Today marks the third anniversary of my father's death.  This morning, as 11:13 am (the time of his death) neared, I began to sit with memories of my Dad.  

I saw him, propped up in bed, wearing white boxers and a white sleeveless undershirt, eating his nightly cheese sandwich while a cigarette burned in the ashtray.  I smelled Dad's unique scent, a one-of-a-kind blend of Aramis and cigarettes.  And I heard his voice, leaving the same voice mail he always left for me:  "Hello, Willo.  This is your old Dad calling.  I just wanted to see what you've been up to."   Sitting with all these pieces of Dad, I felt sad.  Profoundly sad.  Which surprised me.  And overwhelmed me.  So much so that I laid down on the old brown leather couch that's in my study and closed my eyes.

As I did, Dad appeared before me (or, rather, I appeared before him).  We were outside, the sun was beating down, and I was watching my father play touch football with a bunch of faceless spirits.  In that game, in that space, in that light, Dad seemed awash in the joy and peace that so stubbornly eluded him for much of his life.  Which, in turn, brought peace and joy to his son.  

It also brought understanding of why I had been so sad only moments earlier.  In calling up memories of my Dad, I had gone to where he no longer was:  the past.  I had brought forward that which was dead and the rotting sight, sound and smell of it had brought a certain sadness.  The sadness of being where you are not meant to be.  

All that had changed by surrendering to the moment of the anniversary.  The moment of the now.  The second I did, I found my father.  As he is now.  Well, almost. Because, you see, as this understanding of surrender gently washed over me, I looked across the field to see Dad open a door.  It was a door into the sun's light.  As it opened, Dad turned to look at me. The rays washed all around him and the unique being I knew as my father gradually disappeared into the oneness of the light. 

It was 11:13.  

I got up from the couch and walked outside, barefoot.  Planting my feet in the bare dirt, I lifted my arms and raised my eyes to look into that place where my father is.  Now and always.  The light. 

The wind swirled around me and the sun overtook me as I closed my eyes and gave thanks for my father, thanks for the light. I opened them just as a single blue butterfly passed by, heading over my backyard fence and disappearing across the horizon.  A symbol of transformation for a sun, a son....and a father.

Our journeys are filled with unexpected moments of profound grace, mesmerizing beauty, and innocent wonder.  Moments when the Universe says, “Yes, now!” As it did yesterday.

Actually, it was a shared moment on a shared journey I am taking with a student.  The Universe connected us six months ago.  When we started our work, he had no memory of his childhood.  In the moments since, I've held space as he follows the Lakota tradition of unbraiding and rebraiding lives. and moment's…lived.  Some fully, some not. 

As we began yesterday’s session, the student talked about some writing he had done the night before.  He had sketched out a number of new characters and mentioned that a few of them almost felt channeled.  He showed me what he had written.  A headwind of energy vibrated off the page, especially around one character.  "Be careful with channeling," I told him.  "It's not always clean energy and it always has an agenda." I explained that, though I knew how, I hadn't really channeled in a long time.  "The spirits and I chat all of the time, but that's 'with' me, not 'through' me," I went on.  "It's just not my thing."  (To which a spirit on that page chuckled and whispered,"Oh really?")
I went on to check my student's chakras, do a bit of balancing, and open his heart.   Inside he was calm, but all around swirled a rapidly intensifying energy.  I started getting flashes of battle, of galloping horses, of suns beating down and winds rising up. 

"Are you ok?" I asked.  "Yeah, really," he replied in the most relaxed of ways. "I just feel peaceful."

And with that, the battle, the horses, the suns, and the winds all turned and swirled into me, manifesting into a 19th century captain who had once travelled the plains of a very young—and very unsettled—land.  The Captain looked at my student with fierce, pleading eyes. Touching the hair on my student's arm and, as he did, we were transported to those plains.  The Captain and my student were riding side-by-side.  Galloping.  Behind was a sea of blind followers.  Galloping. 

The captain explained that, once upon a time, my student had turned right when he had wanted the followers to turn left.  “Release them so they can turn left,” he said.  “They weren’t supposed to go right.  They weren’t, they’re not, ready.”   Moving across the field at lightening speed, my student turned left.  As the blind followed suit, the field warped, the winds shifted, my student disappeared and the Captain left my body. 

