I don’t know a lot about quantum physics, but I have always been interested in the idea that we have the capacity to live in parallel universes with different realities occurring at the same time.
The challenge is how, in moments of deep stress, to remember this law. To remember that there are many levels of reality happening and that we have the choice to move between the levels.
I would like to share an experience I am going through, of recognising how this process is helping me navigate through an intense time. Perhaps by sharing it, this may help others, particularly others facing this Covid challenge, as I am.
One Reality: Plans
My husband Jeff has an upcoming, 77th milestone event. Our plan was to rent a lovely farm and celebrate our Grampa, Dad and hubby of 53 years, who has been a rock of inspiration and wisdom, not only to our family, but to a global family of “Life Alignment” students in the field of natural health and energy medicine. The system he developed more than forty years ago.
The birthday boy felt healthy, athletic, fit, in love with life at the top of his game.
We are loving our recent move to a rural home near Hermanus in the Western Cape, tucked beside an estuary, surrounded by the sounds of silence.
This tangible, first level of reality, felt perfect in every way shape and form.
The Unexpected Reality: The Uninvited Guest
Even from the vantage of paradise, there is full view of the state of the a world in chaos and uncertainty. The Buddhists say we breathe with one breath; that we are in a connected oneness with everything. I knew this intellectually. Now I know it in the pit of my gut. We breathe with one breath.
Covid crept into our isolated sanctuary like a tiny terrorist and Jeff and I both became infected. We had both received our first Pfizer jab. We have both been so careful.
The same morning I began to present symptoms and knew I had the virus, I looked out my kitchen window to see a face looking back at me.
“Go Away!” I shouted. He gave me a look I will not forget. His dark, peering eyes looking into mine, seemed to say: “I am Baboon. I was here long before you!”
I had to smile at him, even though I really wanted to tell him to get the hell away from my avocado tree. Here was a big, powerful force, threatening and frightening, at my kitchen door – an uninvited guest.
I immediately thought of my grandmother’s ritual of setting a dinner place for an uninvited guest. She told me many stories about this practise in my childhood. How, when she was a child in Lithuania, even when food was scarce, even when they ate little more than stone soup, a place was always set for that uninvited guest. “You never know who will show up with needs greater than your own,” she used to say.
Wakeup Reality: The Medicine in the Poison
Suddenly the news of Covid variants and spikes have taken on a new flavour; we are members of the club of Statistic. I recovered from Covid with mild symptoms. Jeff has developed Covid Pneumonia. He is in the local hospital, on oxygen, fighting a battle of breath.
Suddenly I feel connected to the wider world at a new level. Suddenly I am in the war and we are breathing together with millions of struggling others. As I find a way to navigate my way through this, I trust that I am in some way assisting others as well.
I am trying to find the medicine in the poison. Some years ago, I asked Ouma Anna, an elderly San Bushman woman an important question as she dug for healing plants in the Kalahari Desert.
“Why are there poisonous plants?”
“Hai!” she replied. “Poison is medicine to keep you awake.”
I know that I am not alone. I know I have a tangible field of support around me. This is what the physicists call the Quantum Field; what the Indigenous people call Ancestors; which others might call Angels or Guides. I know I can call upon this force for help and I do. And when I do, I get an inner guidance to try to turn from fear towards gratitude.
Grateful Reality: The Realm of Support
I have to search into the crevices of my panic over Jeff’s condition to find the gratitude. Breathing helps; connecting to my teachers helps; meditating helps; praying helps. I spent one entire night walking around my dining room table, trying to settle the extreme angst I was feeling. Walking helped. It became a walking meditation, guided by the voice of the Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, to bless the ground with my feet.
Then it arrived, the gratitude, the invited guest. My hardened, shocked heart softened and I was able to sob at last with tears of the soul. Tears of gratitude for the tremendous level of support flowing towards us by so many around the world.
Jeff’s global “Life Alignment” family of students and teachers are rising to the occasion with such courage and deep synchronised work together. Different communities we have been connected with over the years are praying and sending light to Jeff. Messages are pouring into WhatsApp.
What a miracle this internet connection is! It reinforces the message that we are truly one body, breathing together with one breath.
Jeff assures me, difficult though it is, that he is deeply thankful for this journey. He is connecting deeply to his field of spiritual support. His body is struggling while his spirit is soaring. It is as if his chariot has the wheels falling off but the driver sits strongly in his seat. I am inspired by his strength.
I feel as if I am connecting to the millions upon millions of family members, longing to be at the bedside of their loved ones and are unable to…this is the next reality that opens up a wound that feels raw and tender and excruciatingly painful.
The well of gratefulness has no bottom and no top. It is an ever expanding spring of such deep love – for all of it, and for life itself.
