Book Review: The Boy Who Met Jesus- Segatashya of Kibeho

Boy Who Met Jesus photoThe mysticism of Biblical days seems often dismissed or forgotten.  You know, transfigurations, prophecy, angel appearances, holy directives in dreams and of course, direct appearances from saints, the Virgin Mary and others.  It simply never made sense to me that these events would occur only in one period of time and then forever stop.  So, when stories of supernatural spiritual phenomena occur, I like exploring them, which lead me to The Boy Who Met Jesus.

Author Immaculee Ilibagiza is perhaps best known for her book, Left to Tell, the story of her survival from the Rwandan holocaust.  But in The Boy Who Met Jesus – Segatashya of Kibeho, she writes about her lifelong spiritual quest to meet an illiterate peasant boy from a remote region of Rwanda who purportedly met Jesus Christ under a shade tree in 1982.  The story combines not only the facts of the phenomena but the equally interesting journey of pursuing a personal an in this case, spiritual, quest.

As a young girl in Rwanda, Immaculee heard the story of Segatashya and his visits from both Jesus and Mary, and their various messages to prepare ourselves for the end of days.  She longed to go see the boy and hear him talk publicly about his experiences, but her father told her she was too young and would not take her.  As time passed, her fascination with Segatashya persisted.

Then, years later in 1992, as a college student at the National University of Rwanda, she learned by chance that Segatashya worked on campus at the university chapel and library as a handyman.  No longer the shepard boy, Segatashya was a man, humble in every respect, who talked with Immaculee about his experiences, and fulfilled her quest.

Sadly, less than two years later Rwanda was in ruins and Segatashya was killed in the violence.

English: Rwandan Genocide survivor, Immaculeé ...

Author and Rwandan Genocide survivor Immaculeé Ilibagiza

Her story is both sweet and strong, punctuated by deep faith and a decade of longing to see a man touched by God for herself.  It also includes fascinating outtakes of questions Segatashya posed to both Jesus and Mary, and their responses.  A sample:

Q:  Why will the religions fight when they’re all working for you?

Jesus’ Answer:  It is because in all religions, there are too many who claim to believe in God’s love but do not truly believe.  War will come because too many say they love, but they have no love in their hearts for God or man.

Her story is both sweet and strong, punctuated by deep faith and a longing to see a man touched by God for herself.

The book is available for purchase at www.hayhouse.com, www.immaculee.bizwww.barnesandnoble.com and www.amazon.com.  More information on Immaculee Ilibagiza n is available on her website at www.immaculee.com.

This is another book review in my partnership with Hay House. I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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Over and Through

I know.  I know.  I think too much.   That’s just the way it is.

“Aren’t you over that whole burned leg thing?” was the question and of course I nodded and said, “Well yeah.”  I had explored, questioned, delved, dissected and practically fried the whole topic.  This I knew.  But over it?  How can you get over things that are a part of you?  What if I didn’t want to get ‘over it’?  What if I what might seem a devastating experience actually was something I realized had positively shaped my life?

These questions swirled around like noodles in a boiling pan, like so many other thoughts I have.  They arrive simply.  Or they simply arrive.  And then they secure their place in the brain’s parking lot, coming out from time to time when prompted or when another thought crashes into them, upend them or taps them aside the head.  It’s a lot to manage.

I started yoga at the beach about a year ago.  On Saturday morning, I grabbed my pink rubbery mat and walked the sandy shore to the community center, dipping my feet in the water to gauge the temperature.  It seemed eminently swim-able.  Our yoga teacher opened the class with a laugh.  She likes to talk about smiling meditation.  That is, smiling as you do whatever it is you do.  “The heat has been intense all week and everyone has been telling me they are so over it,” she began.  “Well, you know, we never get over things but we sure get through them.  There is a difference.”

I was laying on my back on the mat.  Her comments collided with the dormant thought in my brain.  It woke me up with a jolt.  “Over, she’s talking about that concept,” my brain  spoke to me.  It was just past 9:30 a.m. and I wasn’t ready to dissect anything.