“Well, ok then,” I said as we suddenly were back in the present (swearing that I could taste particles of dust between my teeth!).   Removing my hand from his arm, I shared with my student what I had experienced.  Not just the battle scene, but also the sense that, in that past life, my student had grown weary of trying to lead.  He had questioned the battle and, so, had turned right to ride the winds into the sun.  First, disappearing.  Then, merging completely.  The followers, of course, had followed.  But that wasn't their path, their journey.  So their minds just held them. Stuck.  Until, by illuminating a different direction, my student freed them. 

“I also had the most beautiful image of you leaving your home that final morning.  Surveying the rooms, the wife, the daughter, the steps up.  And the one out,” I told him.  “And, then, wearing a uniform, but carrying nothing, you went.  Out. Never to return.”

With that, I gave him a hug.  And, with that, I became that wife.  Years and lives of healing, of love, of closure flooded me.  Released me.

I looked down and the wife was holding the daughter’s hand.  “Bend down and kiss the top of my head,” I said.  As my student did, I experienced the calm, the sensation of knowing that everything’s going to be ok, that only a father’s touch can give.  And the daughter faded away, leaving me to gently fall back into my body. My chair. 

“What happened?” the student asked. 

“You left without giving your wife and daughter a chance to say good-bye,” I responded.  “Which means you left unfinished business.  Incomplete circles.  There was no grief, no anger, no wondering even.  Just incomplete.  The incomplete, the unfinished, came to you through your writing last night.  Because it was time.”

My student looked at me.   

I went on.  “Now, they’ve said good-bye.   You’ve released an enormous piece of karma.  And they’ve released themselves. To continue their journey as you continue yours.”

My student looked at me.  At peace.  

By July of 2006, I was ready to get down to business with this shaman thing.  Jill Leigh told me that the first order of business ought to be a good scrubbing of cords and contracts.   

"Huh and huh?" you say.    Hold on.  It's easy.  

Cords are energetic relationships we have with someone else.  They get their name because they show up like umbilical cords between people.  Some cords are conscious; most are not.  Some relate to this life; others do not.  When there is a deep, deep relationship between you and another being, it's called a contract, probably from past lives (Ever have an instant attraction to someone (or revulsion)?  That's a contract talking!).   Both cords and contracts stunt our growth by siphoning off energy to feed someone else. And who wants that?  I don't.  Ergo the scrubbing.

Now, I knew that, great trainer and healer she was, Jill wasn't about to do the scrubbing for me.  But I also knew I wasn't about to do it alone.  So I asked the Universe for assistance.  

And it sent me Claude. A motorcycle-riding spirit guide.  Who wore a red-plaid shirt, dark jeans, darker boots and gloves. And a black helmet (yes, safety-first, even in the spirit world!).  Claude was a cross between Dennis Hopper's character in Easy Rider and Santa Claus.  He never said a word to me, but he was exactly who I needed.  

Every day, for about six weeks, Claude would motor down from the 3rd  (or 4th) dimension, through my crown and park his bike in front of my 6th chakra.  I'd hop on the back and off we would go, down the winding roads that led to the mysterious forest of cords and contracts that surrounded my energetic field.  At first, the ride was easy.  The forest was dense in overgrowth of dead and dying cords and contracts that already had served their purpose to me...and to whomever held them.  We cleared them like you clear an overgrown yard (or block) down here in New Orleans.

Then, things got trickier.  Then we got to the clingy cords and thick contracts that weren't serving my highest purpose but were very much still serving a purpose to the being on the other end.  Like the cord my dead grandmother grasped to keep from going through the veil.  Or the contracts--the cabinets and cabinets full of contracts--that allowed energies from past lives to continue to manipulate me in this one.  

These cords and contracts were none too eager to leave my little energetic gravy train and so they hid whenever they heard the roar of Claude's motor approach.  But, here's the deal.  Claude was wiser than them.  He knew all the secret nooks, hidden crannies and dark corners where recalcitrant energy liked to hide.  He also was faster than them.

