Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The physical environment

So far I've spent a lot of time discussing our individual paths and choices as we travel along the reincarnational journey. I've pretty much focused solely on personal events and lifetimes, but they are each just single facets of our multi-faceted world. With this post, I'd like to introduce the concept of our collective conscious.

While we are each individual and separate in our waking lives, on the subconscious level nothing is further from the truth. In this physical life we walk alone, but in our sleeping lives, and in the intervals between our physical lives, we are totally connected. Just as we have an inner circle of entities who make up our closely related groups or families, we are also part of the much larger outer group whose focus is not on the individual experience, but the overall environment in which we function and have those experiences.

So, while we decide individually who will do what in each lifetime so that we can each undertake our personal learning paths, as a group, we decide on the type of environment we will journey through. This environment is not only the physical world, but the technology of that world as well.

There are deserts, oceans, mountains, glaciers, plains, boreal forests, and rain forests in every possible combination and/or permutation imaginable. Yet all people are basically the same. Yes, we have some obvious cosmetic physical differences, but overall, we are generally the same type of being no matter which environment we inhabit. So, with just a few adjustments in how we clothe it, our physical body is capable of adapting to almost any environment the earth has to offer. This adds a myriad of choices to the type of life and experience we can choose.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Twists in the path

It's interesting how your focus and beliefs mature and change over your lifetime. Although the basic tenets haven't changed for me for a very long time, life's experiences have shown me the finer details and the intricate workings of the very complex world we've created and exist within. Many things that were abstract ideas in the beginning are now firmly entrenched as truths.

What never fails to surprise me is how life pushes you along paths you never intended to travel. The last couple of years have been difficult ones for me personally, and as I struggle to find my new 'normal', I find instead that the Universe is very firmly plotting my path away from the future I was sure of and into a realm completely unexpected (and I might add, undesired) at least on a conscious level.

Lately it seems that I've been experiencing the same lesson over and over and frankly, it's getting a bit tiresome. I'd like to think that I'm not obtuse, but this time I haven't a clue what the point is and where it's leading. It's getting easier to understand how people sometimes get 'lost' on their journey.

I'm actually in awe of those people who are risk takers - the ones who suddenly do a complete turn around and follow their heart to a new and self-fulfilling place. This often happens after a major life event - perhaps a brush with death or the loss of a loved one, or maybe just a sense of time running out and a need to complete all the tasks on the 'bucket list'. Whatever the cause, my hat is off to those who can and do.

The important thing is to recognize a major shift in the plan when it happens and not be afraid to find out where it leads. When life's path takes an unexpected and/or unpleasant twist, we need to remember that in spite of the fact that it appears to be chaos, everything in life eventually does and will make perfect sense, even if it isn't the road we always thought we'd travel.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Choosing the path

While it's important to pay attention to the signs and symbols that punctuate your life, it's also important that you not spend all your time waiting for a sign that you're making the right choice or doing the right thing. The symbolism in life is highly individual and often can't be interpreted by anyone but you and not until much after the time it happens. How then can you know you're following the right path for you?

When I've made major decisions in my life, occasionally I've found that there is a force that pushes me in a direction that I probably would not have chosen when it happened, but later turns out to be exactly right. It's hard not to push back when this occurs, especially when you're certain you're doing what you really want. If the decision you make is not aligned with the path you've chosen for this life, it will become a difficult (but usually not impossible) path to travel. The reason I say not impossible, is because we always have free will, which gives us the option of following a different path, although it may be at our own peril. On a few stubborn occasions, I've forced something to happen in spite of the fact that the choice I'm making is fraught with roadblocks and difficulties. An example of this that almost everyone can identify with is the forging of relationships.

We all know of someone who has forced a relationship when it was apparent that it would not and most likely could not work. People are social animals and it's natural for them to crave companionship, love and acceptance from others and especially from a mate. However, some people are so determined to be in relationship, that they ignore the warnings of their inner self and steadfastly cling to the wrong partner, even long after they've admited to themselves that the relationship is a mistake.

For any major life decison, whether it's buying a house, choosing a mate, changing jobs, whatever - if we've made the right choice, we'll experience minimal inner turmoil or regret, the path will have little or no resistance and things will just naturally 'fall' into place.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Signs and symbols

Throughout our lives we encounter signs and symbols that give us clues as to why things happen, or gently "push" us in the direction that most aligns with our chosen path. Free will gives us the option of acting on those signs, or ignoring them. Case in point would be my friend who unintentionally found a house she saw often in her dreams, but chose not to pursue what meaning it might have for her in this life. (See my post of February 14, 2010, Affinity, for the entire story.)

