The Well

Life can turn on a dime. In one split second, a single event can send you crashing through the surface of your life into what I think of as a deep well, wherein lies the truths you never sought and never needed to find. That is what happened to me when my son died. It was something so shocking, so demolishing, that everything that lived on the surface of my life and my mind was reduced to rubble. There was nowhere to go except into the well.  Or die. It was that simple.

There is a line from the movie, the Shawshank Redemption, when the character Andy Dufresne says to his fellow prisoner Red: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I made the choice to get busy living, although I don’t know how or why. The choice did not come from the surface of my mind; it was capable of nothing more than contemplating suicide. The choice to live had to have come from my soul. Perhaps that is the well. Within that well is the part of us that knows better, the part that knows that dying is nothing more than a delay, and that the plunge into the well will come sooner or later. I believe that we are destined to know why we are here, that we are more than the busy creatures who are consumed with accumulating stature and possessions. I believe that we are destined to know who we really are: the perfect, stardust children of God.

I never stopped to think about the possibility that there was that well within me, that something bigger and deeper and wider was going on behind and beneath my daily rituals. I simply didn’t stop.  It took my son’s death to stop me. It took away everything that was small and trite and everything that glittered like gold. It took away my control. It took away my illusion of control. It stripped me clean of all ornaments and accessories, and left me in the well, naked and empty-handed.

That was thirty-eight years ago, and I can still feel the shock. But what has come of that shock, that plunge into the well? Nothing more than an awareness. An awakening. The ability to stop or to be stopped and ask, “What does this mean, and how is it meant to help me?” Eddie’s death gave me that.  It gave me the well. It gave me the understanding that every soul decides when its purpose in any lifetime has been fulfilled. The timing of Eddie’s passing into spirit was his, not mine.

Not everyone is stopped by something as devastating as the loss of a child, thank God. But we will all be shaken awake by the Hand of Something Loving, so that we will know that life is more than the perceptions we receive from our daily work and striving. It may be a health crisis, or the loss of a job. It may be getting a job. A broken leg. It may be winning the lottery. It may be getting married or getting divorced. And yes, it may be the death of a loved one. At some point, we will be stopped, and we will learn something, hopefully in this lifetime.

And there is joy in that. There is joy in the knowledge, the surety that there really is a reason for everything, that there is an answer to every pressing question. Oh, but it takes work. Nothing this valuable is free.  It takes time to discover our truths. It takes concentration and persistence. It takes determination. As for me, I have to commit to prayer and meditation. I have to read the works of great teachers. I have to hear my intuitive voice and trust it. I have to hang around my spiritual buddies who work with energy, people who understand that underlying everything is Love.

I am in the middle of a lesson right now. There is a strain of flu that is going around Sedona, knocking down my friends. I, who am never sick and like to brag about it, got knocked down as well. It was at its worst two weeks ago (I didn’t write my blog because I was down with what thought was a bad cold), but the thing about this strain of flu is that it sticks around, and while you may not be totally bedridden, you can suddenly feel lightheaded, sick, and tired. For some it lasts three weeks or more. I’m in my third week now and frustrated because my body wants to sleep at odd hours and it won’t obey my commands to go, go, go. Some days I feel normal and others, like today, I feel frustrated because the tiredness and general malaise is back.  Some of my spiritual buddies out here feel that it is a cleansing. Perhaps they’re right. Whatever it is, it has stopped me. But it has made me remember that there is something bigger going on. Always.

Maybe what’s going on is nothing more than a little gift of time. Maybe the Universe is saying, time to rest, daughter. Maybe it’s time to lay back on your pillow and look out the window at that fabulous blue Arizona sky with its white, cottony clouds. Maybe it’s time to remember how good sweaters feel and how good chicken noodle soup tastes – like it used to when you were sick and your mother gave it to you. Maybe you need to take some time away from the dismal news to watch a good movie in the middle of the afternoon, or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe, when you’re used to getting up early, you need to turn over and go back to sleep and have a beautiful dream. Maybe you need a tad more compassion for your friends that are down. Maybe it’s time to be grateful for the wonderful health you enjoy most of the time. Maybe…oh, well, you get the point.

We’re all loved, dear friends. And everything we need is in the well.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to




Dorian and Charley

I’m lucky. No, it’s more than that. I’m blessed to live in a place that people like to visit. No, it’s more than that. People love to come here. It’s Sedona.

