Who Am I? Part Thirty Three


The trouble with the whole 2012 thing, was that the good old media latched onto it and made it into something that it wasn’t. Hence, we had people talking about how the world was going to end; of course, this was never an option. Something that was quite significant for us as a species, was turned into an event that was the butt of jokes, and also gave amateur philosophers the world over the ammunition to expound all manner of theories and opinions. The truth was that the so-called “shift” started long before 21 December 2012, and was exactly that; a very subtle and gradual shift, the result of which meant that our consciousness or energies, whichever term you want to use, became more awakened. The date of 21 December 2012 simply signified the date in the ancient Mayan Calendar when a particular cycle would come to an end. I feel qualified to give this explanation because of what I actually experienced at the time.

A friend of mine once said to me that creation was like an onion. He said it consisted of many layers; and every now and then a layer would peel away and reveal a truth. With this in mind, the first few weeks of 2013 were very interesting for me. There was definitely something different going on, and indeed, the onion of life most certainly did peel away several layers and reveal several truths to me. Of course, I am speaking metaphorically, as we know there is only ONE truth. What I would like to add, however, to my friend’s pearl of wisdom is this; not only does the onion of life reveal truth to you, but as it does so, illusion and delusion, in the form of previous unreal perspectives, dissolves away. So, I had several eureka moments during the first 3-4 weeks of 2013. By the time April came along I had another quite significant experience.

I was booked to do a clairvoyant night at a pub on the outskirts of Cheltenham. I had already got to the stage where I was questioning the relevance of clairvoyant nights from a spiritual perspective. I did not feel that the churning out of mundane messages to people who were, in the main not interested in spirituality, served me any longer. I had already got into the habit of turning down bookings for clairvoyant nights, and I felt that I’d served my apprenticeship and worked my fair share of difficult venues, so I was not too keen on working in a pub. Nonetheless, I accepted the booking. It turned out to be one of those situations where out of great adversity, advantage blossomed!

It was a new initiative by the pub proprietors in an effort to bring in more punters. They had held a couple of these nights already and were going to make it a regular thing. On this particular occasion it was my turn. The event was to take place in the skittle alley upstairs, and on arrival it became apparent that the organisers were clueless. They had no understanding of this kind of thing, and apart from putting the chairs out, did absolutely nothing. There was not even any water put out for me, and I drink gallons of the stuff when I’m working. So, I got my water sorted out and it transpired that I was just left to my own devices. This is unheard of; there is ALWAYS a chairperson; the medium is never just left alone to get on with it. So, there I was; I got up to speak and immediately knew I was in for a rough night. I’d had some tough ones in my time, but this one took the biscuit! Firstly, the energies in this old building were awful (old English pubs do tend to have history), then I noticed that one of the punters had at least one negative entity attached to him. Then to top it off, there was a row of young girls in the audience that disrupted the whole session. The old me would have got angry, but the new me saw it as a challenge.

So, as well as having to work in such negative energies I also had to cope with the teenage girls giggling and nudging each other from start to finish. Everyone I went to had negative body language and did not understand the concept of working with the medium. People did not respond to me; which is absolutely essential for any demonstration of mediumship. So I was standing up in front of these people who were either giggling or just gawping at me. I found it nigh-on impossible to get spirit information, and I had to endure some incredibly long periods of silence; it’s a shame that the silence did not extend to the teenage girls in the audience. This had never happened to me before, and after what seemed like an absolute age, the event came to an end. Incredibly, some of the people came up to me and thanked me for their messages, and some even apologised for the behaviour of the young girls, even though it was nothing to do with them. Some of them complained to the management about the girls’ behaviour and I understand that they were banned from attending future events.

As I drove away from that venue I had a bit of a smile on my face. I was happy that I’d done my best not to be judgemental and just carried on with the task in hand. The experience also confirmed what I already knew, working in pubs no longer served my soul, and neither did clairvoyant demonstrations. From then on I only served two venues that laid on pure clairvoyant nights; the reason for that was because they were two venues where I had always received great support and continuing to serve them was my way of maintaining the connection.

I continued to bumble along; it was very difficult to eek out a living from my spiritual work on a self-employed basis. I also worked as a “helping hand”, for an organisation called Care and Repair. It was a charity that gave support to vulnerable adults in their homes. That was also on a self-employed basis, and even though the money wasn’t brilliant, it added a few pounds of much-needed income to the coffers. As 2013 was nearing its end, something else happened that was nothing short of miraculous.

As a helping hand, I was down to one solitary client; an elderly lady with dementia and poor mobility who lived six miles away. It was Boxing Day, December 26, and I was due to go and see her for a couple of hours. I would do a bit of cleaning and make sure she had a meal. But when I went out to the car it wouldn’t start. I reported in and someone else went out to see the elderly lady. Between Christmas and New Year my trusty mechanic, Tony, got the car going and I thought all was OK. But the day before New Year’s Eve, I set off on a journey to visit a friend who lived near Grimsby (around 170 miles away). I only got eight miles down the road and I heard a knocking sound coming from under the bonnet. I managed to pull over and have a look and found that the water reservoir container was empty. The knocking sound was because the hard plastic container had become so hot, it was banging against the inner framework of the car. It was lucky I’d only travelled eight miles.

I managed to get back home and took the car to Tony again once the New Year was out of the way. He said it would cost a fortune to repair; far more than the car was worth and that I’d be better off getting a new car. That was the worst thing he could have told me. Where would I get the money to buy a new car? I succumbed to the yarn being spun by my mind and went into severe panic mode. There was very little money coming in anyway and now I had no car. Tetbury has a very sparse and expensive bus service, so I would have no way of getting about either. It was a serious case of , “what am I going to do”? Now, I have written extensively about what happened next, so I’m not going to go into all the detail here, because I will still be writing at midnight. You can read the incredible story by clicking on the two links below entitled, Miracles Do Happen.

Miracles Do Happen

Miracles Do Happen 2

But to give you a bit of an idea, I had hardly any work, no car to get to that work, or to look for work, or even to get out and try to claim benefits for an interim period. I realised I was being my own worse enemy and took steps to change my mental attitude. Miraculously, shortly after taking these steps, someone just gave me £1000, right out of the blue. Not only that, they said I didn’t even need to pay it back. It was more miraculous because I never even asked that person for any money! Then shortly after that I got a job from an unexpected source and not long after that, another car!

The next post will be the last in the series, but there will be a summary post after that. We are now at February 2014.

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Absolutely Old Boy!


All talk of Heaven and Earth is only relevant when one falsely believes the unreal to be real. From the perspective of the ego there is a huge gap between Heaven and Earth; a gap that cannot be explained in words, such is its gulf. It is also a myth that there are stages to attaining the dizzy heights of Heaven (enlightenment). The truth is that when the ego is present we create our own Heaven here on Earth (or Hell). In the same way that comparing a low number, for example 2, with a high number, say 20 billion, pales into insignificance from the perspective of the Absolute, where all numbers are irrelevant, the same can be said for comparisons between Heaven and Earth. In Absolute Reality, there are no stages to work through, no places to go to or compare; there is only the truth of Being, no separateness, no subject/object relationships; only One. Nothing else exists.

