51) Miracles do Happen!

My twin sister, Tina 2012

My twin sister, Tina 2012

Thursday April 23rd 2009 is a date I will never forget.  On the Wednesday evening Simon and I were supposed to be going away to Dorset  for a mini-break, but as Simon had a headache we decided to go down on Thursday morning instead.

We were up bright and early, just putting the last bits and pieces in the car when the phone rang.  It was my daughter Kristie, who lived with my twin sister Tina and her husband, Woody, and their family.  She told me that Tina was in hospital about to have an emergency operation.  She had suffered a brain haemorrhage late on Wednesday night and was due in theatre any minute to have life saving brain surgery.  I felt my legs go to jelly and I could hardly speak.  I had been speaking to Tina only the evening before and she had been totally fine.

I went straight to Tina’s house as her children all needed to be cared for and I wanted to be with Kristie too.  Tina and Woody had been unable to have children and had adopted seven learning disabled children over the course of several years.  They ranged in age from three to seventeen at the time.  It was an unreal morning, trying to hold myself together for the sake of the children, but desperately waiting for the phone call from Woody, who was at the hospital, to find if she had made it through the surgery.  Finally just after lunch Woody rang to say she was in intensive care but that the surgery had been successful.  I was over the moon.  I had been praying so hard and felt that my prayers had been answered.

Within a couple of days Tina was moved to the High Dependency Unit and was doing well.  She complained of the most dreadful headache but the staff told us that was quite normal due to her brain surgery.  After just a few more days Tina was moved to a general neurological ward and appeared to be making excellent progress.  She was able to walk and talk quite normally and  have a shower and walk around the ward. The expectation was that she would be home within the week!

Kristie and I were visiting her daily and on the Thursday, just a week after her operation,  we had all been sitting chatting about the programmes she would be watching that evening when the nurse brought her tea, which included a small bowl of ice cream.  Within minutes Tina’s speech was becoming confused and then I noticed that she was having problems eating her ice cream.  Her hand was making odd movements and she was unable to hold the spoon.  I alerted the staff on the ward and they explained that she might have some fluid on the brain and would carry out a lumbar puncture to release any fluid.  When I left the hospital that evening I was obviously concerned, but the staff had been very reassuring and it seemed that this was quite normal and that the lumbar puncture was routine.

The following morning I rang the hospital and they asked me to visit urgently.  They explained that Tina was once again in intensive care.  I was not at all prepared for what faced me that day.  The consultant explained that Tina had suffered a massive stroke due to having a vasospasm, a rare side effect of the brain surgery.  In layman’s terms, the blood vessels within her brain had gone into spasm and no blood had been able to reach the frontal lobes.  I was warned that they fully expected her to die.  I don’t know how I managed to physically stand by her bed, I was shaking and crying so much.  She was lying there covered with wires and tubes, buzzers kept going off and she was fitting, which was terrifying to watch.  The machines that were keeping her alive required almost constant attention by the special nurses who were with her.  I couldn’t believe that she had been doing so well and now they really thought she would die.  I prayed so much that day, I asked God why this happened and kept telling Tina over and over again how much I loved her and that she would come through this ok.   When I eventually left the hospital that evening I emailed every healer I could find on the internet asking if they could please send Tina healing.

I really didn’t think I’d be able to sleep that night, but nervous exhaustion thankfully sent me straight to sleep. I awoke in the morning dreading the news from the hospital.  I phoned and they said she was ‘stable’, but added that there had been no improvement.  I went to the hospital as soon as I could and was met by the ward sister who told me to expect the worse.  She explained that only the machines were keeping her alive, and even if she did survive the prognosis was that she would be severely disabled and unable to enjoy any quality of life as her brain was so badly damaged.  Yet again I sat with her, talking to her, stroking her hand gently.  I prayed that she would not leave me.  I had lost my Mum, my Dad and my brother all within the space of three and half months just a few years before, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing my twin sister too. I talked to her about our childhood, about the fun we used to have, about family memories, even about the battles we’d had.  I just felt that I could not give up.

I was sure one day that she had lightly squeezed my hand as I was about to leave, but the nurses assured me that she wouldn’t be able to do that.  They said that her brain was unable to distinguish my voice and that she most probably did not have the ability to understand anything I said to her.  I ignored their advise and just carried on chatting to her right up until the moment I had to leave in the evenings.  Days went by and there was no progress and it became more and more likely that she would just fade away.  I was totally heartbroken.  I had never lived through such a time.  Being an identical twin is impossible to really understand unless you are a twin yourself.  We had been together since before we were born.  We had shared virtually every part of our lives, most of our childhood and teenage experiences, and even though we had fought dreadfully at times, we were always there for each other and loved one another more than can be explained.  Now, days in to her stroke, I was trying to come to terms with the real possibility that this was the end.  That I would not have my twin sister anymore.

