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The Miracle Worker's HandbookThe 7 Levels of Power and Manifestation of the Virgin Mary
By Sherrie Dillard
SIXTH BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Sherrie Dillard
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMary and I
The presence of Mary is woven throughout my life and her influence has been a guiding force in pivotal and significant times of change and awakening. My awareness of the pattern of co-creative power hidden within the events of her life has unfolded over many years. To understand my relationship with Mary and how the material for this book was revealed to me, I introduce you to several important events that served as wake up calls.
The same power, presence and love that Mary shares with me is available to you and through my experiences my hope is that you too will become aware of her presence already at work in your life.
The most significant events of my life have come to me unsought and uninvited. This is certainly true of my connection with Mary. Even though I grew up in a religious home, I never considered myself a church going and pious person. More comfortable with esoteric and nature based spiritually, even as a child I had trouble sitting still in church listening to sermons and doctrine. Yet the simple pure love of Mary has been a constant presence throughout my life.
My first memory of Mary was a concrete statue of her which sat atop the Catholic school in the small town where I grew up. Most of my friends and neighbors attended Saint Rose De Lima, a Catholic school and church. They had pictures of the Virgin Mary in their homes and cement statues of her strategically placed in their front lawns. I envied the mysterious lives of my catholic friends. Their church service, still spoken in Latin, began with a ball and chain of incense being swung up and down the main isle by an elderly and elaborately gowned priest. Placed throughout the church were statues of saints with big sunken eyes who seemed to me to be watching the devout parishioners as they said prayers to Mary with prayer beads. In contrast the most compelling feature of the Baptist church that I went to was the big dunk tank hidden under the floor in the front of the church. The few baptisms that I witnessed scared me and seemed more border line fatal than holy. In the protestant church that I attended Mary, except for Christmas time nativity scenes, was not spoken of or given much if any attention.
Despite the proliferation of religion in this town of mostly French Canadians, Italians, Puerto Ricans and Polish, the town where I grew up, was for the most part a cold and unfriendly place. I was afraid of my teachers, my parents and my friends' parents. This was not a kid friendly environment. We were expected to follow the rules and when we didn't punishment was quickly administered by belt, thrown brushes and name calling. Riding my bike was my great escape and my time to dream and let my imagination run wild. In my desire for understanding and comfort, I would often ride to the large Catholic Church and look up at the kind looming statue of Mary and pretend that she watched over me. From her vantage point high up above the second story school, I knew that she saw all of the injustices and unfairness that I had to endure. She offered me her condolences and kind acceptance. She was somehow familiar and even though my only awareness of her was a concrete and distant statue, I would imagine her vibrant and alive and by my side.
Early Psychic Awareness
In the next several years of grade school, then later in high school, my thoughts of Mary and religion were few. I had other bigger issues to contend with. Among them was my disturbing tendency to dream of future events and know, without knowing how I knew, what would happen the following day, week or months ahead. Yet I had little use for my growing and expanding psychic awareness and it did not at the time seem very useful or even exciting. I remember one night having a dream where an Aunt of mine complained to my mother about my thick head of unruly curly hair. This was the time of hippies and she thought that I was headed down the wrong path. In the dream I was upset and held onto my hair as if it was a priceless treasure. Sure enough within the week my mother told me that it was time to cut and tame my wild mane. She told me that some family members specifically my Aunt had mentioned it to her. As in my dream I refused to conform to their standards and my hair became a point of contention. I bring this incident up only as an example which illustrates that my psychic awareness was not necessarily profound or meaningful. It just was and I found it increasingly confusing.
By the end of my senior year in high school I was anxious to leave my hometown and explore. I went to a small college in a mountain town in Western Massachusetts. My psychic awareness took this as an opportunity to unleash itself. What was in my youth a quirky and sometimes funny natural occurrence of knowing, seeing and experiencing paranormal events, now began to fully blossom. Dreams, precognitive awareness, telepathy and communicating with those who had passed over, crowded into my already busy and demanding schedule of classes, homework and my part time job as a dishwasher. I simply did not have the time and desire to develop and pay attention to my psychic gifts, but they would not easily let go.
