I eagerly read all of Shirley MacLaine's books, happy to once again delve into the spiritual side of my existence, concentrating mostly on further understanding my relationship with the world and the higher being.
Through my exposure to Christian Science, I had learned to think in terms of a "Father-Mother" God, a much more benevolent and loving entity than the one I had originally discovered in the Bible when I was a child. I had stopped believing in Heaven and Hell entirely and was now firmly convinced that if there was an afterlife, reincarnation was the only logical and plausible possiblity. Conversely, if there was no afterlife and everything simply ended with death, then it didn't much matter what I believed...
Unlike the organized religions to which I'd been exposed over the years, I had no problem reconciling God with reincarnation. The two weren't mutually exclusive in my mind. I considered God a sort of safety net - a sounding board if you will, that helped me along and showed me the way when I was lost or unsure. My genderless God didn't judge, but rather provided guidance, not unlike a loving parent. I leaned on my God's help, prayed every night and gave thanks for all that I had.
The miracles of life were my children. I was in total awe that my body had produced these perfect tiny humans. When my first daughter was born, a love that I had never experienced before simply materialized along with her. From the time I was a very young child I had been a pacifist - I would always turn the other cheek and walk away from violence or conflict of any type. Now, for the first time in my life I understood that if my child was threatened, I wouldn't back down, I would fight to the death and beyond if I had to for her. When she was 16 months old, I became pregnant with my second child. For most of the nine months that I awaited her arrival, I worried that I wouldn't have enough love for 2 children because I had already given it all to the first. I soon discovered my fears were groundless, because when my second daughter was placed in my waiting arms a few minutes after her birth, the love I had to give instantly doubled.
Up to this point in my life, I firmly believed that an idividual's personality was largely influenced by his or her environment. Now with 2 daughters 25 months apart, born into the same environment, the product of the same parents, and logic dictating that they should be alike, I soon discovered just how wrong I was.
My girls were entirely different beings from the moment they were born. Individual traits and personalities were already there and well developed. The oldest was a worrier from the get go. From the time she could talk we couldn't take a Sunday drive without her asking if the we had enough gas, or if we were lost, or if we knew where we are right now. She clearly understood and worried about the ramifications of making a mistake and we had no clue how she came by this trait. The second child was totally different and could care less where we were going or how we got there, as long as we had fun when we arrived. I was astounded at their differences because I had made a point from the very beginning of making a structured, fair and pretty much identical environment for them both. Clearly, somehow they had developed their base personalities without our help, which implies that something else had shaped the people they were. Due to this, my belief in reincarnation became even more firmly entrenched.
While I never experienced any actual past life idicators with either of my girls, at about this same time one of my first cousins also had a young daughter who was 3 or 4 years old. One afternoon as the little girl played with her toys, she casually said to her mother, "I wasn't always your little girl. I had another mommy once." Nonplused by this, my cousin asked, "Oh?". "Yes" said the little one, "but I died at the playground, and then I came here and now you're my mommy".
This type of unsolicited reference to past lives is said to be common in children. They often see and experience things that we adults have been trained to filter out. If children are told often enough that they don't see something, or that they are lying when they describe an experience we don't know about, they'll eventually stop seeing and remembering those things too, thus burying any memories of previous existence. I believe that in our very early years we often have clear memories of other lives we have lived, but because we have to get on with the current 'focus' life, those experiences lie dormant in our minds for most of our lives, until something triggers one and we have a past life memory.