Sometimes the signs and/or symbolism simply eludes us because we're so embroiled in the physical and emotional aspects of a situation that we totally miss them. This really became clear to me when I was writing the last series of posts. It's been over 20 years since I met Celia and more than 12 years since I lost my loved one, but it was only now, during the writing of the series of posts about Celia, that I was hit with the symbolism of The Littlest Hobo (the tv program Celia and I watched together faithfully). How ironic that the program we enjoyed together so much was about a dog who came into people's lives just long enough to make a positive difference, then moved on - exactly what Celia did for me!

Our inner self will sometimes provide signs of what's to come, often through dreams or events that offer us little clues. Unfortunately, we often make the mistake of writing off these signs as "coincidence". Over the years I've come to the conclusion that there really aren't any coincidences and that what seem like random events when they occur, actually make perfect sense later when viewed in retrospect.

Of course, that's probably where we got the saying that hindsight is 20/20...

Friday, March 5, 2010

A season and a reason - final instalment

Summer 1998 - 8 years later.

For the past 2 years a close family member had been receiving treatments for a malignant tumor. I knew the illness was serious, but I had been assured the treatments would be successful. Unfortunately, the Universe had other plans. In early August I received a call asking me to come home right away, the treatments had failed and time was fast running out.

In no time at all, I was on the road.

At 42 years old, I wasn't a stranger to the loss of loved ones, but my sadness at the passing of a friend or relative had always been tempered by the firm belief system I'd developed over many years of study and research. I had never doubted that we would meet in other times in other lives. But now, faced with the loss of an immediate family member who I loved dearly and who's time was far too soon, the doubts began to creep in.

I was experiencing a crisis of faith.

This illness and impending death was so senseless, such an unfair waste of a precious young life, that I questioned everything I'd ever believed. The world held so many people of so many faiths - could I really be sure that mine was right? Did I really know that there was an afterlife and this was not the end? In my secret heart, I knew that I didn't. My grief and disbelief were such that I could not believe on faith alone. I simply couldn't let him go because I didn't know for certain that there was anywhere to go to.

As each day brought us closer to the inevitable, my turmoil became worse. My heart was heavy and my faith was shattered, but I did what I had to do. We made sure that a family member was at the hospital 24 hours a day, and each day I took my shift, torn between my determination to be there and my need to run as far away as I could.

At the time I was still a smoker, so when the nurses needed the family out of the room for a few minutes, I would go outside to have my cigarette. It was a windy afternoon and as I struggled to light my cigarette, my mind was racing with questions and fears and doubt. I had my face to the wall as I lit a third match and tried again. "DAMMITT!" I exclaimed in frustration as a puff of wind extinguished yet another tiny flame. I threw the match on the ground impatiently and ripped another from the folding match book.

It was then that I heard a woman speaking with a strong Acadian French accent say, "You have to face into the wind".

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" I asked as I turned around to face the speaker.

The hairs on the nape of my neck stood straight up and for a moment I forgot to breathe. The elderly woman looking up at me was dwarfed by the wheel chair that held her. She had shoulder length snow white hair and her right leg was elevated and swathed in bandages. But what held my gaze and had stolen my breath was the swatch of white gauze taped tightly over her left eye.

"If you want to light your cigarette, you have to face INTO the wind", she repeated.

I started to stammer a reply, but had barely managed to say thank you when she maneuvered her wheel chair around and rolled away to join some other older ladies who were gathered together nearby.

I finally remembered to breathe again and managed to light my cigarette on the first try. My mind was racing at this impossible coincidence. The woman was not Celia, but the unique physical likeness was so compelling that I couldn't doubt who had sent her. And if Celia had sent her, then there was indeed somewhere to go when one left this world.

My sister had come looking for me and appeared at my side a few moments later. "Look over by that wall" I said quietly, motioning in the direction the woman had gone.

My sister's eyes widened in surprise, "It's Celia!".

Relief flooded over me, it wasn't my imagination, or a hallucination, someone else could see her too.

"No, not Celia", I replied, "but a message from Celia".

Then I crushed my cigarette and with quiet deliberation, opened the hospital door and walked INTO the wind.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A season and a reason - part 4

This is the 4th of a 5 part series of posts that disclose my personal experience with the familiar saying: 'when someone comes into your life for a season, there's always a reason.'

