I felt miles behind the other members. Margaret’s propensity for finishing my sentences seemed proof of my lagging position. She’d quietly, but emphatically place a finishing polish on my meagre beginnings. If I remained silent for too long, Margaret might jump in with a grin and say, “Amy probably knows about that…!” Not understanding why she would make such a statement, I would struggle to feel, instead of think, my response.
“It’s a long journey from the head to the heart,” she’d say looking at me. “But it’s a journey well worth taking.” Was she placating or stretching this neophyte?
I learned to watch her carefully. We came to Chapter 28, Refining The Psyche. On page 161, we read:
The seeker of wisdom may find that the knowledge found within affects the feelings profoundly and may even be accompanied by visions, celestial sounds, or delightful fragrances.
“Ha!” Margaret said and then laughed.
This time I was ready for her. I had shared my meditation experiences with the group during an earlier chapter. If Margaret insisted on my comment this time, I was prepared. I would quote from a book written by Dr. Nancy Reeves, “I’d say “Yes,” God, If I Knew What You Wanted”. A woman named Tanya wrote about her mystical experience:
“… found an astonishing thing. The more receptive to God I became, the stronger the sexual feelings grew. Oh no, I’m really blowing it! So I asked all the angels and saints I could think of for help. The sexual sensations just became stronger…
Margaret never looked my way that day.
Cynthia began picking up more teaching engagements. She would continue as our Spiritual Leader within the growing Society, but needed a more accessible center from which to spring more easily into various University roles. She began boarding with the Sisters of St. John the Divine at a convent outside of Victoria.
My contract work meant coming and going from the Island. Margaret would welcome me home, “We’ve got lots to talk about…you and I. Come on over when you have some time.” I was never sure what we had to talk about, but my platter was full. I never made the time to ask the question.
Margaret died on December 7, 2011. She was 86 years old. The news stunned me. Ironically I read the news on Face Book – a place I’m sure she never frequented. It linked an article by Cynthia: Remembering Margaret Haines.
This sentence-finishing, multi-giving and ever-grinning friend was much more than she displayed. I realized I had been presented with a feast and never picked up the cutlery.
I sat alone at her Celebration of Life on Friday, December 16, wallowing quietly in the memory of Margaret and assimilating my newfound facts about her:
- Though I knew she was a board member, Margaret was, in fact, the mover and shaker behind the birth of the Contemplative Society. She was the one who brought Cynthia to our part of the world. She mentored Cynthia like a spiritual mother.
- She had once been chosen by one of the Rinpoches to go East and set up Women’s Programs.
- She trained leaders for Girl Guides. She went to help Jamaica and met her friend, Helen, who was to become Margaret’s dearest friend.
- She set up and managed a host of volunteers for the UNICEF program in Victoria. Her support continued from Salt Spring.
What else had I missed? I listened intently to the family’s stories about Margaret.
Helen took her turn at the pulpit. Keeping tears at bay, she presented more facts. She told of a recent quiet time together when Margaret spoke her last words with clarity that defied the destruction of her stroke, “Nothing is important!”
Then Helen told of visitations. “These were not her imagination,” said this well-educated woman of faith.
“The first to arrive was Margaret’s parents. Then an angel. This was followed by an Archangel.” Helen paused and her voice deepened, “And finally, Mary, Mother of Jesus.”
Helen then gathered her papers and left us in silence.
In that energized silence and from the depths of my inner being, I heard, “Ha! …in God’s time!” Margaret was finishing my sentence.
I’d been contemplating what she and I would have talked about. I had just thought, “I trust that I will find out …“