A friend loaned me this book in a synchronous moment. I say synchronous because it was exactly what I needed to read and I didn’t know it. But the Universe apparently did and so it landed on my desk in perfect timing.
One of the attractive things about this book on the Spiritualist camp town in upstate New York is that she is a skeptic. Not in a “you’re-full-of-it” way, but in more of an “I’m-uncertain-what-to-believe” sort of way. Wicker brings the neutrality of a good reporter to her explorations of Lily Dale, and she avoids stereotyping the people she meets, instead painting with an accurate brush—warts and all.
It was refreshing to discover an entire town of “psychics”—or at least people who embrace spiritualistic experiences as part of their everyday lives, and to have them revealed as flawed, idiosyncratic individuals. It is easy to assume that every one who is gifted in this area somehow becomes a better person than the rest of us. One does not expect to find the smoking, drinking, cussing, and overeating characters that are the real people who experience psychic phenomena and spiritual insight. It was, quite frankly, a relief!
As a practicing intuitive reader/psychic/sensitive (I haven’t yet found the label that seems right to me), I was nearly overjoyed to find that my own personal “bad” habits—instead of holding me back from my psychic experiences—may actually be a side effect of being a sensitive in an insensitive world.
As Wicker progresses through the book, we begin to see Lily Dale work its magic upon her own psyche. She senses something is going on with her own inner path, though she isn’t always sure how to name it. “They gave me a sense that my life made sense and counted for something,” she writes. Her own inculcated values are brought to the surface and questioned. “I wasn’t a Baptist anymore, but I still knew that people are bad and that you have to keep them tied down and trussed up,” she shares, revealing that her upbringing has solidly taught her that,” We aren’t here to be happy. We’re here to be good…which means we have to be guilty.”
Her experiences in Lily Dale soon explode these kinds of ingrained ideas as she talks to mediums and their followers who believe in Divine Love and the basic goodness of human beings. In the end Wicker asks, “Did I believe it? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But I’d like to.” She may not be completely convinced, but at least she is willing to embrace the possibility.