They decided to carry out a further operation to install a shunt, a drain in her brain, which would release the fluid from her brain into her stomach.  The operation was in itself risky, but without it she didn’t stand a chance, the fluid in her brain was building all the time.  Again there was the dreadful time of waiting to see if she had pulled through and thankfully she did.  We waited for a couple more days to see if there was any improvement, but still Tina just lay there motionless, on full life support, with every vein in her body seemingly linked to some needle to give her life saving fluids and drugs.  They even had to start using the veins in her feet as they were running out of veins in her arms, her hands and her shoulders.

I continually asked God why this was happening and what more could I do to help her and her family through this, but I was too upset to hear any answers.  Finally, in desperation, I called a medium that I found on the internet. I didn’t want to phone anyone who knew me, I really wanted someone who had no previous knowledge of who I was.   Immediately she began speaking to me, she described our Dad in the most wonderful detail,  and told me that he was talking about someone very close to me who had suffered a bleed on the brain.  She said this person was in a critical condition and was literally between worlds.  She then went on to describe our Mum, both  physically and her character, and said that she was with both of us.   Amazingly she also described our brother and said that he was looking over us and that he was giving me the strength to cope with it all.  She told me that Tina was aware of them with her.  I asked her why this was happening and she said that Tina had chosen to go through this before she was born.  She explained that it was an experience Tina’s soul had wanted and importantly it would show who would support her and who wouldn’t, who would be able to understand, and who would turn away due to the severity of the situation.  I did ask if Tina would survive and the medium told me that she couldn’t answer that, but said that Tina had a very strong spirit and that whatever happened was supposed to happen. I was stunned by such an accurate reading, but still had wished that I could have been told what would be the outcome.

The next day I went into the hospital again and as I walked in I said my usual ‘Hi Sis’ and took her hand.  I was sure her eyelids moved and then thought I felt her gently squeeze my hand again.  I didn’t mention it to the nurses, who I felt sure thought I was imagining it, but inside I felt a warm glow and a real sense of joy.  Something in me realised that she had turned the corner, that she would be ok.

For the first time in weeks I felt an inner calm, an inner strength,  I knew I could cope, as if I had been shown there was light at the end of the tunnel. I was full of optimism for her future.  Tina’s small movements became  almost like a secret code between her and I.  Many times that day her eyelids moved as I said something funny and her fingers softly brushed mine.  I gave her a kiss goodbye before I left and said I’d see her the next day.

The following day I was over the moon to see that Tina had her tracheostomy tube removed.  She could breathe on her own!  That was a  huge hurdle.  As usual I said ‘Hi Sis’ when I arrived and I  almost fell over when a few moments later she uttered, in a very hoarse voice,’ Hi’ – she was back!!! The nurses were laughing and clapping and the whole atmosphere in the unit was lifted.  She didn’t say anything again for a few days, but she still kept moving her eyelids and through her squeezing my hand I could feel her strength grow day by day.

After several more weeks Tina slowly made progress to the point where she was transferred to a neurological rehabilitation unit within the hospital.  She was paralysed on her right side, still doubly incontinent, unable to even turn herself, unable to swallow food, and only able to say a few words, but she could laugh, and we would share afternoons laughing at the times we had been through together.  I would sit with her and we would watch comedy shows and it would lift her spirits.  It really did seem that through joy and laughter she became better and better. Through everything that had happened to her she had managed somehow to  keep her sense of humour.

Over the two years Tina spent in two specialist rehabilitation hospitals, she showed incredible inner strength and courage, overcoming the most enormous obstacles. Learning to do even the most basic things from scratch which most of us take for granted.  She suffered dreadful setbacks, crippling pain in her paralysed arm and leg, frustration of a damaged brain that would not function as she wished, and the agony of a broken hip from falling over when trying to use a walking stick.  She had to be admitted to a normal hospital for a hip replacement operation and this caused even more problems as people didn’t understand her speech and her understanding of language, having had such a serious brain injury. Everytime they asked her if she required painkillers she said yes, even if she didn’t, and by the time she was returned to the rehab unit she was totally bombed by the amount of morphine in her body.  It took weeks for her to get back to some sense of normality. She suffered incredible loneliness and depression whilst trying to come to terms with the fact that most importantly,  she had lost her independence.

There were so many experiences that had me in tears over the time she was in hospital, but one of the most memorable occasions for me was when she was first able to stand, albeit with support, and we could have a hug. It was the best hug I’d ever had.  We were both in tears as for the first time in many months I held her in my arms and she could hug me back too.  Another wonderful memory was just before her first Christmas in hospital.   The nurses organised a Carol Service  and arranged for a local choir to come along and we all sat singing the carols.  Many of the patients sang too, including Tina, who still has a beautiful singing voice.  They gave her a microphone and she sang Once in Royal David’s City.  With tears streaming down my face it took me straight back to when we were both five and were angels in our school nativity play and we had sung that very song together back then.

