For it is not by chance but through the purposes of a divine source, that each soul may become aware of its relationships to the Creator, and through the relationships with the individuals put into the growth of the soul that as may make it worthy of living, dwelling, abiding within the presence of that which is holy.
-- Edgar Cayce reading 1965-1
Jolted out of dead sleep, I heard a thud. Or something. It sounded like, felt like, something had dropped. I sat bolt upright in bed. “What was that?” (Maybe I said it aloud, I’m not certain.) My husband was out cold. I scanned the shadow-laden room. Nothing out of place. The bright red-light digits radiating from the clock told me it was five a.m. (I felt like I’d just gone to bed!) Awake now, I slipped out of bed and loped into the bathroom. As I finished washing my hands, I felt someone else’s hands land tenderly but deliberately on my shoulders. It was a sturdy touch, but one that was could be easily relinquished. Yet, I knew there was no one else in the room! (My husband would definitely have said something.)
Suddenly overwhelmed with a prickly, irrational fear, I turned slightly, while my heart pummeled the inside of my chest. I hoped to see nothing and no one. My hopes were realized; I saw no one. And, I felt no one. (Oh, there had been some-one or some-thing!) Fear had intruded. Whoever or whatever it was … was gone. Feeling the cool of the early fall morning, I mopped my still wet hands, then slunk back to the bedroom. Sliding under the covers, I snuggled close to my husband, for sheer security. Feeling safe again, I reviewed what had happened: 1) I had definitely felt firm yet gentle hands on my shoulders. 2) It was a gesture of affirmation. 3) It was … was it …a harbinger of spiritual presence?
About five hours later, as I sat in my bedside chair preparing for a class I would teach that afternoon, I decided to take a break. I called to check on our pregnant birthmother. She was due to give birth any day to the baby for whom she had made an adoption plan through a professional adoption agency, and had chosen my husband and me to be her baby’s parents.
When I phoned, she was still sleeping. I spoke with her mom. “Doing fine,” she said, “but we had a jolt this morning around five a.m.—her first labor pains!”
When I rang off, I couldn’t help remembering my experience from 5 a.m. There was no question in my mind now that it had been some sort of contact from or about the child we took home just over two days later as our very own son, from a hospital that was about an hour’s drive northwest of where we lived at the time.
Six and a half years later, when our family of three relocated an hour’s drive northwest, we engaged a new pediatrician. He was very personable. He shared with us that he and his wife had also adopted children, two boys. (One of them was just our son’s age.) Although we so appreciated this soft-spoken, kind, and professionally thorough pediatrician, our insurance changed hands and that meant a change of medical clinics, and of course, doctors.
We established a relationship with the hospital in our new town. It was where we regularly encountered members of our congregation in those vulnerable moments when questions of physical health also become moments for personal and spiritual reflection. Oddly, it took us well into our first year there to realize that the first time we had been in that same hospital was when our son had been born.
After some two years of living into our new ministry setting and getting to know the leaders of our congregation, I had a conversation with our son’s birthmother and birth grandmother at our kitchen table. Birth grandmother, an LPN, told stories of working with doctors who used our local hospital where we consoled patients from our congregation. I named a leader in our congregation who was also a prominent OB/GYN at that same hospital. Recognizing the name of the doctor, birth grandmother remarked matter-of-factly, “Oh, yeah…” he was the OB/GYN who delivered our son!
Between services at church the very next Sunday, I sat at “coffee hour” with “Doc” (as the folks in church called him) and recounted the particulars of my birth grandmother conversation. My punchline: “And guess who delivered our son? – You did!” He whooped and laughed out loud, sporting the widest grin I’d ever seen on his face, before or since. Our shared joy was palpable!
Later, on a field trip with my son, I met another mother who was to become my dearest friend. She and her husband were raising two adopted sons. Her husband (with a different surname) was a pediatrician. One night, when our kids were still fifth graders, we went to their home for dinner. My friend’s husband answered the door. There before us stood our son’s first “up northwest” pediatrician, the one whose services we’d had to vacate because of insurance changes! In the ensuing years, the four of us became close friends as couples – something not likely to have happened, had our insurance not changed.
Such “spiritual connections” across time and space have truly characterized our relationships—with our son, with our shared ministry in our “northwest metro” church, with its surrounding community, and with our journey to uncover our greater purpose in life—as individuals, as parents, and as a family.
The cosmology of the Edgar Cayce readings offers us the proposition that we, as souls, journey through more than one physical and mental life in the Earth. Clothed in successively different bodies that vary in gender, race, environment, culture, and life-experience, we nonetheless learn as we go. It is the supposition of the Cayce readings that our job is to integrate all those experiences as stations along a longer way that lead us “home” to the source from which we first came, as souls. At the core of that “home,” of that source, is the primal power of pure love.
For [the Holy One] hath not willed that any soul should perish, but has with each temptation given a way, a manner, a means through which a soul may know in patience, in time, in space, its closer relationships to those Creative Forces.
-- Edgar Cayce reading 1965-1
Despite the fears I faced as I stood at the bathroom sink that morning our son began his sojourn in this life, I came to honor that experience, and innumerable others, as beautiful affirmations of our relationships across time, space, and patience. We are connected spiritually, especially with those we love. In the oft-frustrating dimension of patience, I continue to excavate just what all that wandering around in time and space together means, to me. And, I struggle daily with the alchemical process of purging fear from the holy chalice of pure love.
Fear [is] the greatest bugaboo to the human elements, for in fear comes those conditions that destroy that vitality of that assimilated. To overcome fear, so fill the mental forces with that of the creative nature as to cast out fear; for he, or she, that is without fear is free indeed, and perfect love casteth out fear.
-- Edgar Cayce reading 5439-1