Who Am I? Part Thirty Two


And then it happened… Absolutely nothing… Or did it?

A typical darshan in Sai Kulwant Hall

I just love that line; it’s actually how I’m going to end this post, at 21 December 2012, but I love it so much that I thought I would kick off with it as well. Anyway.. I went back to Prashanthi Nilayam in February 2010. It was a completely different experience from the first time. I went with a friend who had a medical condition that meant she was in a great deal of pain most of the time. We unwittingly booked our trip to coincide with Maha Shivaratri (Night of Shiva), which is one of the busiest festivals of the year. The village and the ashram were even more busy than when I went in 2009. Because of my friend’s constant pain we felt that the conditions on the ashram would be a bit harsh for her, so we found accommodation in the village; directly opposite a shop that sold themed T-shirts. The premises also doubled as a workshop where they put the motifs on the T-shirts themselves; the constant noise from the sewing machine was deafening!

Swami’s physical form was noticeably frailer, but his power was as immense as ever. During the course of our 10 day stay it was made clear to me that I did not need to go there again. Swami has his ways of letting you know; it was as if he was silently confirming that wherever you are in the world, you, yourself, are the One indivisible whole. If I am One with Swami, why would I need to travel thousands of miles to be in his physical presence?

In 2006, whilst living in Cirencester, I’d found Sai groups in Bristol and Swindon that I started to attend. Later on I found another group in Bath that resonated better with me. However, you may remember right at the beginning of this series of posts, I said that I’d always felt that I didn’t belong anywhere? No matter where I found myself, I always felt that I didn’t belong. When I was younger I didn’t understand why, but now I was beginning to understand more about who I really was and why I always felt like a fish out of water. I’d never felt any resonance with Spiritualism, I’d never felt that I belonged in the army and in many of my jobs in adult life; I’d got used to the idea of being quite the loner. In spite of this I was a bit disappointed to find that I felt exactly the same in the Sai groups too. Even though I met some lovely people, like Satyan, who was like a brother, and Patrick, they were very formal groups. Nonetheless, I would continue to attend sporadically for a few years to come.

I found that after my visits to Swami I started to undergo some quite drastic changes, both in day-to-day life and spiritually. I noticed that I was feeling extremely fatigued for no apparent reason. After I’d had this feeling for around 18 months, I mentioned it to Satyan one day during a visit to Bath. He said I needed to go for some urgent blood tests as it might be something serious. Satyan knows his onions, so I quickly made an appointment at my local surgery to see a nurse. I had the most extensive blood tests I’ve ever had in my life; she must have taken five vials of blood. But when the results came back, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. My GP said I probably had a mild form of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I will never forget what else he said to me, and I quote, “we don’t know what causes it and there is no cure, so you will just have to get on with it”! So I did, and I have been ever since. At some stage I learned that extreme fatigue is one of the many “symptoms” people experience when they are going through the spiritual awakening process.

I’d had a daily routine of meditation for about the last seven years, but it had got to the stage where it was starting to feel quite mechanical, and I’d started to question the validity of it. All of a sudden I found that I was no longer meditating and to this day, I very rarely meditate at all anymore. I was also used to seeing my spirit guides and getting spirit communication on quite a regular basis. Suddenly, I no longer saw my guides and spirit communication was a thing of the past. I found that when I went to serve a church or centre, I would no longer go through my routine of preparation. I would simply turn up, when I stood up my mediumship would kick-in, and when I was called to time it would shut down until the next time. There was now a divide between me and the religion of Spiritualism that was probably wider than the Grand Canyon, but I felt that a power much greater than me wanted me to continue in this environment. At first, I didn’t understand why I could no longer see or hear spirit guides.

I had always known, that ultimately, spirit guides do not exist, as there is only One Consciousness. But like a lot of things when you are unconscious, the actual meaning and implications take some time to sink in. I eventually realised that I was in the process of evolving from my illusory perspective of duality, to one of monism. I had already found that several of the Spiritualist churches and centres were no longer booking me; this had a lot to do with them feeling that my addresses were too deep and profound and people didn’t understand them. The fact was, that I only knew one way to work; and that was the way that I was being guided by Divine Spirit. So, I was in a situation where a Divine Service in a Spiritualist church was an ideal platform for me to work from, because there was always the part of the service where the medium was required to give an address. But at the same time, most people were only interested in “messages from beyond”, so there were many who didn’t like the way I worked.

As far as day jobs went, my support worker job in Avening was past its sell-by date and I knew I needed to move on. I got a similar job with another organisation, which at first seemed like a breath of fresh air, but within a matter of weeks I realised I’d gone from the frying pan into the fire, and five months later I’d moved on. Then, for my sins, I got  a job in a “hotel” in Tetbury. It was an awful place; not cheap for the punters, and it was nothing more than a glorified pub. I stayed there until January 2011, after which I decided to have another go at being self-employed.

The morning of Sunday, April 24, apart from being Easter Sunday, was just another day. I got up and had my usual cups of tea, and then logged into my laptop to check emails and social media accounts. There was an email from my friend V in South Africa. It simply said, “Swami has gone”. I cried sporadically for most of the day, not out of grief, but out of the sheer joy of knowing that the God-man blessed me beyond my wildest dreams since entering my life way back in 2001. I have a tear or two in my eyes now as type. He had deteriorated drastically since the last time I was in Prashanthi, but devotees the world over had just assumed that Swami would come back as good as new. Baba’s message was always that the body is only temporary and that devotees should not worship his physical form. He had also said words to the effect of, “one day you will have to get used to this body not being here”. I said at the time that a physical form had never been intrinsic to the relationship I had with Swami, so there was no reason for anything to change now.

During the early morning of July 17 2012, I had an incredible experience with Swami in astral form. I grabbed his arm and it was as solid as solid can be. You can read the full account by clicking on this link – When The Avatar Comes Calling

Now speaking of 2012. You remember, don’t you? When the world was going to end? Well, during the build up I wrote a few spoof blog posts. If you click on the links below, you may or may not be amused by what you read:

Angels Ate My Hamster

Aliens Ate My Grandmother

After leaving the hotel in January 2011, I bumbled along; just managing to keep my head above water. I’d published more books with the advent of “on demand digital publishing”, which enabled me to publish without having to order hundreds of copies. It was a struggle but I learned from my mistakes and did most of the work myself. Cover design, formatting of text etc. I didn’t have very good equipment, so for some of the technical stuff I had to pay for services. But it was all OK. I never had fantastic sales, but there is nothing for an author quite like the buzz you get, when someone from the other side of the world contacts you and says that reading your book changed their life! Money just cannot buy that!

