Interesting the people we meet, are always reflections of ourselves. Either where we have been, where we are, or where we are going.
These reflections are agents of transformation, helping us to see the truth of who we are and what we are capable of, so we may transcend beyond our perceived limitations.
Years ago, I met a lovely lady. Our sons had hit it off at kindy and it was heartening for both of us mums to know they’d made buddies.
Her son was robust and lively, a happy whirlwind. Exactly what my son needed for he was reserved and cautious.
I worried he’d get trampled in the playground if he didn’t learn how to assert himself better. In reply, the universe sent him his friendly opposite, to strengthen him.
Over weeks, and months, the boy’s mum and I got to know each other, and I learnt she was a committed atheist.
She was organising a public atheist event; a passionate and devoted non-believer as much as I was a believer and an experiencer.
By contrast, I was writing my book, Where The Light Lives, the story of my spiritually transformative experiences and healing from intergenerational grief.
She too had a story about grief to share, having tragically lost a sibling in childhood: “You can experience transformation in other ways,” she said, dismissively.
As the school year progressed, our sons drifted apart, and she became a distant acquaintance, eventually receding from my considerations.
Yet her words remained with me.
She’d strengthened me – I’d been concerned about what school folk may think of me if they were to discover my book and no longer was.
My son had grown in assertiveness.
Fast forward a decade.
I’m occupying a hospital bed having undergone major spinal fusion surgery. It was a 12-hour-long operation (including prep); I didn’t die.
46… that’s my age; it was my dad’s age too… when we both had our big surgeries.
Our condition is Marfan syndrome: a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. For me, it affects my spine, and for my dad, it affected his heart and aorta.
Though complicated, my operation was a success: my spine is forty degrees straighter with the support of titanium rods and screws. For all that could have gone wrong, nothing did.
I’d prepared for dying just in case. At the very least, I thought I may have a near-death experience.
Having had so many spiritually transformative experiences might surgery increase my chances of having yet another one of these extraordinary events?
Maybe a cardiac arrest would send me off into the stratosphere, as my dad had at the same age, on an operating table. Nope.
So, how ironic, following surgery, and upon opening my eyes to life again – drugged up in ICU, then the trauma unit… I found myself rather pondering an atheist’s words: “You can experience transformation in other ways.”
You sure can.
Different yes: spiritual experiences are a direct communication from Spirit – the experiencer knows.
But the same: there is wisdom to be gained from all life-changing events – whether the transformation is spiritually meaningful to someone or not.
Like spiritually transformative experiences, other life events may be stimuli for considerable personal growth.
In the hospital, I felt transformed.
Not for having an out-of-body experience but for a long red scar running from the base of my neck to my tailbone.
I felt transformed, not for encountering a divine light but for sharing a ward with three awesome women aged 100, 97, and 76; our laughs and tears and stories.
I felt transformed, not for encountering angels in heaven but for being cared for by angelic nurses, selfless in their service to humanity; who tended to our every need around the clock.
I felt transformed, not for experiencing a magical life review and preview on the spiritual plane but for mulling over life as I sat with ample time on my hands; milestones, achievements, loves, joys, failures, hardships, and in-betweens.
I felt transformed, not for having premonitions of the future but for discovering hope even in suffering – at the prospect of there being more creativity to come.
I felt transformed. Like so many other people who are altered by life’s big events that birth new perspectives; reinterpret the past; forge new pathways: starting school, leaving school, leaving home, getting a job, getting married, having children, moving house – relationship issues, changes at work, illness, and injury, death of a loved one… etc.
Absolutely, you can experience transformation in other ways and not just the spiritually transformative way, for life is the ultimate metamorphosis.