If I Can Forgive, So Can You is Denise Linn’s autobiography. This remarkable lady has been a source of inspiration for me over the last decade since I first came across her book Sacred Space. Her life story is fascinating.
This book came to me in an unusual way. I’m lucky enough to live a short drive from the second-hand book capital of the World, Hay-on-Wye. This quirky little town, which sits on the border between England and Wales, is simply filled with independent booksellers. It’s a great place to browse and I love visiting. This time however I’d taken the children shopping and I wasn’t really in the mood- quite unlike me! I stood waiting in the main area of a bookshop that stocks the Manga books they adore. This particular shop has very few Mind, Body, Sprit books, so I didn’t really expect to see anything I wanted, yet Denise’s book was there absolutely insisting that I pick it up. There was a compulsion, a feeling of “You must read this!” Not only did I buy it, I asked my partner to drive my car back so that I could sit as a passenger and start reading.
I loved Denise’s autobiography from the very start and my admiration for this lady has risen immensely. At times the book seemed to speak directly to me. In the Preface Denise describes the process of sitting down to write her life story and the decisions she had to make. She came to a determination to write her truth, to go deep within and not to skip the bits that didn’t flatter her. She also decided not to leave out or play down the parts that were supernatural and might be subject to disbelief. Her decision was to use the process of writing to take down ‘self imposed walls’ within herself.
If I hadn’t read any more of this book then these few pages would have justified buying it for me. I had almost finished writing my own autobiographical account of the last few years and have been through exactly this struggle. My story, Light behind the Angels, is full of things that should be ‘impossible’, that people might not believe or even poke fun at. Do I tell it like it was, how I perceived it and just go for my truth? Is there any point in writing if I don’t tell it straight? Some of my writing brought tears and catharsis for me, as I'm sure this process did for Denise. I was still having this internal struggle, these self doubts about exposing myself to possible criticism, when I picked up Denise’s book from the shelf.
The story of Denise’s childhood is filled with personal struggle. Her mother was a very disturbed lady and it really is a tale of survival. Add to that some very close brushes with death, including being shot and almost fatally wounded as a teenager, and you can read Denise’s story as a triumph against adversity. Denise’s strong connection with the spiritual world came in more clearly through these tough times however. It seems sometimes we have are put through incredible life challenges to crack our illusion of the three dimensional world as ‘all there is’ and shift us into the vast reality beyond.
Denise tells her life story with characteristic warmth and even when recounting the most difficult and traumatic episodes it is not a depressing read. This is a book where the author’s voice comes through so clearly you feel she is telling you her stories over a coffee. True to her preface she includes the weird and the wonderful events of her life and I for one felt they were utterly authentic and unembroidered as well as being amazing and awe inspiring.
As a spiritual teacher I sometimes have students contact me worrying they are ‘losing it’ when mystical events occur. I often need to say, “Your experiences are valid.” To pretend nothing supernatural happens when walking a spiritual path would be a lie! There is also a heightened chance that difficult or fearful events will occur, whether physical or supernatural. They challenge your determination and courage. Some of Denise’s experiences would have sent a lesser woman running, but she faced them and overcame them.
I can recommend Denise’s autobiography wholeheartedly. It is a privilege to be given a window on someone’s life, and it takes courage for anyone to lay themselves bare like this. Thank you Denise for walking the path first and giving me the courage to stick to my personal truth.