“People place too much emphasis on getting over things,” she laughed.  “We never need to do that.  Just get through them, like the heat this week and everything is alright.  We tend to make ourselves work harder than we have to.”

The class began.  Over.  Through.  Over.  Through.

It made a lot of sense.  I don’t need to get over the experience.  I got through it and grew because of it.

The thought in my head started its engine and drove out of the parking lot in my brain.  There was now room for something else.

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Strange Signs and Silver Linings

Every cloud has a silver lining

It had been years since I’d spoken to Larry when an email popped up about his new position.  As quickly as it arrived in my in-box, I picked up the telephone to ask him about his new job.  It was an exciting position that allowed Larry to return to his journalism roots and run a news editorial operation.  We dished about our early careers in writing and Larry even asked me contribute on a freelance basis to his new news outlet.

When he asked what I had been up to lately, I told him about my Anne on Fire blog.  It was then that our conversation took a different and wholly unexpected turn.  He had never known about my accident.  Telling him about my experience jogged something in him and his story unfolded.

Larry was 15 when he came home from school and heard a knock on the door of his Iowa home.  A friend told him his younger sister had been hit by a car.  By the time he ran the half-mile and found her, she was fading in and out of consciousness.  Larry asked someone to call and ambulance.  As they sped to the hospital, Larry’s sister moaned in pain, her pelvis and internal organs shattered.  As doctors worked to save her life, Larry called his parents and told them what had happened — as his sister walked home from school, a run-away kid they knew had stolen his parents car and hit her at about 50 miles an hour.  Larry’s sister died 48 hours later, never regaining consciousness.

Larry sunk into a period of grief that seemed to never end.  “It was totally unfair.  My sister was only 13.  It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me in my life and it left an incredibly deep scar that I had no way to deal with.  I was too young to know how to grieve,” Larry told me.  “I became obsessed with getting revenge against the guy who killed my sister.”  The bitterness that rose up in Larry create a hair-trigger temper as he grew older.  “I could go into a complete rage at the snap of a finger,” he said.  It seemed only natural that the unresolved anger also lead Larry to drink.  “When you drink a lot, you don’t care and the pain goes away.”

Even by his mid-30s, the grief remained unbearable.  “I was in a lot of pain and it would surface as anger.  I would hang on to every frustrating thing that happened at work and in my fury, I would plot to get back at the person.  This backfired on me a lot and I got to the point where my life was not working and I had to do something,” he said.

In addition to being involved with a religious woman at the time who helped guide him to a new sense of faith, Larry found the courage to see a counselor.  “I started to get the feeling that my sister sensed my anger over what happened to her.  I felt that she didn’t want to be the cause of all the pain in my life.  This is very difficult to articulate but I started sending prayers to her and I got the distinct feeling that she received my messages and would send back her own messages to me in the form of coincidences and serendipity.”

Even though Larry had gone through anger management programs before, this counselor seemed to have a profound effect on him.  Under the counselor’s direction, Larry gathered up everything he had about his sister — photos, newspaper articles, letters — and re-lived the whole horrible experience by writing down all the details he could.  “The counselor told me that I had to grieve the experience so I could release it, that when things happen to you as a child, you have no filter and the experience goes right to your emotional core.  The impact lives on when you are an adult until you can sort it out and understand it,” Larry said.

“There is no question in my mind that my sister guided me to this counselor.”

I’ve known Larry for 15 or more years, always in a professional business capacity.  As he told his story, I couldn’t believe what I was learning and how we were connecting on a personal soul-to-soul level.  The details of Larry’s story were very different from mine but I could not deny the similarities in spiritual guidance.  I too felt guided to explore my own childhood experience, though I’ve always believe my guides have been my deceased parents.  “What they cannot tell us in life, they bring to us in death,” kept running through my mind.

