How to Open Your Heart to Miracles, Even When Life Let’s You Down
I was raised in the Presbyterian Church, and yet I am not sure what I really believed about heaven. I never had to know. I know for sure, I believed if I was a good girl, nothing bad would ever happen.
I was very young when I formed my vision of Heaven. It was the great unknown city above the clouds where God lived. My Grandma told me God greeted all the people who die at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. And, my Grandma’s name was Pearl, so I thought she must have been someone really special.
Then she died, and I felt like there was so much more I needed to know from her and now, I could never ask. Like, how she made her applesauce and why did she want me to read the Bible? I pictured her arriving at her gates… the Pearly Gates, and everyone would know her because she was Pearl.
The image of heaven I had created as a little girl, followed me as I grew into a woman, a wife, and then a mother. When my beautiful boy died suddenly of bacterial meningitis, the surreal image of the Pearly Gates didn’t matter because all of my beliefs were thrown into chaos. I asked, “How can I know if there’s a God? Where is heaven?” I demanded. “Is there really an afterlife? Is my Grandma there?”
These are all questions we, as intelligent adults may have at different times in our lives, but never was it more profound than when my child died. My beautiful beloved 16-year old son, Garrett was missing from this earth and I wanted to know why.
Was I angry with God? You bet. How could He have allowed this to happen to me? I did everything right and yet I lost my child! A child! How could that have happened to such a “good girl?”
The truth is, why not me? Others have lost children and they were “good girls” too.
I realized my perceived belief system collided with real human experience.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest
In this story I will be sharing with you a truly remarkable miracle that changed my life forever, but at this point in time, I had just lost my beautiful son and I was forced to re-examine my faith.
Step One: Did I believe in God? Yes.
Step Two: Was I open to the possibility that God exists and has a plan for my life? Yes.
Step Three: Was I willing to acknowledge that sometimes the human experience involves getting sick, sometimes dying, or having a tragic accident? Yes., reluctantly.
Step Four: Am I able to survive such tragic loss? I didn’t think so, but, yes, yes, and yes, because at that point in my life, it wasn’t about me, I would just as soon die than feel the pain. But this was about love. Love for my husband and my living children.
And so… I chose to be open to and believe in the possibility that there really is something above those clouds called heaven. A place where my beautiful boy crossed through the Pearlie Gates and met his Grandma Pearl for the very first time and felt the comfort of her soft squishy embrace.
Faith was all I had. When you lose your child, you absolutely have to implement faith as a lifeline. I couldn’t do it alone. I questioned God and Heaven and Creation, but if I believed in nothing, I was lost.
The “knowing” that there is a God, goes beyond intellect. As a mother, I could look at the miracle that was created inside of me. Together with my husband, we created a child. Is that a miracle explained simply by chance?
Sometimes we think… give me a sign. But isn’t a child being born, sign enough that there is something much greater than we can ever fathom?
Science can tell you the story of how it happened, but how does it happen that the body is formed from one chance moment in time, where tiny cells meet and become human. Those little cells joyfully joined together and gave me a child. And that is a miracle.
Just as birth is a miracle, so is death. Just as you know someone is in the next room, even though he’s not with you; God is present. And so is my child. We are all made of energy, and energy never dies.
On the Friday before my first Mother’s Day without my child, my heart was heavy with grief. I picked up my young children from school and headed to Gelson’s for groceries. I wanted to prepare a dinner that would involve a lot of “doing” in order to numb myself from the pain. I decided on Fresh Vegetable Pasta. It involved lots of chopping, grilling and sautéing.
As we perused the grocery aisles, the kids were throwing things into the basket, and I was blind to it. One bag of groceries turned into six, but I didn’t care.
A young man (who was a friend of my son) carefully bagged the groceries, and offered to take them out to the car. As we walked, I asked him about his college plans. He talked about the entertainment industry. As he closed the trunk, I slipped him a tip and thanked him. I watched him walk away with his dreams intact. He was alive. His parents could watch him become a man.
I was embarrassed to feel such awe followed by anger.
“I have to make a stop, before we go home.” The children heard my voice tremble, and it made them quiet during the ride.
I pulled into the cemetery at dusk. I slowly drove the familiar road through the grounds. I noticed lots of new flowers at some of the plots. Must be for all the Moms, I thought.
“Why don’t you start your homework in the car? I’ll be right back. I opened the trunk and pulled out the basket, fully stocked at all times with paper towels, marble cleaner, a scrubbing brush, plant shears, and a spray bottle of water.
It was a familiar ritual I’d begun as soon as Garrett was buried. I was robbed of the years ahead tending to folding his clothes, straightening his room, and picking up dirty socks. I transferred my duties to keeping his gravesite impeccable.
Every day, I brought my basket to snip, scrub, and clean his “new room.” It gave me time to talk to him, alone, and to care for him.
As I approached the grave, I could feel my teary eyes stinging against the cool night breeze. I threw my basket down and fell to my knees in front of Garrett’s stone and began to cry.
“Mother’s Day is coming Garrett, and you’re not here, dammit! I’m so angry with you for leaving me! I don’t know how to do this.”
I tried to keep my body straight so the children wouldn’t see how distraught I was. But sometimes I was just exhausted from having to be so strong.
