In response to reading David Copperfield, yesterday, a deep conversation ensued about dreams, spirits, souls and beliefs. A student said to me, “Mrs. Carbone, can I ask you a question?” Which seemed like a rhetorical question because I encourage them always to ask me anything– to provide a forum for them to work out their thinking in hopes of formulating ideas. “Of course,” is what I responded to her. She added, “Well, I hope this won’t come off as judgmental or too personal, but I’ve gathered from different things you’ve said throughout the year, and I know you don’t like to impose your thoughts on us, but… [stammer, pause] Are you Buddhist?” I laughed. Certainly not at her, at the question, the idea, the thought. My knee-jerk response was, “I am many things. I don’t subscribe to one denomination. I couldn’t classify my beliefs like that. Instead they are a culmination of what I’ve learned and experienced along the way.” Others piped in & asked why she thought so and, to that, she responded that Buddhism is very centered with the self versus a God, that the central belief is one is in charge of their own destiny and can learn what that is by looking within.
The conversation moved in many directions, all centering on beliefs, and moving away from the text. I shared some experiences; students shared some experiences. While one of my jobs is to retain focus on a given day’s lesson, there are teachable moments which I believe a teacher would be remiss in ignoring. This was such a topic. Even if a student didn’t agree w/ or share the beliefs discussed, he/she could be enlightened by hearing about them, and they were. I know this because, after the conversation ended, as a class, when the bell was about to ring, the conversation continued as small groups formed. Every single student continued to expound upon and debate the topic.
The conversation remained with me for the rest of the day– to the point where I came home and looked up Buddhism. I found a chart that compared the major religious beliefs. I was not surprised to find that some of my belief align with Buddhist philosophies, but more so New Age beliefs.
This has been an aspect of my life that I’ve given serious consideration to since I took my first religious class in college–it’s been a process, not one that I feel I have exactly arrived at a conclusion about, but the more I experience the more I come to a knowing of what I do and do not believe.
I was born and baptized a Catholic, inheriting that from my mother. I was confirmed a Protestant, because my father refused to attend my mother’s church, so she compromised by taking us to his. I began the path of my New Age beliefs as the result of several life experiences, reading of Jane Roberts, Edgar Cayce and Brian Weiss, primarily, attending the Whole Life Expo, participating in mediations, past life regressions and readings with mediums and psychics. I have dabbled in Rune Cards and Tarot, researched astrology, chakras, and crystals.
When my children were born, I was confused and felt the necessity to provide them with a religious foundation. My husband was raised a Catholic; he’d attended Catholic school from kindergarten to 10th grade, and he wanted nothing more to do with religion. We baptized our first two children Catholic (at the church where we married because it was important to my mother-in-law), we baptized our third in a Congregational Church, which we had joined after attending a few services, then quit because we decided to allow our children to choose their own religion when they are ready. I have wavered from feeling that was the right decision, not wanting to impose our beliefs on them as we felt our parents did with us, to feeling guilty about not giving them organized religion. They have been to church on several occasions, I have told them frequently if they wanted to attend, I’d be happy to take them, I read a children’s Bible with each of them and shared my beliefs as they became old enough to comprehend them. Two of my three children believe in God and spirituality; one claims to be atheist, but I think he’s more agnostic– only time will tell.
I have 6 stories to share:
On & off, I kept a dream journal. I’d wake up, sometimes in the middle of the night or sometimes in the morning, and record my dreams as I recalled them. They were always seemingly obscure and disjointed– until I went back to them some time later and realized that most of them I could make sense of (but only, always, in retrospect)– I learned I was working out my reality in my dreams, preparing myself in a sense.
DREAM: my long time friend Maria (whose weddings we were both in & we knew each other’s families well) called me on the phone to tell me her sister-in-law’s baby had died and they needed to go down there (to Virginia, if I remember correctly) for Thanksgiving. She said she felt funny because she was pregnant and her sister-in-law had just lost her baby.
REALITY: (2 years later) It’s a week after Thanksgiving when Maria calls me (she is pregnant with twins and I am pregnant with my youngest daughter), she tells me Holly’s son (her nephew) died of an aneurism.
I had a great, great aunt & uncle in a nursing home not far from where we lived. I always thought it was so sweet that they were able to go to a nursing home together. While I was not especially close to them, I was aware they were there. It was a place we’d drive by often. One day, while driving by with my mom on our way to lunch, I ask my mother, “When did Uncle Dick die?” My mother, visually shocked and dismayed at my question, replied, “he didn’t. Why would you ask that?” I responded that I thought I’d heard someone tell me that.
The very next day, we received a phone call from my grandmother sharing the news that the day before Uncle Dick passed away. When my mother asked what time, she replied 1:00.
I learned that souls are intuitive.
I had been sick with a head cold and was taking Nyquil. I went to bed, fell quickly and soundly to sleep. I recognized that I was still asleep when I found myself outside my body in the corner of the room looking down upon myself. When I became consciously aware of this, I scared my soul back into my body, and felt a longing sense of wanting to experience that again.
I learned the body and soul is separate.
