It’s hard to believe the difference that a single week can make. Just a week ago, my heart felt so heavy it was an effort to get out of bed in the morning. Seven days is not a long period of time, which makes me wonder, is it really time that makes the difference, or is it the experiences that take place in a given period that make the difference? I lean towards the latter, as it was definitely an experience that made all the difference for me. Then again, the timing was cardinal.
It began last Saturday, with a surprise visit from my son, Joel, and his soon to be bride, Yudi. My daughter planned the surprise to “get me out of the funk” in her vernacular. Even the “funk”, as it turned out, played a significant role in opening the mysteries of whole the cardinal experience.
From the day Joel first introduced Yudi to the family, everyone immediately recognized that she was not only beautiful, there was something else. She had a very special quality, a spiritual radiance that was destined to touch all of our lives. Born in Cuba, Yudi came to America to find her independence and in a short time, she has done a remarkable job.
Unswayed by the fact that all of her hard earned education and credentials would not be recognized in the new country, she looked instead at the opportunities available to those who are willing to work for them. In a few short years, she made her first dream a reality by purchasing her own home, and is now back in school studying to regain her educational certification. While these are inspiring attributes however, they are not the radiant qualities I am referring to.
As Joel and Yudi were only here for the afternoon, we decided to make the most of it and enjoy a leisurely lunch in Winter Park, which was only a short distance away. My daughter Harmony, drove and while she and her brother chided one another in the front seats, Yudi and I sat in the back, pampering the baby. “I brought something special for you Mommy”, she whispered. “I left them in the car at the house, but they are for you, to help you with Jack.” She reached down to retrieve the toy truck the baby had just thrown to the floor.
I placed my hand on her arm, “What do mean, help me with Jack?”
“I know you have been sad Mommy. But what is pulling you down, it must be raised up.” Before I could ask anything more, we had arrived at our destination. Joel was opening the door and Harmony was pulling Bradley out of his car seat. The weather was perfect for a walk along the quaint cobblestone streets lined with trendy boutiques and sidewalk cafes. As we walked beneath an arbor of beautiful white jasmine, Joel and Yudi began smelling the various vibrant colored roses. Before I knew it, Joel grabbed my arm and pulled me into the garden, “smell the roses,” he laughed. Harmony stood behind with the stroller snapping photos while the three of us delighted in smelling the roses. “Someday,” I told them, “this will be your backyard.”
Joel agreed as he smiled to Yudi. “Yeah, I think we could make it happen,” It warmed my heart watching him as he pulled his smiling bride closer to him.
“Alright you crazy flower people,” Harmony yelled. “I have an idea, and Mom you’re gonna love this one.”
She promptly led us to a place down the street called, The Wine Bar. They all laughed and pointed to me as we entered. It’s no secret that I do have a certain affinity with wine. Wine is after all a spirt of sorts. Joel grabbed a menu to see what sort of food they served and Harmony headed for the register to purchase a card for the wine dispensers. It was a great atmosphere, like a European wine cellar. All of the walls were lined in vintage wines connected to dispensers. Harmony handed each of us a glass and explained that all we had to do was insert the card, push the button and taste the wine.
It was fun. Yudi and I wound up appreciating the same wine so I inserted the card to fill her glass for a second taste then placed my own under the same spout. Somehow, it missed my glass and flowed onto the floor. “That one,” she laughed, “was for Jack.” I laughed. She was probably right, he always did enjoy his wine.
When we returned to the table, Joel and Harmony were laughing together while attempting to feed the baby from the cheese platter. The large casual seating arrangement provided the perfect opportunity for me to ask Yudi about what she had said earlier. What did she bring me, and what did it have to do with Jack?
“I brought you some herbs,” she explained. “They are fresh and very strong. They are what you need before you begin Jack’s elevation.” While Yudi’s educational background may have been in chemistry, I knew there was more than chemistry involved in these herbs. These were things she had learned from her mother. Yudi and her mother had shared a very close bond until, just after her arrival in America and her mother died. “You haven’t done an elevation?” She questioned.
No, I hadn’t. Truth is I had forgotten all about the custom. I remembered now that Yudi had been preforming it for her mother when I visited her home one day. An elevation, is a simple seven day ritual to help lift the spirit of a loved one.
Seven white candles are placed before some white flowers and a prayer is said daily, asking that the loved one be brought closer to the light of God. One candle is lit daily, the first one on the floor. The second is placed on a foot stool level, the third a chair, fourth a table and so on until the seventh candle has been raised to the highest placement possible. On the seventh day the light of the soul comes to be one with the light above, elevating the loved one to heaven.
The herbs she explained were for me to bathe in. It was important to clean away any fears or reservations one might unknowingly harbor about raising their loved one to a new level. The goal is to lift the loved one to a higher place. That place however, is above our heads, beyond our mortal reach.
The next day was Palm Sunday and I knew in my heart that it was the perfect time to begin preparing for an elevation. Although, I was not entirely sure which of our spirits would benefit the most, I knew it was time for an elevation, of one kind or another. As it turned out, Yudi and Joel had arrived on the perfect day, and provided the groundwork for an experience that was far greater than I could ever have imagined, the experience was soon to become another, cardinal awakening.