"Where's that map?!'"
I pulled off the highway for one more quick route check.
"What the hell?!!"
The next town ahead of me was Supply, N. C.!
"This can't be happening to me!!! And who the heck names their town 'Supply' anyway??!!"
I whipped out of my red Camaro defiantly.
"There's that word again!! Well, two can play at this game!!" I fairly shook my fist heavenward. "Do you hear me? Once and for all, I am NOT going there!!"
Clever girl that I was, I grabbed the map again and plotted a wide detour around the dreaded town of Supply. I jumped back in the IROC and gunned the engine. "There!! I can still make it to the prison before closing time!!"
But it was too late to dodge the impact of that word!
When I laid eyes on the map (maps have often been omens for me) and saw the word 'supply' again, everything that I had been resisting for weeks came rushing in like a flood! Half an hour later, I coasted to a stop at a red light in Calabash, N.C. I glanced up at my rear view mirror just in time to see an old blue pick-up truck barreling into the back of my beloved Camaro!
"NO!!" I braced myself for the impact.
"The accident! There's the accident!!" I realized. A premonition had come to me a few weeks before. It was true after all....
It was a good, solid hit. The impact shoved my car a few feet forward. Luckily I had left enough space between me and the next car, whose fender I barely grazed. People quickly gathered around to check on us. I was a bit jarred. The guys in the truck were fine, thankfully. "Can we call an ambulance for you?" "No, thank you. Just give me a few minutes. I'll be fine. Is my car still driveable? I need to get to Atlanta before dark." I had hoped to jump out, survey the damage and tell the guys not to worry about it, but when I tried to move, I knew something was wrong. My back and neck were kinked somehow.
"Why don't we call that ambulance, ma'am, just to be sure..." "I really don't think that will be necessary," I countered. But a voice inside was saying "Let them make the call. It's not going down like you want it to." "But I don't have TIME!" I protested. The voice a bit firmer now: "It's not going to happen like YOU want it to..." After several more attempts to get out unaided, I finally relented. It all seemed a bit much, but the ambulance arrived, I was bundled onto a stretcher with my head in a brace and carted off to the nearest hospital to be checked out. As we rounded the final bend into the emergency entrance, the hospital sign loomed large overhead. "Supply!" I moaned. They had taken me to Supply! 'This can't be happening to me!!' So much for my plan...
Let me back up a bit and explain this situation... A few weeks before this event, a strange and unexpected prayer had escaped my lips. At the time, I was running my manufacturing business in Pennsylvania. What had started as a cottage industry in NYC had grown rapidly into a facility with 72 people on 2 shifts. In a short time, I had become the largest employer in a town that desperately needed jobs. It had been a challenging, exhilarating and wonderful experience for all of us, but after nearly 10 yrs, I suddenly found myself running out of steam. I had product designs prepared for the next 2 selling seasons and contractual obligations for the next 3 years, but something had changed on the inside. I found myself strangely at odds with my circumstances. The impetus and forward momentum were missing. The excitement and joy had faded... I felt out of step somehow... Alarmingly, I felt 'done' with this chapter.
In a spontaneous moment I said to Spirit, "I know you led me into this experience and you certainly blessed and led us through it, but it feels like You moved on at some point and I did not move with You. I have 3 more yrs. of obligations and commitments, but I don't have 3 more yrs. of strength left in me... Please...either give me the strength to go the distance or give me an honorable way to the next level." It was an odd thought, a strange prayer, but that's how it came out. And as quickly as it was uttered, it was forgotten...whisked away.
Life continued at its busy pace...that is, until about 10 days later, when a thought softly intruded. As I hurried through yet another busy day, a premonition came over me. I had the thought that I would be involved in an accident...a car accident. Was that the 'still, small voice' that I had not heard in a very long time? I couldn't tell for sure. I would have to wait and see, but it got my attention. A few days passed. Once again, as I was going about my day, another unbidden thought entered my mind. ' 'A small accident...without a lot of injuries.' This time, I had no doubt that a message was being given. I made note of it. At least it was somewhat more welcome news. I would stay alert and take extra care, just in case... I assumed that was the end of the message. But several days later, I heard a voice in my mind say..."and this shall be a supply to you."
There was a finality about it. This was the end of the message. Startling and enigmatic. What could that mean? I turned it over in my mind for days. The only thing I could come up with was that the accident would result in an insurance settlement. That idea did not set well with me.
