Wager

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A slight movement in the chair in front of me caused the diamonds on her fingers to scrape against the wicker. It made me look up and take notice. She always entered without any sound and her appearance never failed to startle me. The curve of her shoulders and arms were highlighted by the fashionable cut of the dress, a shade of watermelon silk. The smoothness of her skin glowed with a golden summer tan. I never considered the thought that souls in heaven were affected by the seasons. Time is an element of space and therefore does not exist in God and all that philosophical stuff. But today my soul was revealing the effects of a glorious summer. Outside my window I could see the splendor of the high season. As my visitor contemplated the lush trees and the distant forest stretching out before us, her eyes grew soft and reflective. The high oval shaped back of the chair in which she sat resembled wings that stretched and folded behind and above her head. The points of the wings that framed her face touched each other above her. Her hands lay folded in her lap. Today, her feet were bare, no polish on her toenails.

I cleared my throat. “I have been thinking a lot about the Afterlife these days.”

Even before those words landed in the silence between us I remembered that if time did not exist in the realm of the Soul, neither did before and after. There was no after so there was no Afterlife. Only the present moment.

Her gaze had been distant before, but now her eyes became radiant with interest. She said, “Right now, for many of you, the idea of what you call an afterlife is just a wager. As yet many humans feel that they know little about it, mostly because they are not interested in learning more. They perceive heaven as far away and a God somewhere out there in a separate world, away from humans. At least those of you who conceive of such a Being.”

 Truth is, something in me never believed that. If I had not had other ideas pounded into me as child, I would have trusted the other realm, as it is called, because I sensed it all around me. I could feel the unity, a wordless understanding among all of humanity as if it were just one soul. Thinking back now it seemed hard to believe since I had been born just after Auschwitz. Then, as I grew older, heaven seemed further and further away. Still, it was the reason I developed a keen interest in another realm, other than the earthly.

I marvel at what people pin their hopes on, how they love to gamble on everything, from winning the lottery to gambling for the jackpot or holding their breath for a door prize which they rarely if ever get. But when it comes to what we call ‘Afterlife’ they stick to the most basic beliefs that promise some form of security.

She should know, this majestic angelic creature who was my soul. She had lived with me for a long time and she knew how I had been indoctrinated with such beliefs as a child and how upset I got with both those who wanted to perpetuate them and those who threw out any possibility of afterlife altogether. I said, “Even the possibility of not gambling on any life at all, the idea that there is nothing left of you when you die. That this life is all there is and that when it ends you stop existing.”

Which in itself is a wager. You focus on this life because outside of what you can see with your five senses everything is simply wishful thinking, or they are beliefs created by some outdated religion, before science proved otherwise. Then there is the other option. To gamble on the idea that when you die there will be judgment and punishment and reward by a Father in the distant sky? She seemed to want to limit her focus on the mostly Western heritage.

“That fits in well with those who need to feel morally superior. Those who want to appropriate heaven for themselves and delegate others to hell.”

The wicker creaked when she leaned forward. It is a form of power of the worst kind. It is the oldest trick in the book. You threaten people if they step out of the belief system of the group they will face punishment for eternity of the most horrible kind. Some of those beliefs are so ingrained in the genetic code of the collective that many are willing to defend them fanatically, while completely disregarding other possibilities? Those old traditions continue to live on in you as a persistent background noise. Unless you become conscious of their power over you, you will never be free of them.

Her knowing smile revealed how much she knew about the predicament of human nature.

I looked down at the floor, feeling the familiar despondency drain my energies. “It baffles me that so many people are willing to take their beliefs literally and defend them as if their lives depended on it.”

They are gambling on the belief that there is an end time when the good will rise up and the evil cast in hell. But outside space there is no time, so there is no end, only ever-present awareness.

” So then why would you want to stake your life, your actions on the fact that your body remains in the ground until a future judgment day when corpses will be resurrected? And so says the Bible” Now it was my turn to laugh at the idea of taking such a myth literally.

Would you not rather risk everything on the notion that love never dies, that the measure with which you have experienced transcendence in this life will catapult you into further development and growth even after your mortal life has come to an end? Are you willing to bet that you will leave behind your cocoon and become a butterfly?

 Her eyes shone with excitement as she spoke. She perceived this world as a marvelous Universe and humans as amazing gods in the making. For her everything was always evolving, birth and death simply being punctuation marks within the flow, the grand scheme of things that she knew so well.

“That is the only belief I am willing bet on, and so are many of my friends already.”

Do you want to wager that a living connection exist between the living and those on the other side? That heaven is closer than we think, a higher vibration very near us but not to be detected through our lower level perceptions?

Many teachers, mediums, psychics, channelers, energy workers already hold on to that conviction because they experience it through their work. But there is so much new age fluff surrounding those beliefs that it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I let out a sigh feeling the weight of having to sort out what was true for me.

So far you have only spoken of the Western traditions. But from the East have come many more beliefs that have penetrated your culture. There are also those who put all their chips on the idea that when you have not lived a good life, then reincarnation is a form of punishment, and you will have to come back because you did not learn your lessons well in the previous life, and you will suffer negative karma? She wiggled her toes playfully, moving her feet back and forth. She was having fun and laughed unabashedly at many of the ideas that came up in our dialogue

But what about karma, is it not something many people adhere to?

Her voice rose a pitch. Karma means that every action has a consequence. Every thought has power, what you believe you attract. Sure, there are consequences to your actions, causes have effects. Some of them are good and some not so good, but either way they are part of the tapestry of life.

“Here is the problem. On the one hand we are so deeply involved in this life, and we do not spend a lot of time thinking about ultimate things like death and Afterlife if we can help it. When we do talk about it seems so elusive we only give it the tiniest bit of attention before moving on to another subject. We even stay away from people who have experienced a loss through death because it might make us think about our mortality.”

Do you want to bet that you have infinite opportunity to gain knowledge through many lifetimes by learning all the difficult lessons the life has to offer? That earth school allows you to experience suffering and joy, male and female, intellectual and mentally challenged, hardness of heart or kindness, the role of perpetrator and the role of victim, and everything duality has in store for the rich fabric that makes up a soul? Do you want to gamble on the belief that earth school is the best school of all in that it enriches souls more than any other place in the universe? Do you want to wager on the hypothesis that it takes tremendous courage for souls to enter into life on earth? Do you want to bit that every experience that humans have enriches the godhead through the multifaceted aspect of each unique soul and each unique combination of families of souls?

“That, too, is a wager I am willing to take. I didn’t particularly want to be reincarnated into this life, let alone be willing to do it another time, but you may want to invite me to do so again. And, I am most certainly going to refuse.” I clenched my teeth with determination.

She was studying me intently. “The reflection on your face seems to be a combination of exhaustion and expectation. You have that contradictory demeanor between grim anxiety and childlike faith.”

I shrunk back a little. She had noted my clenched fists. I said with a pinched voice, “I am old. But yes, there is something childlike in my openness to different possibilities when it comes the Afterlife.”

I see your life as a beautiful tapestry, a work of art, no less.

I am grateful for that. Mostly because the knots and the threads and screwups are hidden at the wrong side of the finished work and I do not have to reveal the messiness of the reverse side.

You call them screw ups and errors, I call them brave lessons learned. What is your preoccupation with perfection anyway? From where I stand, everything is perfect, even the false turns and dead ends.

I have learned that, from the view of the right hemisphere of our brain everything is one, fluid, and flowing, a knowing that separation and death are not possible. It is the left-hemisphere that sees problems and rattles constantly at a speed faster than speech. It lives in fear of death.

Her shining eyes grew big with interest as I continued. It was a good feeling that my Soul was willing to learn new things.

You mean that separation and loss are a perception of the left hemisphere?

 Yep. Its command center is only the size of a peanut. Just think, my whole life is run by something the size of a peanut. But in order to function in this world, the left hemisphere is essential. It does everything my body needs to do and it navigates this person I call me through the complexities of daily life in the world. Trying to silence some of its chatter for awhile is my biggest problem.