I was amazed by the most wonderful work the teams at the rehabilitation units undertook to get Tina as far along the recovery route as possible.  Their patience and understanding was incredible.  I was overwhelmed by the gentleness and kindness of other relatives visiting their loved ones who were also going through the most traumatic times and yet there was a camaraderie between us all, all supporting one another and all living for the time when those dear to us would regain even a little of their lives.  The love within the rehab units was so strong. They were  places of both immense sadness and unbelievable joy, much laughter and sometimes, sadly, unbearable heartache.

I was stunned by the kindness from the wonderful worldwide community of healers, many of whom stayed in contact with me throughout her two years  in hospital.  The strangers, literally scattered across the globe who showed an interest and continued to send their healing thoughts to Tina. I will never be able to thank them enough.  I was so saddened by the lack of support from the friends and relatives that Tina had.  I would never have thought that those whom she had loved and considered close backed away and found themselves too busy to even phone to find out how she was.  I was appalled by the total lack of support from social services who I had assumed would be able to offer some kind of help to Woody and the children, but who in reality basically told me that as the children had been adopted and not fostered there was nothing they could do.   Just as the medium had said, it was an experience which  showed people’s true colours.

It was an eye-opener where friends and relatives were concerned, but it has made us both realise who really matters and who had only been there for the good times. The marriage vow, ‘for better, for worse’, often comes to my mind when I think of the people in Tina’s life who moved away from her and her family during this time, when they needed the love and support the most, and sadly received it the least. Some people even voiced that they felt it would have been better that she had just died. It is something I have tried to understand, but just can’t grasp.  Maybe the lessons are for all of them, maybe they too one day may require those they hold dear to have the patience and understanding to deal with such a trauma, who knows.  Some things are beyond my comprehension and maybe I will find the answers when I am once again back with my family in the spirit world.

Tina amazed all the consultants and specialists involved in her care. They said many times that her recovery was a miracle, that it should have been impossible for her to make the progress that she has. Although paralysed on her right side she is still improving.  She has learnt to walk again, to eat again, has regained her speech, kept most of her memories and importantly has made new friends through her involvement in stroke clubs that she regularly attends. She has become an avid reader, has learnt to master her i-phone and laptop, how to use Spotify to listen to her favourite music, and can play a mean game of scrabble! I feel blessed that I still have my sister  and that I have been able to share in such an enlightening experience.

I thank Mum, Dad and our brother Ray, for the continued love and support they have given us, without which I am sure I would have crumbled. I thank God for Tina’s ongoing recovery and for the strength I was given to cope with this.  Most of all I thank Tina for being my twin, she is an inspiration.

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47) Mixed Blessings

Sword 01

There have been several instances in my life where being aware of more than just our physical lives has sometimes felt like a double-edged sword.

When I was in my early twenties  my ex and I lived in Twickenham and we would often drive along Richmond Road to Richmond.  One day we drove past a truck with a lift attached to the back.  I have no idea what they are called, but they have a small cage which normally has one or two men in it whilst they carry out maintenance to the street lamps.  As we drove towards the truck I could see a film in my head of the cage being hit by a double-decker bus.  I felt sick in my stomach and without realising it had let out a very loud “oh my God”.  He asked me what the problem was and I told him what I had just seen in my head.  He kind of tutted and said it would be fine.  It was quite a long road and before the road went to the left round a bend I looked out of the back window back towards the truck.  I could see a bus coming along and then to my horror it hit the cage.  I gasped and shouted “oh no, you have to stop” but my ex was in busy traffic. He said that as the road was busy there would be lots of people to help.  I think he expected me to just carry on as normal but I just couldn’t. 

In August 1990 I was working and living in Okehampton, Devon.  Working so close to home meant that I could go home for lunch and give myself a welcome break from the pressure of my work.  I remember one day so very well.  I had sat down to eat a sandwich, put the television on and saw that the lunchtime news was giving information about a missing little girl.  She was only eight years old and very strangely had been taken through an open window of a caravan whilst she and her family were on holiday in Bridport, Dorset.  As I watched I felt so worried for her and concerned for her family. I doubt that anyone can imagine how it must feel to know that your child has been taken and you have no idea where she is, or even whether she is dead or alive.

Oddly, as I watched the footage of a line of police officers scouring the local fields for any evidence, I had another movie playing in my head.  I could see the little girl in a derelict house with a young  man and she was frightened and crying.  Most importantly she was alive.  I felt the man was mentally unstable and that concerned me more than anything.  Then, just as suddenly as the ‘movie’ had started, it stopped and I was back to watching tv again. I was quite taken aback and really thought that it was just wishful thinking.

There was a part of me that thought I should do something about the pictures I had just seen, but the logical part of me disregarded the nagging voice in my head, and so I put it to one side and went back to work.  Throughout the afternoon though I kept seeing the same movie over and over again, and no matter how I tried to ignore it, it just wouldn’t go away. Finally, by the time I had finished work and went home I was beginning to think I was going mad.  I was sure that by now they would have found the girl and as soon as I got indoors I put the tv on to see the evening news.  Again, they showed the police looking for her, and yet again in my head I was shown the house she was in.

