In 2008, when I first started working for English in Action Ltd in the Marketing Department, I felt like an outsider in the office. I was about the same age as the majority of the female staff but the difference was that they were settled in the UK. At age 50, I had just left my church behind in South Africa to start a brand new life of adventure and travel through Europe! My life was anything but settled and I liked it that way. I did not have the courage to share with my colleague about my activities outside of work – the books I was writing and the people I was meeting. Nor did I have much to contribute to their conversations about new recipes or popular TV programmes. I just kept my head down and got on with my work.
And then Jo’s mum died.
Jo was a committed Catholic and had a strong faith in Jesus and the power of prayer. Much as I liked her and respected her faith, I did not venture to share my own unconventional spiritual convictions with her.
Jo called the office distraught from her mum’s home where the transition had taken place. She wanted to talk to her best friend at work and try to get some solace. I overheard the phone call and I sensed that Jo was not getting the comfort she was seeking. Not many of us are skilled at these conversations, having had no training in our culture to deal with death – our own or anyone else’s. Silently, I prayed for Jo, that she would be supported and assisted from Upstairs to move through this very painful rite of passage.
The next Sunday, very early in the morning, I was in a taxi being driven to Gatwick airport for one of my many marketing trips around Austria. I don’t remember thinking about Jo but, suddenly, I became very aware of the spirit of her mother. Jo’s mum was telling me that she was fine and she wanted me to reassure Jo that all was well on the Other Side of the Veil. And then she showed me an image of the Virgin Mary and some red roses.
The Virgin Mary, Creative Commons License, free for commercial use
I had a great sense of peace when I received this message. Of course, I wanted to pass this blessing on to Jo but how would I do that? My fear of being persecuted as a witch, and destroying any modicum of respect I had built up with my colleagues, completely paralysed me.
I decided I would not risk saying anything to Jo. I tried to put Jo’s mum out of my mind and engaged the taxi driver in conversation. But Jo’s mum was insistent. She would not let me go. Finally, I surrendered and I sent Jo a message on my blackberry regarding what I had seen and sensed in communication with her mother. I was not sure if I wanted to hear back from her or not. In any case, there was no reply before I boarded the plane for Vienna. Once the plane had landed, I picked up the keys for my rental car and was just walking through the underground parking lot looking for my vehicle when I noticed a message on my blackberry. It was Jo!! Her reaction was a thousand times more positive than I had predicted. She was delighted and grateful to get the message from her mum via me. Phew!
When I got back to the UK office a few days later, Jo gave me the biggest hug and told me excitedly that she had been praying to God for a sign from her mum. Days after her mum’s transition, God had still not answered. Jo was so worried. Her mum had been in pain and distress when she left her body and Jo was desperate for reassurance that her mum was OK. Jo’s husband was distressed to see his wife so distressed and felt so powerless to help. But then he had a moment of insight: instead of praying to God for a sign from Jo’s mum, why not pray to Jo’s mum directly? So he did. And it was a few seconds after he began his prayer, that my message came through on Jo’s phone….
Blessed Virgin Mary by Ernest on Flickr,
Furthermore, Jo confirmed that the funeral service had been held in a Catholic Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and that she had thrown red roses on the coffin before it went into the grave.
While I was away in Austria, Jo had told all her colleagues in the office about the message from her mum that Stephanie had picked up psychically. Rather than condemning me, my former colleagues embraced me: I had been able to help their beloved Jo in a way that none of them could and they were so grateful and relieved to see the burden of worry lifted from Jo’s shoulders.
I wrote two books while I worked at English in Action: the first edition of my autobiography “The Miss-Adventures of an Irreverent Reverend” and “Down Dirty and Divine: a spiritual ride through London’s underground.” And each time, Jo was there to help me with proofing and formatting, completely setting aside her own strict Catholic views in order to support me in the communicating of my irreverent spiritual approach and my bad-girl life experience. 🙂
I love how life works and how everything works out when you and I follow the promptings of our heart.
Appreciating the miracle of global communication via technology.
“The Miracles of Earth are the Laws of Heaven” Johann Richter