The Value of Friendship– My Tribute to a Friend

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image from pixabay.com

There are places I’ll remember all my life,

though some have changed.

(All My Life, by Lennon and McCartney)

I do not believe in accidents. I do, in fact, believe in reincarnation. One of the best books I have read on the subject that has helped me understand relationships in life is The Journey of Souls, by the psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton. Newton bases his understanding of reincarnation on transcripts from persons under hypnosis answering his questions about Souls’ experiences BETWEEN lives. These transcripts show amazing uniformity and provide a fascinating account of the spiritual nature of our relationships generally– including how we might recognize a Soul over multiple  lifetimes with whom we have a strong affinity or connection. While Newton avers that the future is not fixed or predestined in a rigid way, as there is always a Plan B if one connection in life or another does not work out so that we can still reach our goals and learn life’s lessons, still his subjects claim we often meet and form relations with some Souls over several lifetimes, and between lives we might reconnect with members of our “Soul group.”

All these places have their meanings

with lovers and friends I still can recall.

This week I want to share about aspects of a personal friendship which has helped me understand the spiritual value of Friendship altogether.  One friend in particular whom I first met when  was 17 has been an important connection ever since, despite geographical distance. This friendship has had a profound influence on my life in a way I can only call “spiritual,” and it has led me to question and arrive at my own understanding of what it means to be Soul occupying a (human) body.

I first met Donna when a high-school buddy invited me to join a fencing class in our home community. Donna was our fencing teacher, and I fell in love quickly with the art and sport of fencing, which I continued with for many years later on an intercollegiate fencing team. After the ten week class was over, I had ordered some fencing equipment which I picked up from Donna at her apartment. We began a conversation then–I might later say she became a special mentor at the time–which grew over the years into a special friendship.

Donna would read and encourage my journaling and poetry when, once a week on  Thursday afternoons, I would walk a mile and a half to her apartment to visit. She introduced me to excellent literature–from prose to philosophy and spirituality and poetry–as well as to music and art. I felt a unique sort of affinity with Donna–that when our eyes met, she was somehow mirroring me in a more experienced, dynamic, creative elder persona. I believe Donna also saw in me a diamond in the rough, with some of her own younger life aspirations and interests.

I attended college initially not far from where Donna lived, so we continued our friendship until eventually, at 25, I left for graduate school in Arizona. After that a major shift occurred. I called Donna from campus one day having felt inwardly something momentous was happening with her.

“Hello, is Donna there?”

“Just a moment.” (Her partner)

“Hello, Linda.”

The low voice at the other end of the phone I almost did not recognize; was this a friend of Donna to tell me she had passed away? But then I realized it was Donna after all.

“I am changing my name. It is odd that you called today, because

tomorrow I am having surgery.”

I put pen to paper to write down Donna’s new last name, assuming she had married her current partner.

“Donald, Linda. My new name is Donald.”

“Okay…”

Donna, to make a long story much shorter, had realized, after having successfully dealt therapeutically for several years while I had been in college with a situation of multiple personality syndrome, that her/his core gender identity was actually that of Donald and had perhaps always been such since childhood.

When I met Donald for the first time face to face a couple of summers later, my first thought was, “That’s it! That is what was always so different about Donna. This is who He truly IS.”

So, life went on. Donald has had an amazingly dynamic and successful life after ‘transitioning’ in place in his home community. For over 35 years he has given wonderful service in the arts world as well as professionally in the behavioral/ mental health field.

Of all these friends and lovers

there is noone who compares with you.

And these places lose their meaning

If I try to think of love as something new…

But this story is about our friendship through the years and about how Donna/ Donald has helped me fathom the spiritual value of Friendship.

Sometimes I have felt I could have been “Donna”; that when “Donald” stepped into little Donna’s form as a young child or baby somehow I stepped out and was born as Linda. I know that sounds incredible and probably is but a fantasy, and at the same time for me Donna has had an independent spiritual persona somewhat apart from Donald. For many years I often dreamed of visiting Donna, usually in the same, transitional sort of place, overlooking a pond with a pathway around it. We would play cards or Scrabble and continue our unending conversation. In more recent years that has shifted to where I sense Donald and Donna are indeed one and the same–merged as one, so to speak. I sometimes hope that when I leave this world, I will reconnect with my Friend and continue our spiritual friendship, eternally, as we go forward with our individual spiritual capacities.

