“Would you like to meet a fascinating woman?” my friend, Marion, asked during a phone call one Saturday morning in 1973. Looking out my apartment window, the dazzling display of orange, red and gold Ontario trees promised a spectacular autumn.
“Who is she?” I asked. Several chores haunted my to-do list. Each one promised sufficient fascination to refresh the strains of a hectic week. Managing an aspect of Personnel for one of Canada’s more exciting financial firms kept me in a constant supply of fascinating people. Marion supervised a branch of the lending operation for the same firm.
“She used to be a nun apparently. She’s now the administrator for the mental hospital here,” Marion said. “We have a mutual friend, Leona, who lives in Toronto and who is determined that I meet this woman. Apparently she’s spiritual in a really unique way. When I agreed to drop off the package, Leona made me promise that I’d stay long enough to have a coffee. So please come with me. Then we can escape and have lunch. You game?”
“Sounds good,” I said.
Marion’s red Fiat appeared in the crowded parking lot the moment I opened the main door to leave my building. When I hopped into the passenger’s seat, Marion and I joined Bob Dylan singing “Knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s door…”
A fresh morning’s ride in a topless convertible simply meant zipped jackets, a heater’s blast, sunglasses and free flying hair. “We have to head up to the Northern part of the city. Are you warm enough?” Marion turned the volume down on the radio.
“Love it. I’m fine. But why did this friend want you to meet this ex-nun? You’re not even Catholic,” I said.
“She said to me, ‘You like talking to spiritual people. This woman will blow your mind.’ So I’m really curious. Her name’s Barb. She knows I’m coming this morning.”
“So this is an ex-nun, incredibly spiritual and runs the loony bin? That’s an interesting profile, Marion.”
“Leona said to me, ‘Wait ’til you meet her. She just clears five feet and is as feisty as can be. You’ll love her.'” Marion turned on to the main artery leading to our destination.
I laughed, “That’s the kiss of death…’you’ll love her’. Okay, this is going to be a hoot.”
“Leona’s parting words were, ‘You are going to thank me for this.'”
We arrived at a boxy apartment building located between a residential area and a handful of tiny shops. After we quickly combed our hair, we climbed out of the car with Marion carrying the catalytic package. “Here we go,” she said with a mischievous grin.
The unsecured entrance opened into a small foyer. Marion pointed to the stairs. We climbed our way to the third floor and walked to apartment #306. After two lively raps, the door quickly opened. A small framed woman with graying hair stood smiling at us with the vitality and radiance of a new convert to a fresh religion.
“Marion! Nice to meet you. It is so good of you to bring this to me. Come on in. Let’s have some coffee. Who’s your friend?”
“Barbara, nice to meet you at last. This is Amy. She and I have some running around to do, but we decided to deliver your package first.”
I accepted Barbara’s firm handshake, “Hello Barbara. It’s good to meet you.” I hoped I meant it.
After Marion and Barbara exchanged messages from their mutual friend, Barbara escorted us into her small suite. She began preparing coffee. She queried Marion about her life more skillfully than a court room lawyer, but with a tone that wrapped each question with sincerity and gentleness.
The apartment gave little clue of any special interest or hobby. The furnishings typified those of a warehouse grouping that supplied basic pieces for each room. The decor held no artwork, but an ample supply of books lined half of one wall opposite the couch. A crucifix hung on the wall above the small dining room table. The sparseness of the apartment matched neither the vivaciousness of Barbara’s welcome nor her apparent personality.
When the coffee was ready, Marion and I settled on the couch. Barbara poured the coffee and sat in the chair opposite us. “Tell me about yourself, Amy.” I was flummoxed, caught in my immersed scan of this woman’s surroundings, looking for a clue to her supposed intrigue.
“Uh…” I looked at Marion who ignored me by reaching for the book lying on the coffee table. “Well, I’m from Western Canada. I’ve been here just over a year and am thoroughly enjoying my career. How long have you been managing the Hospital?”
“Just over two years. I’ve just moved into this apartment, however. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve lived on my own.” She laughed, “It’s about time. I’m in my 40s.”
“Marion said you were a nun,” I said, determined to keep the spotlight off me.
“Yes, I was. Are you Catholic?” she asked.
“No, I’m not.”
“Well, I was with the Sisters who do a lot of work in what was the Congo and is now called Zaire. It’ll forever be the Congo for me.”
“Was it there that you decided you didn’t want to be a nun any more?” I asked.
“I loved the Congo, but I came down with Encephalitis while I was there. I became so ill, I was declared dead. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Akinetic Mutism? No? Well, it can deem one unable to speak or move. I am very blessed to be here today and be able to function. But then, the Lord does answer prayers.”
“If you were declared dead, how on earth did you end up here?” I asked. Marion had put the book down and was now as attentive as me.
“The Sisters had a coffin prepared for me. I was put in the coffin and arrangements were made immediately for me to be flown home. ”
“My God. Were you conscious of this?” I asked.
“No. I did not become conscious until I was in the belly of the plane and we were in the air. When I came around, I recognized the drone of the airplane and realized I was in a coffin.”
“Oh, Barbara!” Marion spoke through her hands that cupped her mouth.
