In Good Spirits

Lily dale, New York, is a curious little village where the still-quick commune with the once-quick

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She asked if he had played any sports. He said he had. She asked if an older man, a relative or family friend, had been an athletic mentor. The man said he had an uncle who fitted that description. The medium saw a J in his name, which she said might have been Jim. The man said his uncle had been John. The medium said that John was comfortable in the afterworld, as he had not been during his last months here. He advised his nephew to improve his diet and exercise regularly but not so strenuously as he had before.

Then, after studying me briefly but making no comment, the medium turned to Ann, whom she said she saw as a little girl in a farm kitchen with a churn. Ann replied that she had as a child sometimes visited an aunt in Iowa who lived on a farm and owned an electric cream separator. The medium said, "Ah, so." Without giving a spiritual source, she counseled Ann that once she made up her mind she should not let others change it. Ann followed the medium’s advice that very evening, in regard to choosing a restaurant.

Later Ann went off to have a private reading with another medium. She was given some general, horoscope-type information, and a message that her mother was happy because her dentures no longer hurt as they had in this life. Ann told me, but not the medium, that her mother only had a removable bridge and it never seemed to bother her.

Meanwhile, I spent some time with Ronald Skowronski, a retired medium and former pastor in Rochester, New York, of the Plymouth Spiritualist Church, which is known as the "Mother Church of Modern Spiritualism." When we met, he was employed as the manager of the Maplewood Hotel in Lily Dale. Skowronski told me he feels Spiritualism is the most comforting of religions because it holds that death is only a transformation from the material to the spiritual world, communication between the two is possible and there is no hell or damnation. He also thinks it is the most open to fraud. "Unquestionably it has attracted con artists who prey on vulnerable people," he said. He believes, however, that self-delusion is far more common than outright fraud. Some mediums are such true believers that they confuse messages that originate in their own minds with those that come from the spiritual world.

The issue that concerns Skowronski is not the authenticity of most messages delivered by mediums but the possibility that people will be overawed by them. "Aunt Martha says you should move to Chicago. That is her opinion and not necessarily your fate. To go or not to go is your choice. Being a spirit doesn’t make Martha all knowing or mean she can’t be wrong."

So why get in touch with her?

"Spirits probably have a wider perspective than we do and she may give good counsel. But for me it is mostly that I like knowing the old girl is there and we will meet again."


by Bil Gilbert

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