My son, Tyler, had been very close to his paternal grandmother, who had recently died of cancer. We were in Tyler’s room, laying on his bed before bedtime. Our nightly ritual was to read a book, say his prayers aloud. After he said, “God bless grandma Mo,” I asked him if he missed her. He replied (kind of in astonishment), “No, I see her every night.” I asked, “You do?”– an open ended question probing for clarification. He said, as he pointed to the ceiling, “Yes, don’t you see her up there? She’s with all the pretty white ladies dancing.”
I learned that children are intuitive.
When Tyler was around the same age as the last story, he said to me, “Mom, do you think you’ll be my mom in my next life?” This came as a shock to me because I had never discussed my beliefs to or in front of Tyler. I said, “I don’t know Tyler. I hope so.” He replied, “I hope so too.”
I learned that children are cognizant of their spiritual selves and have come to know that it’s a gift that becomes unlearned by environment and society.
I was reminded, when he asked me this question, about a story I’d heard about a man who overheard his 4 year old daughter whispering to her newborn brother in his crib at night. He heard her say, “Do you remember God? Because I’m starting to forget him.”
A friend had recently lost her mom and there was a medium, Suzanne Northrop, speaking at a local conference center. She asked me to attend with her. I’d seen John Edward twice in such forums, and while interesting, had never been “read,” while I have known people who have been “read” by him. So, I agreed to go along, not with any preconceived expectations, just as an act of friendship and something I would at the very least find interesting. We sat in the third row from the front in the center of three sections. Suzanne would move around the room, calling out details she was receiving from the spirits, and she asked for us to raise our hand if she was stating something that resonated with us. So about mid-way through the reading she said, “A child is coming to me. This child’s death was untimely.” Two women, one in front of me and one to the right of me raised their hands. She probed them. One of them was of no connection, the other was just simply that he was “opening the door,” as she put it, “for another child’s spirit to come through.” She continued, “This child is showing me the piecing together of clothes.” My senses were heightened, while unexpected, this was a detail I could connect with, “… as in sewing, ” she continued. I raised my hand. As she approached me, she said, “but this is not your child.” I nodded. It was then, I knew. “What is the piecing together of clothes?” she asked– to which I responded, “I made a quilt of her clothes.” “Yes,” she smiled, acknowledging I was the one this spirit was coming through for. “And she is the daughter of your friend?” I nodded again. “She’s telling me she’s grateful that you did this for her mother and sister and her mother is grateful too. She’s telling me she died unexpectedly and it was hard for everyone, but she wants everyone to know she’s okay.” Jamie had died in a fire at 9 years old; she’d been the daughter of my childhood friend, Renee, and a friend to my children. Before her death, Renee had given me Jamie’s hand-me-downs for Alexa, who was still too small for them. After her death, I’d found them, not being able to give them away and feeling funny about having Alexa wear them, I decided to make a quilt– which I’d never done before– for Renee’s new baby out of her older sister’s clothes, the sister she would never know. Suzanne Northrop continued, “She’s telling me you and her mother have been out of touch and you need to reconnect because you will need each other.”
When I returned home, I called Renee immediately to relay the information I’d received and share my experience with her. She appreciated the call, and told me she didn’t believe in “all of that,” but my story was causing her to rethink her stance. “I’d like to believe it’s true,” she said.
About a year later, I received a call from Renee at 11:30 p.m. She asked me if I was sitting down because she’d just a few minutes before heard on the news that our close friend, Donna, had been tragically killed in a car accident earlier that day. Renee reminded me of my reading with Suzanne Northrop, stating, “This is what she meant. Now I believe.”
I have learned that the spirits in our physical lives don’t leave us until we are ready to let them go, and, along with God, they help guide us.
I believe in the power of belief. I believe in a deity, a divine spirit– which I call God. I’m not sure it’s the same God as the Catholics believe in because I do not believe in original sin or hell. I believe in an afterlife (heaven– a utopia, one that is different for each soul). A soul travels through lives in search of IT’s (because I believe we can be reincarnated into different genders based on the reality we need to create) ultimate state of grace. Through each life, we are working on creating our divine reality as we move through achieving the seven virtues (and yes, I believe in the polar extremes of the virtues, but I would not refer to them as sin– they are necessary to experience in order to embody the virtues). I believe we travel with soul mates, those who serve different purposes in different lives. I do not believe in organized religion, though I respect that some people do. I believe in spirituality– about being in touch with your higher spirit as a guide and all other spirits who help guide you (angels and soul mates who may/may not be in heaven). I do not believe in destiny in the sense that it is fixed and created for us by God, but rather that we create our destiny and can alter our destiny with God as a guide. I believe in karma and the power of positive thinking and energy. I believe we create our own realities, and I question the realities I create every day looking for an opportunity to learn from each of them. I believe in acting virtuous and moral and just in all we try to do, and when we can’t or don’t– that is a red flag to me that alerts me to the opportunity for growth. I believe the old souls of the world are closer to attaining their state of grace than the souls who are not self aware or act immoral or unjust. I believe in the power of belief.
I believe we are all born intuitive, spiritual beings, and if you are aware of that and open to your spirituality, your consciousness will allow such experiences to emerge. Every day, life is about learning, about becoming a better you than you were the day before. It’s about loving yourself and others. I find comfort in the fact that this life may not be IT, and if and when it is, I believe I will be peacefully existing as a soul in the ever after.