My friend Christine came to visit last night. She’s driving across country, in a big jeep that’s ingeniously tricked out, with her dog Charley. Does this ring a bell? Christine’s dream was to relive John Steinbeck’s motor journey, chronicled in one of his most beloved books, Travels With Charley. Steinbeck wanted to “reconnect with America.” While I’m sure this trip (she started in Maryland near where I used to live, visited her parents in Frederick, Maryland and Wilmington, North Carolina, and then started out for California) has reconnected Christine with America, it has also reconnected her with herself. That’s the kind of reflective person Christine is. She named her dog Charley with this adventure in mind. And she’s not just on a motor trip. She’s moving. She’s taking up a whole new life in California. Brave? You bet. Courageous? Yes. But more than that, Christine has said yes to that Marvelous Force within us that tells us to live, live, live— because life is beautiful and more abundant than we can imagine.

This young woman has seen more of the marvels of her country in a few weeks than most of us will see in a lifetime. This is a big, beautiful country with spacious skies and a wealth of national parks and monuments (God willing they will stay that way). She came to Sedona from one of the marvels of the world– the Grand Canyon. Her destination is Santa Cruz – maybe. I say that because Christine is following her spirit; she is surrendering to life as it presents itself.  Her journey is not an impulsive spree. It’s beautifully thought out and carefully executed, one day at a time. She has learned that you can follow your spirit without living dangerously or foolishly, that you can live with your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. I fully expect her to find what she is looking for—a place on a mountain beneath a giant redwood tree. Why not?

This adventure is close to my heart, having made a journey of my own, and having embarked upon a life of surrender as well. Like Christine, I pulled up roots, and came out to Arizona with my cat, Dorian Gray.

Which brings me to today’s sermon. Are you smiling? Today it’s not about me and Christine—it’s about Dorian and Charley. Dorian is a loner. He’s never lived with another cat. He’s certainly never lived with a dog. He is king of the house, and king of me. And then, there is Charley. Charley is the most laid-back, coolest dog I’ve ever met. Charley has seen America with Christine as if he were born to it (and I personally believe he was). But he’s not small. He’s a border collie mix. So…Christine and I were wondering if she was going to be able to sleep in my spare room or if she’d have to sleep in her jeep. Because of Dorian.

We introduced them carefully, and waited for the worst. We underestimated these animals. They took stock of one another, no war broke out, and at one point, Dorian joined Charley on the bed. Dorian, who doesn’t know what it is to peacefully co-exist with another animal, joined Charley on the bed.

I’m not going to say that they became best friends. But what they showed each other was respect. The benefit of the doubt. And space.

What if human beings were able to meet each other on this sacred ground? Can you imagine what this world would be like? Dogs and cats. Men and women. The powerful and the vulnerable. What if we could put aside our hard-wired fear, our stereotypes, our prejudices, our need to dominate, and just…trust that the next person we meet who is not like ourselves, the next person we may be predisposed to dislike, is just…another soul who, on the inside, is identical to our own?

Here’s to Dorian and Charley. An example to us all.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney.  Find it at For a signed copy, go to

I Don’t Have to Know Anything

There was a time when I’d never admit that I didn’t know something. I had a job that paid me to know things. I worked in Washington, D.C. and my job was to keep an eye on things there that would affect the people who hired me. I’d go to board meetings, give a well-prepared report, and then fend off the questions of highly educated men who prided themselves on knowing things too. Sometimes, I’d be asked a random question about an obscure issue, just so (I suspected) the questioner would seem to be the smartest person in the room. Not that the group wasn’t great and didn’t do great work – it did. But there were times when they played this little game. I’d never admit I didn’t know the answer to the far out question. I’d always say, “I’ll look into it and get back to you.” Still, that was some kind of defeat, a public little humiliation in front of my boss and the rest of the staff. I’d stew about it for days. I worked hard and didn’t deserve the game men played with me and not with my male colleagues. There were also times when I was challenged and responded grandly. My ego would rejoice for days, remembering how my questioner was silenced. What they were doing was obvious, of course, to all except me. My ego didn’t know it was a game. It thought it was war.

Why did I find it so difficult to admit I didn’t know something and why did it feel so good when I was victorious? It was because I was operating on a different scale, in a different mind-set. I was in bondage to my ego. Oh, how good it is, how liberating, to be free from the bondage of self! Of course, I was younger then. I didn’t have a fully developed set of self esteem buttons, or the experience of a psychic shift. I didn’t know how little any of us really knows. I didn’t know that to say, “I don’t know” is, when it is true, the best and the wisest of all answers.

There is an old Yiddish proverb: Man plans and God laughs. When we get up each day, we don’t know what is going to happen. It rains on our picnic. Our flight is canceled. You’re sure you know what the votes will be in the Senate when the bill comes up, but somebody plays golf with somebody else the day before, makes a deal, and the vote is changed. And you’re wrong.

Somebody you love dies unexpectedly, somebody who should have outlived you.