Claude would sense the hiding energy and we'd be off, the beam from his headlight searching up, down, all around.  And, pretty much every time, we'd find what we were looking for.

Claude's light would illuminate the cord or contract. I'd cut and clear, just like Jill taught me.   I say most of the time because the two fundamental truths about cords and contracts are this:  One, because they have been accumulating across lifetimes, you can't possibly cut or clear them all. Two, you can only cut or clear those that you're ready to cut or clear.  And that's not always as clear cut a case as you think.  You see, you may be ready to clear a contract with an ex-lover on the conscious level, but what about the subconscious level?   What shadow buttons does your ex push--and continue to push?  Until you figure that out--and accept it, love it--you're not ready to cut.  Even if you try.

All of this was ok with me because, in the summer of 2006, there was plenty I was ready to cut and clear.  About 3 U-Hauls worth (or was it 4?)!   And, by mid-August or so, I was feeling great...and scrubbed. I loved hanging around Claude.  And I was beginning to see the light shine through the forest.  

But light wasn't what Claude had in mind. Like I said, we had a job to do.  One was done, now it was time for number two.  Which was far less fun and far more dark.

I had to invade my own privacy.  And that trip was just about to begin.


As Little Will and I made our way back to Boston from Kripalu, he reminded me that we had been down this road before.  Not the physical road. The metaphysical one.

"Remember?” he said.  “You were six.  Easton Road."

And, suddenly, I was no longer driving east on the Mass Pike.  I was travelling southwest on Easton Road.  In Dallas, Texas.  And it was 1972.

I was in the backseat of my dad's blue Ford.  My mom was in the front; my older sister, all pig-tailed and freckled, was in the back to my right.   I have no idea where we were going.  But I remembered that moment vividly.  After locking it away for 30+ years.

I remember looking at the back of my dad's head, black with a few flecks of grey.  He was staring straight ahead, hands at 10 and 2, cigarette in the ashtray.  Silent.  My mom and my sister both were talking, in that relaxed, funny, easy way that makes up most of life's moments.  Especially the ones we forget.  Every now and then, my mom would let out a laugh that travelled up and down the scales like the most accomplished pianist.

And me?  I was taking it all in.  (For once) in silence and (for once) just like my dad.  I remember looking to the right and seeing a children's doctor's building.  That was my life as I knew it, not in that particular building, but in general.  I was a sickly kid.  They didn't know if I'd live past ten.   Many of my initial memories are of being sick, being in bed, being in a doctor's office or being in a hospital.  

Then I looked to my left, pressing my face up against the window, as the buzz of my mom and sister's chatter turned into background noise.  I watched the whirring cars, I looked at the buildings going by, I saw the trees, the grass, the crows.   And I thought to myself, "Hmmm. This is all make-believe.”

It wasn’t a logical conclusion, I hadn’t worked it out in my head.  I just knew.   That nothing in my world, nothing in any world, was real.  

It was all, simply, a dream.  A dream that I had made up. 

I remember that moment, that knowing, hung in the air for a long time, frozen.  
Then I looked to my left, pressing my face up against the window, as the buzz of my mom and sister's chatter turned into background noise.  I watched the whirring cars, I looked at the buildings going by, I saw the trees, the grass, the crows.   And I thought to myself, "Hmmm. This is all make-believe.”

It wasn’t a logical conclusion, I hadn’t worked it out in my head.  I just knew.   That nothing in my world, nothing in any world, was real.  

It was all, simply, a dream.  A dream that I had made up. 

I remember that moment, that knowing, hung in the air for a long time, frozen. 

Until the sound of my sister saying “Maa-uuu-mmmm” as only a little girl can say to her mother burst the moment and returned me to the backseat where I again looked at the back of my dad’s head and knew that I could never tell anyone what I had just realized.  Because, even at six, I already knew they’d think I was crazy.

So, rather than say anything, I locked up the moment, the knowing.  And, instead, I spent 30-odd years feeding the dream.   Until Raven broke the lock off.

“This time,” Little Will said, as we took the Copley exit off the Mass Pike and rolled into Boston, “this time, we’re not getting off the road.”