So, a Friend. That first day as I walked to Donna’s to pick up a fencing foil, jacket, mask and a glove, I was singing “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor (click here to link to that song). And often on the many Thursdays that followed, walking to visit Donna, I continued to sing and to ponder that Song.

A Friendship connects two Souls far beyond merely physical or emotional considerations or circumstances. It uplifts and extends our very notion of personhood and can reveal the eternal, Divine nature of Soul.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

Your Journey of Soul

Stairway to heaven

In The Journey of Souls, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton reports on his research using hypnosis to regress clients to a state “between” lifetimes. Not a believer in reincarnation when he began this research, he now writes and speaks about it openly. There is an amazing degree of similarity across his hundreds of tape recorded subjects’ accounts.

A significant theme that comes up time and time again in Dr. Newton’s ‘between life’ under-hypnosis stories—from people who do not know what he will be asking and who do not know each other—is the idea of a “Soul group.” This is said to be a group of closely interconnected souls (over several lives) that touch base or check in with one another between lives in order to help each other review the life they have lived to reflect on whether or not, or to what degree, they have realized their life goals and lessons for that lifetime.

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Since this week’s theme is about YOUR LIFE QUEST, this idea of a soul group and particularly about reflecting between lives on how far one has come toward their life goals seems relevant. So, here is a fun exercise I’d like to invite you to do:

Using active imagination and/or a dialogue journaling process, IMAGINE you are between lives like in Dr. Newton’s case stories, meeting with your own familiar Soul Group. First off, who might they be? Who do you want them to  be? Imagine they are there with you then. Next, have a conversation with these dear Souls about how  you–as the one who has passed on–are doing with your LIFE QUEST.  Your friends might ask you about your progress with lessons you  chose to focus on in this life or about how far you have come toward realizing your goals. You might wish to extend this imagination session by then realizing you can still go back to finish this life; you don’t need to wait for a new one!

Path in the green forest

Now then, what is it you are here to FULFILL?

Some quests are short-term or may count as incremental steps toward a larger life mission; then there is the Big One; what might that be for you? Your imaginary friends can help you understand that, if you wish.

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Also, have you seen the movie, Defending Your LifeThis afterlife comedy has a similar theme to The Journey of Souls.  Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) has passed on after a car accident and he finds himself in this intermediate zone where he has to appear in court with his defense attorney (Rip Torn) in order to “defend his life”. He meets and falls in love with a woman he meets in this heavenly realm, Julia (Meryl Streep). Julia was ‘perfect’ in her last life;  a true heroine. We know that Julia will win her case to “move on.” But Daniel has trouble in court; the prosecutor shows scene after scene from Daniel’s life where he failed to take a risk or to confront his fears; the major life lesson he had been sent to Earth for in that lifetime. He will probably be returned to make for greater progress ‘next time’. But he has fallen in love with Julia who is going on; so how can he resolve his dilemma? I won’t share the ending in case you haven’t seen the film. I highly recommend it!

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 Let me be honest with you here. These ideas, from The Journey of Souls and from “Defending Your Life,” have been some of the direct inspiration behind my developing the self-help process that I am sharing in my book, Life Paths. The idea is that rather than wait until death or nearly-dying, why not check in now instead? You can review and reflect about where you are at in your life with respect to your lifetime Quest and goals, and perhaps that can help for you to make a mid-course correction or a tweaking in the direction of your greatest fulfillment or ‘progress.’ Now of course no one knows what that is about except you or perhaps you and your spiritual helpers or guides. One person’s quest may not be of value at all to the next person, so only you can ultimately define your Quest to reflect on where you are in relation to that. Or maybe you don’t like goals; even so, what do you hope to have accomplished or to experience–even as a Bucket List sort of quest–before you move on?

I welcome your insights and Stories!