So, 2011 became 2012, and I continued to bumble. The months went by and before we knew what was happening we were into December, and in the blink of an eye the dreaded witching hour was upon us. The 21st loomed…

And then it happened… Absolutely nothing… Or did it?

 

Who Am I? Part Thirty One


Selena House Nursing Home in Swindon, which was closed down in 2012 due to malpractice.

This is probably the longest blog post ever! Take a coffee break if necessary, but read to the end, you won’t be disappointed!

I have just been reminded that the name of the nursing home where Mrs H stayed was Selena House; and that is where I’m going to begin this post. Within a month of moving into the home my mum became very ill and was admitted to hospital; GWH in Swindon; the same hospital where she had received such appalling treatment before. At some stage I had a telephone conversation with a consultant who told me that my mum had come to the end of her life and probably only had a couple of hours left. She went on to say that there was a chance my mum might last a couple of days, but in all likelihood she would be gone in a couple of hours. I explained to the consultant that there was no such thing as death and agreed with her that when Mrs H was considered “well” enough, she would be taken back to Selena House where she would be given TLC until she expired.

I was booked to do a clairvoyant demonstration in Bristol that afternoon, and that’s what I did. I was of the opinion that if the Divine wanted me to be with my mum when she left this life, then it would happen. It would make no odds if I went flying to Swindon like a bat out of hell to be at her side, or whether I didn’t. When I arrived at Selena House in the evening, five or six hours after my conversation with the consultant, my mum was asleep in the lounge. A member of staff woke her up and she then sat up and had a sandwich. She would go on to have two more birthdays.

Selena House after the fire.

In April 2009 I noticed that there were no longer any lucid moments at all. Mrs H had zero mobility, she was doubly incontinent and now what little mind she had, was gone completely. I’d had a lot of pleasure getting to know this “new” person who had once been my mother, but it now seemed that after several false alarms, she was at last getting ready to leave her body. During the early hours of the morning of May 11 2009, I got a call from the night staff at Selena House informing me that my mum was very poorly. As before, I knew that it would not change anything if I went bombing off to Swindon. I visited at my usual time of around mid-day. I went into my mum’s room and she was indeed at the point of no return. Her mouth was dry, her eyes had glazed over and she had the rattle in her throat. I wet her lips, and placing my hands on her, I asked the higher power to allow the energy of love to flow through me. Afterwards, I noticed that she had some colour in her face. I knew that at a soul level she was absolutely fine and would soon be free. I then left in the knowledge that I would never see Mrs H in physical form again. At 00.40 am the following morning, the duty nurse rang me and advised that Mrs H was about to expire, and less than a minute later she breathed her last. I was very relieved and happy that a wonderful soul was now free.

In 2012 Selena House was closed down by the authorities for malpractice, and some time after, the building was damaged by fire.

In a way, through my annoyance (I think anger is too strong a word) and frustration at family for their complete and utter lack of interest in my mum’s situation, I actually felt sorry for them. For the last four and a half years I’d had an enriching experience getting to know a new person and actually had some very joyous moments, whereas they had missed out. They didn’t miss out on their inheritance though! My mum had very little by today’s standards, and it had to be shared between me and my brother, the three grown-up kids from his first marriage and his two grand kids. At the time of writing it is over eight years since my mum’s funeral, and apart from bumping into my nephew in Swindon a couple of times, I’ve not seen any of them since.

In July 2009 I started to question more and more my work as a medium. In the space of less than a week there had been two incidents in Spiritualist churches I served that really made me think that I was wasting my time. Spiritualism had always given me the impression that it was stuck in the past, but I had evolved considerably since the days of sitting with Sue and John Geis in Gloucester, and no longer saw the point of constantly obsessing over messages. Many of the people I encountered seemed to have very little understanding of the spirit, and some of the behaviour was beyond me. However, while all this was going on, I received the inner call from Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and in October 2009 I was on my way to Prashanthi Nilayam.

No one can come here unless he is called. Not even 20,000 horses can bring you here if you are not called – Baba

My inheritance afforded me the luxury of being able to book a flight to Bangalore. As with my snow story from a previous post, to save me having to write loads, I’m going to copy and paste a chapter from my last publication, From Logic To Enlightenment. It’s a bit of a seat belt job, so hold on!

The story I’m going to share with you first appeared in my book, Astral Travelling, The Avatar and Me, which was published in 2010, and tells the story of my journey to the ashram of my guru, Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Southern India. That book is now out of print, but a second edition was published in early 2013 with a new title, The Amazing Journey, and an extra chapter. The account you are about to read is not a word-for-word repeat of what appeared in those two books, but rather a brand new article specially written for my blog. I decided to share it here because the person I am now is more evolved than the person who wrote the original, therefore the style of writing is slightly different. I hope you enjoy it!

Swami first came into my life in 2001 and things have never been the same since; well you wouldn’t expect them to be, would you? In 2003 I had it in my head that I was going to go to Baba’s ashram, Prashanthi Nilayam (Abode Of The Highest Peace), but Swami obviously had other ideas and my life went off in another direction. However, cue 2009 and I received the inner calling from the Avatar; and what followed was a truly amazing and somewhat surreal experience. But first here is the best definition of an Avatar that I’ve ever come across. It’s from Author Jonathan Roof’s book Pathways to God:

The word Avatar is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “descent”. An Avatar is a descent of spirit into form. Although all people are spiritual beings encased in mortal bodies, the word Avatar describes the manifestation of God in human form. All people possess a divine inner reality, but few manifest it. The Avatar expresses divinity throughout his incarnation. His earthly career is a sign of his everlasting love for all people.

I managed to get a really cheap direct flight from Heathrow to Bangalore and my Sai brother, Satyan, arranged a taxi for me at the other end. My other friend had said that I could stay at her flat in Swindon the night before my departure as it was much easier for me to travel from Swindon than where I live in Tetbury. So all was going to go swimmingly well, wasn’t it? Well wasn’t it? I think you know what is coming next. Yes, correct! My idea of a plan in no way resembled the plan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. So, my dear readers sit back, relax, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride…

I’d had to sleep on the floor in the living room of my friend’s tiny flat, which wasn’t a problem at all, but I suppose, coupled with the excitement of the journey, I had no more than two hours sleep. I had a wonderful flight; it was my first long haul and I was very pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it was, but I had no sleep on the plane either, for no particular reason; it just didn’t seem to happen. So by the time I landed in Bangalore I’d had about 2 hours sleep in the last 48, but no big deal; after all, everything was going to go swimmingly, wasn’t it?