“You know one of the most important things I’ve learned?” Larry asked me.  “You have to be open and aware.  Spirit speaks in whispers and quiet messages.  Now, I’m always looking for the small things to guide me,” he said.  “You know, I’m kind of guy’s guy and this has all taken a lot of work on my part and more than a little faith.  Whatever you call it — god, spirit, a higher power — it’s out there.”

Larry survived the worst experience of his life and that resonated with me.  “Larry, when you look at it all in retrospect, would you ever say that your experience was a gift?” I asked, mostly because that is the way I’ve come to think of my own accident.

Larry paused.

“I’ve never thought of it that way before but it’s true.  The key part of my story is that I survived.  It’s made me more confident.  When I am in a situation where I’m over my head, I can handle it.  I’d much rather have my sister here with me, but if that isn’t possible, I’m open to the gifts she keeps sending me,” he said.

The more I talk to people, the more certain I am that we all share the same experience.  The details are different and our solutions may vary.  More often than not, it seems as if the guides to a better, richer experience are there for us when we open the door.

How Aura You?

At least once in every lifetime, everyone should have a photograph of their aura taken.

Click on the link at the bottom of this post if you would like to see mine.

That’s what I was thinking when my friend Eva, daughter Gigi and I went to the Midwest Lightworker’s Conference (www.lightworkersconference.com) in the Chicago suburbs a week or so back.  Among the more interesting displays was the aura imaging booth staffed by Dianne Reddington (dianneaura1@aol.com), an aura image consultant.  Amid booths filled with crystals, healing music, books and other what-nots, we gravitated to Dianne and asked her to tell us about auras and how she got into the business.  She was a fascinating study herself — a lifelong home-maker, she wanted to work after her husband passed away and found herself intrigued by photography.  When she stumbled upon an aura camera (not a cheap investment by the way), she knew it was her calling.  As part of her service, she would take our aura photos and then provide a personalized interpretation which we learned was part art and part science since she had been doing this work for nearly 20 years.

We couldn’t resist.  Eva went first and then Gigi.   Each aura photograph and interpretation was remarkably unique.  More importantly, the interpretations seemed to resonate with each of us.

“I do not ever think of people except in connection with their auras; I see them change in my friends and loved ones as time goes by — sickness, dejection, love, fulfillment — these are all reflected in the aura, and for me, the aura is the weather vane of the soul.  It shows which way the winds of destiny are blowing,” wrote the “sleeping prophet” Edgar Cayce (www.edgarcayce.org)  in his 20-page pamphlet, Auras:  An Essay on the Meaning of Colors (www.scribd.com/doc/28233743/Edgar-Cayce-Auras-An-Essay-on-the-Meaning-of-Colors ).

Now, I’ve also read the converse — that auras are mere quackery, impossible to empirically verify and so forth.  There are many skeptics.  They have interesting and valid points (http://www.csicop.org/si/show/aura_photography_a_candid_shot/).  But in all things of this ilk there are a couple prerequisites:  The gift of grace and a leap of faith.

Having taken the leap a long, long time ago, I was curious to see what colors were in my aura and of course, what they meant.  In contrast to my daughter’s mostly red aura (and I’ll respect Eva’s privacy and not dish on hers), mine populated with many colors.  Dianne pointed out a muddy yellow blotch in the upper left hand side of my photo.  She correctly opined I must be going through a career transition of some sort, which was dead on the auric money.

“The stronger your aura, the less likely you are to be affected by outside forces,” read the handouts Dianne gave us.  “Weakened auras can result in health problems
and ineffectiveness in many life situations.  Control of your environment begins with control of your energy.”

Not surprisingly, aura colors have lots of meaning.  Meaning of course can only be viewed through the lens of your life.  When you read the general color descriptions
(below) they sound nice but rather general.  The key is in applying the meaning, as Dianne did when she interpreted each of our auras.  Though she downplayed the
possibility, it seemed that Dianne had more than a little intuition in her
interpretations.  She attributed it to her long-held experience.  “I’ve seen it all over the years,” she explained, talking about how some families all have the exact same aura colors because of their group dynamic.

