Annie Kirkwood, Author
Rte 1 Box 100
Bunch, OK 74931-9705
June/July 2001 ó Issue #58
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This is Annie's section
It has been a year of stress for me and it will end as a year of grief. My mother departed this part of her life, May 10, 2001 at the age of 91 years. She often said she wanted to live to be 92 like her grandmother had. She almost made it; she only lacked 11 months. We were together for over sixty years and in that time we experienced every emotion there is, many good and many bad situations. At times it seemed that the bad outweighed the good, but even through all our experiences I knew she loved me in her own way.
This business of grieving is surprising. Mother Mary said that the human part of us must grieveóthat the human part of us rejoices when a child is born and grieves when another human is gone. This coincides with an East Indian saying that Len Toye related to Byron the day mother died. It goes something like this. ďWhen a child is born, he cries, and his family rejoices. But when he dies, he rejoices, and his family cries.Ē I thought it was so appropriate and so comforting to remember. I may cry, but mother is at last happy and has returned to her real self.
Another thing Mother Mary has said to me often, especially when I would ask a question I just couldnít seem to understand. She has said, ďAnnie, you will understand when you return to the real world.Ē Iím reminded that this is not the real world, that life goes on even after death. Or maybe I should say that we go back to our real life after death. I think that like most people, itís easy to get caught up in the business of the daily living of a human existence. It is through my meditations, reflections, and prayers that I remember this is a sojourn, not my final destination.
Now to get back to the many lessons Iím learning. Forgiveness is always at the top of my list, but also there is choice. We say it over and over, but the finality of death brings it all up. Forgiving yourself seems to be forever present. I think, when a loved one dies, it is quite human to have the thought ďif only I hadĒ, there are many ways to end this sentence. But forgiving ourselves is important. And Iíve learned that the ďif onlyísĒ donít change a thing. So forgiving ourselves is all that is often left. Mother and I had made peace with each other long ago, but I did it again in December when I was called to her bedside, because it was thought she would not live much longer. In the end she gave me words that I didnít know I needed to hear. I just wish she had been able to do so for other family members.
Then there is choice. How do we choose to remember our loved ones and our life together? What will be stressed in our memory? Mother was very real, and as Iíve said, we went through the gamut of emotions and situations. But one thing I know is that in dire situations when I needed mother, she was there for me. For instance, when I had my first child at eighteen years of age, and he was born mentally retarded. We knew from birth that he had Downís Syndrome. I had to fight the medical team to be able to take him home. At the time, forty years ago, they were recommending immediate institutionalization. They said I was too young to know how to care for him properly, and that I didnít have enough common sense to be able to make that kind of decision. Mother supported me when I chose to bring Mark home and care for him myself. Then she set about teaching me how to care for him. And for those that donít know, Mark is still alive, well, and as stubborn as can be. He is quite a character.
When it became clear that because my health was bad, the family needed him to go away to school, she supported me in doing what I had to do for the other children. Mark was the one person she loved unconditionally. When she had little patience for herself or her children, she had a ton of patience for Mark. I will always be grateful for her help. I had the pleasure and comfort of telling her this.
Now what is left are my memories of our life together. I know the good, the bad, and the ugly; they are indelibly written in my heart. Iím not denying any of it took place. What I do with them has always been my choice. I chose to resolve them with much inner work. Today I choose to remember the good. When I remember any of the other, it seems to be in a memory of humorous incident, both funny and ironic.
When mother didnít think she was getting enough attention from the family, she would plan her funeral. The earliest I remember this happening was when she and I shopped for the perfect dress for her to be buried in. I was fourteen. It would upset me terribly and I would do anything to please her so she wouldnít dieóas if this would stop death. After a few years it became a signal that she needed attention. So a plant or card seemed to help, and sometimes it was as simple as taking her out to eat. Over the years she must have planned every detail of her funeral, hundreds of times. When she died, we couldnít find any of her plans and had to go on memory of what each of us recollected. In the beginning, and at the time it was happening, it wasnít funny. But over the years it became funny, then in the end, it was ironic. Now itís just a memory of a mother who was very human. And yet, I must remember that she is spirit too.
Itís her spirit that inspires me. She educated herself and had many talents. She helped many people over the years, by giving them a sense that they could do it. Sadly she wasnít quite able to do so for her children. Still, I choose to remember her courage and not her fears, her humor and not her anger, her laughter and not her tears, but most of all I choose to remember that she loved me the best that she could. In the end what is left is love and thatís all that counts.
I continue to grieve, what exactly I grieve I donít really know. Because it was truly a blessing that she finally expired after months of going through the death process. I guess I grieve many things, and maybe I grieve because my humanness demands it. In my soul, I rejoice that she is in a better place, a more loving state, and an aware knowingness. It also makes me cognizant that I am creating memories for my children and grandchildren. Itís something to think about.