In the spring semester of my second year of college, my psychic awareness reached a crescendo. Walking to the bus stop one morning I bumped into Jared who I had just been introduced to by a mutual friend the day before. We stopped to say hello and as we talked we both realized that we had a few friends in common. During the conversation I told Jared that a shared friend of ours, an old classmate of his that he had not seen in several years, had recently drowned while swimming in a river in a town not far from where we stood. Jared looked at me with shock and dread and told me how sorry he was to hear the sad news. We parted and I started to hyperventilate at what I had just told him. Almost with a force of its own this story of his friends drowning had rolled out of my mouth. Thoughts began to plaque me: Why had I told him this made up and horrible story? Surely there must be something wrong with me to have lied to Jared about such a tragedy. The next week I avoided him and other mutual friends and tried to build up the nerve to confess to him that I had made it all up. I never got the chance.
Soon after on an unusually warm Sunday afternoon as I sat outside doing homework, I began to write a poem. With ease and very little thought I found myself writing about a young man drowning in a whirlpool. As the words spilled out of me, I felt a sullen sadness and sorrow. I could not understand why but for the rest of the day I felt uneasy and anxious.
The next morning, when I entered the school cafeteria for a coffee, my friend Trish ran up to me. She asked me if I had heard what had happened to Jared. I told her I had not and with tear filled eyes she told me that the day before he had gone to the river with a couple of other guys. On a whim he shed his shirt and shoes and dove in. They did not know if he had hit his head on a rock or swallowed too much water, but for several minutes he seemed to have vanished. Eventually down the river, in a swift whirlpool he was spotted. But it was too late. They pulled him from the water, started CPR and called an ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. Not only was I shocked and wracked with sadness, all kinds of questions began to flood my mind. Was my made up story some kind of warning for Jared? Did I know without really knowing that this would soon happen? Could I have done something to prevent it?
These questions plagued me and so I eventfully confided in a close friend what I had told Jared just a week or so before his death. She had no answers for me and did not know what to do or say. In her well meaning but misguided attempt at helping me, she thought it best if I talked to her priest. Reluctantly and out of sheer desperation I agreed and found myself a few days later walking up the granite steps of the small but popular local Catholic church. To the side, tucked quietly and politely in the corner and meshed in huge stone was cement Mary with her arms slightly extended in what looked like a shy greeting. I took some comfort in her presence, but I was not feeling particularly positive about my impending meeting with the priest.
I was soon seated in a cold and drafty office waiting for the Father. After what seemed like a very long time but was probably just a few minutes, he made his entrance clothed in a long robe with a heavy crucifix around his neck. He was accompanied by two nuns, both of them in long heavy grey habits. They looked at me with a mixture of perplexity and pity. I am sure they were wondering what this young girl, not even a Catholic, had to say to a busy parish priest. With all of their eyes on me, I jumped into my reasons for being there. I gave them all a small dose of the constant psychic parade that was traveling through my life then took a deep breath and waited for my sentence. Without a moment of reflection, the old priest looked at me and asked me if I had ever been under psychiatric care. I told him no and inwardly fumed with anger at my friend for suggesting that the priest of a thriving conservative church would understand the mysterious phenomena that I was experiencing. Before they had time to locate the straight jacket that I was sure they had hidden somewhere for such occasions, I excused myself, thanked them for their time and hurriedly headed for the door. As I ran down the steps of the church I glanced up at Mary who I felt had personally betrayed me.
With this experience, the gap between my natural psychic ability and its connection to religion became a deep crevice. The area where I lived was grounded in traditional mainstream religion and my exposure to the complexities and diversity of spirituality was nonexistent. This was before the influence of popular shows about mediums and psychics and I had no role models and knew of no one who shared my particular talents. My intuition told me that there was something sacred and spiritually compelling at the root of what was happening, but I could not define it and as of yet had no outside source that I could turn to.
The Catholic Worker
Almost as if Mary heard my accusation of her betrayal, I was soon offered a surprising lesson into her true breadth of love, care and influence. The next year, a couple of weeks before my college winter break, I came across a notice on my school's help board soliciting assistance for a woman in the midst of a crisis.