I wasn't with Celia when she died.

In fact, if Celia's former roomate, Mary, hadn't called to let me know, I wouldn't have found out until my next visit to the hospital, or maybe through the newspaper obituaries. The 18 months that I spent developing a caring relationship with Celia counted for nothing; I wasn't family, so no one was obligated, or had even bothered, to notify me when she died.

Her obituary was short and non-descript. Except for Bert and his nephew, no other family members were named. I made note of where her body was resting and the hours for visitation, then closed the newspaper with a sigh.

On the appointed visitation day I left work early and went alone to visit Celia for the last time. The funeral home was silent and eeriely deserted. Not even an employee was anywhere to be seen. I walked into the room where her body rested, but no one was there to greet me.

I stood beside the casket and stared down at her. It was obvious that her bright print dress was brand new and had never been worn before. There was a rosary wrapped in her fingers and I smiled when I saw the only piece of jewellery she wore - the bangle bracelet I'd bought her for Christmas. The pain lines that had been etched into her face the last time I saw her were now smoothed away, and with her eyes closed gently as if sleeping, she no longer needed to wear the gauze bandage over her missing left eye. "Nothing can hurt you now," I whispered as I turned away. On the way out, I picked up a pen to sign the guest book. There was only one other name there, which I recognized as Bert's nephew.

As I climbed into my truck to head home, I wondered again how and why I'd been drawn into this unhappy saga. Why had I been destined to be so deeply involved in the final days of a tiny woman named Celia? She was simply a stranger who had come into my life, almost against my will, stayed a short season and changed me completely.

It would be 8 more years before I knew the reason.

To be continued....

Monday, March 1, 2010

A season and a reason - part 3

This is part 3 in what will be a 5 part story about an elderly woman I met quite by accident and her incredible impact on my life. To better understand how I came to know Celia and what lead to this point in the story, I hope you've read my last 2 posts.

I went straight to the hospital after work, stopping at the gift shop for a small bouquet and then at the information desk for directions to Celia's room. She was on the third floor and Bert was sitting right next to her when I entered her room. He looked at me gratefully and asked me if I'd stay with her while he took a smoke break. I nodded and settled into the chair next to her bed. Celia was barely aware of my presence, but she squeezed my hand when I said hello.

The cancer that had taken her eye a few years earlier was now invading her entire body. I had known for a while that she wasn't feeling well, but not being family, the nursing home was not obligated to disclose her physical condition to me when the cancer returned. Her pain was obvious. I stayed as long as I could, then sadly headed home.

For the next week I went straight to the hospital each night after work. Bert was always there, ever vigilent, powerless to help her, but holding her hand all the way. From my perspective, their violent history faded into nothingness and I marvelled at his love and loyalty. Celia's health deteriorated quickly, and she became unaware of her surroundings and her body was wracked by constant pain. I'd hold her tightly as she moaned and I'd wait impatiently for a nurse to bring Celia's next dose of morphine, which I knew would give her a short respite from the agony.

One evening near the end, the attending nurse brought the morphine in a tiny paper cup and lifted Celia's head to administer the dose orally. As I watched most of the precious drug dribble down Celia's chin due to her inability to swallow, I totally lost my cool. "Bring her another dose!" I demanded. "She hardly got any of that one and it's not going to last the 4 hours." The nurse shook her head, the doctor's orders were one dose every 4 hours, there would be no more til then. I'm normally a calm person, but this time I just lost it. "PLEASE BRING HER MORE NOW!" I said emphatically, "are you afraid she's going to get addicted or what! She's dying for Christ's sake, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU??"

The nurse looked at me coldly and her tone was icy, "who are you?" she asked, knowing full well that I was a simply a volunteer from the nursing home. "If you say another word, I'll have you banned from visiting. You're not family and you have no rights here". With that, the nurse turned her back on us and strode out of the room. I knelt down and took Celia in my arms. She was so tiny and the pain was immense. With each wave of pain her body shook like a rag doll.

With tears of frustraton streaming down my face I held her tightly and cursed whatever power had set this thing in motion. What the hell was I doing here, holding a stranger in my arms and trying to ease her pain? How had I become entangled in this mess? I knew nothing about medical matters or health care, I'd never seen anyone die, and this was certainly not of my choosing. I railed at the gods for setting this woman in my path.

I was helpless and the situation was hopeless.

To be continued....