I exited the airport at around midnight local time, and I soon realized (to my horror) that in amongst the throng of people waiting at the exit for passengers, and who were holding up signs with the passengers’ names on, there was no one holding up a sign with my name. My fears were soon confirmed when in a fairly short space of time I was the only person left waiting at the exit. “Billy-No-Mates Westerner” standing out like a sore thumb, thousands of miles from home! Sure enough I soon attracted attention; from airport security, because no loitering is allowed due to the constant terrorist threats in India, and from local “wide-boy” taxi staff on the lookout for gullible Westerners to overcharge for the journey to Baba’s ashram in Puttaparthi. I think I fitted that bill admirably, I couldn’t have been a better candidate; even if I’d had “mug” tattooed on my forehead! To cut a long story short, I had the mobile number for the taxi driver and the security staff phoned him on my behalf. It turned out that my dear friend Satyan had given him the wrong flight details so he wasn’t expecting me until the next day. He told the security staff that he was “on his way”, but it soon transpired that in India the phrase, “I’m on my way”, means something completely different from what it does in England. I should say before we go any further, that my account of events is quite drastically truncated; there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to add all the minute detail of everything that happened to me. But, nonetheless, I’m sure you will have a good idea by the time this chapter is finished.

I was told by security that I needed to wait on some benches by a kiosk that was to my left of the airport exit, and the taxi driver would meet me there. Well time ticked by, daylight broke and I was beginning to wonder if my taxi would ever turn up. It got to the point where I got fed up waiting and decided to find my own taxi. Wrong move! Cue Swami and one of his famous leelas (Divine play). I was immediately accosted by intrepid folk who wanted me to take one of their taxis. Accosting quickly turned to harassment, and with my lack of sleep I soon became hot and bothered; to the extent that I nearly took up their offer until I saw the car they wanted me to travel in. My change of mind made their harassment more intense and I struggled back in the direction of the benches with my heavy bag. Just as I was approaching (taxi folk in hot pursuit) I saw a man waving at me; he was also clutching a piece of paper to his chest. As I got closer I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed the words “Mr Richard” written on the aforementioned piece of paper. My taxi had arrived. I’d exited the airport at midnight; it was now 07:00 am!

It soon became very clear that the whole business had been engineered by Swami. Had there been no mix-up I would have travelled to Prashanthi in darkness; and thus would have missed all the wondrous sights that now unfolded before my eyes, like a play; being acted out scene by scene in accordance with a script that had been written with meticulous precision. It was my first trip to this amazing land and in the three and a half hours or so it took for us to arrive at the ashram I must have witnessed virtually every single aspect of Indian culture.

I saw Red Kites flying gracefully above; I witnessed the colour and the bustle of the small towns and villages we passed through, bullock carts sharing the roads with the cars and trucks. Unfortunately, not everything I saw was welcoming to the eye, such as the poverty; I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. However, the most distressing sight that I saw was when we passed through one small town and I saw a group of women in the back of a smallish open-backed truck. At first glance they reminded me of cattle that had been herded onto the back of the vehicle. There was a man standing on the running board at the back berating one of the women, and as we drove past he struck her. I couldn’t believe my eyes; but the look of pain on the woman’s face confirmed that I wasn’t dreaming.

After stopping for refreshment in the town of Chikkaballapur we arrived at the ashram gates at 10:30 am. Taxis are not normally allowed in but the driver explained to the seva dals (stewards) on the gate that I had never been to Prashanthi before, so he was permitted to drive me up to the accommodation office. My head was in a spin, due to a combination of having had no sleep, for what seemed like a lifetime, and the incredible sights I’d seen en-route from the airport. The sun was beating down now too and for the first time I was experiencing the incredibly fierce Indian heat. I’d worn jeans for the journey and spilt coffee down them on the plane; needless to say, as well as feeling as though I was being cooked in the thick denim, the odour from the coffee stains wasn’t exactly pleasant on the nose either.

The taxi driver directed me to the appropriate block and then off he went on his way. A rather stern and extremely efficient seva dal booked me in, and before I could blink, a coolie grabbed my bag and proceeded to lead me to my “hotel”. When I arrived at block DD2 I could not believe my eyes. It was dormitory accommodation at its most basic! Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think for one minute that it was beneath me, it’s just that I thought I’d left dormitories behind when I left the army all those years ago. The beds were the single metal-framed type and the mattresses had been used by countless devotees over the months and years; the communal facilities were down at the far end.

A rather kindly seva dal must have sensed I was feeling disorientated and confused and he helped me find a decent mattress. Another devotee gave me a spare mosquito net, so all I needed was a shower and some suitable clothing. It was such a relief to get my smelly jeans off and get in the shower. I changed into a pair of lounge pants I’d brought with me and some flip-flops and decided to go and familiarize myself with the ashram and purchase some appropriate clothing. The only problem was that the lounge pants were too big for me and they had no pockets and by the time I got to the shop I realized that it was only open at certain times and I’d missed out; I would have to carry on as I was until the next day.

I couldn’t believe how busy the ashram was; I was getting jostled everywhere I went. It seemed that every corner I turned I was getting pushed and shoved; it was like being in the crowd at a football match. I found this quite intimidating, especially with the lack of sleep; yes, it was turning out to be quite an experience. All of a sudden I was thousands of miles from home and my life seemed to have been turned completely on its head; my comfort zone had been exchanged for searing heat, pushing and shoving, no sleep, confusion, more heat, more pushing and shoving; and I was now feeling even more disorientated and vulnerable. What I also found disturbing was the massive police and military presence on the ashram. After all, was this not The Abode of The Highest Peace? What was with all the machine guns and rifles? I was getting more confused by the minute.

At some stage I wandered past the South Indian canteen, and thinking that it was about time I ate something, I purchased some food coupons from the nearby kiosk and ventured in. I couldn’t believe how cheap the food was; just very simple vegetarian food and it tasted wonderful. I then wandered out again to face another buffeting from the hordes. By this time, I’d realized that my Western flip-flops were not suitable for trudging about in all day and I was now limping from all the blisters on the bottom of my feet. One good thing was that I had established where darshan (within the sight of a Divine being) was to take place and at the appropriate time I hobbled over to the Sai Kulwant Hall in the hope that I might make some sense of all the confusion.

At this early stage I had not been educated in the practice of laying a cushion down after morning darshan in order to reserve a place in the line for evening darshan; all that was to come. Instead I hobbled up to the entrance and was amazed to find that I had to undergo a body search before being allowed in. Now I REALLY was struggling to take it all in. There were already thousands of people seated in the hall and I made my way to a spot that gave me a good view of the mandir (temple). This bit was quite strange because on one hand I felt like a little boy lost, my feet were killing me from the blisters, and being a big softy Westerner, I didn’t get on with having to sit for ages on a hard concrete floor either; to say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. But on the other hand, the Vedic chanting was beautiful; I’d never heard it before, and then all of a sudden it happened. I felt a pulling sensation from within my chest as though someone was actually reaching inside me and pulling on my heart. Then my eyes welled up with tears of joy. I remember thinking to myself, “it must be Swami; Swami must be coming”.