She gave me an encouraging look. “You are doing better than you think.

“I just want both sides to be more in balance with each other. While my left brain is capable of navigating through greater and greater complexity and inclusiveness, my right brain embraces higher states of consciousness and oneness all the time. It is all part of the evolutionary process.” I was getting warmed up to my favorite subject now and my Soul was humming along with me.

Her turn again. Do you want to bet that this greater consciousness involves a closeness to heaven and the other side so that we will never look at death in the same way?

The truth of that had been driven home to me only very recently.

I know that I am surrounded by loved ones, guides and angels. Just do not tell anyone. I live in a scientific world. Right brain, left brain, that is scientific. All the rest is unmentionable.

Sex used to be an unmentionable subject at one time in history, but that did not make it go away.

The smile on her face spread into a wide grin. Her eyes sparkled with mischief. I was thinking that even sex was still a very misunderstood subject and we were only always learning its significance to the transcendent world, but that was a subject for another dialogue with her.

Do you see that if you stick to any kind of tunnel vision, in regards to life or death, it will be your reality. Your imagination and daring will simply not allow you to experience a much grander possibility. On the other hand, if you can imagine it, you can enter into a creative process of infinite possibility. If you want to gamble on the grandest prize you cannot be timid about it. The fearful, security minded bets will not get you want you desire.

 “So, if you want to imagine God as an old man in the sky who judges your every move, one who waits to judge the living and death as the Creed says, when you choose to remain with that image, your imagination will not allow you to experience a God that is big enough, close enough and you enough.”

My tone was becoming strident and she took note. She beamed a forgiving smile. I was battle wary. Doing combat with those who wanted to put God in a box had become a useless habit of mine. She poked a slender long finger in my direction toward the peanut side of my brain.

 Your baggage from the past and your vision of the future are colliding right now. Your left hemisphere wants to plan and fix and manage the past as well as your vision for the future, while your right brain enjoys the perfection of each moment just as it is.

 If I do not have a strategy, an intention, a plan, will my life then not become hijacked by my own unconscious motives and those of others?” I was protesting. I want to be free to create my own future in service of those who can be enriched by you, my dear soul. But what is freedom anyway, I wondered?

You cannot change the collective, only yourself. That alone will have an impact on the collective. Remember that each human life is a tapestry, with many knots and loose ends hiding behind.

I muttered and sputtered and wished I could just rest in silence where I knew that my wager is no longer that, but a true experience of what could never be put into words. The experience of God is slippery and impossible to express. No wonder that people who have near death experiences come up with so many different versions and symbols of what they have learned. Some even use that event to fortify their literal understanding of their old beliefs. I had never had a near-death experience, but as far as I was concerned there was no religion in heaven. Religions were mere scaffolding, leading up to a path where each could choose in freedom. Mature souls no longer had a need for that scaffolding, only for the companionship of kindred spirits. After all, Spirit was a sociable God who even liked the costume parties.

You ask about freedom. Do you want to stake your life on it that as human beings we are completely free to create something new in each moment, and that this freedom is the divine energy, the divine life, the grace that pulsates through all that is; it has the ability to change everything through us?

Sometimes I have the feeling that my life was hijacked when I was eighteen years old and I lost my family, my language and my culture.

But don’t you see, every human soul is constantly held hostage and in danger of losing its  freedom, through family, ethnic and cultural expectations, advertising, status symbols, excessive parental control, religion, unconscious emotional involvement, the list is endless. Freedom means that you remain aware of what derails you, of the times that you betray yourself. Contrary to what you think, your life presented you with a great opportunity to discover what is true freedom to be your unique self and develop your gifts.

I guess that is true for everyone. Life itself is a wager, then. Despite our circumstances and hardships, we can continue to walk our path and learn to choose with greater freedom.

Do you want to bet then that categories of good and evil are only adequate for those at a very basic understanding of morality but that as adults we need to have to have sufficient backbone to decide about more complex issues? What is often too easily categorized as evil is something to be explored and transformed.

So, there are no easy answers as to how to deal with complex issues? Black and white choices are for the simpleminded.

Or for those who want to project their shadow side on others. Us the good ones, them the bad ones. Do you want to wager instead that human beings have a zillion chances to get it right, that every mistake leads to a new opportunity, that there is no punishment in God, only infinite life and love and faithfulness?

I was totally on board with that. I was willing to put all my stakes on it.

But much of it remained a wager. Along with so many others like believing that love never dies and that we continue to grow in a life beyond the grave. But what else can I do than live with that hypothesis since I am not really going to get the complete picture until I come to the end of my earthly life? If only we could accept the mounting evidence of what we can see with the right-brain or the eye of the spirit or transcendent consciousness or whatever name we wanted to put on it. If we could count that of equal importance with what we can observe with the five senses.

Yes, I am willing to up the ante that this peaceful, joyful, loving Presence that sustains us through the trials of life is both our Source and our Destiny. It is what my right-brain tells me constantly if I am willing to relax in silence and enter a place of no boundaries.

My cat Muffin jumped up on my lap and wanted to play. Her teasing bite brought me back to the visible world and as always, I left the invisible world with a touch of sadness.

I looked up to see that my visitor was gone. Only a single long blond hair remained stuck in the wicker of the angelic wings of the chair where she’d shared my space with such an aura of mischief. My partner in iconoclasm, I thought gratefully. I could feel a tingling in my fingers as I was typing and I knew she was merely gone from my vision and not from my energy field, my field of grace. She was One with all those whom I loved and lived inside me moment to moment, ever-present. I was willing to sit still and listen.

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Wager

Grief

Grief

I looked up from my book only to see a figure, forlorn, pitiful, and dejected. She sat motionless in the chair where my soul often seated herself whenever she made an appearance. Instead there was this old woman. Her shoes were crumpled, her hair matted, disheveled. Her clothes smelled of a thrift shop. I put my hand in front of my mouth and nose to hide my disgust. She was sitting awfully close to me. A plastic bag stood on the floor near her. I felt a stab of compassion but I sensed that if I tried to touch her she would pull away.

Helplessly, I just waited, wondering what to do.

Presence, I thought. I need to stay present and look at her with a loving gaze and not turn my eyes away from her.

Sickened as I was by her appearance, it was hard for me to keep still for too long. Noiselessly I got up to get a blanket to put on her lap. At least it covered the dress and the shoes.

Her gaze had wandered off into the distance, not seeing. Her eyes seemed filled with bottomless sadness.

I recognized that look. Inside lived a child that had felt abandoned and, overwhelmed by loss and grief, she could no longer find her way.

The blanket seemed to help and her eyes squinted towards me a little.

“You are in the chair where my soul always sits when she comes.” I had to say something.

Her tone was barely audible, “I am your soul,” A hoarse whisper.

I was confused. My soul was mostly radiant and humorous and hopeful. She was the one I could not see when I was lonely and in darkness. Mostly she was beaming and splendid. And wise. But never like this.

This reversal of roles baffled me. I was the one who had often felt abandoned and rejected in my life and could not find my way back to my connection with God, with my inner divinity, my contact with others, with the beauty of nature.

Once she had started to speak, her voice carried greater determination. “I have memories of abuse, rejection, violence, and sadness from other lifetimes, and not only from this life.”

That is what is happening, you are going deep and far and wide and you bring back the darkness.

So, it can be healed in the present, I thought but did not venture to say.

I even wandered in hell for some time.

I do not believe in hell.

If you lose your trust in your own worth, your faith in God’s infinite love for you, then you are in hell.

I would never do that.

You think. There is a heredity that all people carry because of those who preached hell in the past, in today’s cults and fundamentalist religions. Their energies hang in the astral sphere and affect everyone. Mostly people who are vulnerable become affected by those who seek power over others through their ideologies and hold them in their spells.

That is what happened to you?

So many people carry traces of that in their genes, then when they find themselves cut off from loved ones they give up on themselves.

