Silence stilled the air as more than 200 people watched Lori’s caretaker gently push the wheelchair to the front of the crowd. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – better known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease – had weakened Lori’s body, but her will was strong, and she was determined to deliver a message from spirit to the crowd at Inspiration Stump in Lily Dale. Lori’s body slumped back in her chair, and her caretaker gently propped her forward. Another woman held a microphone to Lori’s face so her words could be heard. I held my breath and, like so many others around me, concentrated on sending Lori the energy she needed to complete her wish.
For those who may not know, Lily Dale, New York, is the largest Spiritualist centre in the world. Every day during the summer season, “the Dale” has three outdoor message services – weather permitting – where mediums from around the world bring proof of spirit to random audience members. Two of those services are held at Inspiration Stump, a clearing in the middle of an old-growth forest, where the lush crowns of stately hundreds-year-old trees form a canopy over the stump of a huge tree that had fallen over a century ago.
Basically, here’s how a message service works: mediums who want to serve give their name to the person chairing the service. Then, the chairperson calls each medium in turn to stand in front of the audience, and deliver three messages in five minutes. These messages are greetings, not full readings. My husband, Benjamin, tends to be long-winded, so he usually delivers two messages in five minutes. (But he’s getting better!)
I got to know Lori Galluzzo through my husband, Benjamin, who often helps Lily Dale registered medium Sharon Klingler in her classes. Lori had been taking Sharon’s classes for years. Like me, Lori loves visiting Lily Dale and doing what she can in for the community. A few years ago, she organized hundreds of photos into the scrapbooks that are in the lobby of the Maplewood Hotel.
Last year, I noticed Lori seemed to have difficulty walking, and she told me she’d been diagnosed with ALS several years ago. When I saw her this summer in a wheelchair, my heart felt a downward tug. I gave her my love and prayers.
Lori had come to Lily Dale to take a week-long mediumship class that was team-taught by Sharon and English medium Lisa Williams. Benjamin told me how much he enjoyed the class, and every evening he repeated a nugget of encouraging advice he’d heard that day. One of my favourites: “Speak from the heart. Open your heart chakra and let spirit flow through you.”
How true! I tell that to my own students: “The heart is the seat of the soul, and our love connection to the divine.”
On another day, Lisa addressed people’s fear of public speaking. “Just do it!” she urged the class. “Get up in front of people and say to yourself, ‘I don’t care!’ Spirit will never let you down!”
(Of course, we care about the messages we deliver from spirit. But Lisa’s advice was aimed at people who are so worried about doing a good job as a message-bearer, they get nervous and begin judging themselves – listening to their own fears, they stop listening to spirit. It’s a hard lesson for many developing mediums to learn – including, once upon a time, yours truly. But after years of practice, I’ve come to realize that spirit never lets me down.)
After class, Sharon and Lisa’s students had the opportunity to deliver messages at Inspiration Stump before about 200 people. Many of the students seized the day and stood before the crowd, and later received feedback from their fellow students and teachers. Independent of the students, I also gave messages at the Stump, then stayed around to watch Benjamin and his classmates work.
On this day, when the chairperson leading the service announced Lori’s name, the crowd waited for her to appear. When they saw someone push a woman in a wheelchair to the front of the gathering, a moment of stunned silence ensued.
The only person who wasn’t anxious was Lori, who invited spirit to work through her. Instantly, she began talking and brought through an aunt who, among other things, loved baking cakes – but didn’t do them very well. A young man in the audience recognized his aunt and Lori roared into her message. I wish I remembered more of what she said, but she joked with the crowd and spoke with the poise and confidence of someone who didn’t have a care in the world.
Afterward, I congratulated her on a job well done. “It takes courage to do what you did,” I said. “You have a gift for this.”
Lori smiled. “Every day is a gift,” she said. “Every day, I grab every opportunity that’s given to me to serve, and what an opportunity it is to do it at the Stump. It’s a special place for me.”
And the next day, Lori grabbed the chance to work again at the Stump. This powerful little woman anchored in her wheelchair opened her heart and as spirit flowed through her, her graceful soul began to fly.
If you have any questions or comments on this subject or on any other spiritual matter, feel free to write me at email@example.com. And please visit me again!