'That is not how God works in my life! I earn my money! I don't get it by those means!' I was firm on that point. I absolutely rejected the idea. I thought that the message was coming from a less wholesome source than Spirit. The idea continued to press me and I continued to reject it. I wanted no part of it. It took some real effort, but I finally got the intrusive idea out of mind...until that day on the road.
I remember starting out on the well-traveled route between our factory and the Atlanta showrooms. I was an hour into the drive when I was admonished by an internal voice that said "You never visit those in prison." "Well, no I don't," I replied guiltily. In my defense I continued "but I don't KNOW anyone in prison!" "Yes, you do," came the swift reply. I thought for a moment. Suddenly I realized the voice was right! 'Eli!' Eli was one of our Atlanta workers who had been arrested...on my watch, no less... on Easter Sunday morning just after sunrise. That was a poignant story in its own right...
I had a soft spot for this one... We had been short-handed on one of our building projects and my partner, Tim, brought in a young man that he knew. He told me we'd have to keep a little eye on Eli as he'd just gotten out of prison on a drug rap. Eli was a tall, rangy blonde with piercing blue eyes, a shy grin and a sweet spirit... Half Viking, half Cherokee... a heady combination.
I'd felt a curious compassion for him from the start... Elijah turned out to be one of our best workers. A few weeks into the job, when he needed a place to stay, I offered to put him up in one of my spare rooms. He was the perfect house guest. Grateful, helpful and considerate.
He needed healing. That much I knew. I just didn't know his circumstances.
In the months that we worked together, I watched him regain his self-esteem and start to find his place in the world again. Tim knew better than I that his progress was tenuous, but I saw nothing but his goodness. When our project deadline was met, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It had been nine hard weeks without a break, but we'd made it. To celebrate, Eli and I decided to head for Myrtle Beach for the long Easter weekend. Eli offered to get the car checked out, change the oil and fill up the tank while I packed. He took a little too long getting back and we were making a late start. I was a little put out. "Eli...What took you so long?!" He made some minor excuse and I found myself shooting him a dark look and saying in my best New York manner "Eli! Don't play me!" When he gave me a startled look, I repeated it with force adding "I'm not kidding, Eli!" What had come over me? I never acted like that! But there it was!
We got on the road for what should have been a 5 or 6 hour drive. All we'd done was work these last months. There was no time for talk. I was curious to know his story. We got to know each other on that road trip. It would be a 12 hour journey in all... It turned out that Eli was from Myrtle Beach. He had mixed associations with the place I had picked for our getaway. His mother was still there, his father had passed. Elijah was an only child, specially named and born to a deeply religious Christian couple. His parents pinned high hopes on him while he was still in the womb. With a name like Elijah in this day and age one could imagine... His dad was away a lot and the marriage was under strain, but religion held them together. Momma worked at the courthouse. She eventually caught the eye of the judge, who helped her up the career ladder. But all was not as it seemed... Soon after, they began an affair which was eventually discovered. Momma went on to break up the Judge's marriage, tossed her husband to the side and 'married up,' as they say. A fine mansion, a rung up in society and all the spoils that came with it. Young Eli, all of 7 years old, said to his mother "Didn't God say that adultery was a sin, Momma?" He received a hard smack across the face and from that day on, little Eli was a liability. Young Eli knew the uncomfortable truth and would have to be put in his place. Suddenly he found himself the enemy of his mother as well as his new stepfather. He was a hindrance by his very presence. Before long, he was acting out in school and getting full punishment at every turn. He started spending time with a black family across the street. They essentially finished raising him, as he was rejected at home. That was an an embarrassment that Momma remedied by consigning Eli to juvenile detention. From then on, it was a revolving door of mischief and escalating punishment. As his heart-wrenching story unfolded, I felt a kind of atmosphere descend around us in that car...as though we had stepped out of time... I don't think anyone had ever listened to Eli's story before...he was 36.
Momma was making her way up the ladder and eventually was made head of the prison that Eli was assigned to. In all those years, there was never a visit or birthday card or phone call from her. I began to get the picture of this young man's repeated imprisonment as a misguided cry for love or at least acknowledgment from his mother who continued to coldly reject him...over the truth of what he witnessed as a little boy.