I had a lurching feeling in my stomach as if I had just been given some bad news. I realised then that I couldn’t sit and do nothing and so I decided to phone my local police station. I had half expected them to tell me not to waste their time, and was in fact already wondering what else I could do if that was the case. Much to my surprise the man who answered the phone listened patiently and told me they would send a detective to come and see me. Even more surprising was that he arrived only about ten minutes later.

As I opened the door a wave of embarrassment came over me, I told him that he most probably would think I was totally crazy  but I just knew I had to do something and didn’t know what else to do other than phone the police.  He was actually very nice and told me that having been in the police service for a number of years nothing surprised him anymore. He asked me to describe the house and the young man I had seen and also asked if I could draw the house for him.  I tried my best to explain everything in the greatest detail I could, I  managed to draw a rough sketch of the house and signed a formal police statement. As he left I literally prayed that someone somewhere would take notice of the information and that they would start to search houses for the little girl rather than looking in the countryside for a corpse.  I really felt that time was running out and that they had been looking in the wrong place.

I hardly slept that night, and again, first thing in the morning put on the tv to see the news.  The little girl had still not been found.  I felt I had no option but to drive the 65 miles to Bridport.  I was hoping against hope that I would somehow be able to spot the house, and if I did I had planned to then inform the police.  I drove around for hours, but didn’t see any houses like the one I had seen in my vision. I sadly and wearily drove back to Okehampton. A huge part of me felt I had let the little girl down and I was becoming concerned that the video I had seen in my head seemed to have gone away. I just prayed that nothing dreadful had happened to her.  I was glued to the tv all evening and  there was still no news.

Again I had a restless night.  I was puzzling why I could no longer see the pictures in my mind and also wondering if I had somehow imagined the whole thing.  At last the morning arrived and the first thing I did was put the television on.  Still no news.  I went to work, struggling to stay awake and to stay calm but with my tummy continually churning, which I have learnt over the years is a physical response I have when spirit is close.

Thankfully that day the little girl was found, safe and well.  I was absolutely amazed when they showed the house on the tv and zoomed in – it was exactly the derelict house I had described to the police. Also, as I had told them,  she was with a young man who was later found guilty of kidnap and imprisoned in a secure mental health unit. I now wonder if my visions had stopped because I had done all I could.  I doubt if I will ever really know.

As expected I never did hear anymore from the police on this, but I do hope that my statement made them realise, for the future at least, that it is worth listening to information from mediums.

After  this event I seemed to go through a couple of years where many times, especially when a child went missing, I would be shown the most sad and often harrowing scenes but I was not given any further information.   I would also watch tv interviews of families where children had gone missing and know instinctively who was responsible, but with no evidence to back it up I couldn’t contact anyone.  I just knew that there was nothing I could do. On each occasion my ‘knowing’ was proved right. Eventually I asked my guides not to let me have  information if there was no action I could take to help  and thankfully those kind of visions stopped. 

On the plus side, when I was learning to drive in deepest Devon, many of my lessons were on very narrow winding roads. Very often my driving instructor would comment on my sixth sense as I would often be happily whizzing along for miles, then I would just know to slow down and pull over, and sure enough a car would always come the other way. I had several lessons with my good friend Jeanette and she became really spooked by my unusual awareness. On so many occasions I would know exactly what other cars were going to do, even if their signals and road position indicated otherwise. One time we were behind queuing cars at traffic lights and I was supposed to get in the empty right hand lane to turn right, but I held back. Jeanette told me to move forward but I insisted that the car at the lights, indicating left and with his wheels already pointing in that direction, would be pulling across in front of me. Jeanette laughed and just thought I was being daft. Sure enough though, as the lights changed, the car in the left hand lane suddenly swung to the right and tore off at great speed.

Almost thirty years ago I had a wonderful spiritual reading, by telephone, with a medium I had never met. Straight away she asked me if I ever felt ‘cobwebs’ on my face as I was driving. I said yes. it was quite normal for me, and she went on to explain that it was a sign that my maternal Grandfather was with me. She told me he was a lorry driver in his life time and he was looking after me. She knew nothing about me, but she was right, he had been a lorry driver, and since that time whenever I feel ‘cobwebs’ on my face I say thank you to my Grandfather. This has happened so many times, and still does, I really feel I am so fortunate to have him watching over me.

Over the years I have learnt to trust spirit and the visions I have which have rarely been incorrect.  I have sometimes wondered if my life would have been easier had I not been so aware, but in reality I wouldn’t change a thing.  My connections with spirit have made such an enormous and positive difference to my life and hopefully, at times, have helped others along the way too.  If through my awareness, even  just a few people have been touched by the love of spirit and the knowledge that our lives, right now, are only part of our souls journey, then I feel truly blessed.

44) Interconnectedness – The Synchronicity Continues!

