This fall, members and friends of WCUC gathered to connect to scripture through creative writing. You can read their writing here and by picking up a packet of other pieces at the church.
“The very basis of nonbelief in soul comes down to nonexperience of soul.”
Francis Bacon, O.F.M.
When mother died her soul passed over my right shoulder rushing upwards through the window of New York Hospital. I felt her say “I can’t stop, Priscilla, I have places to go.” And go she did. She left me standing there, a firm nonbeliever, with the sudden and terrible burden of knowing. I couldn’t tell anyone. My family, which moments before I had been part of, were all atheists. My experience would be attributed to a psychological coping mechanism. After all the years of fighting off mother’s manic rages about God and Jesus and the Bible she tagged me one last time and left the game. It was unfair. I put the new truth in an unused corner of my mind. It was an unexpected and unwelcome gift.
As much as I grieved when she died I was also glad the battle was over, and not just with lung cancer. We had been fighting a lot over what I felt were her unrealistic expectations about how much time I should spend with her. We stopped talking for three months until my sister made us make up. But now that she was dead I was free. Or so I thought. Come to find out all the tasks of differentiating and separating from parents were still there. But now I had no adversary. Once again she had left the battle prematurely, on her terms, and left me unresolved.
Weeks later when I was canoeing at a friend’s lake house mother’s spirit suddenly materialized over me. She was pretty high up but still powerfully present. She didn’t say anything, just hung around for a while. I was angry and resentful that she had inserted herself back into my life and told her so. I was also anxious she would randomly keep revisiting me. She did continue to hover from time to time, but didn’t stay too long. She seemed to respect my discomfort. Still, it was intrusive.
Months later I took the train home to New Britain to visit my father. I knew her spirit was traveling with me but, as I was disembarking from the train in Berlin, she rushed off. She headed in the direction of the house. I realized then that after so many years of divorce she didn’t know how to get back to him. I was her conduit. I felt compassion for her but was also relieved. I’m not sure how long she hung around my father. He never said anything about it and I didn’t ask. I doubt he was even aware of it. She never visited me again.
My last experience with Mother’s soul was when she was reincarnated. One day I was walking down Madison Avenue when I suddenly became aware that she had just been born again. I knew she was a girl child and wondered who her parents were. I was pretty sure they lived in New England. I didn’t have any major emotional reaction. I don’t think I was even particularly surprised, which is pretty remarkable considering I didn’t believe in reincarnation.
Years later I started to deal with the knowledge I had been given. After various encounters with God I had a conversion experience and saw the risen Christ. Jesus was the image I was most familiar with, having been raised a Christian, but I have no doubt others perceive the Divine Embrace in personas or symbols more familiar to them. Over the years I have come to believe that we are all part of one Soul we call God, and that we each carry a piece of it within us. It is what gives us life.
People have written about trying to recognize the face of God in everyone and, though it is sometimes hard to do, they are right. It is there, though maybe badly scarred or hidden from the Light. Helping others heal through acceptance and compassion is part of our own spiritual work. We grow the soul within us when we love others, and we grow their souls as well. And that is what we have all come here to do. Grow souls.
When we die we can choose to stay in the realm of spirit or become flesh again on earth. I’m not sure why people choose to come back. Perhaps there is unfinished business, or a need to make amends. Or maybe they just like growing souls. Nor am I sure why mother came back. But I suspect it was because she loved and lived life with so much passion not even Heaven could contain her. Since her rebirth I have kind of kept track of how old she would be now and wonder if I would recognize her if we met. I’m pretty sure I would. It would be a welcome gift. And not totally unexpected.
“After all, it is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”