While her work focus shifted from time to time, one thing remained a constant her study of the spiritual world, which has taken her on countless trips to Lily Dale, a spiritualist community located about a half hour from Chautauqua Institute in western New York. Lily Dale, a gated community, is 135 years old, and some of the spiritualists who make up the “assembly” bill themselves as mediums or healers. Those who visit the grounds can also attend sessions conducted by people who refer to themselves as clairvoyants. “I’ve been going to Lily Dale for 30 years,” MacFarland says, taking classes sponsored by the ” Fellowship of the Spirit .” She focused on spiritual healing and meditation, eventually enrolling in the two-year program that would lead to ordination. The ordination classes at Lily Dale, says MacFarland, usually have about 20 to 30 people and nearly everyone experiences a “major life change. People get divorced, go in new directions, get a new job or something. You just open up and blossom. It’s wonderful.” MacFarland, herself, went through a change in her marital status. While a common interest community theater brought her and her first husband together, her spiritual pursuits, she says, contributed to the demise of their marriage. “I found I loved everything about it (spiritualism), but that actually caused my divorce. He was an aerospace engineer at NASA. He was a scientist. To his credit he really tried, but it wasn’t in his DNA.” Her second marriage to John MacFarland seems to be a better match, and both are Reiki masters, which means they practice an alternative form of healing by placing their hands on people and channeling what they believe is “life force energy.” “Reiki increases the body’s natural ability to heal itself,” MacFarland says. “Now, it is complementary medicine. We work in conjunction with doctors, and we can go into any hospital now. I was part of healing services when it came to the Cleveland Clinic.” After her ordination, one of MacFarland’s friends was planning to be married and asked if she would officiate at the wedding. That was in 2002. Soon, several other friends asked and it occurred to her that she might have “a little side business” presiding over nuptials and other types of celebrations.
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