A few moments later, sure enough, I saw his tiny frame appear in the distance as he was wheeled into the hall. This was my first ever sight of the Avatar and I had the most incredible feeling of love come over me; a feeling that I’d never experienced before. I was quite a distance away from Baba, but I could see him clearly and he even seemed to position himself on the mandir in such a way that I had clear sight of him. I knew that he knew I was there and I knew that he did this especially for me. I just wished that I could have made sense of all the other stuff. Anyway, I was sitting on that concrete floor for what seemed like eons when…

All of a sudden there was a CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, a bell started to sound; it was unbelievably loud, similar to a church bell, but just continuous clanging. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I didn’t even know the bell was there, but somehow I’d managed to sit virtually on top of it. On glancing around I realized that the bell was housed in a concrete structure so I hadn’t seen it when I sat down. Having had no sleep and having also been sitting on the stone floor for some time, the bell going off just made me want to scream. But it was a sound I grew to love as the days went by as I learned that it signalled the singing of my favourite devotional song, which was always sung at the end of darshan. When darshan was over I struggled to my feet and hobbled towards the exit. As I did so, one of the many resident pigeons in Sai Kulwant Hall emptied the contents of its bowels all over my arm. “Just about sums up my day”, I thought, as I limped on my way.

The other devotees in my vicinity in DD2 were very helpful; they understood what I was experiencing, but there was a lesson to be learned here. I had been thinking that the ashram should have been called “The Abode Of The Biggest Hassle You Ever Experienced In Your Life”, and not “The Abode Of The Highest Peace”. However, in the bed next to me was an oriental man. He never spoke to anybody, although if you spoke to him he would answer but would not engage in conversation. I couldn’t help but observe his behaviour. All he did was read his spiritual texts, meditate and sleep. He would kneel on the floor and use his bed as a table and read his book of scripture, whatever book it was. He always seemed at peace regardless. That first night in the dormitory was a nightmare for me; I still never slept a wink, so how did HE do it?

My oriental friend had a pre-bedtime meditation and immediately fell asleep. It was as though I was being told that my “Abode Of The Highest Peace” was wherever I made it; and my friend certainly was at peace. I realized afterwards that Swami had engineered the whole thing and that I was being shown that it is possible to find peace wherever you are, if you are spiritually awakened enough to transcend the “nonsense” of the material world. At the time I could not understand how that man managed to find so much peace; the noise in the dormitory at night was unbelievable. There was people coughing and snoring, and getting up to use the facilities. The door into the communal toilets was on a spring, and every time someone got up to use the amenities you heard an almighty BANG as the spring door slammed shut. I tossed and turned all night, my mind dancing around all over the place and playing all kinds of tricks on me. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever sleep again as the first devotees started to get up at around 03:30. The oriental man was one of them. He awoke and immediately had a meditation before getting on with his day. I did not think that I could sink any lower, but Swami had other ideas.

I continued to lay there wondering if I would ever get to sleep again and gradually the other devotees in the beds near to me started to get up. We chatted and I mentioned that I still hadn’t slept; I was also starting to feel guilty that I had travelled thousands of miles to the ashram of “God in human form”, yet I’d not engaged in any meditation or reading of spiritual texts. My new friends pointed out to me that I would not be able to function without sleep and they encouraged me to remain in bed. By now it was 07:00 am and they were all going out into their day. I decided to take the advice, and to my pleasant surprise, I actually managed to drop off to sleep. I awoke again around 11:00 am and went for a shower; I decided that I needed to solve the problem of my clothing and have another go at familiarizing myself with the ashram. Yes, most definitely the previous day had been nothing short of a surreal nightmare. But having said that, in amongst all the confusion and fear I’d had an incredible inner experience with my loving God-man, Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I ventured out into the ashram and immediately I was met with a continuation of the previous day. The heat, the pushing and shoving and the blisters; I was in despair. I felt more and more fearful and vulnerable as the morning turned to afternoon; I was completely lost, unable to make head or tail of what was happening to me. There are little kiosks dotted about the ashram at various locations where you can get a coffee; tiny cardboard cups for 6 Rupees. Whenever I stood in the queue I would have someone come and blatantly stand in front of me, or simply shove me out of the way before standing in front of me. It just helped to pile on the agony. At some point I felt at rock-bottom, and I got myself one of the little cups of coffee, sat down on a wall and started to cry. I felt like I had been reduced to zero; like I had no life of my own. I felt as though I was being worked by a puppet master. Many of you reading this may be familiar with the old Thunderbirds TV programme, where you could actually see the strings on the puppets; well I really did feel that I was a puppet that was being controlled by strings. I felt as though I was in the grip of a power so mighty, that I had no control whatsoever of my movements. I’d tried to settle myself in to ashram life but at every turn of the corner I was met with a brick wall.

As I sat on the wall crying, my life, metaphorically, flashed before me. I felt so insignificant, so tiny and so worthless; like I had less significance than a single grain of sand in the Sahara Desert. Everything I’d ever done; all my spiritual work of the previous seven years, in fact my whole life, felt worthless and completely and utterly meaningless. I just did not have a clue what I was going to do. At some point I got up and started wandering around again.

I don’t remember when exactly, but after hobbling around for a while I stumbled across the Western canteen by “accident”. I realized that I’d hardly eaten anything since the meal in the South Indian canteen the previous day. I felt ready for some food and thought it might perk me up, but I had no idea as I walked up the pathway that Swami was about to pick me up and dust me down. As I neared the entrance I could see that there was some writing etched into the stone wall just to the right of the doorway. Out of curiosity I stopped to read what it said and it was then that I realized that all my nightmares had been nothing more than Swami’s play. He’d led me along that pathway in order to bring me to this moment. As I perused the writing I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. All of a sudden the penny dropped. I had doubted Swami because I’d allowed my mind and my ego to rule me; now as I read I could see that my beloved Baba had no choice but to use “tough love” in order to help his child. What I was reading was Baba’s Surrender Prayer. If you are not familiar with it allow me to enlighten you.

Sai Baba’s Surrender Prayer

Why get agitated? Let Me take care of all your business. I shall be the one who will think about them. I am waiting for nothing else than your surrender to Me, and then you do not have to worry anymore about anything. Say farewell to all fears and discouragement. You demonstrate that you do not trust Me. On the contrary, you must rely blindly on Me. To surrender means: To turn your thoughts away from troubles, to turn them away from difficulties you encounter and from all your problems. Leave everything into My hands saying “Lord, Thy will be done, you think of it”. That is to say: “Lord I thank you for you have taken everything in your hands, and you will resolve this for my highest good”.

