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How a wooden samurai sword helped me heal

A wooden sword sits on a window ledge in my little office. It’s a replica of a Chinese sword from the age of the samurai and it has quite a story to tell.

Not so long ago, let’s say 20-25 years ago, there were three constants in my life. At least, I thought they were constants. It certainly would never have entered my head that one day one of these constants might cease to exist –let alone that all three might simply vanish and pass away within a few short years.

But that’s what happened. First, I lost my spiritual mentor, the man I had loved and followed faithfully for more than 35 years, when he died unexpectedly in January 1988. Then my wonderful wife Joy, to whom I had been married for 25 years, also died suddenly in December 1991.

Finally, on a cold fall morning in October 1994, I said goodbye forever to the spiritual community that had been my home in British Columbia for 36 years. I had no alternative. The community didn’t exist anymore. It had gradually disintegrated as more and more people left following our leader’s death.

The sword symbolized courage for me

This is where my wooden sword comes into the picture. Of course, it wasn’t the sword itself that helped me heal. It was what it symbolized to me.

My entire world had shattered. I was in a state of numbness, denial, and terrible grief. I felt I was on the edge of an abyss. I was 63, with virtually no money and no prospects that I could see  — what was I going to do?

The first step was clear enough. It was to go to Vancouver, 300 miles to the south, where my son, Durwin, lived. I will always be so thankful for the friendship and support he offered to me, and offers to this day. A day or two after arriving in Vancouver to begin what seemed the hopeless task of rebuilding my life, I had a sudden impulse. “Go to Chinatown and buy a wooden sword,” a voice said to me in my heart. “It will be a symbol of the warrior spirit that you will need to handle this situation you’re in.”

I took a bus to Chinatown

I remember quite vividly taking a bus to Chinatown and then, because this was Vancouver, getting soaked as I walked for several blocks in heavy rain looking for a suitable sword. Finally I found one, and in the difficult, confusing days that followed, this wooden sword did indeed help me navigate the challenge before me.

I mention this little story because perhaps in these difficult times a physical symbol of some kind can be helpful or perhaps already is being helpful to you too?

How an old photo helped my wife JoAnn heal

On this same theme, my wife JoAnn was telling me the other day how for many years she was troubled by the notion that her mother loved her sister more than she loved her. One day JoAnn was looking at a portrait of herself taken when she was about 8 years old, when she suddenly realized that this idea she had carried with her for so long simply wasn’t true.

She realized, as she looked at the old picture of herself, how happy she looked, and how nicely dressed she was – and what nice Shirley Temple curls her mother had put in her hair. She realized her mother really did love her and a burden lifted in her.

Do you have a story to tell?

Do you have a story you’d like to tell about a physical symbol or object of some kind that has been a help to you in your life? Please share. I send you love and blessings. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend, won’t you?

PS Please know that my inspirational fable, The Raven Who Spoke with God, is available right now in Kindle format at Amazon at a specially reduced price of 99 cents. “It soars. This is no ordinary book, and no ordinary bird,” said the Sunday Oklahoman in its review. Please click here for more reviews and info about my book.

Picture credit: michael-angelo8008


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