This 2009 Sagewoman column was written for the theme of “Balance,” and my then new post-Jeff-death reality of balancing between visible and invisible worlds, a fact that did not become obvious to me until 2009, fully six years after he died. See the uncanny story of the missing check books, below.
Reading this essay over, I see that it also describes how the original vision of what we now call Green Acres Permaculture Village began to materialize, although many players have come and gone since, and the first DeKist house did not turn into an official Center for Healing and Community. But, you know, looking back now, I could say that this entire village can be described as, yes indeedy, a CENTER FOR HEALING AND COMMUNITY!
I Stand at the Intersection between Visible and Invisible Worlds
by Ann Kreilkamp
Note: As you read the following, I ask you to remove the skeptical glasses of materialistic science, for they limit what you can see.
Those who have enjoyed the privilege of being fully present during the mystery of a loved one’s dying process as well as those who have undergone their own near-death experience, know:“Death,” the so-called final frontier, is not annihilation but transformation. Death is delivery into a non-material realm, with the dying process its birth canal.
This discovery can, if we are willing, initiate a tremendous expansion of awareness as well as a subtle balancing act between dimensions. Indeed, this, to my mind, is the most profound work of the crone, she who lives with her own death in mind. When we view “death” as a transparent framework, the meaning of incarnated life snaps into place as figure upon a ground. As Crone, we midwife the short or long passage through our own and others’ exit from the body, the ultimate transformation that fulfills this life’s purpose as it discards it.
I view the year-long process following my husband Jeff’s death in early 2003 as my “croning ceremony.” For it was during that strange, exalted, howling, solitary, grief-drenched time that I succeeded in expanding to the point where I now center myself at the mysterious intersection between the visible and invisible worlds. From that time on, I have been able to hold myself open to both realms simultaneously. I am so grateful. Failure would have been catastrophic. Either I would have walled myself off from what lies beyond and sunk into depression and numbness (our culture’s preferred alternative), or I would have collapsed into the invisible realm through madness or suicide.
His death required this subtle psychic dance — for, unlike others close to me who have transitioned into the beyond, Jeff did not leave. In fact, by dropping his body Jeff showed up more powerfully than ever. I get the distinct impression that his body was an encumbrance to his full living and our full sharing. Over the years since it has become startlingly obvious that the marriage vow “’til death do us part” not only did not end our relationship, but that it set in motion a new cycle which only now, this year, do I begin to see clearly.
Yes, now, in 2009, I have to admit that Jeff and I have entered into another contract, similar to the one that held us while he was incorporated. That one was called “marriage.” Not a usual marriage, to be sure. No sex to speak of. Sensuality, yes; that felt good. But the real connection was metaphysical and spiritual. Looking back, I can say that we contracted to help each other, through fierce and often prolonged ego battles, to learn about the shadow aspect of the self. In order to transform our mighty dramas, we each had to learn to consciously take back, accept, and internally integrate our ever-arising projections onto the Other.
We were two irascible, defended beings who came together to assist each other in becoming truly solitary, sufficient unto ourselves, rather than the usual married mush. Our contract was to notice co-dependency (polarity) each time it arose, let it go, and allow space for innate, holy wholeness to arise and radiate. We didn’t realize that this was our contract. It took his “death” for that awareness to seep in. We thought we were meant to co-create something in this material world, and we did, the Jackson Holistic Center (which we envisioned as a center for healing and community); but its limited agency felt frustrating rather than regenerative — so much did our ego-battles get in the way. Only recently have I realized that the main work of our relationship was not external but internal. And that we did fulfill our contract! I no longer project onto another without becoming acutely and quickly aware of that fact. For me now, projection feels more comic than tragic.
I met Jeff when I was 48, at the very time when the transit of lucky, expansive Jupiter exactly conjoined my natal Jupiter for the first time in a new 12-year Jupiter cycle. He died when I was 60, 12 years later, when transit Jupiter, once again, crossed over my natal Jupiter. In other words, Jeff and I were together for one full Jupiter cycle of opportunity.