I could guess at what she carried in the plastic bag. All her meagre belongings. She would stand on a street corner waiting for a ride to nowhere. She had lost everything, except that unnamed sadness, the utter despair that kept her from caring for herself or anything else. She was taking me back to the times in my life that I had felt that way. She was part of me still.

She was not lying when she said she was my soul.

I became defensive. “You know how hard I worked to build connections with other people, how I sought out men and women who could help me find my way in life. I received inspiration and support from dozens of people who were wise and skillful and understanding, or just simply kind and loving. Why would you return to me now?”

Her words were slow and deliberate as she tried to give a voice to what was going on inside her. Nobody cares. Nobody understands, I am passed over, forgotten. She faltered. After a long pause she went on. I feel, cheated, ashamed and embarrassed.

What have you done that is getting you down like that?

I feel guilty as if it is all my fault and I no longer deserve anything good.

“It is what grief and loss do to you.”

I had learned something from my helpers. I thought I had learned those lessons once and for all, but they kept coming back. I saw it in front of me in this figure overcome with melancholy and self-pity. She was afraid to claim her own value.

Right now, I am missing a great love that has been part of your life for a long time. A tear ran down her cheek. I noticed she had not numbed out, so there was still hope.

I put my hand to my mouth again, this time to hide from her my quivering mouth. I did not cry easily, but of late I often noticed the tremor of my lips and the light chattering of my teeth.

We sat wordlessly, silently. She was showing me how I felt inside, a child abandoned, and she, a reminder of what grief felt like for me.

After a while. “Is there something I can do for you.”

You are doing it. You are seeing me, looking at me the way a loving mother would. You do not turn away from me. You understand how loss and grief can be so overwhelming that you no longer care about anything.

And you no longer value yourself, I thought.

I got up and grabbed some red slippers with cute little pompoms on top and my silk kimono of many colors. On second thought I reached for a golden chain with evenly spaced pearls all around.

I returned to the old woman and removed the blanket, the foul dress and filthy hoes before helping her inside the soft silk of the kimono. The pearls dropped around her neck down to her chest. I went to get the hairbrush and combed her hair, fastening it with a pretty elastic away from her face.

The transformation was miraculous. She looked beautiful, precious, valuable, despite the facial wrinkles and the blue-veined hands resting on her lap.

For a while, her gaze remained fastened on the slippers, the red pompons that nestled between her toes. Her hands moved upward and her fingers cautiously touched the pearls on the golden chain.

I wanted to experience these painful things by incarnating into earth school. But it was hard, impossible at times.

She sparked something in me and suddenly, I was taken up by my old, angry self. “How can I share a life with somebody, love him tenderly, body and soul, then go from having the same hands, the same face, the same flesh only to arrive in a fog of loss and grief?”

It is what I came here to experience. I knew what it was like to be an angel, to be god and one with infinite love. Still I wanted to feel and know firsthand what it was like to be human, to be mortal, to grieve loss and death. You have given me ample opportunity and I am grateful for that. You have not been afraid of heavy emotions.

I was feeling her despair, a black pile of gravel deep in my gut.

It hurts, she conceded. Grief and joy are the two sides of the same coin. She was chirping as if she, too, was trying to convince herself of that.

Humbled, I asked, “You think I am getting better at it? I mean taking in the joy as well as the suffering?

To my amazement, she took the plastic bag and set it down on her lap. Like a magician whips out yards of fabric from a small box, she pulled out yards of lace and silk only to reveal an exquisite regal dress in a shade of magenta I had rarely seen. I noticed the slim bodice, the slender waist. I could never wear that. The skirt was a huge cloud, fit for a princess.

You will be able to wear this when you walk down the red carpet and cross over to the other realm.

“I thought when people die they entered a black tunnel. I never heard of a red carpet,” I jested. I could not help laughing. What did we know about the other realm anyway and how to get there.

Just the same, the dress caused a complete transformation between us.

You may feel like a forlorn old lady at times and that is what many people perceive when you are an elderly single woman. But they only see the outside. Inside you are magnificent, radiant, and filled with incredible light. You are a princess, daughter of the Kingdom. You also feel with the Heart of God that is the Christ light. In embracing your own suffering, you also embrace the sorrow of the world while holding on to your divine consciousness. That is how you glorify God and he/she becomes glorified in you and in all of humanity.

“A mouthful for a homeless woman,” I quipped, raising my eyebrows. I laughed out loud this time and it was contagious. I could see her eyes glinting with glee.

I am not homeless, I only feel as if I have lost my home on earth, and I want to be in my heavenly home.

That I could relate too. Homesickness was my middle name. But I had promised my dead husband to live on this earth some more, even if he was now in another realm, or as they say politely, now that he had crossed over. Our bodies were no longer joined, we had set each other free. This part of our soul journey had ended but not without the promise that we would bridge the two realms, that of earth and that of heaven. Our souls would remain connected because everything is One, and I was part of the Whole.

The old woman stumbled a little as she got up. I called after her. “We shall find our true home always, as long as we walk together.”

I picked up the magenta colored princess dress. Of late, I had been keenly aware how, if I was to go on living, I would have to kiss a few frogs, and only some of them would turn into princes. This was one of those times. This dress stood as a symbol of love and fire and passion. A vision that would soon evaporate into thin air now that the figure in my imagination had left me.

It would not be easy to hold this old woman in my heart, but she was at my service, guiding me and healing me. She was the Christ energy within the walls of my soul. In joy or in grief, I was at her service also.

Perhaps she would be back at times. I carried wounds from earlier days. Hopes and dreams had not always panned out and relationships had aborted rather than flourished. Those were the building blocks of life on earth and my soul had just showed me how she had been affected by that. She taught me that I could hold grief as a sacred experience of human life. Rather than being trapped in it, I could surround it with awareness. I could move beyond it.

It felt good to keep this grieving woman in my loving awareness as a rich and vital part of me. My soul was feeling all the things she wanted to experience through my earthly ups and downs.

I could see small golden slivers of light penetrate the darkness of the gravel pile inside my gut and I whispered, “Thank you again, for showing me that we have been enriched no matter how impossible life seems at times. You would not have wanted it any other way.

Previous chapter

 

Grief

Transition

Transition

 

I noticed the bellowing white skirt before I even saw her. It was so wide and full that it filled most of the field of my vision. An evening dress in the morning, I thought as my duality trained brain formed its own judgment.

I am dancing a lot these days.” My soul said to me. Her tone was joyful but not giddy.

Her movements were slow so that the white taffeta and tulle ballooned and swirled gracefully as she danced. I watched her, my eyes filled with tears. Still, her joy was contagious.

Soon, she landed in a chair in front of me. The fabric of her attire made a swooshing sound as she tried to fit the skirt between the armrests. She rested her slender hands in her lap. The bodice of the dress revealed the gentle curve of her breasts.

Her eyes met mine in playful radiance. She raised her eyebrows. “You are sad.”

“The thing I feared the most has happened. My husband died.” My eyes were watering seriously now.

How did that go, she asked, even though she would know the answer already. There was little that she did she not know about me.

I did not want to go into the painful details of the last few days and months of my husband’s life. I said simply, “He was ready, he was reviewing his life. He wondered if he had been a good husband and father.” Once he said, ‘I did everything out of love.’ It was a statement he made to himself, to his own conscience. He was grateful for his life, for his ancient faith.” I stopped.

Whenever I revisited those days I became distressed. It was a video tape that kept rerunning itself through my mind.

From the white cloud of her dress, she was looking at me intently. She lifted one slender hand slightly in a gesture, sending  me peace and strength.

Seeing how she had appeared out of nowhere and was now sitting there before me reminded me of something. “Just before he died, I saw his soul rise up. It looked like him but it was grander and more cosmic than he ever was in his earthly life. His appearance stood out against the darkness of the midnight sky and hovered there. Until then, I had been walking around the hospital crying, wanting to tell anyone who would listen that my husband was dying, and suddenly, I felt like dancing. I was so happy.”