“I was freezing cold. I shivered and shook. Panic stricken by the thought that I could freeze to death, I never stopped praying. I begged God to keep me alive. I told Him that if He helped me live, I would do whatever was necessary to really serve humanity. I confessed to God that I no longer wanted to be a nun. I told Him that if He spared me, I would concentrate fully on serving those who suffer, but not under the restrictions I felt as a nun. The trip was torturous and I lost track of time. I was in and out of consciousness.”
“So what happened?” I asked.
“The plane finally landed in Germany. I heard men talking as they transferred the coffin onto another plane. I wanted to cry out and discovered that I could not make a sound. I realized with horror that I also could not move. I realized that I could be buried alive.”
“Unbelievable,” Marion said.
“I continued praying as I slipped in and out of consciousness. Finally, we landed again. This time, I heard voices speaking English. I was so relieved. I still could not utter a sound.” Barbara moved to refill our coffee cups. She discovered we hadn’t touched them.
Our silence was the only offering we could provide.
Barbara continued. “I heard a man give instructions to those fellows carrying me telling them that I had to be taken to the customs people. One of the men carrying me began to protest. He was adamant that he would not be opening any coffin. The bossy man told him to get the coffin into Customs and do whatever the officials requested him to do.”
She went on, “So these guys carting me were really upset about their orders. The language they were using as we rattled onward spoke volumes about their fear,” she said.
“Finally, we stopped. My escorts adamantly explained to someone that they had to get back to the aircraft pronto. I tried to shout. Still nothing. I wanted to kick or bounce around. I couldn’t move.” Barbara stopped to take a sip of her coffee.
“The customs people decided they needed their supervisor. In a few minutes, a man with a deep, gravelly voice was saying, ‘Well, the papers are in order. This has to be unsealed and we have to look inside.’ I was so relieved. I thanked God repeatedly and waited. And waited…and waited. There were no longer any voices. I waited for hours.”
“But they did finally come?” I asked.
“Finally. The same booming voice told someone to get some tools. Soon they began undoing whatever fasteners were used to seal the coffin. I was overcome with joy. Suddenly the lid was raised and I knew light poured in. That’s when I discovered I could not open my eyes. I was completely paralysed. I heard the man say, ‘Okay, we know it’s valid. Put the lid back on.’
“Oh no!” I said.
“I heard the lid being replaced. I wanted to die at that instant. Suddenly, this same booming voice shouted, ‘Wait a minute! Take that lid off again!’ Once more the light came through my eyelids. My mantra became, ‘Please God.'”
Barbara stood up from her chair. With raised arms and a brilliant smile, she continued, “This man shouted, ‘My God, she’s alive! This is not a corpse! This woman is alive!’ The others around him said things like, ‘what are you talking about? You nuts?'”
“That man’s voice transformed into a tenderness I will never forget. Never. He said so gently, ‘Look at her tears. Those are fresh tears. Look at them running down her face right now.’ ”
“My God!” Marion passed me one of the tissues she’d found in her purse. I wiped my eyes and waited for Barbara to continue.
“It is impossible to describe the joy that my heart held in that moment. I thanked God from every pore. Soon I was placed in the care of ambulance attendants who whisked me off to the hospital in Toronto. I heard since that all present were in a state of shock.”
“Barbara, I am so floored by this story. This is beyond belief,” Marion nodded in agreement and blew her nose.
“It has been a long recovery and I know that there may still be repercussions, but after that experience, I have no fear. I know that the Lord is with every breath I take.”
“No wonder Leona wanted me to hear this story. She told me I’d love it!” Marion said and blew her nose again.
“No wonder, is right! But, Barbara, were there any consequences about you stepping away from your vows?” I said.
“No. There were various steps to take, of course. But now I am simply a devout parishioner. I may have given up the convent, but I have a most loving relationship with my Lord. Plus, I deeply love working with people suffering from mental illness.”
“Is this the work that allows you to serve humanity the way you wanted?”
“In every way. You see, through God’s Love, I was saved by a tear. Through God’s Tears, I can serve with love.”
(Marion, Leona and Barbara are not the real names of these women. The package that was delivered? Incidental. It was merely the spiritual means of facilitating an opportunity for two women to meet Barbara, hear her story, and have their lives changed forever.)
Hello my Guides. I still shake my head when I think about this incident.
This is one of the typical types of exchanges we have wanted to help you experience. This is the type of person that you wanted to have in your path in this lifetime. You have been given this woman as a promise and a reminder that there is great magnificence in simplicity. It serves to present the message of hope in the face of seemingly dire consequence or circumstance.
Would most people have given up? Here was someone of such strong faith, and so full of it, that I doubt she would have been afraid of dying. Yet she prayed to live so she could give in a manner she felt she had neglected.
The will to live is an important aspect of the human condition. That tiny, but most forceful energy delivers many physical beings through horrendous experiences. When human souls know there is more work to do, they are willing to withstand great blockages and difficulties to see their purpose met. They may also simply see a necessary shift in priorities that contributes to major transformation.
Would this woman be a new soul or an old soul? In other words, would a newer soul break away from a religious order?
She is a new old soul. That means she still has numerous lives to fulfill before her final reconnection with the Divine Being of her Loving Soul. However, her incarnations have revealed, to her, that the church can be a means to an end, but not the end.
Thank you, Guides for what you share.
We are facilitators of soul work that contributes to many aspects of Love and support to all of you. We remind you that the Ra Group focuses on Wisdom transmissions and that being of service is just one of the many opportunities to bestow Love upon you.