On a recent Sunday morning, I found myself unable to write, create, even muster a single spark of imagination. Two weeks after the coronavirus had stolen our lives and put us under house arrest, nothing seemed funny.
“People need humor now more than ever,” Deb, my wife of 29 years, suggested, as she cleaned out one of the oft-ignored cabinets in our dining room.
I considered her comment and shook my head. This was not the time for jocularity. Instead, I went outside and absently watched the dogs cavort around the backyard; neither was coughing or, I suspected, showing signs of a fever. Their innocent play remained one of the few normal elements of our inside-out lives, thanks to villainous COVID-19.
At home, my daughter Brooke, a third-grade teacher, was forced to teach her academic lessons via YouTube and Skype. Adam, a college junior, was taking his classes online since the shutdown of his school’s campus.
Jordan, a residential housing director at Adelphi University in Garden City L.I. (the hub of the virus), was imprisoned in her on-campus apartment, awaiting word on whether the state would convert her dormitory into a makeshift hospital.
Deb, the director of nursing at a large health care facility, each day was risking her health to care for the dozens of defenseless elderly residents in her charge. Me? I was pondering the law of attraction and thinking, ‘What the heck? What have we created? Better yet, God, where are our solutions to this global Hell?’
I’m sure I would have remained outside, ponderous and sullen for time interminable had Deb not summoned me inside. She handed me a slip of paper the size of a large index card. It contained a note of some sort.
“I was cleaning out the drawer when it fell out. It literally fell out and landed by my foot,” she said, somewhat wide-eyed with wonder.
I took a closer look at the note. It took a moment or two for me to recognize the writing and remember the message contained therein.
“It’s the note from Poppy, from when Adam was sick,” I said. Just seeing and remembering the first time I had read the note made my stomach tighten and my mood spiral yet further downward. Poppy had been many things to me: my sister-in-law’s father; a pseudo father to me during my 30-year estrangement from my biological father; a mentor and spiritual advisor; a dear, dear sense of hope and emotional equanimity. Poppy had penned the note some 15 years earlier, when Adam was critically ill, and I was critically despondent. The brief letter had literally rescued my soul from an emotional nadir from which I may never have emerged. Sadly, Poppy died just a few years later, leaving me without my connection to a spiritual source.
I fiddled with the letter for a few wistful moments. Then, I read a few lines:
“The key is to have faith in God,” Poppy wrote. “He controls the universe and our destiny. He has the answer to all our problems.”
I paused and looked at Deb. “God’s not doing a very good job of controlling the universe,” I muttered, ruefully, maybe even bitterly.
Deb cast me a reproachful look.
I read on …
“Without faith, you cannot expect to get an answer to your prayers (“I never pray, Poppy.”), because without faith you cannot reach God (“I can’t reach God because you are gone, Poppy!”), and if you can’t reach God, you cannot demand an answer.”
The more I read, the more uncomfortable I felt: I was like a kid betraying his father when he knows it’s wrong to do so.
Reading on … “You just have to wait for him decide whether to return your call or not…This doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an answer; it means that you have failed to file a request in the proper manner. Only true faith in the power of God can give you his help and comfort. You don’t need to see God; what you need to do is to know that HE is everywhere and that HE loves us all. Love, Poppy.”
I turned to Deb; there were tears in her eyes. “The letter just fell on my foot!”
So? I thought. What’s the point? I still resented Poppy’s untimely passing. Moreover, I was frustrated that after 61 years I’d yet to buy into any one spiritual process, dogma, religion, scientific theory. I wanted to believe that we are immortal energy forms, that we are guided by angels and God/Energy, and that life in the material universe is just a collective ILLUSION. Ultimately, however, I genuflected to the Altar of the Ego, God’s true nemesis. So, my sullenness devolved into resentment, I handed the note back to Deb for filing. I walked back outside. I kept walking. And walking. And feeling.
And after a while, something in me changed. I’d never believed in “signs,” or synchronicity, merely in coincidence. Yet, there was something about the “Poppy Note” … not necessarily his perspective on God and creating a relationship with the Almighty. No, it was the timing of the note’s reemergence in my life and the way it spoke to me. It was a sign, my sign, and for perhaps the first time in my life, I was listening. It told me the following: “I am light, I am God, I am creation.”
Not even a deadly virus can kill my real self.
Was this sign from a spiritual guide? From Poppy?
I went back inside the house, feeling bigger than life, yet unsure of myself, a toddler fighting to stay upright.
“Can I have Poppy’s note?” I asked Deb. “I may write about this.” She nodded in agreement and retrieved the note from the top drawer of the cabinet.
Note in hand, I took a seat in the family room and pondered Poppy’s note —naturally, my ego screamed, “It’s meaningless. There is no God! coronavirus will kill you!”
I did my utmost to fight the frightened part of my mind that is never happy unless it is limiting the way I think, speak, and act.
Certainly no one would care about this triviality, certainly not about me, certainly not about Poppy, my spirit guide.
And I may have succumbed to my ego’s command not to write about The Sign, had a second sign not appeared from nowhere and steeled the will of my soul.
While cleaning, Deb moved a number of household items including a large poster board. On it, written in blue letters about one inch high, was the message: “Bring your ideas to life.”
Three days later, I began bringing this story to life.
Thanks, Poppy, for helping me find myself, once again.
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