Our auras photographed, interpreted and pocketed, we were ready to move on to explore other aspects of the conference.  Have I shared with you the true reason for the pyramids?  That might make for another post.

Take a look — Here is my Aura Photography

Aura Colors Meaning

RED: life force, survival, raw passion, anger, frustration, menstruation, determination, sense of importance, feeling overwhelmed by change

ORANGE: sensuality, physical pleasure, emotional self-expression, creativity, lacking reason, lacking self-discipline, health, vitality

YELLOW: mental alertness, analytical thought, happiness, optimism, child-like, ego driven, thinking at expense of feeling

GREEN: healing, peace, nurturing, new growth, fear, need for security, jealousy and envy, balance

BLUE: verbal communication, freethinking, relating to structure and organization, emphasis on business, male energies, sadness, care-taking, possibilities

PURPLE: wisdom, authoritative, female energies, matriarchal, sense of superiority, controlling, imagination, intuition

BROWN: grounding, down to earth, practical, male energies, invalidating, emphasizing body and denying spirit, feeling worth-less

BLACK: issues relating to death, hatred, lack of forgiveness, unresolved karma, dark intentions, shadow games, needing compassion for self

PINK: self-love, tenderness, female energies, gay energies, emphasis on physical appearances, being ‘nice’ at expense of being ‘real’

WHITE (CLOUDY): New Age or religious energy, lacking consciousness, a cover-up, denial, being ‘good’ at expense of being ‘whole’

WHITE (CLEAR LIGHT): very high spiritual vibration, godly, divine, inspiration, seeing spiritual big picture, compassionate

GOLD: high spiritual vibration, integrity, respect, freedom, integrating spirit and body, creating as spirit

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Saved by an Angel: Book Review

18th century rendition of a guardian angel.

Image via Wikipedia

The light in the bedroom flickered and roused me from sleep.  It must have been 3:00 a.m.  I closed my eyes, hoping to fall back sleep.  Zzzzt.  The lights flickered on again but I defiantly kept my eyes closed.  Annoying, I thought and rolled over, confident I could find sleep and avoid the flickering lights for the rest of the night.  And then, the thought that completely woke me up flitted through my weary noggin:  “As you read Saved by an Angel, you’ll likely notice more of the interactions you have with your own guardian angels,” author Doreen Virtue (www.angeltherapy.com) wrote in the book’s preface.

Just a week earlier I started reading Saved by an Angel, somewhat sure it would be a quick read.  I was wrong.  Fourteen chapters are packed with individual, real life stories of people who, explains Virtue, have been saved or changed by angelic intervention.  Although I’d heard a great deal about Doreen Virtue and knew she was as much as of an “angel expert”  as any one could be — with a trove of angel-centered books to her credit — I had yet to personally read any of her material.  Although I consider myself a student of metaphysical books, angels had really not been my thing.

But there was beauty in starting my angel reading with more than a hundred stories from “real” people.  These first-person accounts span the gamut — from healing messages to help from mysterious strangers, from visions of deceased loved ones to answered prayers — and are tend short (a page or so in most cases) and simply written.  For example, in a story called Illumination, a young woman sees an ongoing car headed straight at her and then sees the car illuminate in a “glorious light” and knows her life will be spared.  It is.  As she tells her story, she relays, “Not that I don’t believe in angels, but nothing like that had ever happened to me!  I know now that my vision helped me more than I can understand…..” Sincere stories like this are not easy reads.  After I’d read a story or two, I put the book down to think about them.  What was the author’s motivation?  Why would they submit the story for publication?  In nearly every case, a single angel intervention changed someone’s life.  The compiled stories are compelling and inspirational, not at all what I expected when I considered reading the book.

