I came across a term the other day that I'd never heard before - at least not in this context. It's called a 'future gift'. It's a gift received which is unappreciated at the time but turns out to be the exact thing you need or require at a future time.
At the moment it feels like we are all learning new things - about ourselves, our strengths, our challenges, our resources and those of the people who live with us. Inspiration and insight can come from almost anywhere. Have you noticed for example that your dreams are more vivid? Or that long forgotten memories come flooding back insisting on your attention?
The absence of an alarm to waken us up means that we can slip slowly out of our dream state and this allows us remember our dreams so much better. There are gifts - messages from the unconscious, whispers from the universe - to be found in these and dream experts advise us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we can jot down words, images, experiences and symbols rising to the surface.
Each morning for the past week or so, shortly after waking, a memory of an incident I'd experienced over twenty years ago would cross my mind. It persisted until I decided to journal on it and to my surprise I realised that this memory was actually a kind of 'future gift', unappreciated all those years ago but showing me a way forward at this time.
At the time our twin girls were ten years old and our youngest girl was about six. We were spending the October bank holiday in Wexford and were visiting the Wildfowl Reserve just behind the sea wall, north of Wexford harbour. It was a blustery, sunny day and we had the place to ourselves. We had just finished feeding the ducks when a sudden blast of wind almost knocked us off our feet. Instantly we were drenched in tons of water. Out of nowhere it seemed we found ourselves struggling to get our breath as the wind roared and the wave of water kept coming.
Managing to get our backs to the wall of the reserve, my husband Alan and I inched ourselves and the children to the revolving gate and to our car just behind the wall. We made a desperate attempt to get the children into the car and as we pulled the doors open they snapped back on their hinges and every single thing inside the car was sucked out and flung into the air.
We had no time to think. It was as though we were caught in a nightmare and every move was for the survival of our family.
There were a lot of things lying about in our car - Barbie dolls, My Little Ponies, blankets, sweets, books etc. and we were helpless as they literally flew past us and up into the water drenched air all about us. In seconds, but in slow motion if you can imagine that, we managed to get the girls to safety and fastened into their seats.
But now I have to tell you an aside story.....
MISS O'D's SCHOOL READER
Katie, our youngest was learning to read at school and her teacher was most particular about the condition in which the readers must be kept (quite rightly of course). They were lent to the girls to take home and then would be passed to the next person in perfect condition each time. Surprisingly - truly for our Katie is to this day a delightfully pleasing and sunny natured person - in her two years in Miss O'D's class, Katie never managed to raise a single hint of approval or warmth from her teacher. On this day I watched as the precious school reader rose out from the door pocket and flew up into the sky and Miss O'D's disapproving face came sharply to mind.
CALLING ON ANGELS
Instantly and instinctively, I called on the angels to bring the book back. In that moment I didn't just trust that I would get the book, I knew I would get the book. Alan and the girls were horrified as I shut the door instead of climbing into safety and with every ounce of energy in my body, I inched against the mighty storm as the book flew higher and higher into the air. Then suddenly the book dropped like a stone right on the ground in front of my foot. 'Thank you, thank you.' I yelled relief flooding through me as I lunged for the book and almost laughed at the impossibility of it all. Here I was, holding the featherlight reader yet struggling to keep my own feet on the ground.
I managed to get back to the car but no matter how I pulled at the door, I couldn't open it against the might of the wind. Alan tried to manoeuvre the car so that I could shelter somehow but there was nowhere to hide. Helplessly my family watched from inside as I struggled to get my breath and stay on my feet. Then in one second, as suddenly as it begun, the sky cleared, the wind dropped and the sun came out. The silence was striking after the thunderous roar of the wind and the only thing to show for what had just occurred was the drenched foliage and sea foam scattered all around us.
The car door creaked on its hinge as I pulled it open and climbed in. 'What just happened?' we all cried. We were drenched, soaked to our skin. Our faces were stung red from the freezing cold water and our hair so matted, it was to take hours to carefully comb out.
As we drove home the news came on the radio. A tornado or waterspout had made landfall just north of Wexford town at 12.45pm. There was tragedy too as the Rosslare ferry had been in its path and a passenger had been blown overboard. A search later recovered his body. My family was soaked through but we were alive. Our car was damaged but could be repaired and Miss O'D's reader was saved when all else was blown to the four corners.
WHY THIS FUTURE GIFT?
The memory of this experience had been so persistent that it demanded I look at it in my journaling practice which I do each morning. Most often I journal on simple things such as blessings I encounter or ideas which I'd like to explore but from time to time old stories surface and journalling is the perfect place to give them their moment, oftentimes resulting in 'letting go' or in forgiveness of others or for myself.
On this occasion it dawned on me that the experience of the waterspout, although different, is similar in certain ways to the current situation. It came out of the blue and was never in our wildest dreams imagined. It involved taking a swift act of survival. It involved total uncertainty and no idea when or how it would end. Most importantly it involved asking for help from a divine source. The message to me of this persistent memory was not simply to ask the angels for guidance and help but to know that I would get the help I asked for. I was reminded that ...
Miracles happen when we tap into the Divine energy outside of ourselves and magic is the result of harnessing the Divine energy within each of us.
During my phone conversation with Carol Dooley on her Saturday Live show last Saturday (click here to listen to podcast) we talked about how there can be any magic in these times and concluded that magic is harnessing the divine energy within ourselves - our innate wisdom. Our dreams and memories - or our future gifts - where experiences of the past come back to bring us the blueprint for the way forward now, is the magic of the day.
Keeping a notebook beside your bed, journalling, meditating, setting up your sanctuary or sacred space, making a divine connection with your angels / loved ones in spirit / saints / guides etc. will all bring us to Good Orderly Direction. There we may even find miracles.
A short while after the tornado incident, I sent Katie into school with a note explaining the circumstance that caused the reader to be in its less-than-perfect condition. When she returned home from school, I asked Katie what her teacher had to say. "She scrunched up the note and threw it in the bin and told me to go back to my seat." she said.
Hmmmm. Perhaps I should have told her the dog ate it....
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Wishing you peace and pleasure in your home at this time and most of all that you stay safe and well.