There was a resemblance between that day and this moment. Just now, my soul had come in dancing. At the most feared moment of my life I, too, had wanted to dance.

She tossed back the long chestnut hair and interrupted my train of thought. “He became pure love, the divine love that he consented to while his body was already breaking down and would soon become corpse. It was his last courageous decision, this surrender to divine love.

Still needing to say things about him I went on. “He always said that choosing the most difficult decision usually meant you were taking the right one, but that you only knew afterward if it turned out to be the right one.”

We grew silent then. We just sat there. I reflected on this striking figure before me who lived in such a high vibration that I had to raise my own consciousness in order to see her.  It suddenly dawned on me that I had been in a higher vibration when I saw my husband’s soul that night just before he died. It all made sense. I was not imagining things, I was simply raising my own vibration the way I do when I listen to my favorite classical music performed by a first class orchestra.  Except that our music was made out of being graced by a mysterious, a deep and lasting love.

When she spoke again it was to remind me of something. It was a most courageous decision for him to take and that means you now have a new husband, one that is pure love, without judgment, without self-recriminations, no regrets, just a constant flow of pure love and joy that radiates outward from the divine Source, from Oneness.

I was still struggling to put into words how I perceived the appearance of my husband after he died. “He was somewhat the same, he still had his essence, and certain familiar gestures like when I used to cup my small hand into his big one, but he was more expansive than the way he was in earthly life. But at that moment we, all of us, we could feel his protective energy embrace us like a warm blanket. He went from being a very sick man old man, who needed to be taken care of by his family, to a beautiful energy that wrapped itself around us and made us feel safe and very much loved.”

Now it was her turn to become emotional. Tears fell down her cheeks. They were like pearls and the deep blue color of her eyes took on an unusual radiance. “I am grateful that you experienced this, it enriches me tremendously to hear that.

My thoughts went from the sparkling eyes and face back to pondering  my husband’s brave decision to leave me behind and disappear into divine love.

As if she was reading my tendency to idealize a dead spouse, she scolded me gently. “Do not give him all the credit. You practiced a higher vibration by being in contact with me, by your practice of sitting with Jesus. All your life, you were never afraid to tackle difficult subjects.  In your world people prefer to stay away from subjects like grief and death. Nor do they want to speak about the afterlife, the other realm, reincarnation.

When they do it is used to gloss over by what they consider ‘fluff’ in order to defend against the unmentionable subjects of death and mortality.

She pursed her lips into a smile and she bent forward slightly to get me to focus. “Your thoughts and deeds returned to you. Your husband, by being one with you in love and physical intimacy was able to share your familiarity with higher vibrations.

“I like to think that my legacy to him was to prepare him for the other realm, while his legacy to me was of the material world.”

Now you are getting it.

Another thing few people talk about is how sexual intimacy is similar to death, a death to the small self. There is a silent but palpable Third Presence in the room when you let go of your ego and surrender to love. This silent third presence awed me. It was as inaudible as a bunny rabbit, but so present.

Her laughter rolled gently through the space between us. “You could not come up with a more elevated symbol of the Divine Presence in your life?

“Sorry,” I said defensively,” but I have been surprised by bunnies in the flower garden. They are so silent that their presence startles you. When I say there were times that something mystified me, not only after lovemaking, but also in the waiting rooms of hospitals, when we spent anxious hours together in deep care and concern for one another, there was an inaudible Presence there. This bunny, if you pardon my poor choice of symbols, enabled us during our last few years together to talk about the possibility of losing one another to death.”

Were you not glad you were prepared? It was not a question, just a statement. At our deepest, closest moments, we knew we could not hold on to the ephemeral quality of the love between us. It enabled us to give our consent when it came time to transition to another life.

I wish I could remember that vision of him when the sadness about losing him overtakes me. As I will when the moment you leave again, I thought.

You can call on me any time.

It all feels strange to me. My dearest treasure in life is already better than he has ever been.

You just need to nurture your relationship between the two realms, that of earth and that of the astral sphere when you are confused and scared and sad.

I cannot go back, nor do I want to.

She looked deep into my eyes and I held her gaze. She did not say the words, but I knew what she wanted me to do. Live for the moment and love myself just the way I am. This confusion would resolve itself in time. I would hold on to the belief that my husband and I would be reunited some day as worthy souls who had a strong connection to each other.

That one deep gaze, her eyes looking into mine, lasted only a second, but it managed to banish all doubt in me. I would go on without his physical presence in my life.

When the apparition in front of me began to fade, I knew I had returned to my earthly low vibration. The dress disappeared from view like a crumbling soufflé. Still, her eyes, that one look, had given me so much comfort. I felt different, stronger because of it.

I had lost my husband and my life had changed forever. I felt fragmented and at the mercy of a world where opposing demands and conflicting feelings constantly bang into each other.

I got up and I touched the white china figurine on my desk, a woman in an evening dress that now served as a container for my husband’s wedding ring. And I wondered how I would put this infinite loving energy that was my soul and the soul of my husband into daily practice as a single woman.

We would continue to care for one another and together we would feel with the heart of Jesus. Together we would care with the His divine heart. As partners we would love a broken world so much in need of caring souls. We would be elders present to the next generation.

I inhaled deeply.  I had a reason to live.

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Transition

Second Half of Life

She had found me overwhelmed and upset, but she remained calm and present. Today she appeared much closer in age to my number of seven decades. Her silver hair was pulled back smoothly, her face showing the appropriate wrinkles of someone who has been on earth for a long time. She had my own distinctive nose but her lips, unlike mine, were full and took to rouge quite well. She wore no rings this time, her only decorations were the tiny blue veins showing through the parchment skin of her clasped hands. The dress she wore had a narrow standup collar and the soft material was covered with a pattern of spring-like foliage.

I did not wait for her to speak first. I said, “I am very much afraid. Many times I feel much confusion and guilt. Then I am unsure of myself and I have my back up.”

Tears stung behind my eyes. My spine stiffened and I drummed my fingers nervously. “I think of all the nasty things family members have said to me in the heat of misunderstanding, rebellion, blame and ignorance. I can feel it in my veins, the pit of my stomach. I fear I will go to the bathroom on the floor right here. I have a desire to curl up in feelings of worthlessness and as usual, I long to disappear from this earth altogether.

A frown appeared above her nose. I thought she would scold me, tell me to get out of the victim mode and be grateful for what I had. Instead her deep blue eyes pierced mine with great tenderness and she encouraged me to feel deeply into these old wounds. “By being mindful of all of this you will arrive at an entirely new place and you open up new possibilities. Observe your many hurts with curiosity and you will not remain stuck there for long. You include the pain but you know you will transcend it. Your wounds can become the vehicle for liberating yourself and others if you stay present and simply observe what is going on. Do not judge yourself or try to be different than who you are right now. You came by your wounds honestly. As a young woman you were very generous and open-minded and you were often misunderstood and put in your place by those who were threatened by the deep wisdom of your soul. In time you have become somewhat of a battleaxe which was never your intention. You were naturally loving and caring, but you had to learn to stand up for yourself in this life and for that you needed to be aggressive and even bitchy.  If you had not learned to stand up for yourself and fight for your right to be here, you would have not flowered into the person who you are now. You might say that you needed to develop your masculine side which was not innate to you. Now, in the second half of your life, you must learn to be less combative and relax more into your natural wisdom and knowledge. There is no need to be so defensive anymore.

The tenderness in her tone washed over me like relaxing shower. Her face had become more luminous as she spoke. I studied the soft green pattern of her dress. Her shoes were more sensible than I felt at the moment.

I can never understand the value of revisiting the past, even though it is what keeps intruding on me.