Following the many stories, Part II of the book includes Virtue’s plan for readers to see their own angels.  At just 32 pages (of 253), it is the smallest section of the book and provides strategies for angel-viewing enhancement — Virtue says many of the same techniques she teaches in her popular seminars and programs.  Her seven-day plan includes stocking up on “earthly supplies and shop for foods that will enhance your psychic ability” including fruits and vegetables as well as specific meditations, journal writing, chanting and the like.  As someone who’s life was saved by an angel during an armed carjacking in 1995, Virtue has dedicated her life to researching and teaching about these sorts of experiences.  As she notes, when Baylor University conducted a survey of 1,700 American adults (many of whom didn’t consider themselves religious) in 2008, 55% reported that they have been “protected from harm by a guardian angel.”

Statistics aside, I enjoyed reading the real-life stories and felt a connection to each of them.

And so there I lay watching lights flicker in the middle of the night, half-wondering if an angel was going to appear or some other strange hijinx might ensue.  Slowly I folded the comforter back and crept over to the light switch.  Here I discovered that someone had left the dimmer switch on just a tad, which more than likely create the electrical charges from the lights.  Or had it?

When you read a book about angels, it’s important to keep your mind open.

Saved by an Angel by Doreen Virtue is available for purchase via Hay House (http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?id=5614) and at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

 From time to time, I review books from Hay House authors.  www.hayhouse.com   I received the book from Hay House for review purposes and was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

The Mass on the 14th for the Virgin Mary

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, a 15th Century M...

Image via Wikipedia

The sky at 4 a.m. was nothing short of swimming-pool blue and I wondered if I should both to wake up my son Mack, who was only 13.  Since we had met Sister Mary Pastry last month at the European Market in Chesterton, IN, he insisted he wanted to attend the mass of the apparition.  After a few moments of thinking about it, I knocked on his bedroom door and whispered, “Do you really want to go to the Mass?” half-thinking he would roll over and go back to sleep.  But he woke up and dressed and we were in the car by 4:40 driving to the Austin neighborhood in Chicago.  It was eerily silent as we drove, increasingly moving into what I would call the ghetto area of Chicago, blighted and scary, black men standing on corners with no specific purpose.  As we pulled into the parking lot, it was just as Sister Mary said — police officers patrolled the lot and we slid into a parking spot, escorted into the church for the Mass of the Apparition. 

As we entered, a nun in full habit handed up a head set and I asked her what it was for.  She looked quizzically at me and I realized she spoke only French.  “Pour quoi?” I asked her and she only pointed us toward the pew.  My friend Gloria was already waiting for us in the pew and Mack and I silently slid in toward her.  We gave each other the “eye”.  What were we in for?

St. Mary de Frechou is the mother house of Fraternite Notre Dame in a dicey area of Chicago.  Across the street from a hospital, it seemed imposing with an iron gate enclosing the parking lot.  As Mack and I sat with Gloria, we took in the church.  The ceilings were low but dressed with religious murals and a massive set of organ pipes.  Soon, no less than 18 men in religious vestments entered the church in a processional.  Jean-Marie, the bishop, entered last with an elaborate peaked hat. 

The mass began in Latin and I gasped.  This was the traditional Latin mass.  I made a mental note — I had grown up and been married at St. Michael’s Church in DePere, Wisconsin via Father Hector Bolduc.   My children were baptized there as well, as much for convenience as the fact that a family member had started the church amid a great deal of Vatican II controversy.  I was not prepared for this.

It soon became apparent that the headphones were for simultaneous translation of the Latin and French mass into Spanish and English.  As I looked around, the predominant attendees were Hispanic with a high proportion of Filipino’s. This was one organized Church.

Personally, I like to think that I come to religion from a wide variety of spiritual traditions.  Raised as a Catholic, I have studied Buddhism, Judiasm, spiritualism and a wide variety of approaches.  I’ve come to believe that we are a conglomeration of experiences and that there is no right and wrong in belief, which would probably excommunicate me from the Catholic Church, particularly the Tridentine Mass I was currently experiencing.