Remember that thinking of the consequences of a thing is contrary to surrender. That is to say, when you worry that a situation has not had the desired outcome, you thus demonstrate that you do not believe in My love for you. You will prove that you do not consider your life to be under My control and that nothing escapes Me. Never think: How is this to end? What is going to happen? If you give in to this temptation, you demonstrate that you do not trust Me. Do you want Me to deal with it…yes or no? Then you must stop being anxious about it! I shall guide you only if you completely surrender to Me and when I must lead you into a different path than the one you expect; I carry you in my arms.

What seriously upsets you is your reasoning, your worrying, your obsession, your will to provide for yourselves at any price. I can do so many things when the being, as much in his material necessities as in his spiritual ones, turns to Me saying: “You think of it”, then he closes his eyes and rests quietly. You will receive a lot but only when your prayer will rely fully upon Me. You pray to Me when in pain so that I intervene, but in the way you desire it. You do not rely on Me, but you want Me to adjust to your requests.

Don’t believe like sick ones who ask a treatment of the doctor, all the time suggesting it to him. Do not do that: But rather, even in sad circumstances, say: “Lord I praise and thank you for this problem, for this necessity. I pray you to arrange things as you please for this terrestrial and temporal life; you know very well what is best for me. Sometimes you feel that disasters increase instead of diminish.

Do not get agitated. Close your eyes and tell me with faith: “Thy will be done. You think of it”, and when you speak thus, I accomplish a miracle when necessary. I only think of it when you trust me totally. I always think of you, but I can only help you completely when you fully rely on me.

As you can imagine I was blown away by that. I stand by what I’ve said already, that we are in control of our lives, no matter what. However, the Creative Force that willed the whole game into existence has the power to override the rules any time it wants and turn our lives upside down in the blink of an eye. Baba made sure that I was in no doubt as to who was pulling the strings. I really didn’t have any control of what was happening to me; and that was a frightening feeling I can tell you. But now the sun had risen in my heart and I was off inside the canteen for some food. All of a sudden I had my appetite back and I had a feast fit for a king. It was a bit more expensive than the South Indian canteen but still very cheap indeed. When I’d finished eating I went outside and sat on the long concrete bench that was built into the wall by the entrance door.

There was an Indian man sitting next to me, and I couldn’t help noticing that he was wearing western style shoes with socks. It may seem like a stupid thing to notice, but up until then, every male Indian I’d seen was either bare footed or wearing flip-flops. All of a sudden he spoke to me; he said his name was Sunil and he came from Bangalore. He explained that he was not particularly spiritual and did not stay on the ashram. He just loved coming to Prashanthi, so he visited once or twice a year and stayed in accommodation in the village. We had a really good chat; he was a very nice man and seemed to understand what I’d experienced. Most importantly, he managed to put my mind at rest with regard to the military presence and the sub-machine guns etc. He explained that a very high-ranking government minister had been visiting the ashram in order to seek Baba’s guidance; hence there was extra security because of the threat of terrorism. It was such a relief to hear that and I realized straight away that the encounter was just another scene in Swami’s play, but Sunil REALLY was a Godsend. He asked if I’d been into the village at all, and when I said I hadn’t, he offered to show me around. I was really grateful for this. Alas, all good things must come to an end, eventually he had to get on with his day and we parted company. That was the one and only time I saw him, but from then on everything fell into place.

Evening darshan had been another incredible experience, with Swami pulling on my heart again just before he came out and my eyes welling up with tears of joy. I did miss the shop again, but it didn’t matter and I eventually sorted out my clothing on day three. After darshan, I went back to the Western canteen for my evening meal. Whilst in there I encountered a Croatian man named Goran who was looking for a room-mate. So the next day I was able to transfer from the dormitory into room C19 in one of the blocks. My second and final night in DD2 was another sleepless one, but I didn’t care. I got on really well with Goran and from day three onwards my sleep pattern returned to normal. I met many amazing people during my time at Prashanthi and of all the things I learned there are two that stand out. Firstly, our “abode of the highest peace” is anywhere we choose to make it, and…

Swami most certainly does move in mysterious ways.

Jai Sai Ram

 

Who Am I? Part Thirty


Me and Mrs H in 2008 in the nursing home

Nothing really dramatic happened in 2008, well.. I suppose that depends on what you call dramatic, but I continued to be busy with spirit work. The period between 2006 and 2009 was my busiest as a medium, and now that Mrs H was safely tucked up in the nursing home, I started making trips to West Wales again to serve the churches in the area. This would have been either 2007 or 2008, I’m not quite sure. There was a bit of an “incident” during one trip that I’ll tell you about; It was around May in 2008. The church in Cardigan that I served had to change its venue several times after I left in 2005. At this particular time they were on their second new venue, which was in a village that was fairly remote and a few miles outside Cardigan. The church was in an old school that was now used as a community centre. It was an area that was particularly hilly and some of the roads were quite steep.

This would be the first time I served at this venue, so I made sure I set off nice and early to allow for any difficulties in finding it. I found it without any trouble and pulled up directly opposite the gates, which were closed. There was obviously no one there yet so I sat in the car, which was pointing up a steep hill. Something told me that I should get out of the car and walk around the back. When I did I got the shock of my life. There was petrol, not dripping, but pouring out from the back of the car. You can write what I know about cars on the back of a postage stamp, but I did have a brain wave! I checked to see if I could open the gates, which I could, so I did! I then drove up the road, turned around and drove into the old playground, which was a flat surface, and parked up. The petrol then stopped pouring out. The life of a medium on the road eh? You could write a blog about it!

How it got resolved is a long and boring story, which I won’t bother going into here, however… My not so nice neighbour above me moved out; all good so far. A few weeks of peace ensued, but then another not so good neighbour moved in. I tried my hardest to stay calm and unstressed, but it was very difficult. Things came to a bit of a head when I started the new support worker job. I was out shadowing a colleague one day. I was following her in my car to our next client. I had so much “stuff” swimming around in my head that when we pulled away at a junction I rammed into the back of her car. The front of my car was caved in, but miraculously there was only a very minor scuff on the back on my colleague’s car. Unfortunately, she already had a back problem and the whiplash from the shunt made it worse. But, and we never seem to be short of miracles, my mechanic friend in Swindon sorted out my car to the extent it didn’t even look like it had rear-ended another car; he even managed to save the headlight housing, which in itself was nothing short of a minor miracle. My colleague was also back up and running before long, so it all worked out in the end. I was not happy with the situation however. Firstly, because I’d allowed the situation with my neighbour to get into my head, and secondly because I knew I had to do something to instigate change.