Old people love to take stock of their past, revisit old memories. But you, you need to avoid traveling the path of rehashing old injuries. Instead bend over the child that has been so ignored, disappointed, made invisible. When you do that, the wounds do not become your story. You do not suppress them, but feel them fully. In due time, you will stop identifying with your wounds and you will begin to remember again the times when the child in you felt celebrated, mirrored, seen, admired, entitled and nurtured either by you or by others. One of the reasons you still tend to be combative is because you do not feel entitled to be happy and enjoy your life.  You think you still have to fight for every inch of life that you have. But I tell you, you can bend your sword into plowshares now and relax into simply being who you are. You can observe the interplay in your relationships with others without judgment.

I still feel critical of myself when I cannot be nice and accommodating all the time because I am able to see the big picture and I need to set firm boundaries.  I have strong intuitions and pick up vibes easily. I see beyond the surface of people and events, but then I also know how limited is my perspective and how it is still tainted by my own stuff whenever I feel judgmental and emotionally reactive. That is why I need plenty of time alone because I am prone to have a meltdown when I get in difficult situations. I fear that if I don’t protect my boundaries my life will become a train wreck, but if I do speak up I know I open myself up for unfair criticism.

Her eyes did not leave mine and the wisdom that shone from deep within her was balm for my heart. “That is an old fear; a flashback to the time when blending in was a means of survival for you.  But you must know that there is a difference between an attitude of loving kindness that can be directed toward anything or anyone, and love which is a verb, an action that calls for different strategies in a variety of situations. You will not know the strategy unless you have the ability to listen to others while at the same time listening to your own body and your own emotions and reactivity. Then you will feel deep down that your strategy is right for you and you will feel strong in whatever move you take next.

I tried to wrap my head around what she just said. Still there was a part of me that would not let go of the fear. “Yes, but do we as elders not have reason to fear. Our values are not those of the young generation. Now I am only a decoration in the family photos.”

A wistful smile appeared around her lips. She glanced sideways as if trying to remember something. I only just noticed how her voice was a bit shaky today. “It is the failing of your culture that it puts more value on exterior things than on interior riches. Still, you must remember that new times call for new gifts.  In the first half of life you discover your gifts, in the second part of life you understand that everything is pure grace flowing through you. You are not the owner of the gifts. The ego wants to own, but your True Self is free from ownership.  It is the ego that mourns the passing of the time and the losses of beauty, abilities, physical prowess, etc. But you know better and you also know that even interior values can become fodder for the ego. Now it is all about humility and letting go of ego so that you come to see and enjoy your whole life as the flow of pure grace.

Somehow, I still bristled at the thought of being an ego-less old granny who sat smiling in family photos, and easily overlooked. “But do I not need a strong irascible ego in order to negotiate the exterior world? It is not the kind of ego that makes me feel proud of myself. Rather I am constantly annoyed at myself for being slow, for aching all over, for having sustained so much inner damage in the course of a this lifetime. On the one hand I no longer need the securities, the validations, the illusions and prejudices of family and communities. I know I can stand alone. But on the other hand, my body is getting slower and my memory less reliable, so I seek out people who will have my back. I have a love/hate relationship with my family and my church, because I feel trapped in role expectations and there is no room to express my deepest, truer, more authentic Self.”

I looked down mortified as the blue-veined hand reached out and landed on my knee. “Can you see how everything is part of a process of inner transformation? Where once you fought against religious and political and educational structures you can now see that they were and still are containers that can provide structure for an immature young person. Yes, those century old institutions that have long and complicated histories are rife with imperfections and always in need of innovation, but despite their many shortcomings they have provided a container for me, your soul, through many lives. It gave you something to rebel against that is worthy of me. If there are no laws and rules what is it that you will push against that is a worthy opponent? When you kick off against the side of the swimming pool you gain momentum for the next lengthy lap. Likewise, when you kick against the rules you acquire speed and get to the essence of what it is true and good and beautiful. You can include laws and rules but you also will transcend them. Like a chick needs the egg and the butterfly needs the cocoon at first to protect it, later it presses hard against it and breaks it wide open in order to be set free. In the same way those old ways have served the development of your soul.

That’s why so many young people become radicalized today because they have never had a strong foundation to support the development of their ego?

The frown in her forehead deepened. “Yes, you cannot leave home if you never had a home that gave you roots. Young people need to be successful in order to build strong egos and self-confidence.  Allow them that. You may find that young people are often arrogant, aggressive and defensive, but do not see those qualities are bad because they are so necessary if they are to assert themselves in the world. You have to build an ego before you can slay your ego.

In my experience, success and failure have both been necessary in my life. I wish I could tell that to the younger generation.

You must remember that as an elder your task is not about moralizing and giving advice. Actually, it never was, but as you get older and you can see the value of falling and getting up, of failing and becoming more humble, of making mistakes and learning from them, you can now observe what goes on in the life of your dear ones with serenity and presence.

I need to accept that much of life is a mystery and that some people get away with immature behavior, or better, that many people prefer to get away with immature behavior. Then some part of me also wants to fall back into immature behavior. It is hard to always be the hero in a situation.

The hand on my knee patted me gently as she spoke again. “Then it is time to love the neglected child within you.”

I was beginning to think more clearly already. “I am torn between knowing that at some level I do not need anything or anyone because I am an immortal spark of the Divine with infinite possibilities, but I am also frail and human and that makes me very fearful in relationship to others.

Your deepest Self, that is I, has emerged from God and will return there.  The same Force, the Cosmic Christ that sent you into this world and that you consented to, the same force is also calling you back. That is why you are always homesick for the world from which you came. Meanwhile while you are still in this world, you must love it with passion and joy. It needs you.  

At first I could no longer see her hand on my knee. Then the pattern on her dress scrambled before my eyes like a faulty image on the television screen. I had not known she wore perfume until the flowery scent of it in my nostrils was all that remained of her. Was it my imagination, or could I detect a blue light all around the chair where she had sat only a moment ago?

Love this world with passion and joy. Those were her last words to me. I could do that even if my heart was homesick for the world that was her home, the home of my soul.

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Second Half of Life

Dialogue with my Soul: Easter

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I had difficulty recognizing her in the smart grey pantsuit. The way she was dressed, the figure of my soul appearing in my living room could pass for a lawyer, a partner in a famous law firm. A fine string of pearls adorned her slender neck.

At first I had been feeling too morose to notice the silent figure who had slid noiselessly into the chair in front of me until the stiletto heels on her shoes caught my eye as she sat down and crossed her legs. I looked down at my clenched hands and my thoughts and feelings returned to the messiness of my own depths. They tell you that it is there that you find God, but all I found was closed doors at the bottom of the rabbit hole. I felt trapped.

Not without a tinge of hostility I turned to her and said, “You look like you are about to go to church.”

That upsets you?

When I was a teenager, fourteen or so, I sought attention and approval in the parish church. The divine in me was already so awakened that I sought confirmation in a community. I also liked the rituals of Easter Week.

Yet the community was not as yet so awakened enough to accommodate people like you.

Nor did I know what it meant that I was aware of these heavenly realities, the presence of the sacred that I could sense everywhere.

She fingered the pearls around her neck as she spoke. “You did not have the language to express that. And the God of the churches was not big enough for you, their intimacy with Jeshua insufficient for you. What they presented to you was a moralizing, dead from the waist down Savior, a false Jesus. As so often happens when anything becomes institutionalized, symbolic truth comes to be presented as literal truth with an overlay of human projections that have their origins in fear.” She looked wistfully into the distance as she spoke.

The shadow of that still looms over me. I feel a basic sense of wrongness and disorientation.

The tone of her voice dropped low and the sound of it embraced me with compassion. “How old do you feel now when you speak of this?

“Eighteen, nineteen. Missing the sense of belonging that my family could give me. Missing the feeling of belonging that a language and a culture could give me. By losing all of that I woke up more and more to the reality of who God is. Meanwhile, as I sought a much needed support of a community, the sermons went something like this: you can feel secure because Jesus died for your sins and he secured your entry into heaven. While the Bible exhorts you hundreds of times not to be afraid, this not being afraid is reduced to not being afraid to propagate what the church says about baptism and creed.”