As I looked in front of me, I saw at least 20 nuns in full garb — white for a high mass and the black habit.  It was something of a culture shock to witness and as much as I searched for Sister Mary Pastry, I could not differentiate her from the others lined up in front of me. 

Mostly what I thought about as the Mass progressed was the Bishop.  If he had truly seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary and been guided by her, what did it take to do a Mass of this magnitude every month? To commemorate the apparition?   It was impressive. 

As Mass concluded, two nuns appeared with hundreds of white and yellow roses — roses being the sign of Mary.  Bishop Jean Marie gave a rose to every one in attendance, including Mack and me.  I kissed his ring as he offered me a yellow rose, so schooled in Catholic tradition was I.  We looked up and it was already 7 a.m., two hours since the start of the mass.  Mack nudged me and asked if we could leave as the Bishop began the rosary.  We had already been there 2 hours and we were ready to go.

It was not at all as I expected in that the Mass was a high ritual, the kind of service where you get lost in ritual.  It was a meditation on a grand level, but maybe Mack and Gloria weren’t there as I was.  For me, it was a place to lose self and commune with a larger purpose.  I had to pull my awareness back to the church, if that makes any sense at all.  “Yes Mack, let’s get going I said as I came out of the trance.”  

For one of the first times in my life, I understood the rapture.  It could have been a yogi meditation as well.  It was a moment of leaving time and space, and spending time with a higher power.  Sister Mary Pastry told me that the Virgin Mary is there for these masses and I felt the presence in the quiet space of meditation.  If there is a power beyond us, it was here. 

I thought of fruit tartes and the Chesterton European Market where this all began.  Maybe there is magic to their pastry.  I’m okay with that.

Sister Mary Pastry and the Virgin Mary’s Appearance

French Fruit Tarte

As regular visitors to Chesterton, Indiana‘s European Market (www.chestertonseuropeanmarket.com) on Saturday’s, we’ve seen the pastry stand for years, nestled among the fruit and vegetable stands and directly across from the cheese stand.  It’s a curiosity in the heat of summer, staffed by a nun in full black habit and displaying an array of delicious French pastries, brioche, croissants, fruit tarts and the like.   When we passed by the stand and my kids asked, “Who is that nun?” I said the first thing that came to mind, “Oh, why that’s Sister Mary Pastry,” and immediately felt the heavy burden of Catholic guilt for making fun of a nun in full habit.  The name stuck.

When we visited the market last, I brought Mack my older son who usually prefers to sleep in on Saturday mornings.  As we passed the pastry stand, he paused to inspect the goodies and that’s when we realized that Sister Mary Pastry was French but spoke English well.  Excited, Mack turned to me and said, “Mom, speak to her in French.”  I hesitated, not wanting to pull out my limited French from study abroad in Paris and Aix-en-Provence from years ago.

“Oh, you speak French?” Sister smiled and we began a conversation in mixed French and English.  “How did you come to sell pastries at the market?” I asked.  Sister’s story unfolded.  Fraternite Notre Dame (www.fraternitenortredame.org), a French-based order with a mission of serving the poor, has its mother house in Chicago’s underserved Austin neighborhood.  As a way to raise funds for the order, the nuns began baking pastries to sell in the Chicagoland area.  The proceeds support their soup kitchen and other ministries for the poor. 

Jean Marie, the order’s bishop, is a mystic with internal stigmata.  Sister told me that in 1977, the Virgin Mary appeared to Jean Marie with spiritual messages to pass along to the faithful.  Now, on the 14th of every month, the Bishop celebrates the Mass of the Apparition at 5 a.m. at their Chicago church, 502 N. Central Avenue.  During the mass, Virgin Mary appears to the Bishop, delivering messages, graces and often miraculous healings.

“Would you like to come to our mass?” Sister asked me.  “Please come.  You would like it.”

The next mass is July 14th.  I plan to attend.