* * *
“Why don’t you come with me to my channeling class?” Martha asked.
“Don’t be so judgmental. Come along and observe. It might give you some insight.”
I sighed. I definitely could use some insight. My husband Dan and I were locked in a perpetual cold war that had worn down my soul. So after a light dinner and wine, I finally capitulated and went with Martha. She assured me that I would be impressed with the progress her classmates were making in summoning the wisdom from the other side. There was no subduing my skepticism. Nevertheless, I hoped for a little comic relief.
When we arrived, there were already several people seated in a circle in a dimly lit room. I half-listened to Martha’s explanations about channeling while I observed this diverse group of people and wondered what they wanted from the spirit world.
The teacher explained that we would only be channeling good spirits. For those that were afraid of channeling dark spirits, there was a special prayer for that. Good, I thought. One dark spirit in my life was quite enough. And so while everyone launched into a few minutes of prayerful meditation, I twitched in my chair and waited for the channeling to begin.
The channeling chair was placed at the front of the room with a bright lamp light focused on the chair. Whenever anyone was ready to channel a spirit, he or she approached the chair, sat down, and closed their eyes while the instructor monitored the experience. A few complained the effort of channeling raised their body temperatures and caused a more rapid heartbeat. Of course, the instructor had suggested this would happen and that they would also probably feel weak and unable to stand for a few minutes after completing their channeling—an out-of-body phenomena, I guess, or mass hysteria. Most began their session with blissful greetings from the other side about love and peace. Some imagined themselves to be channeling wise Indians while others sang, chanted, or mouthed enlightened speeches. There were some good actors on the channeling hot seat. Others didn’t seem to get the hang of it.
Martha asked if I wanted to give it a try. “Hell, NO.” I glanced at my watch. My mind became a blank, entranced by these communal charades. Unspoken words ricocheted through my mind. I could have sworn I felt a strong, reassuring hand caressing my shoulder.
“Why don’t you try it?” Martha said.
“Are you kidding? The spirit I’m channeling will get me thrown out of this class.” Someone was laughing at me, but it was no one in this darkened room.
As the next person in the channeling chair began to moan and tremble, my spirit friend tweaked my ear and I could have sworn I felt a warm, sweet breath on my face and neck. “Do you know why they are all here?” he whispered in my ear.
I tried to dismiss him, but I wanted to ask him which cologne he was wearing. He smelled good, his touch was comforting, and I wished he were mine.
“Stop this bullshit,” The words exploded out of my mouth and with horror I realized that everyone was staring at me like I was possessed. The instructor moved across the room towards me and I understood she meant to wrestle my spirit friend to the ground and silence him.
“Are you all this starved for love?” my deepened voice boomed uncontrollably. The pure silence said it was so. All I knew was that I wanted to be on the other side.