As often happens in my life, I tie myself up into a knot of stress and worry, and then I receive a sign that says, "Shannon, You Are Guided."
I hope the following story gives you a little bit of comfort and hope, as a Despair Repair.
This week, I'm stressed about the U.S. political instability and the Covid-19 pandemic. Neither of which are in my hands to control.
Many years ago, when I was also feeling lost and alone, I visited a psychic in Durban, an English woman named Anne, who lived off of St. Thomas Road in Musgrave.
Anne was a great psychic, not only for her accuracy but also for her enthusiasm! She clearly loved her work. In those days, I was visiting psychics not only to get guidance and sort out my inner turmoil, but also to learn about the craft.
For example, I paid close attention to how she would handle a tough question, or how she phrased answers when discussing subjects I already knew about [these "confirmations statements" build confidence in the client, which helps when you then have to give them tough or unexpected info]. Anne had mastered all the psychic and communication techniques, so I enjoyed our session tremendously.
In those days, about 2006, I was living in Cape Town and flying to Durban regularly to be a guest on a radio program called "Durban After Dark" with Devi Sankaree Govender. I needed to sit in studio with Devi, I couldn't call in from Cape Town, because of sound quality. Even today I still need to go into studio, which is why Covide restrictions have been hard, and one of the reasons I haven't been doing radio shows this year, which l love to do.
Back to psychic Anne - an elegant, fair-haired lady about 10 or 15 years my senior. She sat across a small table in the living room of her garden flat. Green, tropical light streamed in through the palm trees outside her window. A warm Durban afternoon. I had just discovered the frangipani (plumeria) tree, and I was intoxicated with its fruity smell.
As Anne drew angel cards and spoke calmly and confidently, I felt my shoulders drop a few inches..
First, Anne told me things I already knew: I was meant to teach, I had spiritual gifts I needed to develop further, and I should always write.
And things I was pretty sure about: I would have only one child (true), I would live away from my home for a long time (true), and I would grow in strength and name (true).
Then she surprised me by saying, "Oh, your grandmother has just arrived!"
I don't request mediumship when I visit psychics (mediumship is communicating with relatives who have passed away) so I didn't expect this.
"Which grandmother?" I asked with wide eyes. Both of my grandmothers had passed away by then.
Both grandmothers were born and lived in Minnesota, both raised a full household of children and were active in society, both were intelligent and kind people. But they looked and sounded very different from each other, so I hoped Anne could pick up which one was there.
One grandmother was named Mary; she was a groundbreaking lawyer and the mother of 5 children. Very professional, wearing suits and pearls. Mary lived until I was 25, so I knew her well; she often took me to restaurants.
The other grandmother was named Teresa. She studied at a business college and then worked as an accountant and bookkeeper at a lumber company, where she met my grandfather. They had 11 children. Because she died when I was three years old, my memories are few: Teresa gave good hugs, she baked molasses cookies, she wore an apron.
A cool breeze blew through Anne's Durban apartment. For a moment, I smelled the sea, although we were far from the harbor.
Anne stayed focused: "She says you can lick the bowl." My eyes filled up with tears because this statement was a very clear indicator that Teresa was present.
Teresa was born in 1901. She lived through the "Spanish Flu" Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1920, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Even though I was such a small child when she left, I had a strong impression of her care and kindness, her sense of humor and her warm, loving nature. I could also see that affection and ease clearly in my aunts, uncles and in my own mother. Teresa was a source of stamina and compassion (and cookies!) for her family and many people.
Many years have passed since my visit to psychic Anne in Durban, and it's been nice knowing that my grandmother Teresa has been keeping an eye on me.
Sometimes I've turned to my grandmother when I've been saddened by Life, impatient with the way things are unfolding. Never fast enough for me is God's timing, and that arrogance and discrepancy cause me trouble.
The first week of January 2021, the attack on the U.S. Capitol threw me over the edge into despair.
That attack, on top of my being so far away in South Africa, on top of the vaccine rolling so slowly, and Covid-19 cases still increasing both in South Africa and in the U.S. ... when will things get better?
What to do?
When I despair, which means to "give up hope," I know I'm in the wrong place in my mind.
It means I mistakenly believe I can control the world (I cannot).
It means I mistakenly believe that I, and only I, know what's best for the world (I do not).
To repair despair, I first notice it.
I then (reluctantly!) get off my high horse and admit that I am not the Queen of the World (oh, if only...)
My next step is to do something practical and physical. I need to get out of my head and back into the real world.
1. I made the beds.
2. I hung the laundry out to dry in the hot Karoo sunshine.
3. I made lunch - rice cakes with tahini sesame paste.
When I reached to the back of the top cupboard for the jar of tahini, a glint of light caught on something extra sitting on the jar lid.
What is that? It looked like a golden coin. Mysterious.
I'm the only person in the house who would have packed away food in this cupboard (it's too high for my child), but I hadn't noticed this "gold coin" before.
I reached for the jar.
Suddenly I had that funny feeling I get when I'm about to get a message.
Do you get that funny feeling sometimes, too?
Mine is: shivers, chills, goosebumps, my hair stands on end. Also, a heightened awareness and focus, as if all the other sights and sounds in the room disappear and fade out.
I pulled the jar out of the cupboard, into the light where I could see it better.
On top of the glass jar, a round fridge magnet was stuck to the metal lid.
I'd never seen this one before. Usually my online grocery shop (Yuppiechef!) sends a fridge magnet as a thank you, so I have a little collection of four or five on my refrigerator. But I must have missed this one when I unwrapped the latest box.
I read the words on the magnet:
"You only live once. Lick the bowl."
Holding the magnet in one hand and the jar in the other, tears streamed down my face.
I cried out, "Thank you!!!"
My grandmother Teresa was there with me, in my kitchen, in the middle of South Africa, and she was hugging me, and telling me she was looking out for me, as well as the rest of the family back in Minnesota.
Events in the U.S. and around the world, including the coronavirus and political unrest, are still unfolding.
I'm still impatient for everybody to get well, for governments to transition and stabilize, for violence to cease, for racial and social justice to prevail.
Peace on earth - when? I'll probably always be impatient for justice; it guides my work here, it's my reason to teach people how to get guidance.
But at the same time, I cannot personally operate properly from the unsteady ground of fear or hopelessness. That's just not viable.
Thinking of my grandmother Teresa, who who raised eleven children and shared her love with them, her grandchildren, and her community, against a background of war, upheaval, and strife, I can get myself back on track, just for today, and do what needs to be done, one day at a time.
May you, too, feel the comfort and calm of loving ancestors who survived terrible times.
May your own fears be put to rest, and may you find serenity by trusting in Life's processes and God's own timing.