Saturday, December 7, 2013

Troubles, Spirits, Lily Dale and my Grandmother!

Grandpa, Grandma and me as a baby.

Have you ever read a book that made you laugh out loud?  If you have then you can appreciate the feeling I have had the past couple of nights reading Christine Wicker's fabulous book on Lily Dale, New York.  I reread it because of the horrible week I had.  I needed a laugh. (Topping my list of woes this week was digging for my septic by hand at 10 below zero...after being unable to clear the main drain line.)

Lily Dale is located in Chautauqua County and is a spiritualist community which sports séances, classes in spiritual healing and well as the books says… ”talks to the dead” … or does it?   

Christine is the quintessential skeptic that visits and is drawn back to the “Dale” to write about it and ends up trapped in a personal dilemma of what she does or doesn’t believe.  She thoroughly explores what makes people flock to this spot that some consider a vortex of spiritual power.

The humor and good natured questioning of all of the inhabitants and mediums and their teachings, brings not only a smile to your face but actually acts to reawaken your own sense of what is real, what is possible, and most importantly the question… is there another world beyond?

My favorite quote is one attributed to Susan B. Anthony who visited and spoke at the Dale… When given a reading supposedly coming from an aunt of hers on the “other side” she responded, “I didn’t like her when she was alive and don’t want to hear from her now… can’t you bring someone exciting out like Elizabeth Stanton? “

Most hysterical are her moments of classroom exercises where she practices giving messages to others in the class…and then her being astonished at actually giving a message that her read…ee was actually looking for? 

What is wonderful is Christine manages in her journey to unlock herself and comes away with a feeling that she has opened herself to the world around her.  Magically she gets the reader to do it as well.

So last night I closed the book, turned the light off,  and suddenly began picturing the rocker in the next room.  The rocker was my mother’s… but sitting in it was my grandmother… and she was crocheting.  It was a memory I had forgotten of grandma making a wool afghan for my mother when she stayed at our house for a while.  It was my grandmother Messere.

Grandma was a great person and I could still hear her telling me stories and laughing until we both cried.  She was always working hard even in the evening after all her chores were done… sitting and crocheting.  She always looked a bit like Madame DeFarge in the Tale of Two Cities I thought.  I always wondered if grandma was putting the story of her life into perspective… writing it with the hook and loops?

One of my favorite quotes of hers when something went wrong was… (With a laugh)… “It only happens to the living!”  I never really got the message of what it meant until I was in my sixties when I repeated it to a young woman with troubles.  I said, “Things will be okay … it only happens to the living!”  Right… it can’t happen to the dead!

Grandma was an orphan who lived as a child servant with a boss who starved her young workers.   She came to America as an indentured servant.  In her life she lost many babies at childbirth… one to green apples …and her youngest to war, but she never gave in to remorse, she accepted life for what it was… full of ups and downs.

So I began to wonder if maybe she was sitting there with me in the dark, reassuring me that all that was wrong would pass.  I like to think that it was so!

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