We drove on and on through the long night and pulled into Myrtle Beach just as the sun rose on Easter Sunday morning. Twelve hours in all... Arriving in Myrtle Beach with the Easter sunrise seemed fitting. It had been an incredible night. We were so tired, but every motel was full. We drove the whole length of the strip before we found one last empty room. Once inside, Eli offered to get us some coffee and do a quick load of laundry. I gratefully accepted and stretched out on one of the beds. I closed my eyes hoping to get a bit of rest that would not come. An hour went by...and then another. I was agitated by now. Where was he? I got up and paced the floors and then I left the room and searched the street. I tried to make light of things and walk the beach but my restlessness grew to alarm. 'Eli!! Where ARE you?! What's going on??!!' I spent a miserable day going back and forth to the room, checking to see if he returned. Finally around 3 pm the phone rang. A policeman was calling to see if I was the owner of a Camaro and if I had let someone else drive it? I was...and yes, I did. Then I was informed that I could come reclaim my car at the police station. Eli had been stopped because my tag had expired and a rear light had gone out. He was being detained after a search of the car had turned up electronic scales...the kind used for drug trafficking. I told the officer that those were mine. They were used in my potpourri business on a routine basis. He was not convinced. It seems Eli had used his one phone call to call an old buddy to come check my car. Eli had hidden 3 bricks of marijuana under the back seat! Eli would be detained and I would be free to reclaim my car and return home. I suddenly understood the missing time at the outset of the trip and my tough mood. 'Eli! Don't play me!' Spirit is never wrong...
The detective was good enough to tell me the whole story of Eli's run-ins with the law. Eli had a rap sheet as long as the officer's arm. His information corroborated Eli's version of the childhood events, but much was added to the narrative of his adult life. It was heart-breaking to leave him behind and see him cycle back into his old pattern...and prison.
So... It was time for me to visit Eli in prison. It had been a year since I had seen him. That was what prompted the change of course that landed me on the road to Supply that day.
Back to the hospital in Supply.... The staff checked me out, nothing was broken, but they warned me that I would be stiff and sore for a few days. The nurses took a last inventory of bumps and bruises. They pressed me for details. "Is there anything else?" I couldn't come up with much, but I did report a problem with my knee at the last. It seemed minor in comparison to my neck and back in the moment. But thank goodness we did note it, because a few days later, the ACL in that knee unexpectedly tore the rest of the way. There was a sound like a gunshot as I stepped down on it. A fierce pain shot through me. Suddenly my left leg dangled useless below the knee. There was a brief moment of incredible pain, but once it was torn, the worst was over. I remembered the premonition...'a small accident without a lot of injuries.' It was all true. Little did I realize that my hastily uttered prayer was being answered.
I made it to the prison before visiting hours ended. Eli was glad to see a friend. I would be his only visitor during his time in prison...
The timing of the accident was unfortunate... I would require surgery immediately just as I was about to leave for my annual buying trip to Thailand. Missing that trip effectively bounced me out of business. There was no way to negotiate a different outcome. In the space of about 3 weeks, my whole life was deconstructed. It came as a series of shocks as business, money, future plans, health, car and friends were all stripped away. It was uncanny, extreme, hard to fathom. The bills and payroll were still coming in, but the means to generate money was gone, as was the ability to put things back in any kind of order. I had been stopped in my tracks.
For several years, I had known that Spirit had been telling me to slow down but I just didn't want to. If I felt strongly impressed, I'd slow down for a bit, but much as I would with a State trooper, once I was 'out of sight', I'd speed up again. Constant busyness kept my internal pain at bay... Now things had taken a more serious turn.
Spirit knocked a leg out from under me to get my attention.
In that void, a lifetime of pain that I had kept at bay with all that activity rushed to the forefront. All my defenses and distractions were stripped away. It was time to deal... For anyone who has gone through such a thing, it is a frightening amount of pain. No place to run, no place to hide, no way to distract.
The timing of everything was impossible to ignore. The precision with which everything and everyone had been stripped from my life with no recourse was not lost on me. It was such an extreme experience that I finally began to suspect an Unseen Hand at work behind the scenes. It had all been too precisely arranged...
In that, there was an inkling of hope. Slowly I began to realize that I was not a victim of cruel circumstances. I also began to sense that I was not alone in my pain... It was the first time in many years that I had the time, the space and privacy to process and resolve the difficulties of my past.
