In the Fall of 2014, my wife, Sarah, and I took our first trip to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. We took in the wineries and attractions and ended our week at The Inn at Glenora. Our room was ground level, overlooking vineyards that blanketed the grounds with an invisible sweet fog.
Our room had a gas fireplace operated by a rocker switch mounted on the wall above and to the right of the hearth. Pressing the BOTTOM of the rocker switch turned the fire ON. Pressing the TOP of the rocker switch turned the fire OFF. Seemed counter-intuitive, but I didn't argue long with that reality. That's just how it worked.
On our last night there, I pressed the BOTTOM of the rocker switch to enjoy the fire while we settled in for the night. At lights out, I pressed the TOP of the rocker switch, turning off the fire. Then I crawled under the covers, all warm and cozy from the extinguished flames, the room now bathed in black.
Stretching to reach my nightstand, I grabbed my iPhone and earbuds. Moments later I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as I relaxed to a meditation produced by a close friend and medium, Verna M Lisa. This particular meditation is called "Spirit Visit, Being Your Own Medium." It is intended to help you connect and visit with loved ones who have passed. My focus this night was my mother, Mimi, the name given by her adoring grandchildren. She had passed in the summer of 2012, and I knew how she'd love the beautiful landscapes surrounding us.
The entire meditation lasts about forty-five minutes and progresses from relaxation to guided imagery to soft tones for the visit and then a guided return to full wakefulness. I was consciously aware and awake for perhaps the first five minutes. I then descended into a deep meditative state until Verna got to the part where you ascend ten steps and walk through a gate that opens to a shore. Sand stretches out to crystal clear water dotted with sparkling diamond spirits. I became very aware at this point. My mind was focused on my mother, as I had intended at the outset. I stood on that shore in my mind, the imagery brilliantly clear and beautiful. As I imagined her spirit rising from one of those gems, I heard a “POP!” At that same moment, I saw light flickering through my closed eyes in our otherwise dark room. Initially startled by the sound, I concentrated on the light dancing on my closed eyelids for a few moments as I came back to full consciousness.
When I finally opened my eyes, the room was filled with flickering light. I looked over at the digital clock on my nightstand. It was midnight. The large red numbers displayed "12:00" exactly. Sitting up, I saw the source of the light. Our gas fireplace was ON! My first foggy thought came from my engineer's brain. I wondered if the gas valve had failed and opened. Not likely, given their safety features, but I needed to rule that out. So I got up to check the switch. It was in the BOTTOM pressed rocker position for ON, the opposite of where I left it when we went to bed. I double and triple checked it by toggling the fire off and on several times. Relieved that the valve seemed fine, and that there was no need to call maintenance in the middle of the night, my mind quickly shifted to security.
Sarah sleeps very soundly. Ok, that's putting it mildly. She actually sleeps like rock. And she slept through all of this commotion, so obviously, she didn't turn it on. And clearly, I didn't do it. I was buried deep under my covers when the log set ignited with that "POP" that startled me back. This left the possibility that someone had come into the room, so I checked for signs of entry. The inside security latch was engaged on the hallway door and the inside security bar was intact on the sliding glass door leading to the patio. So no one had entered the room through the only means possible. This left only one other possibility that fit the circumstances.
Confident that all was well in the room, I returned to bed and crawled back under the covers. Feeling her presence, I smiled and thanked Mimi for such a wonderful sign of her constant, loving presence in our lives. Falling into a deep, dreamless sleep, I felt wrapped in my mother's love, filled with knowing and grateful for the enlightening and inspiring experience I share with you now.