Given the natal position of generous Jupiter, the ruler of my Sagittarian chart, in my 8th house (ruling sex, death, taxes and other people’s money), I always assumed that someday I would receive a legacy. When I met Jeff, he was relatively rich compared to me. More than once over the years, he would growl, only half joking, “I’m worth much more to you dead than alive . . . .”
And it’s true, he was “worth,” money-wise, much more postmortem, due to his accumulated pension. Now I realize that his remark carried a larger truth. Six and a half years after his death, when slightly more than half of another cycle of Jupiter has gone by, I realize that Jeff and I are in another contract, and have been since he “died;” and that this contract, unlike the first one, will be externally oriented, indeed it already is.
And now I know why I needed to learn to balance between the worlds. For if Jeff and I are working together, and if Jeff is “dead” and I am “alive,” and if we view this life as one dimension and the one he occupies as another, then in order to work together we must both span the boundaries where the dimensions meet and overlap.
Strange phenomena accompanied his passing (see my book, This Vast Being: A Voyage through Grief and Exaltation, www.tendrepress.com), especially during that first year as a widow in solitude. So much did I take to heart his letting me know that he was not only still alive, but present with me in another dimension, that I have always thought of the financial legacy as his money. He had a close, even “tight,” relationship with money; indeed, his attitude towards his money was a sore spot, since I tended to go through money as quickly as he tried to hold on to it.
Since he died, I have incorporated many of his qualities, including his attitude towards his money, though with a difference. For the first few years I held on to it with an iron fist, knowing that I needed to consciously counteract my natural tendency to give it away. I had received this legacy for a reason; I needed to learn how to use it as leverage for a regenerative purpose; and, luckily, I also realized that I had to await clear direction before doing so.
While waiting I was also worried; was I just being stingy, scared, concerned only for my own security? I didn’t think so, but by my actions, I couldn’t be sure. Meanwhile, I began to work as a neighborhood activist, promoting community and common security by reconnecting strangers who live near one another in new and vital ways. Then, two years ago, I discovered permaculture, and from then on, the course was clear. We would gradually transform our neighborhood into a vibrant village through the mediation of permaculture.
In November, 2008 I used some of my dwindling IRAs to buy the house next door. Starting this spring I am hosting a series of eight monthly workshops with a permaculture teacher to create a neighborhood community garden on its sunny side lawn. Starting in September, that house will be turned into, guess what! — a Center for Healing and Community, thus re-enacting and, if the stars are aligned, fulfilling what Jeff and I had assumed was our work in the first Jupiter cycle.
(How this Center came about is uncanny. It was not my idea, but someone else’s — the fulfillment of hislong-held vision. More on Tom below.)
Rather than put the money into a retirement fund from which to draw out at a constant rate for the next 20 or 30 years, I decided to trade individual security — which relies on the self and tends to be selfish — for community security, real social security. Just as in the Great Depression when neighbors shared what they had, so we must relearn this ancient resilient practice.
All this brings me to the story I tell now, which both illustrates how Jeff spans the dimensions and reminds me whose money I’m working with!
First, the back story: My focus on community intensified from my neighborhood to my own home base in 2008, when I came to terms with the fact that living alone in a 1200-square-foot house (with full basement) entails a wasteful energy “footprint” (see www. whatismyfootprint.com). The outer recognition mirrored an internal one: I had been reluctantly pondering the idea that perhaps my precious solitude was no longer necessary. Finally, during my annual three-day Winter Solstice retreat I received these words in a soft but unmistakable feminine voice: “Now is the time of gathering. You must demonstrate a whole new way of living.”
I took Her guidance to heart, and invited my beloved niece Megan, who had visited yearly from California, to come live with me. She accepted the offer and would arrive in mid-June. From then on, it was as if this place had turned into a magnet. Besides the monthly permaculture workshops, first, Nathan and Maggie, permaculture folks, decided to move back into the house they formerly occupied behind my properties. At their announcement, I yelped for joy. Then, only weeks later, the new person Tom, whom I mentioned above, a local who had been living in New York City, walked into the April permaculture workshop. Our connection was immediate and we started talking. — By the way, Tom realized that Jeff was working with us on this project before I did. — So, in short order, Megan, Nathan, Maggie, Tom, Jeff and I had visioned a three-property Urban Farmstead.
