Whew! I just barely survived a workshop in Sedona, Arizona, with only a fragment of my old sense of self in tactóand that hanging by a thread. I was grateful for what I learned from the seminar leader Lester Levenson and for the positive changes I made. But I left the human potential seminar filled with sadness, frustration and regret. During the conference, many people, especially men, expressed their recent joy and thankfulness in reconnecting with their estranged fathers. They shared with us how fulfilling it was to tell their fathers they loved them, and, in many cases, to even have the expression of affection returned. Since my father was long dead, I felt Iíd blown my chance to experience an exchange of love with him. Throughout my life, I often remarked to friends that it would take an act of God, a miracle, to reconcile my father and me. And that is exactly what it took.
After the final session of the seminar, I shuffled off to my motel room, packed my bags for an early morning flight, and hit the sack. However, sleep eluded me. I kept seeing the happy faces of those fortunate guys who reconciled with their dads. I could still hear their joyous laughter as they compared stories with each other and the group.
Memories of my father and our countless arguments played over and over in my mind. My dad and I never spoke much about anything, let alone affection or feelings. In anger and arrogance, the last words I spoke to him while he was alive were "Youíll find out!" Some send-off I gave him!
And his last words to me were the same: "Youíll find out!" That one phrase was our central conversation. For twenty years, our main communication to each other was that the other one would find out he was wrongóabout whatever topic we disagreed, about life in general, about everything! I winced at our voices of anger reverberating through my mind and then cut off by the abrupt slam of a dooróhis death. Yes, it was too late for me. Finally, unable to shake the feeling of hopelessness and self-judgment to find solace in sleep, I dressed and left my motel room for a late night walk.
Shoulders hunched, eyes staring at the pavement below my feet, I took a sorry stroll through dark and empty streets. Iíd been wandering aimlessly for some time when, through my self-absorbed despair, I noticed a faint, yet definite glow of golden light around the manhole covers Iíd been passing over. I examined each lid I came upon, but could not discover the source of the soft, vague radiance.
In my understanding of the world, abnormalitiesósuch as this faint shimmeróin my "normal environment" are never an accident. These irregularities in the "expected picture" are usually my spiritís way of trying to get my attention. This signal means my inner coach has a message for me and wants me to listen up. Itís like "Youíve got mail!" on the computer. This particular sign of a soft glow is familiar to me. A faint radiance has been one of my soulís principal devices to attract my attention and get me to go inside to check in with my intuition concerning the situation.
So, when I got back to the quiet of my motel room, I did a quick meditation to see what message was waiting for me. My inner voice answered immediately, "Look more closely at the manhole covers." I recalled the metal lids in my mind. After concentrating for a few moments, I saw they were all engraved with the same large words. The inscriptions read: "Salt River Project." This is the utility company in which my father had left a sizable trust for my brother and me. As I contemplated this connection to my father and his generous gift to us, I detected another muted, golden glow emanating from the corner of the bedroom.
I turned to face the light and gasped. Standing by the wall stood my father in spirit form! The apparition was so real I almost evoked the courage to reach out and touch his hand. Twenty years of intense, backed-up emotion rushed like an express train through my being. I was relieved when he began to speak:
"Son, Iím sorry I wasnít able to help you with emotional or spiritual affairs while we were together on Earth. I couldnít assist you with those aspects of life, because I couldnít help myself in those areas when I was alive. I did share with you everything I knew of the material, financial, political and social worlds. That was all Iíd mastered. Please forgive me for not helping you with your feelings or spirituality. I am moving on now, Keith. I came to say good-bye and tell you this man Lester is in your life to assist you with your emotional and soul concerns. Trust him. Spend time with him. Open to him in the way we could never open to each other on Earth. I love you, Son. Good-bye."
Sobbing with joy and relief, I blurted out, "Thank you, Dad. I love you. I understand. I love you."
I was graced with the opportunity to tell my father that I loved him fervently. I also asked him to forgive me for being such a rebellious, ungrateful son. By the time he said his final farewell, we each knew the other was very sorry. We also totally forgave ourselves, as well as each other. In the end, I recognized there was nothing to forgive for either of us. We gave to each other all we had available at the time to give. I slept more peacefully and fulfilled that night than Iíd ever slept before in my life.
In retrospect, I now laugh at the universeís sense of humor. The sharp, attacking words my father and I so loved to throw at each other were more accurate and prophetic than we could ever have imagined. "Youíll find out!" had a hidden soul message for both of us. We each did eventually "find out!" Although neither of us was consciously aware of it, we were both foretelling our eventual spiritual understanding of life and of our true connection with each other.
I also found outóto my eternal delightóthat itís never too late to say, "I love you."