There followed a two-in-one brain wave on my part. I’d exchanged quite a lot of emails with the housing association regarding the anti-social behaviour of my two neighbours, but before the brain wave came together there was an incident, albeit a not very nice one, that worked in my favour. I went to Wales for ten days. I came back on a Sunday, and on the Monday morning, I nipped the very short distance to the village shop and post office to get a couple of things. While I was in there, the bloke behind the counter (Dave) said to me, “you live in the Baptist church don’t you”? “Yes”, I said, “why”? He said, “did you hear all the commotion over the weekend”? I explained that I’d been away, and he proceeded to tell me that on the Friday, my neighbour and two of his friends had started drinking at around mid-day. They had carried on throughout the evening and the night up in the flat. At around 06:00 am on Saturday morning they had a bit of a disagreement between themselves and proceeded to lump seven bells out of each other. The fight spilled over into the street and was eventually broken up by the lady in the post office who had gone in early to sort the newspapers out. Apparently, some children in a house just over the road from the flats had been terrified; the police had also been called.

Now I had ammunition; once the general public are affected and the police get involved, the housing association have to listen. I sent off a very detailed email, and Dave from the post office, who was a bit of a community spirited bloke, also complained to the housing association. My neighbour then received an official visit highlighting the potential consequences if things continued. But more importantly, I had a eureka moment. I had documentary evidence that I was experiencing anti-social behaviour. The police had been involved and other villagers had been affected. So, I decided to go to the offices of the umbrella organisation in Cirencester, (no, not an organisation that makes umbrellas, but the organisation that the individual housing associations come under), and ask for a move. Within a couple of weeks I was on the move to Tetbury, which was just three miles down the road. I completed my move towards the end of July. Also, I’d got fed up with the support worker job, and… it may or may not surprise you to hear that in the September I got my old support worker job back; I would stay there for just over a year.

This post is a sort of bridge to the next post. Not very exciting, but the detail is necessary to ensure continuum. Part Thirty One is going to be long; but you are just going to love it!!!

Who Am I? Part Twenty Nine


The Orchards Residential Care Home, Wroughton. Where Mrs H received great care.

We were now approaching the end of 2005 and there had been yet more adjustments to my living situation. For various reasons Sue had to sell her house, so she moved into her son, Shaun’s, house, and he went to live with his girlfriend. Also, a friend of Shaun’s needed a favour regarding somewhere to live, so Sue asked me if I would move into the spare room in Shaun’s house while Shaun’s friend moved into Justin’s flat. In the meantime, a couple known to myself and Sue, who lived in the town of Cirencester, approximately 11 miles from Swindon were looking to let out a flat. It was a very strange situation, but the upshot of it was that they did not want any rent; the person going in there simply had to pay their own bills. They had offered it to Sue, having empathized with her situation, but tempted as she was, Sue didn’t want to be 11 miles away from all her family and grand kids etc. I very cheekily suggested that she should drop a few hints to them in my direction; to which Sue replied, “I’ve already thought of that”.

The situation was strange indeed. The house in Cirencester had been converted to accommodate a “granny flat” on the upper level. The lower level was essentially still a house, albeit without an upstairs. The granny flat had been occupied by the lady of the house’s mother, who had died. The elderly lady had lived a long life and the end had been somewhat inevitable, however, the daughter had found it impossible to get over her mother’s death and continued to be affected by it. As a result, the elderly lady’s possessions had never been cleared out; all the furniture and ornaments etc. were exactly how they had been when the flat was occupied. All this didn’t bother me, and thanks to Sue, I was duly offered the flat. Apart from having to pay the bills, the only other condition was that I couldn’t shift any of the old lady’s things around; everything had to remain the same. I moved in on the day before Christmas Eve 2005, and in the early hours of Christmas Eve the flat was duly christened by my first out-of-body experience whilst in occupancy.

At first this was an incredible help to me. For around four months I felt as though I had some stability; and I’d not felt that for years. I got on well with the owners and I even ran a development group in the flat every Thursday night. However, things that seem too good to be true generally are…

I’d met the owners through one of the spiritualist churches that I served and they’d invited me around to do some private readings. It transpired that they had readings roughly every 10 days; it must have cost them a fortune! The reason being that the lady of the house’s psychological well-being was not very stable. She was unable to accept that her mother had died, so in an effort to appease her, the husband was constantly booking mediums in the hope that they would bring the mother through. I eventually realised that the mediums who told them what they wanted to hear were invited into what I called “the inner sanctum”. This meant that they would be periodically invited round for a meal and to carry out readings. If a medium was booked and didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear, they were never invited again. I think that when they let me have the flat they thought they were going to get “messages on tap” from the departed mother. Unfortunately, I don’t work like that.

Apart from in the early days, I have always been a very disciplined medium. I do not go around with spirit jabbering in my ears all day. The only time I’m tuned in is when I’m working. When I get called to time, my mediumship cuts out and stays cut out until the next time I am required to work in a professional capacity.

Everything was going swimmingly well until around early April 2006. I thought I was imagining things at first, but as a few weeks went by, I realised that the lady of the house was no longer speaking to me. I knew that something was just over the horizon, and sure enough, before we were half-way through May I was told that they wanted their flat back. At first it was very amicable, I was told that there was no rush and to take my time. But as the weeks went by it was made obvious to me that I was over-staying my welcome. Eventually, I signed up to the housing association in Cirencester, and in what seemed like no time at all, I had a flat in a converted Baptist Church in a village called Avening, roughly 10 miles away. I was in this flat for almost two years; it was a period that again represented a rather strange time in my life.

I completed my move from Cirencester in August 2006. At first everything was fine, apart from the lack of windows and natural light in the flat, it wasn’t bad, and I was thankful for a roof over my head. But at the tail end of 2006 the nice neighbours upstairs moved out, and a not so nice neighbour moved in. It then became apparent, mainly due to the old church having a grave yard on the grounds, that there was a problem with entities. Sue and John Geis sorted out the entity problem for me; there was one very comical moment when I was in the grave yard trying to act inconspicuously, before placing  a programmed quartz crystal into a strategic position in the ground.

2007 was a mixed year. I wasn’t happy at all living in Avening, but on the plus side I was able to get a job as a support worker, within walking distance of my flat. This supplemented my income, and I was also covering a lot of miles with my spiritual work. My out-of-body experiences had been fairly consistent since the onset in the late 1990s, and Sri Sathya Sai Baba continued to reach out to me across time and space. Another thing that happened was that at some stage it became apparent that Mrs H’s physical health was deteriorating, and The Orchards would soon no longer be able to provide suitable care. I needed to get my mum moved into a nursing home, and after a bit of hassle, I managed to get her a place in a home just off the Oxford Road in Swindon. The home itself wasn’t very nice and it seemed that the owners were only interested in making money, but the staff seemed to be really good, which to me was the main thing.

So, my mum was in her new residence and I was getting busier; I also got fed up with the support worker job in Avening, and I got another support worker job with another company that got me out and about more. 2007 transitioned into 2008 and I would soon be on the move yet again….