Until next time, I remain, your friend,
This is Mother Mary's section
My dear children,
I come to you today with a heart filled with hope, love and joy. Many of you have in the past months been having difficult times. It was, and still is, a time of transformation. Transformation is not always easy. Often, transforming in a global way is painful. I come with the good news that your time of pain is almost over.
Transformation is a powerful way to change. It means you can adapt, be remolded, and converted. You are recreated into a new being. Transformation is associated with healing. Transformation of the soul is one of the greatest pieces of work you can do. For to transform your soul is to recreate, remold, and reinvent it. You do this by seeking the truth in all situations and circumstances. You cannot transform if you stay in denial, blind to the need to change. You cannot recreate yourself unless you see the need to do so.
Many people have transformed their inner self by the healing of addictions, obsessions, and compulsions. I use the word ďaddictionĒ not only to mean the need for alcohol or narcotics, but also the word is used to mean anything that habitually keeps you from God. This could be your family, if you put them first, your religion when you limit God to one belief system, and to behavior patterns that interfere with your connection to God.
So many times people think that I am speaking about their brother, sister, or neighbor. They let my words pass over them without looking to see how the message applies to their lives. I would have you seek ways to transform your life through prayer, meditation, forgiving, and becoming more peaceful. No one can give you peace; it is something you must seek and cultivate into your life. Often people will say, when I get my new job, or after I am married, or when my health gets better, or when my finances improve, then I will seek peace. I am not asking you to stop living, but to live from your spirit.
In your spirit, deep within your soul, is the strength to overcome lifeís challenges, the fortitude to continue to seek peace in your heart of hearts when there is strife and contention in your life and surroundings. In your spirit is the serenity to accept the unchangeable, the courage to change the things you can, and wisdom enough to look honestly at your life. Within your spirit there is integrity, truth, and the love of God. Deep within your spirit is all that you need to live fearlessly, lovingly, and in peace.
What often keeps you from being at peace is pride. Pride has its place in you, but when it keeps you stuck in the past, or dishonest about the present, it is a deterrent and not a help. If pride keeps you from forgiving or loving, it is a stumbling block. Where there is war, seek ways of coming into peace. I am not talking about war between countries, as much as I am speaking of the inner wars you wage, and the strife that is so prevalent in families.
All God asks of you is that you do your best, to be sincere and earnest, and to be truthful about all things, including yourself. Then leave the results to Him. Let God help you come out of denial, out of despair, out of unhappiness. Allow God to bolster your courage, truth, strength, and love. Allow God to help you go past your barriers, past your pain, past your unhappiness. He will surely help you because all He awaits is an invitation into your life. With each situation that needs transforming, ask God to help all who are involved.
Some people can be transformed in a moment and without any difficulty or pain. Yet others must struggle to make the slightest changes. Do not judge how long it takes, simply work towards being remolded so that every part of your life is lived in Truth, and in Godís love. The length of time it requires an individual to change does not indicate his or her spirituality. It simply means that each person lives on their own timetable. Often people think it is better to struggle or suffer in order to serve God. That is false. God loves, and in His love He would not have any person suffer. Jesus often likened Godís love for all of us as the love a good father has for his children. Do you think that a good father would want to see his children suffer? Why then do you persist in believing that it is better to suffer in order to serve God.
If you only believe this one thing, the belief that God does anything but love, then you will have changed much. In humanity it is ingrained that God is angry and punishes. The real truth is that He only loves and is always at peace. To imitate this would be to change your world instantly. It would change not only your world but your relationships, your family, and your environment.
You have the freedom to choose; make the choice to transform, to recreate your inner world to one of peace. You do this by eliminating your inner strife. Too often you berate, castigate, and harass yourself over mistakes. If each day when you arise you choose to be transformed into a peaceful, loving person, it will happen for you in its own time. When you can choose to do nothing or to forgive, then forgive. When it comes time to acknowledge your failings, forgive yourself and strive to do better. When you find yourself in stressful situations, invite God to help you cope, to teach you how to cope in graceful and loving ways.
Now my children, I would have you remember that you can only change yourself. That each person on earth has the freedom to choose as you do. So to set yourself up as an authority on how your loved ones should change is to be in denial of how you can change. Remember that just as there is more strength, fortitude, and wisdom within you, it is there in your loved ones.
How you help others, is to pray for them and then work on yourself and the issues that are between you. When you are at peace, stay there. Do not be provoked into losing your peaceful center. And if you do step out of your peacefulness, do all you can to return by: acknowledging the issue, forgiving yourself and whoever else is involved, and by returning to a place of love. Even when you are angry, or betrayed, work towards eliminating the emotion and going past it to a forgiveness that also forgets. You can do this, my children. It is within you to do this. Remember always that God loves you without limit and without condition.
Mary, Mother of Jesus.
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Original date: June 8, 2001
Last updated: June 8, 2001