That’s what happened to me. That is when my big shift occurred. All shifts are not that traumatic and devastating. The signal to think again about what you know may be gentler. You may just get up one morning and realize that You Are Not In Possession Of All The Information In The Universe.

If your shift away from self is traumatic, it may take awhile for this to sink in, a while for the upheaval to settle. It took me years of reading, of studying spiritual teachers, of praying and meditating, and of practicing a new way of life – a life of surrender to Something besides myself and my perceived abilities.

If this sounds a little sad and defeating – it isn’t. It is the way to peace. It is the way to joy. If nothing else, it is a relief not to have to know everything. It is even more liberating to know nothing – to get up each day and surrender to an  all-knowing, loving God. Some people call it “going with the flow.” Some people say it is surrendering to the reality of life. It is probably all of that – I don’t know.

How do I know it’s the way to peace and joy? Because that is what I experience when I let go of my hold on what I think I know, what I think I can control, and let a wiser, kinder, more compassionate Being lead me into the events of my day. What was I thinking to assume that I knew what was best for me?

Have you ever said – “Wow – this turned out so much better than I thought it would?” Or – “Gosh- I never even thought of that! This is so much better.”  When that something much better happens, you can be sure that some Loving Power has taken it out of your hands, out of your plans, and given you something more wonderful than you could have invented.

And then, there are the things that you may never know, like why somebody you love dies. Or maybe you will. Maybe you will find in your searching that that soul was finished what it came to do, and that its time to go was not your decision to make, but theirs. Maybe you will find that that event changed you in ways you could never have imagined. Maybe you will find your own soul, your own spirit, in the darkest of nights when the things of this world bring you to your knees. And your soul, your spirit, will show you a new day, a new light, a new way of being. Maybe you will find peace and joy, knowing that you are cared for and loved beyond your imagination. Maybe you will understand that you, as your earth-bound, human self, do not have to know anything. Maybe all you will have to do is be aware of what is happening and understand that it is all for you, and that you are Beloved.

Maybe the missed plane crashed. I know somebody for whom that happened. Maybe your inside picnic turned out to be more fun than you thought it would. Maybe it brought you closer to someone.  Maybe answering, “I don’t know” to a question is kinder to the questioner and wiser and more encouraging to those who may be watching, who also don’t know everything. Maybe recognizing that there is a Power that guides us and provides for us is the way to peace and joy.

It works for me.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at or, for a signed copy, at







Today was a good day.  Sometimes I forget just how wonderful it is just to be able to say that. I’ve had days that weren’t good, days that were dark and sad, days that were lonely.  But today wasn’t one of them.  It was a chilly, cloudy morning here in Sedona, but by noontime, that reliable Arizona sunshine came out in full force, warmed things up, and made the budding trees and new shoots of grass shine like new.  As if they weren’t already!  That alone made it a good day. But that wasn’t all.  I had coffee with friends, then took a drive through magnificent Boynton Canyon to one of the most beautiful resort/spas in the world and bought my daughter a birthday present. She likes things from spas that smell nice. (I bought a lotion for myself, too!) Walking back to the car, the smell of pinion pines and juniper perfumed the air. There isn’t a spa scent in the world that can match that.

The roads were lined with parked cars, where visitors had stopped to stare at the textured, sculpted walls of red rock.  The tourists have started to descend upon us, and the trails are filled with hikers. The people who’ve lived here awhile complain about the “crowds,” but I don’t mind them at all. I used to be one of those visitors, struck and mesmerized by the beauty of this sacred place. It doesn’t belong to us just because we live here. It belongs to everyone. Besides, we can go hiking during the week, and have the place to ourselves. There is nothing like the silence in a canyon.

Throughout this wonderful day, I thought about my father, as he sat at the head of the dinner table. After a prayer of Thanksgiving, he’d say to my mother, “Just look, Precious (yes, that was my mother’s name). We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and all my children are here.”  How simple that was. How miraculous. The older I grow, the deeper his meaning becomes. We lived a simple life, in the household of a policeman. My mother stayed home to care for us, and for him. Some people would say we were poor. But not my father. He knew what real riches were.  We didn’t have everything we wanted, but we were loved, truly and unconditionally.

I am aware, like my father, that I have a roof over my head and food on the table. My children are healthy and safe, my grandchildren are thriving, and even my cat is beginning to heal (see last week’s blog). I am healthy. I am blessed. And I am living my dream, at last.

There are people in the world tonight who are sleeping outdoors in the cold. There are people who will go to bed hungry, unloved, and lonely. I ask God’s blessings to come to them.  I know that I have had lives like that, and for whatever reason, I am on a different path this time around. I have different lessons to learn. My soul has brought me here and tonight, I am filled with astonishment and gratitude.

That’s all I have this week, dear readers, but that’s quite enough.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to