Now here’s where the tale turns strange (as if it wasn’t before!):
On June 17, Megan and Tom were both to arrive in Bloomington from west and east coasts. I was under considerable stress, due to both the impending loss of my solitude as well as the considerable cash flowing out to help them both make their transitions and to pay the teacher for the garden workshops. (Not to mention the original outlay for the new house and plans to renovate both properties to fit our vision, plus the fact that my passive income had fallen by two-thirds in the current economic climate — all of which meant I was running very low balances.) I intuitively knew I was supposed to spend money this way, but that didn’t make it any easier for my Taurus Moon’s (limbic brain’s) instinctive fear of loss.
On that very day that both Megan and Tom were due in, I lost, in short order and on separate occasions, my two major checkbooks and my debit card. Each disappearance felt disturbing, even uncanny. Though I looked all over, and went back in my mind over and over again all that I had done and where I had been that day, I couldn’t account how any of the three could have gone missing! Needless to say, this unsettled me.
I cancelled the debit card, told both Megan and Tom about the situation when they arrived, and spent the next three days looking again and again for the check books (continually re-checking especially the bowl that I was in the habit of keeping check books in), checking the bank accounts on-line to make sure they weren’t overdrawn by someone finding the check books, not writing any checks since I wasn’t sure what had not yet cleared the bank, and feeling generally queasy about where I stood financially.
Finally, after the third day I gave up, got out new blank check books and check registers (couldn’t find any new covers to keep them in, so their incompleteness was a constant reminder of the original problem) and gingerly started writing checks that were absolutely necessary while still checking to see what had or had not cleared the bank.
Meanwhile, the arrival of both Tom and Megan and the initial tension between their somewhat diverse world-views and values was complicated two days later by the arrival of Tom’s young daughter for the summer — a situation that had been anticipated, but did add to the general feeling of chaos and intense challenge posed by suddenly dropping three people into my former solitude.
One morning two weeks later, Megan and I started to feel that the atmosphere had stabilized enough so that we could all relax. On that morning I also decided to go to the bank for covers for the new check books and registers and get on-line to try to figure out once and for all what, if any, checks were still outstanding.
I brought the new covers home, put the check books and registers in them, and placed them both in the bowl on top of other, little-used checkbooks from other accounts.
After about an hour I decided that it was time do that detailed work of figuring everything out to re-establish financial stability. Took the two check books out of the bowl and walked over to the computer. Started working with the first check book, when I noticed that it seemed to have more notations than I remembered. Looked again; my goddess, it was one of the check books I had lost! Looked at the other check book. Same thing, the original lost check book! Ran back to the bowl. Grabbed the top two checkbooks in the pile that remained. Yes! The new ones!
Immediately I assumed that Megan must have found the original lost ones that morning and put them in the bowl. But she had not, nor did she know that the check books belonged there.
I wracked my brain for an alternative 3D explanation — to no avail. Especially uncanny was the fact that the check books I had picked up to take to the computer were not the new ones but the original ones and that these had been on top of the new ones, meaning: the lost original check books had materialized there during that one hour when I was doing something else.
Immediately, along with astonished shouts of total surprise and relief, the synchrony between the loss of the check books on the day Tom and Megan were due to arrive and our discussion earlier that morning about the initial hurdles of integration having been overcome felt significant. Jeff was letting me know that he was behind this; that once again he was “moving stuff around” — his nonchalant remark in an as-if-I-was-an-idiot-for-asking tone in a dream during that first year after he “died.” (In the dream I had been surprised to see objects moving through the air from his hand and had asked what he was doing.)
Oh, and by the way, the new debit card arrived in the mail that same day.
So there you have it. A strange, uncanny tale from our three-dimensional world but normal within Jeff’s multidimensional one. A not so subtle reminder: just in case I forget who I’m working with, whose money it is, and our second 12-year contract now beginning to fulfill itself through our mutual partnership with Tom.