She kicked off her heels and I could see her toes move as she grew more excited. “Not to be afraid means not being afraid to live fully, to be yourself, to explore life, and to make mistakes. It is not being afraid to challenge those old rituals and their meaning. What is supposed to serve as a gentle reminder of your inherent divinity as a human being, such as the rituals of baptism and confirmation, have come to be presented as a literal requirement.

She was shaking her head in exasperation, a feeling I shared. A God who is unconditional love does not hand out so many demands to his children. Nothing can make holy what is already holy. Nothing can make sacred what is sacred already, and that means the whole universe, the good, the bad and the ugly. Can you see that it is possible that it is all part of God’s game plan?

Sure, but don’t we all need community. No man or woman is an island, a truth to themselves.

True, God is a sociable God, so he/she can be found in community. But God also speaks to you in the desert. I speak to you your isolation. What many people pursue in the world is mere illusion. The real is what you discover in your longing for me. It remains true that everything is hidden from the learned and the clever and revealed to mere children, or those who approach God with the heart of a wounded child.

Did Jeshua feel so alone in the Garden?

Her face had become flushed with concentration and her eyes shone a liquid blue. “He felt alone the way you feel alone. There was a depth in him and a knowing of divine and human realities. He lived from that depth, from that inner knowing that the he and God are one. He taught that not a single soul, no element of creation is outside that infinite love that is called God. That is why the religious authorities and the purist who think in black and white felt threatened. It made him deeply sad that what he had lived and taught was so misunderstood and perceived as blasphemy.

I wanted to sink into the infinite blue ocean of her eyes to relieve my own sadness. “I can live with the fact that no one sees me, that I am invisible, not even a teacher like Jesus was. But if only more people saw God in everything and everything in relation to God then I would not feel so alone.”

Yes. It is not that Jeshua wanted people to see him as a wise and gifted teacher, or God’s only son, but he wanted them to see with his eyes, hear with his ears, feel with his heart the Presence of God in everything and his unity with all that is. He was so convinced of that that he dared to call God intimately his Abba and invites all to do the same. It is what the authorities saw to be blasphemous. The churches still have not come to terms with that, the reality of all of us being both human and divine.

Fragments of a sentence that I read once floated through my mind. Tell me what you long for and I will tell you who you are. I said, “To hear you say that gives me so much joy. I long to live my fullest possible humanity in the intimate presence of God. I want to see love in everything even when my human judgement recoils at suffering.”

Her eyes grew serious. She must have seen that I was still puzzled by this mystery of Jeshua’s death. She continued. “People found the crucifixion absurd. So they made it into the myth of a dying and rising god who atoned for the evils in the world.”

I thought of my grandchildren and how their toys representing magic heroes kill off the bad guys.”Isn’t such a myth much more exciting than the truth? You find a scapegoat who is to blame for all the bad things in the world. Then some powerful hero is victorious, and we have nothing left to fear?

Only if you are a child and you cure your fears with magic ad your guilt by blaming others. But you have incarnated to discover that love does not only include joy and pleasure, but also pain and suffering and a willingness to go the distance. I see that in your love for your spouse, for your children, your friends.

I was quick to chime in as I wasn’t entirely ignorant and I could teach my soul something too. “Jesus death was the result of the ignorance of his enemies, the purists, those who think in black and white, those who insists on separating evil from good. When you separate evil from good, you are in danger of becoming evil yourself because it is your judgments that kill.”

My soul smiled at my sudden outburst. “You have learned a lot in earth school. As earthlings you learn to judge, separate good from evil. But in the realm where I am, the realm of God, there is no judgment. There is no punishment in God, there is no judgment in God, only infinite patience and forgiveness. All God is waiting for is for us to return Her love with awe and joy.  It is the created world that is ignorant of God’s absolute freedom and therefore judges and separates and projects their judgements on God. “

I thought about all the wrong turns I had taken, the times I had given in to despair. ” Jeshua’s crucifixion shows that even the biggest losers–if they embrace the good and the bad in their lives as soul-making–are the ones who discover that nothing can check-mate God.”

You discover, as Mary Magdalene did, that failure and death are not the end, but a passage way to a new way of being.

Our conversion was becoming a true exchange of learning. “I discovered that this new way does not happen after you die. That too, is a misconception that I had for a long time, one that is spread widely. This new way of being happens all the time in this life already to those who have struggled heroically and often desperately with adversity. You resurrect many times before you die because you fall into your own greatness when you have faced and endured the unthinkable.”

My soul could not resist correcting me a little. Perched on the edge of her seat she leaned closer to me. ” Jehsua was conscious of his Father’s presence in all of it, while perhaps you are not. You lose yourself in darkness and despair much more than He did. His body suffered, his psyche suffered a dark night of despair and abandonment. Still he never left God’s presence even for a nanosecond. So he really knew then what he had been teaching to others all along was true. That he and the Other were one. That there is no Other when you united to the One.

I knew that she was right, that she was reiterating my deepest truth. Still, I sputtered, “Yes, but don’t you see. So many people feel alone and confused and they would gladly turn to false promises, a false Jesus to escape the pain of feeling guilty and abandoned. If they can think that Jesus suffered for them and ensured heaven for them, they feel less afraid.”

By now, the radiant figure who sat across from me knew my weaknesses all too well. She crossed her long legs as she moved away from again. “Of course you can fall back into that earlier stage of faith whenever you feel overwhelmed with suffering. Then you no longer try and figure out things for yourself and you reach out for the consolations, true or false,  that are out there and ready made. Still, you must know that when you feel alone and separate and you feel abandoned by God that this saddens God because He or She would never abandon you. God always sees the astonishing radiance of your being even when you longer see it yourself. Your life and its meaning is something that you and God need to figure out together. The solutions are never ready made out there, because each person is a mystery.  When you live the questions, you will find the answers inside of you.

In some ways I know that, but more often than not I get angry when I see so much misery in the world, even when people are the cause of their own suffering. How can a loving Creator allow people to suffer like that?

A rage born of pain. However, you have discovered by now that it is by embracing these impossible challenges to your soul that you become the person that you are. You find God everywhere, even in your deepest pain. It is where your faith grows through fierce grace.

There was a long silence between us for a moment as I thought about what she said. A new pain rose up in me and I tried to put my finger on it. “That gives me new cross to bear, if you pardon me the expression. Now I am angry with those who present a false image of God, a God who watches and judges the world from afar. One who demands atonement through the death of Jesus. God the eternal threatenor, and Jesus always critiquing and moralizing. I wish such fundamentalists would stop spreading so called “good news” that is actually very bad news,

She clucked her tongue soothingly at my outburst. “Look at it this way. How many people could give you an accurate picture of a loving relationship or of a friendship that you have? Even your relationship to your most beloved always remains somewhat of a mystery that is hard to penetrate let alone explain to others. The suffering as well as the pure joy that you endure in a loving relationship defies explanation. Likewise, the more deeply you enter into a relationship with God and with me, the more unique and mysterious that relationship becomes. More is revealed to you and still it is hard to speak about it, so it remains hidden to others. It defies words so you have to keep silent about such things. You cannot speak of it because mere words can never do it justice. You can only light up with the knowledge of what that relationship means to you, whether that relationship is between God and humans, or between another. Any” I and Thou” relationship is a miracle. So be grateful of the relationship between Jeshua and you because it is unique to each human soul and cannot be repeated.

Her musings were throwing me off track. “So what you are saying is that it is better not to despair of those who have a mistaken image of God and who present a false image of Jesus.”

Each human being needs to walk their own path. There are those who need the scaffolding, the support of a church. Pray that they will turn their face toward a greater mystery that can never be contained in words and rituals. The divine cannot be contained in any group, any church, any religion, any ethnic community.

Then there are those who scoff at anything spiritual and live only in the material world. So much pain is caused to others and to the Earth as a result of the ignorance of those who are less conscious or unconscious of that bigger Reality that remains invisible to those who do not have eyes to see it.