 

Who Am I? Part Twenty Eight


So, I made it to Swindon against all the odds. On the Saturday I set off to serve the new venue near Banbury. It was out in the sticks all on its own next to a busy “A” road, but I found it OK. I forged a very good relationship with the centre and would serve it again many times in the future. My trip to Copenhagen was also very successful and gave me a much-needed cash injection. On my return to Wales it seemed that there had been a bit of a blip with the caravan, but it wasn’t a problem as Carol and Bruce let me stay in a spare room in the house until things were sorted. I returned from another trip and found the caravan in situ; it was to be my home for about a year. Living there wasn’t without its teething problems, but on the whole, we all got on very well. Carol and Bruce were also quite flexible and they would let me use the house to conduct healing and meditation sessions. Things continued to bobble along; I was serving the churches in the Ceredigion area, continuing to work in South West England and still getting the odd client here and there. However…

I mentioned very early in this series of posts that Spiritualism had never really resonated with me. I carried on serving the churches because I felt that a power far greater than me wanted me to engage in this work. But as time went by I continued to feel more and more isolated from this religion whose churches I was serving. Yes, I met some lovely people and there was always the few venues that I really looked forward to serving. But generally, I found the churches and centres to be very negative places, and at times, demonstrating mediumship was like having my teeth pulled with red-hot pliers. Something felt like it was going to give; I started to feel that my time in Wales was done. I didn’t bank on what followed next though.

At about the same time that I moved to Wales, my brother decided to move to Spain. He lived up in the East Midlands anyway, but our mother was quite upset about this; one son moving to Wales and the other moving to Spain. There was a very deep bond of love between me and my mum, but on a physical level, she was an extremely difficult person to be around. She was unbelievably negative, so I very rarely asked her how she was, because I knew that she would only start moaning and reel off a list of ailments. I’d always visited her fairly regularly, but could never stay in her company very long because of the negativity. She originated from the North of England; a place called St Helens (near Liverpool), and had lived in a village called Rainford later in her youth. She had kept in touch with people up there, but as she got older her visits back “home” became less and less frequent. By 2004 it had been some years since she had been for a visit; part of the problem was that she could never make a decision so she would spend months procrastinating, “shall I go or shan’t I”? She normally travelled by coach and would be met at the other end by my Uncle Philip, her half-brother. Unfortunately, her mobility was not what it was and she was getting frailer, so at some stage I offered to drive her up there from Swindon and pick her up again when she wanted to come home. She finally decided that she would go at the beginning of October and stay for one month.

The time came and I set off for Swindon. I stayed overnight at my mum’s place and the next day we left for Rainford. We had only gone a few miles when my mum started to display some very strange behaviour. She had seemed fine the night before and that morning, but I noticed that she asked me a question, which I answered, but within just a matter of minutes, she asked exactly the same question several times more. At first I just remarked, “you just asked me that”! But when it continued to happen I feared the worst. However, I felt that it would do my mum good to be back where her heart was for a month, so I thought no more about it.

At the end of October I drove up to Rainford again. I just knew that something was amiss. Sure enough, at the first opportunity my mum’s friend, Yvonne, proceeded to tell me how her and her daughter were extremely worried about my mum. She related to me things that could only mean one thing; my mum was in the early stages of dementia. She again displayed strange behaviour on the journey back to Swindon. The problem was; I lived in Wales, around 170 miles away. Thankfully, Sue was able to keep an eye on things for me, but I knew I had to get my mum moved. She still lived in the maisonette and struggled with the two flights of stairs. I’d found a place for her in a lovely sheltered accommodation complex a couple of years before because I could see that her decreasing mobility was going to present a problem, but she was having none of it and refused to move. So, I was gobsmacked when after finding a bungalow for her, just a few hundred yards up the road and close to the shops and doctor’s surgery, she agreed it would be best to move. This is another episode that I wrote about extensively in my book, The Amazing Journey, so I’m only going to touch on the main points here.

Sue was fantastic, she checked in on my mum when she could; they had become best friends a couple of years previously.

The time came to move, so once again I drove up to Swindon. I conducted the move virtually single-handedly. At the last-minute there was some God-sent help from Sue and another friend of my mum’s. Unfortunately, once the move was complete her mental health plummeted. Sue kept an eye out, but she had her own life to lead. The only thing I could do was move back to Swindon. One of Sue’s sons, Justin, very kindly let me stay at his flat; rent free! He only wanted me to contribute towards energy costs. At some stage my brother moved back to the East Midlands from Spain; his move was not related to our mother’s condition.

As the situation worsened, she started wandering off, she was also continually phoning the police saying there was someone on the roof; and this was just the tip of the iceberg. The bungalow was in sheltered accommodation, but it was not a care home, so there was minimal support from the warden. The next door neighbour was aware of the situation and also kept an eye on things. But, the whole situation was exacerbated by the fact that my mum also had bad arthritis in her hands and was not able to lock her doors at night. Drastic things call for drastic measures, so I went to the GP’s surgery and explained the situation. An appointment was arranged that same day at the hospital and my mum never returned to that bungalow. She had only been in there a matter of weeks.

She was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, where it took five months to assess her properly. During this time she had a fall and fractured her hip. There followed a comedy of errors where she was backwards and forwards to the general hospital because of infections; she was also on the receiving end of some appalling treatment in this establishment. Eventually, her assessment was complete and I was able to find a residential care home for her. It was a great place (The Orchards), with great staff, in Wroughton, just outside Swindon. At last, there was now some stability. Throughout this whole nightmare process I received no help from family, but Sue was an absolute saint. It will never be forgotten.

Now that I was back in Swindon I started to expand my network of churches and spiritual centres to serve. Sue and John Geis would give my telephone number out whilst on their travels, and I also contacted the venues I’d served before moving to Wales. I started to get busier again.

I’m going to end this post by sharing an amusing story with you. I was at Justin’s one morning. He had gone to work so it was just me in the flat. It was one of those mornings where you want to rant at the universe! I was doing my meditation and railing off to spirit that I needed more money to be able to function, and, “what are you going to do about it”? I quickly forgot my meditation rant and drove down the road to the big supermarket for a few things. When I came out again and went back to the car I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. I didn’t even notice anything when I was getting into the car or when I put the keys in the ignition. However, just as I was about to turn the key to start the car, I noticed something flapping about under the wiper blade. It was a five pound note! I got out of the car very gingerly, thinking it was some sort of candid camera stunt. I had a quick look around to see if anyone was watching me, then I took the note from under the wiper and threw it into the car. I drove back to the flat perplexed. A free fiver no less… “but is it real”? I asked myself. “There’s only one way to find out”, I thought. So, on my way to visit my mum that afternoon I stopped off at the supermarket again. My intention was to buy a bunch of flowers. After all, I could only get arrested if the money was counterfeit! Then I would just plead ignorant. Sure enough, the money was fine, so I was able to not only recognise the symbolism of the cheeky spirit gesture, but get my mum a £5.00 bunch of flowers…