Phyllis was an older woman who was in need of a driver to take her and her many cats to a farm in upstate New York. In dire hardship, the notice was pleading for help. She and her numerous cats had been evicted from their home and she was unable to drive her old truck to a farm that had agreed to shelter her. I called the number and soon met with Phyllis and a friend of hers who was acting as her adviser. Phyllis was an eccentric woman who lived to care for her cats, most of which were strays that she had rescued from the streets of New York City. My heart went out to her and I agreed to drive her and her cats to their destination. Her truck, the vehicle which I would be driving, was an old pickup that had been fashioned with plywood into a makeshift cat container. Because she had no home, we had to leave soon. Without much time to think it over, I found myself on the road just a few days before Christmas, hauling well over forty cats in a small truck. Because we had to stop and check on the plywood and cats every 30 minutes or so, it took us quite a long to get to the sheltering farm in Northern New York. This farm, located on the banks of the Hudson River, was an extension of two similar Catholic Worker shelters for the poor located in New York City. It was a beautiful old estate which overlooked the river and to my delight it housed the most diverse array of people I had ever seen. Not an official extension of the church, but an autonomous off shoot of radical Catholics, the Catholic Worker was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Dorothy Day, with her unyielding ideals of nonviolence, social justice, equal distribution of wealth and devotion to the poor and suffering, is currently being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. The Tivoli farm was a place of shelter and sustenance for those in need. A refuge for the destitute, weaker and misplaced poor, there were people from all different backgrounds and situations who lived together in semi-harmony. Among those who called this home were mothers with young children, aged alcoholics who had lived most of their lives on the streets of New York, an Amish man, dressed in a black suit and top hat and his goat, who had together walked several hundred miles to get there, a few ex-monks and nuns, bald headed feminists, caring petite women hard at work in the kitchen, silent men who lived in the woods and were seldom seen, and bright eyed young people volunteering their help. It was the largest group of misfits that I had ever seen and I felt instantly comfortable and at home. They welcomed the cat woman, as people soon affectionately referred to her, and myself with open arms. I stayed the week and, on my last day there, a woman who appeared to be somewhat in charge asked me to consider coming back in the spring to help in the fields. I was elated with the invitation and as soon as school was finished for the year I went back.
Living at the farm was life changing. Not only did I witness a generosity and kindness that I had never before experienced, it helped me to understand my own spirituality and its connection to my psychic awareness.
The rhythm of daily life here was unlike anything I had ever known. People who had experienced all degrees of poverty, neglect, addictions, physical and mental disabilities lived in relative peace, despite any overt rules and leadership. Each day began with Mass conducted by an older priest who traveled by foot through the woods from the small local town. I was reluctant to go to the service and kept busy in the fields and kitchen. But eventually, out of curiosity more than anything, I found myself one morning in the small room they called a chapel. The mass was short and the central theme was silent prayer. Dorothy Day had a special closeness to Mary and other women saints. Pictures and statues of Mary were everywhere and her presence was palpable. My sense of her from my young years returned. Mary seemed to watch over the diverse group of people with devotion and compassion.
I worked in the fields during the day and in the evening I read about the saints and Mary. I was surprised to discover the miracles and instances of clairvoyance, mystical knowing and dreams of prophecy that most of these saints experienced. This opened new doors of understanding and acceptance of my own psychic awareness. I was no saint and my psychic knowing was not necessarily in the realm of mystical and religious experience but I felt for the first time that I could anchor myself to something.
Yet I still had questions, doubts and misgivings about myself, religion, psychic awareness and Mary, and I found myself one day wanting to put it all to the test. I wanted to know if Mary would personally respond to me. So, while working in the field stringing up tomato plants one sunny morning, I said to the thin air, Mary, if you are real and this is all not just some crazy nonsense, then by sunset today please give me a wooden rosary. Although it felt foolish asking the Virgin Mary for a sign, as I was sure she had much more important tasks to attend to, it was worth a try. For the rest of the day I was busy working in the fields and didn't give my request too much thought. Every few weeks, the Tivoli farm filled up an old station wagon with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, squash and other vegetables and brought them to the New York City shelters. We were getting ready for a trip to the city so the day went by quickly. By early evening I was exhausted and returned to my small cabin in the woods for the night. Soon after, Roger, another volunteer on summer break from school was knocking at my door. When I opened it he held out in front of me a box of giveaway items. He told me that he was getting ready to leave the farm to go back home and he wondered if I was interested in any of his things. He pulled out a wooden rosary and casually said, "I thought you might want this."
Excerpted from The Miracle Worker's Handbook by Sherrie Dillard Copyright © 2010 by Sherrie Dillard . Excerpted by permission of SIXTH BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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