I had just published my last post, 43) Interconnectedness, and  whilst waiting for my toast to cool down, I was reading an email that had just arrived in my inbox.  It was from Global One TV.  I clicked on the link to look at their site and was drawn to take a look at the information about a film which has been made by Tom Shadyac.  He directed many well-known entertaining films including The Nutty Professor, Bruce Almighty and Liar, Liar. 

The film he has made is a million miles away from his previous genre.  I AM is a film he began to make after he was badly injured in a cycling accident and had begun to question his life, and to face the prospect of his own mortality. He wanted to investigate what is wrong with our world and what we can do to change it.  He travelled extensively and, with a small film crew of only four, he interviewed several leading authorities on everything from science to psychology, from the environment to philosophy.  He spoke to many many people in his search for answers including  Bishop Desmond Tutu and Lynne McTaggart, the best-selling author whose work involves the linking of science and spirituality and the realism of quantum physics.

What he found was that there was a lot more right with the world than he ever thought before.  I watched the trailer for the movie and was blown away by the references to the connectedness of us all, of everything we know. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYtfnONazTU&feature=related

I’m hoping to get to see the whole film …. and my hope is that more and more people, globally, realise the huge impact that we, as individuals, are capable of making to enhance the world we live in,  through our interconnectedness!

43) Interconnectedness

Wednesday morning

On Tuesday nights I watch ‘Touch’, a fictional supernatural programme starring Keifer Sutherland who plays Martin, a widower, and who is the single father of a young boy, Jake, who is emotionally challenged. 

Martin is unable to make any kind of connection with Jake who has never spoken a word and will not allow anyone to touch him. Jake lives in his own world but he is obsessed with numbers and can see both the past, present and future through the connections that the numbers make. I have always felt that we are all connected, that we are all from the creator, or as some would say, from source, or from God.  I find the series fascinating with its insight into synchronicity and the realisation for the father, Martin, that there are no such things as coincidences. 

On Monday I had received an email from a woman in America who has been reading my blogs. She asked me if I could help her in advising how she could receive spiritual healing.  She had, she felt, been the victim of a con man who had charged her quite a large amount for supposedly healing her.  She needed someone she could trust and had asked spirit for guidance and they had told her to contact me! I wasn’t feeling too well on Tuesday,  so I didn’t reply to her straight away, but sent an email telling her I would email her again on Wednesday.

Tuesday night I settled down to watch Touch. This weeks episode wasn’t so much about numbers, but more about a pattern within a cats cradle that Jake kept making with wool.  Martin, his father, had to try to place the pattern and work towards connecting people who were associated with it.  All sounds rather odd if you haven’t been watching Touch, but in the programme it all made perfect sense.  The important part of the pattern was two triangles which kept appearing in different guises and always made a connection with people, even across continents.

On Wednesday morning I was lying in bed, thinking of the email I had received and how I could possibly  help someone who lived so far away – over 4,000 miles –  when I happened to look out of my bedroom window.  I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a perfect cross in the sky.  It was exactly the pattern that Jake had been showing his father which connected everyone!  I knew there and then that the distance between us meant nothing spiritually.

That in itself, was, synchronistically speaking, quite amazing.  Later on Wednesday I was chatting to a wonderful friend of mine, Jane, who is both a gifted medium and healer.  She was telling me about a workshop she had recently attended which was teaching a new way of healing, it was about a system called The Healing Code.  I looked it up on the internet and saw that there was a book available and downloaded it to my kindle.  Having read a few chapters I thought it would make sense for the lady in America to read it too.  I emailed her and sent her a link to the book.  At the same time I agreed to send her spiritual healing myself, and as I was typing her email I was covered in goosebumps which to me shows that I am certainly make the right decision.

The following day I received another email from her.  On Wednesday she had gone and bought a book, The Power, the follow-up book to The Secret.  It wasn’t the one I had been reading, but it included reference to the same man who had written the book I had advised her to buy!  He was the only MD featured in the popular DVD of The Secret.  Neither of us could believe it!! There we are, me living here in England and her in America, and of all the books in the world, she buys a book that includes a reference to the very same man.  What are the chances of that? More synchronicity.

I feel that spirit has shown me this week, in more than one way, that we are all truly connected. We arranged that today I would send the  lady spiritual healing.  As I sat at a pre-arranged time I was again covered in my familiar goose-bumps and as I asked my healing guides to draw close and send healing to the lady I felt the most wonderful connection.

Truth really is stranger than fiction!

42) An Apology

The pier at Burnham-on-Sea

The pier at Burnham-on-Sea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I owe God an apology.  Well in fact it’s an apology both to God and Jesus.  It’s an apology from myself and also on behalf of my twin sister Tina, as we were in cahoots at the time, so I hope they will accept this from both of us.

When we were about eleven years old, Mum was, spiritually speaking, trying to finding her way.  From my earliest memories I remember Mum trying various religions.  Some she would really get involved in and others she would dismiss very quickly. She was a natural medium, but even with the knowledge that spirit is energy and so, ever-lasting, she was still searching for the meaning of life and felt that ‘somewhere’, ‘ out there’ she would find it.