You and others like you have not yet been able to set down deep grooves and habits to support in word and ritual the Christ consciousness that is yours. Therefore what you do appears small and insignificant compared to what traditional institutions are offering the world. But do not let that discourage you. Jeshua is with you always.

Remember how Peter talked about Mary Magdalene:

“How is it possible that the teacher talked in this manner to a woman about secrets which we ourselves are ignorant? Must we change our customs and listen to this woman?”

Own that then. God reveals things anew in every intimate relationship with each and every human being and every human community that seeks sincerely to know him.

As my soul was about to disappear from my vision, I remembered the words of Jeshua.” I will not leave you orphaned. I will send you a comforter and he will be the spirit and truth.” Or something of that nature.

Grateful that my soul had taken the time to comfort me while allowing me to share myself with her in a truly cooperative relationship, I stared at the empty chair that only a few minutes ago had been filled with light. I was surprised how the darkness in my heart had receded and given way to that same radiance. Then I noticed that today was Easter morning.

Dialogue with my Soul: Easter

Chapter Twenty-Six: Readiness

Go to Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-Six: Readiness.

Never had I seen an orange dress like this before. Burnt orange. It wasn’t my color, but my soul wore it very well. But then, what didn’t she wear well. The translucent white skin showed off beautifully against the silky fabric.  Her shoes were a shade of earth and her eyes the color of the sky.

Talking about death and disability had left me depressed. I wanted to continue our conversation from last time.  After my eyes had adjusted to her brilliance, I plunged right in. “I know you want me to sit with the unknown. But I cannot help but speculate.”

She looked at me with that dazzling gaze I had learned to tolerate a little. “Why is that?”

About to drown in her eyes, not to mention the melodious voice, I stammered, “Because I want to know what my attitude should be. Shall I prepare for my death, or should I prepare to live to be one hundred and twenty as the medical profession is predicting life-expectancy will be soon.”

You can do that.

Still trembling a little with the aftershock of finding her so nearby, I said, “But that would mean I could live another forty-five years in this body that moans and croaks already under the weight of too many lives.”

You can never have too many lives. Earth school is a great privilege and opportunity to learn. Angels fight over the chance to be here.  You are never so fully enlightened as when you know who you are and why you are here on earth. 

I had my doubts as to why angels would want to live on earth, but I wasn’t about to argue. Instead I shot back, “How many people even question why they are here and who they are at their core.  Mostly, they grow up, work hard, surround themselves with stuff and hope to retire eventually to a life of ease and comfort before they die. That’s about it.”

Yes. But if you were to retire at say, sixty-five years old, and you had another sixty or so to go. Then you really would begin to ask yourself who you really are, why you are here, and what your role is in this magnificent universe.

But that’s just it. When I was young I was told that the world was overpopulated and humanity was making a horrendous demand on the earth’s resources. In spite of those grave concerns, those threats have increased and not diminished in my lifetime. Now I am just tired and don’t know where to go from here. I would gladly check myself out from this planet before I have to witness a series of global disasters.

She raised an inquiring brow. “You are speculating now. But let’s go with it.”

She was on to me, so I lowered my gaze.  “I have learned that if I depend on my head to figure it all it, I either do not get it, or keep going around in circles, or I get it wrong and then I am surprised that things work out eventually for the best despite my fears.”

So at the ripe old age of seventy, you are still learning?

All the time. I cannot stand to be around people who are not open to new possibilities.

You do not like Pollyanna attitudes either.

New age optimism makes me vomit. Still, I have learned in my personal life that no matter how bad things get, something new and creative and unimaginably great comes out of it.

I could see that she was enjoying our conversation.  She leaned back and crossed her legs with a flurry of rustling silk. “You know how dying is often compared to the process of being born. You are told that you do not know what is out there while you are in the womb, but when you emerge you enter a world that you could never have imagined before. Well, it is like that even with the many little deaths that you experience during your life.  Each time your life falls apart and you let it, you come out into a new world that defies your imagination.”

A world that defies my imagination, I like that. If I were to live a few more decades I would like it to be in a world that blows my mind, literally.  But from the predictions of many scientists, what will defy our imaginations is the disasters that are waiting on us if we do not heed their warnings about the destruction of the natural environment.

The pitfalls of linear thinking. You notice how these scientists leave out the possibilities of love and connection and learning and wisdom, all qualities of the heart and of unity and linking. They do not see how thousands of lights are ignited one at a time in human hearts all over the globe.  Like when it gets dark in the evening and the lights get turned on one at a time until the whole city is dotted with lights. They do not see how individuals are transforming the darkness inherited from past lives into the gold of strength and wisdom and power. They fail to see the passion of men and women everywhere who seek humbly and walk steadily. If you leave that out, you cannot but despair about the future of humanity and of the earth.

A light bulb went on in my head and I could not wait to tell her. “I have come to see that the mythical idea that Jeshua came to save the world does not do justice to what he really came to do.  I now see that it is the new consciousness that he ignited along with Buddha and other enlightened ones, the consciousness that burns in the hearts of so many people. That will be the salvation of the world.

She nodded. “Christ consciousness.  But remember that no two people will be making the same contribution that process. Your friends may be on an entirely different track, as their gifts are as unique to them as yours are to you.

I get what you are saying. The reason that I am here, whether I live another day or another forty-five years is to bring my unique light to my little dark corner of the world, while honoring as best as I can the light of others whether what they do makes sense to me or not.

Yes, without judgment. 

I have learned that the hard way. I thought because I was on a spiritual track I was right and others were wrong. Now I realize that ideas of right and wrong are part of a dualistic view.

You need not fight so hard against old, entrenched institutions.  Old structures will either change for the better or collapse altogether. Just feel strongly about where you stand and do not waste your energy in battles that you cannot win.

One thing my life also taught me is that things change eventually.  For example, women have rights now that they could not even dream of a few decades ago. And those who do not have rights know that they are entitled to more than what they are getting.  Unfortunately, I also see how women are using their powers either to set themselves above men, or co-opt in structures that follow the norms set by men.

So what you have experienced is that you need to balance the masculine and feminine in yourself and inspire others to do the same. Isn’t that enough reason to go on living a few more years at least?

But don’t you see. It took decades before a difference in women’s rights or the rights of minorities were  noticeable, and we still have a long way to go especially in religious institutions. It also took a long time before people began to see the need to cherish their natural environment and in the meantime I see all kinds of excesses, such as putting the welfare of puppies and pigs above justice for the poor and exploited countries.

As I said, the agenda of others may not coincide with what you think is most important and everyone is on their own continuum of growth and development. Culture wars are real and will continue for quite some time.  Do not concern yourself so much with that.  Stand firm in your own values and be open to learn, even if it means to standing up for who you are.

What I am is vulnerable and afraid.  People say that death is a mystery, but to me it is life that is the most mysterious. Most people do not even know me other than my statistics, like what work that I do, to whom I am married and so on. The do not know the real me. I feel I do not even belong to this world.

Many people feel as you do.  Those who belong to an ethnic group, a church, or those who embrace a certain ideology or life style have a sense of belonging. But many more people have gotten in touch with their soul’s unique calling, as you are doing with me, and they feel as if they are strangers in this world. They often live in an environment where like-minded people are hard to find.  They still find themselves in  a pioneering role. They are willing to sacrifice their need to belong in order to find pathways to wider and deeper connections with many more people. That takes discipline. However, it is also what makes you strong and sure-footed despite the solitude.  Or perhaps because of it, because solitary people often have great depth and can connect to others with the same depth.

“That is it. That is where I recognize you,” I said, surprised that my voice had turned into a whisper.  I felt duly humbled.

From where I stand forty-five years is only a blink of an eye.  All these things that worry you so much,  a more extended life-expectancy, impending natural disasters, impossible culture wars, collapsing institutions, these things are just props in the process of soul-making. Remember the old saying, “Humans are children of Light and out of darkness they have found their inheritance.”

I love that. I want to believe it very much.  No, I actually know that it is true.

