I was in grade school, and had just been taken to my grandmother’s home in a small village several miles from my home. My mother had been diagnosed and institutionalized because of a serious illness. My siblings and I were separated. I stayed with my grandmother for two years, attending third and fourth grades. I was smaller than most boys my age and was easily intimidated by almost everyone. I felt alone and terrified at the thought of being in an unfamiliar home surrounded by unfamiliar people. I felt abandoned, although eventually settled into a routine of being put on a school bus, going to school, coming home to a house that was uncomfortable for me, and very little else.
My grandmother was a larger than life individual, who smoked and drank a lot, was loud and boisterous, but nonetheless did show affection towards me from time to time, otherwise ignored by those around me. One day, when she was particularly affectionate, she looked at me and patted a spot on her couch and said, “Come over here, Harold. I want to tell you the story of your birth because I was the one who delivered you.” I remember being happy at the prospect of getting attention, and went over and sat beside her. She put her arm around my shoulder and pulled me close to her. Here is the story as she told it to me:
My mother was in hard labor, and I was coming so quickly that there was no time to get her to the hospital. My grandmother had phoned the doctor who had given her instructions as to what to do, and he was on his way to the house to take charge. Just as he came charging into the house, I delivered, and he cut the umbilical cord. Together they took me to the kitchen, while others took care of my mother, and placed me on my back on the table in a spot already prepared for me. She and the doctor turned towards the stove and filled a basin with warm water and turned back towards me immediately dropping the basin in shocked amazement. While they were distracted, I had stopped crying and had turned over on my tummy and was attempting to rise on to my hands and knees, already lifting my head. They recovered quickly and shouted for my two aunts, who were taking care of my mother, to come and see what was happening. They ran into the kitchen and began yelling in total confusion for a moment or so, not believing their eyes. Suddenly everyone stopped yelling and just stared at me in utter disbelief. They all moved as though on cue, and finished up with the cleaning process and the bundling, returning me to my mother. I do not know, of course, whether or not this actually occurred, even though it was corroborated by everyone repeatedly. I heard this story over and over, at my request, as I grew up and finally reunited with my father and my siblings.
Now as a senior adult, I have interpreted the meaning this story has for me. Everyone has the privilege to decide what this means for them, but for me it is this: At the beginning of my earthly experience because of an ego decision (we are born with an ego) I was experiencing the effect of the decision that separation is real, and that it was possible for me to separate myself from God. At the same time I must have had some memory of life as spirit, and being on my hands and knees I wanted to forge ahead, thinking that both ideas were equally true. And, as the memory of spirit slipped away, my ego took hold. How determined our egos are at every level to survive. In looking through the prism of my history, I realize that at no time have I ever felt at home here in the world, not ever! As a matter of fact, I remember saying that very same thing to someone just a few days ago. I think that means that somewhere in my mind, I still insist that both can be true. How else can reconciliation of opposites be made plausible!
There is a passage from ACIM which has given me comfort in my later years. It reads as follows:
Listen, perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quire forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten, and the circumstances which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember…how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you. The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you.