I began to have a sense of comfort and sanity as I moved through the layers of pain. Though it was painful to move through those layers, each one left me clearer and less burdened. By degrees, I began to learn to move toward the pain after a lifetime of running from it by any means possible. It was a deeply internal process. The accident that had stopped me in my tracks had brought me to healing.
What followed was a year-long experience of healing on many levels... First physical, then emotional and psychological. All of that cleared the way and set the stage for spiritual progress that would have been unimaginable at the time.
Yes, I had 'lost everything' but the stripping away led to healing and a redirection of my life The swift, almost surgical precision with which it was accomplished was the most elegant solution...the quickest way to propel me forward. It would be some time before I understood, but I was being taken to the next level...
Over the course of a few months, as I followed the new path laid out before me, I began to take stock of my life, how I had treated my body and what needed to change. I had not listened to the signals my body was sending. It was time to slow way down and learn to listen, respect and mend. There were many apologies along the way. It was a pretty thorough reorientation in the end. And then, on instinct, I began to lay hands on myself for healing. It was a novel idea in a way, as I'd always thought of it as something that was done for others. In a similar period of upheaval 20 years prior, I'd had an incredible spiritual opening in which all of the gifts of Spirit had manifested, but healing was the weakest...and the one I sought most. So I was dubious at first. After a few weeks of that experimenting, I felt a desire to pray with others. I'm not a big church-goer, but I thumbed through the Atlanta phone book and found a church that seemed to appeal out of the thousands of listings! I made the call on a Monday afternoon and found they were starting a week-long prayer program that very evening. Synchronicity of this kind was beginning to occur more and more often. This would prove to be an unusual church in many ways. Genuinely diverse with a level of sincerity and engagement one rarely sees. Over time, the pastor had gently led his parishioners to vegetarianism...something I had never seen in a church setting. I had landed in a church where healing and the other gifts were genuinely developed. The pastor was extremely clairvoyant. So was his flock. He prophesied over me that evening, telling me that my recent prayers were being answered. In fact, he repeated those very private prayers word for word... He then went on to tell me the encapsulated story of my life, including how many times I had nearly died. I was dumbstruck. As he spoke, I felt 3 men standing behind me. They were tall and imposing. I assumed they were there to steady me if I fell, as I had seen them do with other people as the pastor worked with them. I was not likely to succumb...
There was a problem, however. A logistical problem... I was standing in the front pew. Sitting behind me was a young mother and her 2 daughters. It was physically impossible for 3 men to stand behind me. They felt 8 feet tall and quite powerful. Slowly, I began to understand the forces that were at work. They were what many would call angelic beings. They felt like the personal protectors I had perceived at a few critical points in my life. On another evening, a number of the people fell into a ecstatic state while deep in prayer. They saw into other realms of existence... They described the strange composite beings described in the book of Ezekiel.
In retrospect, he and his family struck me as somewhat alien in appearance. Thin and pale with large heads and eyes atop frail, almost useless-looking bodies. Long fingers, solemn and somewhat withdrawn, but radiating quiet love.
There were more frequent incidences of synchronicity as the path unfolded. I met the next right teacher again and again. My worldview was expanding and the pace of growth was picking up. I attended a Medicine Wheel Ceremony with Hyemyohsts Storm where I began to grasp my place in the scheme of things. I studied and practiced Reiki with a very dynamic master soon after that. Reiki, with its emphasis on self-healing as a prelude to healing others, gave structure and powerful spiritual connection to what was being birthed inside. Thai massage, which had been an avocation for some years, came to the foreground now in a richer way. It became an integral part of my development. Thai massage as a spiritual discipline, became the vehicle that fused the various aspects of experience and learning together, taking the work to new levels. Thai provided an inner continuation of my development as well as an outer form for helping others.
The next level...
On a practical level, there was an insurance settlement...the very thing I had tried to avoid. The settlement covered the medical bills with enough left over to help me purchase my release from from the showroom obligation and to buy a houseboat to live on. I continued to divest myself of my old life...property and possessions. With that I was able to rest for a year, heal from the surgery and pursue my spiritual studies. Living simply was a strong inner urge. It gave me the space and energy to devote to the next chapter of life which was largely about inner development. From that the next period of outer development would unfold.
the next chapter "Dark and Stormy" coming soon...