She had come to remind me of that, in her dress of burnt orange and eyes as blue as the depths of the ocean. I still could not look at her for any length of time.  Luckily, she never stayed very long.

But then again, it was not so lucky.  I always missed her when she left.

Like waking up from a dream and being plunged right back into a world where I felt like an outsider.

Chapter Twenty-Six: Readiness

Chapter Twenty-Five: Aging

Go to Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-five: Aging

I was aghast when my soul appeared to me next. The thin grey material of her dress could not hide the bony shoulders and bumpy knees. She had dark circles around her eyes and her usually beautiful face was lined with wrinkles. Her hair hung limp around her face. Instead of a row of pearly white teeth, she had only a few crooked ones protruding between her skinny lips. Her eyes were dull and there was nothing in them that reminded me of the way they were in her earlier visits.

I held back a gasp and when I found the words, they came out louder than I meant to sound. “You are free and unlimited. You find joy in emerging from the One and becoming visible on earth in a human body, but why would you come to me looking like this?”

I want to explore every kind of earthly form. For hundreds of elderly people life is burdensome. Many old people are overwhelmed by suffering and even if they believe in God, She seems terribly far away. By stepping into this wholeheartedly, I can feel your emotions, have your thoughts, and experience your attitude toward life in an elderly, failing body.

But I hate it.

So does most everyone else.

I wished I could feel your joy rather than to feel lost and confused and irritated and annoyed, always trying to be happy despite the infirmities, the pain and discomfort.

Persevere.  Never doubt God’s infinite possibilities. Human beings have a zillion chances to get it right.

What does that mean, ‘getting it right.’

It means creating goodness, beauty and truth wherever you are and whatever your state of mind.

Now you sound like Ken Wilber

She chuckled and her bad teeth were even more obvious. Still, I could detect some light emanating from her face despite the wrinkles.  Her voice was an attempt at dry humor. “Even philosophers hold up some aspect of the truth at times”

My sense of humor had been fading along with the rest of me. I felt ornery most of the time. “I had no objection to being elderly as long as I was decades away from it. Now when I see people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and I think, “Soon, I will be one of ‘them’.”

She ignored my whining and continued. “Living in a world of fear and denial of soul make it very difficult to hold on to that Light of goodness and beauty and truth. Still that is where transformation happens. It is a creative process of persistent faith and trust and love within the most difficult circumstances.  It is not as if  you haven’t been tested before.

I turned my face away so I would not see her crooked smile.  “I was taught that aging, illness, and dying are the result of sin. Some days it feels that way.”

When the body declines and you cannot be as active as you were before, some of your early childhood indoctrination rears its their ugly head.  It is harder to be true to your self and not buy into the lies that others have been telling you.  But I tell you this is the time to really counteract the false beliefs of your childhood not by outward actions but by revisiting those beliefs, seeing how harmful they were and surrounding them with your gentle light. 

When I was visiting people who were dying I would encourage them to feel safe in the arms of God.  Unfortunately, often some zealous chaplain would remind me that human beings were separate from God and sinful.

Freedom of religion often means that the moralist have the loudest voices. But do not despair. The humble shall inherit the earth. The moralists have had their day.

Modern science also tells us that illness and aging is failure to do the things that would keep us healthy and forever young.

The choices you face are more complex to be sure because the advances in medical science, energy healing and all forms of healing have to be taken into consideration.  People live and stay healthy longer than before.  That is why people who face health challenges often feel they have failed. They think they could have avoided a certain illness or there should have been a cure for it already. Still, you cannot wait for a culture obsessed with youth to cherish the elderly. When old people value themselves, when they keep evolving even if that transformation  is taking place in a way that the world often fails to  see, new grooves are put down for the next generation of elderly to follow.

I have trouble striking the right note. Disregarding the reality of aging and dying is one of the ways people lie to themselves. However, identifying with one’s aches and pains and weaknesses and creating stories around it seems to me to be a boring alternative.

When an illness and its symptoms take up so much of your attention, it is easy to become preoccupied with the symptom and you may lose touch with your higher Self.   Aging, like illness offers you an opportunity to reveal your unique character.  I find great joy in manifesting in your body no matter what its infirmities. I will marvel in you through the way you decline in the same way I rejoiced in the way you were born and matured into adulthood.

I was perking my ears now. “Knowing this makes me feel less of a failure.  The elderly so often seem sad and resigned or confused, or angry or bitter. I wished I could radiate joy in my old age the way I did when I was a child. It came so natural to me then.”

You also notice among the elderly the briefest of smiles, the quick exchanged glances between spouses or life-long friends that reveal in a flash decades of love and connection and loyalty. It is not the innocent smile of a baby, but it is the wizened expression of a love and light that has endured through the trials and tribulations of a long life.   Such a light in the eyes, almost imperceptible at times, reveals the knowing of a soul that has traveled another long journey through the human world.  Even when the eyes are filled with sadness, it is the expression of pain and disappointment and loss that needs to be treasured.  

Perhaps I, too, am buying into societies norms that everyone needs to be happy and smiling and enjoying life at all times. The elderly do not seem to comply with that. Their humor often seems contrived.

It takes courage to get old.  To find a balance between receiving and giving, between surrendering and struggling, between accepting help and being as independent as possible.  It is a wonderful challenge to me, your soul.

“I fail to find meaning in it, all these people supported by wheelchairs and walkers and bath lifts, when once these same bodies ran marathons or skated or danced, and now to be burdened by the extra weight from lack of exercise and mobility.” I stopped, noticing again her skinny appearance, then I added, “Or worse, to feel the painful chaffing when your bones press down against the bed.”

You will embrace it when you have to, knowing that the way in which I am old, wise, learned, and experienced has come through many incarnations into a human body. If I was brave enough to be born into a human body, I have the courage to be in it in an elderly form. 

I felt little comfort.  She was trying to show me what it was like to be a soul hidden in a human body. It need not always be all smiles and radiance; it was okay to be sad and depressed at times also.  Like the weather and the seasons, there was change and unpredictability.

What makes me depressed and fearful is my wanting to include every possibility, dementia, Alzheimer’s, serious stroke, diabetic failure, I have seen it all in people that I deeply cared about. Having seen all this, how can I surrender to the divine in trust and equanimity?

She looked at me tenderly. “You always do things wholeheartedly but you cannot know the future. Try to be more optimistic. “

I have experienced what it is like to be completely forgotten. I am not looking forward to having that happen as I get old.

But you do remember that those times when you felt the most lost and abandoned also happened to be the times that you felt the most found after you came through the  tunnel, the long dark night, and you were taken up in the feeling that all is One. Such times you knew that loss was impossible.  

A light bulb went off in my head. “That’s why it has been said by sages that Jeshua rose from the dead before he died. He experienced his immortal divinity during his struggle in the Gethsemane, and before he took up his cross.”

What happened next reminded me of a scene on Mount Tabor in which the disciples fell to ground when Jeshua ‘s divine nature was revealed to them.  As if my soul was shedding a coat, the skeletal figure dropped to the floor, and only the impossible to describe beauty of a dazzling young  queen remained. She was all translucent white luminosity.  I put my hand over my eyes to protect them against the powerful light that emanated from my soul. Here she was, my divine nature, willing to embrace all of the things that I dreaded the most. How could I ever have any doubts or fears when I was to remain aware of my own radiance?

When I found my voice, my tone was apologetic. “I will forget time and again, and then I will remember, however dimly.”

You will remember. I will remind you. And also think of this when you look at those struggling figures with walkers and in wheelchairs that they, too, fail to see the infinite radiance of their own being.

Now I really felt uplifted. I always tried to see the sick and elderly as manifestations of the divine. I just needed a little more support to keep up this attitude, especially now when I was getting there myself.

All was good and right with the world after all. I just needed a little shift in perspective.

“Thank you,” I whispered to the empty spot in the room from where my soul had disappeared from sight.

But then again, she was always still here. She was me, and I was her.

Go to Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Five: Aging