She was working as a secretary for an airline in Hounslow, Middlesex,  close to Heathrow Airport, and it was there that she met another secretary, Jean.  Jean was a staunch member of the Plymouth Brethren Church.  Unfortunately for us, Mum thought that this religion might be the one that we should all take on board.  All, meaning Mum and Tina and myself, as Dad would never step foot inside a church and by that time our older brother,Ray, was more into becoming a hippy and playing his guitar than wanting to find himself embroiled in some religious activities.

Jean belonged to a small Plymouth Brethren church that Tina and I attended with Mum on a few occasions.  The whole place was very understated and to me felt totally flat.  There was no atmosphere at all, no feeling of joyous celebrations of life, just really boring sermons, uncomfortable chairs and self-righteous middle-aged ladies, faces scrubbed clean and dressed in drab neat boring clothes.   They had such strict rules which basically meant that if you were to become one of them you wouldn’t be able to have much fun at all. I couldn’t help but wonder why Mum was at all interested in this very odd religion, but I think that the stranger it appeared, the more Mum thought there must be something to it.  I am also sure that Jean felt that she could somehow change Mum, give her ‘real’ values and that she would throw away her makeup bag, her fashionable clothes, and become just like Jean – a mouse of a woman who spent her life adhering to the strictest of religious rules.  Jean must have been very persuasive to get Mum to even consider joining.

Jean asked Mum if  Tina and I would like to go on a Plymouth Brethren holiday and she had said yes.  Mum told us that it would be really good fun and that she felt we hadn’t given the church much of a chance.  Reluctantly we agreed to go, after all, we thought, it might be ok because it meant that we would be away on holiday just the two of us for the very first time.  We really thought that it couldn’t possibly be that bad!

We had never been camping before and this was a holiday in big tents, so we really were quite excited as we packed our tee shirts and shorts and swimming costumes.  I remember feeling so grown up as I carried my own suitcase onto the coach.  The holiday was at a campsite at Brean Sands in Somerset, right beside the sea.  To me as a child, a seaside holiday meant making sand castles, sunbathing, sticks of rock, chips and fizzy drinks, , swimming in the sea, playing in penny arcades and donkey rides. I imagined us all sitting round a camp fire at night singing jolly songs.

When we arrived we were all shown to our tents with our allotted sleeping bags already laid out on the ground.  It didn’t look at all comfortable! There was a large wooden cabin were we all had to meet up for meals and for ‘meetings’.  The lady in charge was called ‘Captain’, I would think she was in her mid fifties and wore a rigid black suit with a high neck buttoned white blouse, not your usual holiday clothes at all.  She looked like a sergeant major to me and I had an uneasy feeling about her from the off.  It was obvious she already knew lots of the other children and her tight-lipped stern expression only softened into a smile when she was addressing those she knew.  The rest of us were greeted with a scowl and a look of disdain.  Not the best welcome to a week-long holiday.

After sorting out our clothes we had to go the cabin for our tea.  Captain sat at the top table and before we’d even eaten a sandwich she was standing up calling from a register and issuing your orders for the week.  When she came to Tina and I she told us that we were on latrine duty.  I had no idea what a latrine was but soon found out. Basically we were going to be toilet attendants for the week.  Somehow that did not thrill us.

After tea we were told that the Bible verse for the week was John 10, verse 10. ‘The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly’.  Captain explained that what that meant was that we were all sinners and unless we behaved ourselves and repented that we would not go to heaven.  I was really worried, because I knew that I wasn’t always good and had sometimes been naughty.  I was convinced that there was no way I was ever going to be able to get into heaven.  That first night when I went to sleep, in my sleeping bag on the lumpy ground, I was trying so hard not to cry because I really thought I was going to be in such trouble with God.

The following morning after breakfast (and prayers …. lots of prayers) Tina and I had to carry out our latrine duties for the first time.  The loos were dreadful.  Everything smelt of jeyes fluid and the brushes for cleaning the toilet bowls had seen better days. It was not a pleasant task.  I can’t begin to explain the state of some of the seats …. I still don’t know how they ever got like that.    We had though been told that we would off on a bus to go to the beach for the rest of the day, so that was something we could really look forward to.

We all went and waited at the bus stop with our swimming costumes and towels full of happy thoughts for the day ahead.  The bus arrived, complete with some local passengers and on we all got.  Much to our absolute horror,  Captain got everyone singing hymns. “S-A-V-I-O-U-R- we want you all to know, you’re the one, the only one who saves from sin (saves from sin), if in him, you will believe, his pardon you’ll receive”, etc etc.  I felt a total fool with everyone staring at us.  I had no option but to get used to it, because it happened everyday for the whole week.  I just kept thinking that no-one would know Tina and I and at least we weren’t singing hymns on a bus where we lived.