I sprayed water onto the stone and used the brush to scrub the letters of his name. I wiped it clean, then polished. The strands of grass were still neat and tidy from yesterday’s visit.
“Please Garrett, please let me know you’re with me. I gave life to you! Tell me, you’re here, tell me… ” I cried, hoping for a magical response. I waited, none came.
I shifted to see the children watching me from the car. Call to duty. Straighten up. Be your best for them. I packed up my tools.
I kissed my fingers and touched his stone, stood up and walked back stoically.
We got home to a dark house. I flicked on the kitchen lights and saw the message button flashing on the answering machine. I pushed it. My husband’s voice played, “Hi Sandy, I’m gonna be a little late tonight. Go ahead and feed the kids. Love you.”
Damn, a nice family dinner was supposed to heal the wounds of today. I abandoned my plans for the pasta and decided on tacos. I had everything left over from the night before.
Trevor came into the kitchen, ” I’m hungry, now.”
“I’m fixing dinner as fast as I can, sweetie.”
“But I’m hungry, now. Can’t I just have a popsicle?”
“No Trevor, I’m fixing tacos.”
“Tacos? He protested, “We had those last night.”
Julianne came bounding in. I sat Jackson in the high chair and handed him a fistful of Cheerios. Patience.
“I have a good idea. Both of you. Go clean your rooms! Now! They’re a mess! When you’re done, dinner will be ready.”
They retreated meekly to their rooms.
Sandy… Patience. I began to pull out everything for tacos. I poured oil into a frying pan and waited for it to sizzle.
Silly. I could have bought the pre-made crispy tacos, they wouldn’t have cared. Garrett would have, though. He was always my picky eater. Garrett… Mother’s Day… empty… my thoughts spiraled out of control.
“Mom… Mom… ” I lifted myself from the daze to see Trevor beside me. He was clutching a hand made card. I looked at him and touched his face. “I’m sorry, honey, I’m just really missing your brother right now.”
“Mom… ” holding the card, his hand began to tremble. “I found this stuck behind the desk drawer when I was cleaning it out.”
Trevor had asked for Garrett’s old desk. We moved it into Trevor’s room a few days before.
I took the card from his hand. It was Garrett’s handwriting.
“What is this, honey?” I asked. I began to read it aloud.
“Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!”
I looked at Trevor, dumbfounded. I opened the card Garrett had written and read:
Mom, you are a very special person-you really are.
Who else could write 2 books and raise 4 kids at the same time?!
A big heart is needed to do both of those things,
And a big heart is what you have.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom
I love you very much,
Trevor said in disbelief, “He must have written it before he died, Mom.”
“But he died at Christmas! ” I said in awe.
A feeling of peace filled all those empty places in my soul. Garrett heard me, he’s truly here, I thought.
“Trevor, thank you for finding this, you’ve given me a wonderful gift.” Trevor smiled so sweetly. I hugged him close.
“I love your tacos, Mom,” he said sheepishly.
Julianne joined in. “Me too! I could eat them every night!”
My husband opened the door… Hey family! What’s for dinner? “
Tacos!” they all replied.
“Good,” David said, “I love tacos.”
The grilled vegetable pasta would be just fine for tomorrow.
Miracles are postcards from heaven, and I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is, in fact, a place above the clouds where my beloved child entered through the Pearly Gates, and he wants me to know, “Mom, it’s beautiful there.”
Exercises: Building Faith and Recognizing Miracles
“If you lose your expectation, you lose your potential for a miracle.”
-Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastor of The Potter’s House Church
Build faith by opening your mind and your heart to miracles. You may have them in the form of dreams, nature, even a song on the radio.
The Zen Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, says death is like a cloud in the sky. When it disappears, it doesn’t mean the cloud has died. The cloud continues in another form like rain or snow.
If you look up to the sky and the cloud is no longer there, the sky is just showing you a new way of looking at the cloud. Don’t be sad, the cloud is now rain that waters your garden.
So now you must plant a garden and watch the flowers grow. When you see the flowers in full bloom, you gather them and make a bouquet for your kitchen table.
The next day you can photograph them or paint them. Frame your photograph or painting and hang it on your wall and know that every time you look at it, it will remind you of the beauty of your child in a new form.
Do you see how you are the creator of your future, now?
Miracles will begin coming your way when you commit to faith and start to believe they are possible. These exercises will pave the way.
- Invite miracles into your life. When they happen, be grateful and say a prayer of thanks. Then invite more miracles to arrive.
- In a quiet room, close your eyes and visualize someone you’ve lost, even a beloved pet. Tears may fall from your eyes, but that’s okay. Those are tears of connection.
- Now ask your beloved to give you a gift, a miracle.
- Stay with the picture in your mind, and tell them you will be fine. Tell them tears are not a storm of sadness, but a shower of love.
- Ask them to visit in your dreams.
- Now say goodbye and open your eyes.
- In your workbook/journal, document this day.
- Always write down your miracles and express gratitude. Even as small as finding a “penny from heaven.” They will begin to multiply.
Throughout the days ahead, start noticing things like rainbows, stones, birds, and things that represent your loved one.
My son used to pick a single white rose for me on the way home from school. Whenever I see a single white rose, I think Garrett? Is that you?
And somehow the rose seems to open out to me and in its beauty says… “I love you, Mom.”
And that’s the power of a miracle.
#Open #Heart #Miracles #Life #Lets
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