Ever since my aneurysm burst suddenly a little less than two years ago, I’ve been in touch with higher forces. Or maybe I should put it this way: They’ve ALWAYS been in touch with me, but I’ve now just started to notice them.

I think we all get such messages every day. I’m not sure where they come from, but I think we all get them, we just don’t listen. Now that I’ve recovered and gotten a lesson about how precious life really is, believe me: I LISTEN.

Whenever I read a good book, I think to myself how our lives are like novels, gradually unfolding, somehow coming together at intervals with a crazy logic that ends up fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle–one which can’t be comprehended while we’re going through the experiences, but can only be understood later.

I just finished an extraordinary novel like that: Anne Tyler’s book "Digging to America." I actually woke up at 6 a.m. to finish it and wept when I read the last sentence. Tyler always ends with what literary critics (at least when I went to college) called an "emotional epiphany." That’s when the final piece of that jigsaw puzzle is slid into place and you see everything whole.

We don’t have to wait for death, or even near-death, to experience this. We go through phases of life regularly, lasting anywhere from minutes to years, and when we come to the end of one of these cycles–or maybe we should call them chapters in the novel that is our life–we discover that we have learned something new that we can take with us into the next one.

Or maybe our experiences are like the squares that make up a quilt. I recently had a "novelistic" experience like this when I visited a quilt show with my new and adored daughter-in-law. It was held in a tiny museum that used to be a house, and the docent was a sweet little white-haired lady who was obviously a volunteer and who wanted to talk. I love a good conversation, so we traded ideas and recollections back and forth for awhile, then we came to a quilt that was inspired by an Indian legend. She told me the legend, and it sparked a memory in me of something that I believe Black Elk said many years ago about how dogs came into the world, so I told her (and I’ll tell you too): "There was a time, long ago, when animals and humans could speak to one another. Then the Great Spirit said, ‘I have to separate you, because man needs to hunt,’ so She caused a deep chasm to form in the earth, dividing the people from the animals. As the chasm got wider and wider, at the very last minute, dog jumped over to be with man."

It was nice to remember that legend again, and it reminded me of what an expert Jesus, my all-time favorite shaman, was, when it came to metaphors. I think that metaphors are ideas that somehow travel directly into the heart, sneaking past all those troublesome brain areas that apply too much logic to what should be simple and obvious realities.

After I said goodbye to my daughter-in-law, I mentally kicked myself for not having asked her to pick up some dryer sheets for me. Our local grocery store is closed, since it’s being remodeled, and when we drive to the one farther away, I try to remember to stock up on everything I’ll need in the near future. The last time we did this, I forgot to buy dryer sheets.

But then I remembered that God (or the Great Spirit or whomever) had recently given me this message: You already have everything you need. I thought about how much I had always regretted never having had a daughter–and now, all of a sudden, I HAVE one,and the best one I could ever imagine having.

And of course you know what happened next: I went to the hall closet and there it was: A brand new, unopened box of dryer sheets.

NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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