Even on the beach the theme of the week continued.  We were dispatched to sandcastle making teams.  It was all very formal and efficient.  Each team was given a passage from the bible that you had to make into a sand sculpture.  My team had the verse ‘For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it.’  Captain explained that in order to get into heaven we had to walk along the narrow path , but that most of us walked a wider path.  There was that threat again.  Behave … or else!  There was no swimming, no boat rides, no ice creams. No fun at all.

To me, even at that young age, I felt that their whole philosophy was one of fear. So it went on through the whole week.  I really wasn’t sleeping very well and both Tina and I cried ourselves to sleep every night because our worries were growing by the day.  I made the massive mistake of asking Captain if we would be able to go to the pier and the fun fair.  My goodness, she was not happy with me at all.  I was told that I was sinful to want to go against the teachings of the bible. Then to top it off Tina and I were severely reprimanded by Captain, in front of everyone, because we were found walking across a field towards a donkey derby, which we were told, was strictly against God. That’s it, I thought, I’ve totally had it now.  I was convinced that I was going to hell.

It was becoming an increasingly miserable time apart from every night, after the sermon, when other children were standing up telling how they had found Jesus or God.  Everyone would be clapping and they would then become an accepted member of the group. It was obvious to us that there were very few left who hadn’t found Jesus, and we were definitely among those few!  It also appeared that those people who had just found God or Jesus were  given the better jobs within the camp.  People who had been on rubbish patrol would be moved to cutlery placing, those on washing up were put on bread and butter service.  It seemed that was the only way to get ahead.  Tina and I reckoned that as we were already in so much trouble and we were going to go to hell anyway, we would hatch a plan  to get out of latrine duties!

The following evening, after we had cleaned the loos before supper, we had our course of action in place.  After we had eaten and said more prayers, and Captain had given us all yet another lengthy sermon on behaving, we stood up in unison.  We told her we had found Jesus behind the cabin. She did look a little stunned, but managed a very small smile and everyone started clapping wildly.  “The twins have found Jesus”, “the twins have found Jesus” they exclaimed excitedly! People gathered round us and hugged us.  Suddenly we were no longer the outsiders, we were part of the group.

The next morning after breakfast we were given new instructions for the rest of the week .  No longer did we have to clean the loos, we were told we would be in charge of handing out breakfast cereals and porridge.  We had certainly been promoted.  Our plan had worked!  Then, the dreaded guilt set in.  The realisation of the lies we had told and the total certainty of an everlasting life in hell really took its toll on both of us.  We couldn’t wait to get home to talk to Mum and Dad.  We were praying they could somehow fix everything with Jesus and God.

Thankfully the time to go home eventually arrived.  Even now, forty-five years later, I remember how long that week felt. Mum and Dad met us at the coach station and had expected to be meeting two very happy sun tanned girls.  Instead we got off the coach and just fell into their arms crying.  Through sobs we told them that we were going to hell.  We really were distraught.  They asked us to explain what had happened and after we had, they told us there was no way in the world we would be going to hell. Dad really was quite cross that anyone could put such fear into children but was laughing uncontrollably when we told him about us finding Jesus behind the cabin. Mum explained that God is love and that there is no way in the world that God would want anyone to be frightened of him. Quite seriously it took months for Tina and I to get over the fears that had been instilled in us that week.  Mum, thankfully,  decided not to go to the church with Jean ever again and was very pleased when Jean moved offices!

Now, as an older woman, with many years of life’s experiences under my belt, I feel that the higher spirit, the creator of our universe, is as Mum said, pure love. Of that I have absolutely no doubt.  I tend to follow my own spiritual pathway and rarely become involved in anything termed as ‘religion’, although I pray every night, and happily pray with friends.

I believe with all my heart that we all share a creator, no matter the title that anyone or any group may give to this divine spirit, and that this creator would never want to threaten or frighten, but instead would wish to instill love and compassion and empathy in all those who live.

I do still wonder whether the other children on that holiday were as frightened as we were. A whole week of being indoctrinated is pretty hard for an adult, never mind a young child.  Thank goodness Tina and I had each other and parents who showed us, through example and guidance, what a wonder our creator truly is.  I do though still wish to apologise for telling the lie about finding Jesus behind the cabin.  Quite possibly (hopefully) God and Jesus had a good laugh about it.  I am hoping they have a good sense of humour!

15) I was a Catherine Wheel!

Dizzy thorns

I had been chronically ill for a long time when I went along to my first ever healing evening at a spiritualist church.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect and only went  to accompany a  friend.  I thought that as it was at a church we would all sit in rows, someone would talk to us about healing and that we might sing a couple of hymns and say a few prayers. I had no knowledge of healing, spiritual or otherwise, and didn’t expect the evening to be particularly special or eventful.

So I was surprised, when instead of rows, the chairs were  just dotted around the room, and as we walked in I was asked where I would like to sit.  I just chose the closest chair and felt a bit odd just sitting there, with no idea what was about to happen.  After a few of us had taken our seats the person in charge then allotted a healer to each of us.  A very old lady with a gentle smile came and stood beside me and introduced herself as Jeanie.  She explained that she was a student healer but that everything she did would be overseen by the woman in charge.  I immediately felt at ease and relaxed and just thought to myself that her healing may do some good and certainly wouldn’t do any harm.