A Bitter Reality: The rule of no visitors
There are strict rules of no visitors allowed into the Covid ward, which is in a bubble of isolation from the rest of the hospital. I cannot hold his hand, stroke his forehead, give his dry throat a cool grape or a sip of water. I cannot assure him that I am beside him and that I will not leave him alone in this scary place. The caring nursing staff are run off their feet and I am here, just down the road, helpless to assist.
This is a level of agony that shreds my skin. I hear him on the phone rasping for breath and I don’t know if he has the help he needs.
When I go beyond my own suffering I see that I am connected to the big wide world of others who feel as I do. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
In the midst of my dining room walkabout, I began also to imagine the feeling of being able to penetrate that barrier of no visitors. It settled like a soft balm over me.
This is after all, South Africa. Here people are ruled more by heart and connection than by the ice-heartedness, straight lines of black and white rules in the systems of some other countries. Here, a rule is not yes or no, there is a little maybe that lurks in the wings of rules. Of course, this also leads to anarchy, but that is another side of the picture. Another Reality.
A Big Stick Reality: Soft Voice
The head of the ward, Sister A, runs her ward as efficiently as she can with the enormous challenges the nursing staff are facing – shortages, dangers and exhaustion. I have spoken to Sister A on several occasions, gently trying to pry her heart open enough to let me in to see Jeff for five minutes. I have assured her that I have just had Covid, that it is not a risk to me and that I am not a risk to anyone.
I have spoken to her, not in a begging way, not in any way that tries to persuade or manipulate, not with desperation; but with a soft voice, unattached to outcome. With a voice surrendered to all I have no control over. With a voice I learned about many years ago when I attended a workshop by the Shaman, Michael Harner. He said something I have never forgotten: “Woman with big stick needs to speak with soft voice.”
I have spoken to Sister A with soft voice and big stick. It has taken years of self-work, to be able to do so. Sister A has become my Goliath. She has all the power and strength and authority and I am a simple shepherd with a slingshot of a soft voice, when every cell in me wants to beg and demand and prostrate myself before her to let me see my darling husband of 53 years, who is fighting for his life.
Meeting the Rejection Reality: She shuts a door gently
Sister A refuses me in the gentlest way. She tells me about the spiking caseload of Covid in the Western Cape and how dangerous it is for me to come into the ward. She listens to my heart and refuses in a way that lets me feel heard. She assures me he is going to be fine, that she too lay in a ward for four weeks some months ago and has recovered.
And as she speaks to me I know she has had this conversation with other desperate family members, who are longing and pleading for the privilege to hold a loved one’s hand and help them through their suffering. I hear in her voice that she has known suffering and understands the power of empathy.
And so her refusal becomes medicine that is not too bitter to swallow. And she ends every conversation by saying: “You can try again to call me in a few days.”
She shuts the door gently and does not lock it. Through her gentle handling of my angst, I find goodness in my own heart, which helps me drop into the next level of reality.
Small Moments Reality: Finding Goodness
Yesterday I decided to make Jeff a “green drink” of powders and potent green foods. He has had little appetite to eat. I blended up the powders in water put the algae-looking drink in a recycled Kimchi bottle and headed to the hospital. En route I stopped at the small grocery store to see if they sold straws.
“Ag just take some free ones from the Coke box” the smiling saleslady at the cash register said, handing me the box of straws. She felt so kind, so understanding, almost as if she knew I needed a straw for my husband in hospital who needs to sip his green drink out of a recycled Kimchi bottle, through a straw.
I sat in my car, thinking about her kindness when the driver of the van in the parking bay beside me banged his door open, causing what sounded like a dent in the door of my car. I got out and shouted:
“Don’t you think? Look what you have done!” I was furious.
“I am so sorry!” he said. “Really, really sorry.”
I was stopped in my tracks. I could see fear in his eyes. I could see blind terror that he would lose his job.
“Don’t worry, it was an accident,” I said, with the empathy Sister A has taught me. I watched the fear in his eyes abate and his whole body relax. He thanked me with the kind of heart I know only too well in these tenuous days of such uncertainty.
And when I looked for the dent, it was not there.
The Have Patience Reality: Trust
I had to. I sat in the car and called Sister A from the parking lot at the hospital. I told her I was there to bring Jeff some things. “Did she think it possible I might see him for a few minutes?” By now my voice knows how to be reined in when speaking to Sister A. It knows to behave itself.
“Mrs Levin. I thought of you when I woke up this morning. I knew you were going to call.”
When Jeff opened his eyes from a restless sleep, he got the fright of his life. An angel stood beside him at the pearly gates. An angel covered in white PPE with a mask covering her huge smile, holding a recycled Kimchi jar of green liquid in one hand and straws in the other.