Detail I Hadn’t Noticed Before

On a listing of soldiers who landed at LeHavre between 4-6 February 1915 which I may have referenced previously (as it had a listing for Jack’s brother Albert being wounded in action), I noticed this when I looked again (emphasis mine):

7324 Pte. John, Harris, of Yeovil, Somerset & Hereford, Posted to 2/K.S.L.I. (K. in A.)

I didn’t think much of it because it was known that he was born in Yeovil and this had been listed on his CWGC page but thinking about it, he’s the only soldier whose birth home is listed.

What I know from records I’ve since obtained is that his brother, Albert. still lived in Yeovil at the end of the war and may have died there in the 1970s (having lived to the impressive age of 96). Albert was the one who signed off on Jacks’ epitaph. It is possible that Jack shuttled between family members in Yeovil and Hereford and never completely settled.

Incidentally, as a periodic reminder, if you are a relation of one John “Jack” Harris (1877-1915), or his brother Albert Harris (1880-1976), from Yeovil or Hereford, please use the contact form, I would like to hear from you.

Trying To Let Go

Trying to let go of the notion that I’ve lived before but I’m not doing so well.

I hadn’t even mentioned Phil in a while and I’d been pushing him from my mind until my husband mentioned him. But at least with him I feel like I’ve moved on. I’m a very different person now, not because I was always so different but because the changes are really starting to add up. My writing is improving to the point where I can say I’m honestly a better writer. I’m better at relationships too; my first marriage in this life has lasted more than a year and it’s holding solid. I’m less restless, less reckless, and more able to take responsibility for my own life and it’s starting to show.

But Jack lingers more. I think he comes through stronger in my writing nowadays. His emotional impression- that profound sense of longing for another time and place that I feel I was torn from- it looms over me no matter how normal I try to make my life. I need closure but closure evades me. I want to divorce myself from the notion that I threw away a life that was no less precious than the one I’m living now or at least come to terms with what I’ve done.

I’ll be honest. If I hadn’t promised to never use this account to get any sort of money or to deliberately give away my identity, I would have taken my chances to set up a fundraiser to go to Flanders and face all of this once and for all. As it stands I have only $2000 in savings and I can’t blow it on something like this because I might not always have that money for necessities. I went several years with nothing in savings and I don’t miss that insecurity.

If anyone would like to help me get this thorn out of my side though, use my contact form.

Finally Did It

I finally submitted a piece of writing to an anthology based on Jack’s life.

I didn’t tell my proofreaders what it was based on but the comments I got are pretty interesting. One called it “immersive” and the other said it reminded him of the way an author from the first half of the 20th century would write about this. I wasn’t even trying to write in Jack’s voice but I think it came through.

It remains to be seen if this will be accepted to the anthology. If not I’ll shop it around. I think it’s worthy of an anthology somewhere.

From Here…

From here I have to wonder what the truth behind my experience of reincarnation is.

Intellectually I know that there were traditions in Judaism and early Christianity that were friendly to the idea of reincarnation, among them gnosticism. But I find myself less attached to gnosticism; my theology feels like it only touches on some gnostic ideas but I’m feeling less enthusiastic about whether one can truly pursue an enlightened path exactly as I am, a libertine with indulgent tendencies.

I’m not sure quite what to believe. I don’t buy for a moment that what I saw of those lives- William, James, Jack, and Phil in particular- was some demonic deception because demonic deceptions don’t drive one to seek God. I know the channels by which these flashes came to me as my own channels, even as I know my own memories, my own thoughts, and my own will.

But were they lives I lived? And if we reincarnate what does this mean for our destiny at the end of days? I cannot believe that the universe will exist in infinity; neither scripture nor science would support that. Perhaps another universe would emerge from the Fifth Dimension at some point in time but when this one dies in its inevitable heat death, where will we be? What becomes of mind when there is no matter in which to manifest?

There was a thought I had, that these were souls with whom I shared some affinity, who in late 2012 entered my body in preparation for God’s Judgment- perhaps even to receive one last chance at redemption through me. But that raises serious questions, like “what did I do wrong last time?” What could any of them have done in their lifetimes that was more damning than anything I’ve done in mine? Are we not all creatures of Hubris?* And did I not call upon the name of Christ to be my deliverer many times throughout the ages?

While I breathe I will pray that the answers will come. These past few days I am immersed in hagiographies, scripture, and deep reflection. My Anglican vicar friend (whose acquaintance has been a profound blessing in my life) says it sounds to him like I’m living a deep mystery of the faith.

Deep mysteries have found me throughout my life but this is by far the deepest. My whole life- and perhaps many lifetimes before- now stand in contrast to what I feel. I don’t believe I have ever lived the life of a Christian saint but more and more I feel that life calling to me in a way that is ineffable and beautiful and more loving and complete than I have ever felt. It takes me to quiet places, plants thoughtful words on my tongue, and asks of me questions that only a lifetime may answer. This is possession, but it is possession by a powerful and awesome spirit in whom I am content.

*The Greek word used in the New Testament for “sin” is “αμαρτια,” which is the word Aristotle used in his Poetics to mean “hubris.” Thus I take τα γαρ οψωνια της αμαρτιας θανατος to be a reference to the deadly hubris described in Aristotle, painting the human being thus as a tragic figure with little hope of redemption except through radical divine love. Here sin is not what you do but your tendency to err on the side of ego, which accords well with my experiences thus far. But I could be mistaken.

And Still It Grows

The urge to retreat again to some holy place and pray is getting strong.

I’m really tempted to ask about guest houses at the nearby abbey but I feel bad because I can’t pay for my stay. I know that under the rule of St. Benedict they won’t turn me away for lack of funds but it feels like taking advantage all the same.

I do need to get somewhere quiet, isolated, away from this place. And if I get on good terms I’ll be a regular guest. I’m not suited to the monastic life for a lot of reasons but I want to be as close to it as I can now. I want to turn my thoughts toward God and things beyond this world. I’ve seen so much of the world now, in the things I’ve experienced, and I’m not in love with it.

The feeling I have growing within me… it’s grown before. I thought when I walked away from the church last summer it had died for good but it came back stronger than it’s ever been. The feeling… how do I describe it? It’s like the feeling of something growing, like a mighty oak tree where an acorn once sat buried.

Maybe it’s good that I got a chance to walk away for a while. Maybe it was growing wayward and needed to be pruned so it would grow stronger and bear fruit. John Chapter 15 comes to mind.