The lady in charge said the most beautiful prayer and soft spiritual music was played. The room then became quieter and everyone spoke in hushed tones.  Jeanie stood in front of me and asked if I minded her holding my hands, which I said I didn’t at all.  She looked straight at me and said “I shouldn’t really be telling you this but I am sure I have your Dad with me,”  she went on to give a detailed physical description which exactly fitted him.  She told me that when she was healing she shouldn’t really be connecting to a spirit, but felt that she had to tell me my Dad was there because she felt his love so strongly.    Then she said something that I will never forget.  She said “he is telling me to tell you that if his love could cure you, you would be well”.  I was stunned, and desperately trying not to cry as they were the exact words that my Dad had said to me the previous summer when we had sat in my garden.  He had held my hands and told me he loved me and said that if his love could cure me I would be well!

I had been pretty certain that Dad was there because of Jeanie’s description, but that message just blew me away.  No-one would have known that Dad had said those very words to me.  I knew how upset both he and Mum had been seeing me so ill and feeling so useless at not being able to take away my pain, all they felt they could do was show how much they loved and cared for me.

Jeanie walked behind me and asked if she could then place her hands on my shoulders, which I said was fine.  She said if I wanted I could close my eyes.  I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by her message and then felt total peace as I closed my eyes and just listened to the music in the background.  The next thing I knew was that I was not aware of my body at all, it was the oddest sensation, I felt so light and like I was floating. I tried to feel my feet on the floor, but it was like they didn’t exist.  All I could see was the colour green, a bright vibrant green, like a fresh leaf in springtime with the sun streaming through it.  I was surrounded by it, enveloped by it and strange as it may seem, it was as if I was it.  I felt like I was a disc at the centre of me and I was spinning round and round.  The spinning became faster and faster and faster, all I can really say it that I was, or became,  just pure and utter bliss.  I tried to work out what I was and all I could come up with was that I felt like a Catherine wheel!

I was unaware that I had slumped forward in the chair and the next thing I knew was that the lady in charge was asking me if I was alright.  I felt dazed, and to be honest, almost a little annoyed to be bought back from ‘Blissville’.  Jeanie later told me that it was the most profound healing session for her.  She said she had never felt so much love coming through her.  I felt elated knowing that my Dad was there for me.

It was only several months later when I first started to  learn about chakras that I was surprised to read that chakras are discs that spin, sometimes described as energy vortices throughout the spiritual body.  The heart chakra is normally green and is  often associated with love and healing.  Now, when I meditate I sometimes visualise my chakras, working my way from the base chakra upwards through my body, and I always smile when I get to my heart chakra, because to me it will always be my very own Catherine wheel!

8) Life’s Lessons

Graduation

Several years ago I had been through the most difficult year of my life.  My Mum, my brother and my Dad were all taken to spirit within weeks of each other and I felt my heart was breaking.  At the same time, as well as dealing with my own personal losses, there was so much negativity everywhere.

With the rest of the world I watched in horror as the events unfolded on 9/11  and I felt so useless, as if there was absolutely nothing I could do to help, even in a small way, to make the world a better place. I felt desolate.

Every time I put the television or radio on there was more depressing news.  I have never understood how people could be so cruel to one another, or use their own greed to take from the needy.  There seemed to be an avalanche of distressing events on a global scale.

I sat in the quiet and asked my guides how this could happen.  How could so many people be in such distress?  Why were children dying of starvation? Why were so many countries at war?  I was questioning my faith in God or the Higher Powers.  I felt so sad in my heart and was desperate for answers. I wanted someone to shout that it was all a mistake, that everything would be put right.

I felt my writing guide come in close.  I have learnt that a light stroke of my hair on the back of my head is the unmistakable nudge to find a piece of paper and a pen and just to listen and write what I hear, nothing more.

This is what I received.

Life’s Lessons.

If life were as kind as we thought it should be,

there’d be no worries or woes, everything would be trouble-free.

There would always be sunshine and only rain at night,

there’d be no storms to wreak havoc, we’d never witness nature’s might.

Every child would be born perfectly healthy and strong,

There’d be no need to teach right from wrong.

There would be no famines and certainly no wars,

Every country in harmony with its neighbour next door.

No violence, no terror, there would be no need,

no-one would be selfish or suffer from greed.

But in reality, this just isn’t so,

we all need life’s lessons to help us to grow.

To overcome difficulties, to rise above pain,

we need challenges and dreams, it’s from those that we gain.

Whenever I find myself questioning the unfairness of situations that the innocent find themselves in, the terrible traumatic events that so many have to go through, the heartbreak and tragic losses people experience, I read this and try to understand.  It is not easy.  It takes a lot for me to look at the bigger picture and try to accept that our souls have to move forward through these dreadful lessons of life.  I hope that one day we will find an easier way.

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