst my followers.

Tuesday, Craig posted a recommendation to follow me: nannette1094 she’s been holding me down for months as a silent motivator. great twitter companion!!! I’d be lying to say I wasn’t surprised. I instantly tweeted back a note of thanks. A moment later Craig tweeted this message: When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream. I sent a message back: Isn’t it contagious? He wrote back: it’s happening to me!! as we tweet! I couldn’t find the quote I wanted to send to him…I searched and searched. I’ve found it, though not yet sent it to him. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. You have succeeded Craig. What good is twitter?

nannette rogers kennedy

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