At last month’s 81st A.R.E. Membership Congress, there was a big sign on the hill that said “welcome home” and another balloon archway in front of the stairs in the Visitor’s Center that echoed that same sentiment. Now you can find many definitions of the word “home.” It is a “shelter that is the usual residence of a person;” or it can be defined as “the place or region where something is native or most common.” Something inside each of us longs for a place we can call home, but what is home for us isn’t necessarily made of bricks and mortar.
I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a neighborhood called Bridgeport. My parents, brother and I shared the house with my maternal grandparents, who owned the house. Bridgeport was, and is, a very ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood with brick bungalows on tiny 25-foot lots that backed up to a paved alley lined with reeking garbage cans. The houses were separated by a “gangway” and the rooms were fairly small. I shared a bedroom off the living room with my brother until I was 16. All we could fit in it were two twin-size beds separated by a three-drawer dresser, all made by my father. No closet. No door. When I looked out my window, all I saw was the brick wall of the house next door, which later was owned by my aunt and uncle.
For some reason, whenever I looked out the window down to the basement of my aunt and uncle’s home, I believed that I would see them differently–that the body they were occupying when they knew they were being seen was not the same body they had when they thought no one was around. It was a strange idea for a child to have, but I was convinced their physical appearance wasn’t real. Could I have been seeing the essence of their soul instead of their physical selves? I never did figure that one out.
As a young girl, my thoughts were always focused on that house on Lowe Avenue, wondering how in the world did I get there? I distinctly remember thinking–where am I? Why am I here? Where are my gardens and rolling hills? And who are these people?Born and raised in Chicago, I felt alienated from that place and from the family I came into. I didn’t know why, but that sense of isolation was always there; that subliminal feeing that this was not where I belonged and these people were not my true family. Of course, years later when I understood the concept of reincarnation, I knew I had chosen to be in that place and to come through that biological family, but growing up in a very Catholic, Italian-American family, those concepts were foreign to me as a child.
After high school I went to the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus, because it was close to home (it was a commuter school then–no dorms) and because my parents had little money and did not own the house we were living in and I was given a full grant to attend school (which at that time was something ridiculously inexpensive, like $300 a quarter!). So while I had no particular aspirations in terms of a study track, I thought–well, why not? No one else in my family had gone to college. I’d be the first.
I majored in early American history–a time period I resonated to–and did well. One professor in particular commented that I had the most uncanny feel for 18th century American history of any student he ever had. Based on that comment and an inner knowing that he was right even though I didn’t understand why, I decided to visit all of the places on the eastern seaboard for which I had this “uncanny” feel to see what would happen when I was actually there.
That’s all it took. Once I landed in Virginia, my soul took a collective sigh of relief. I was home! I didn’t understand why I suddenly felt this peacefulness of spirit overcome me or why that longed-for yearning to find where I belonged had instantly disappeared, but it did and it was a feeling I cannot find words to describe. Of course, I returned to Chicago, got married, had a family and for all intents and purposes “fell asleep” for the next 15 years. Then like thousands of others, I got my metaphysical wake-up call in 1987 with the airing of Shirley MacLaine’s “Out on a Limb” mini-series. That started me on the path of studying reincarnation, starting a past life research, education and therapy center, and digging into my own past life journey. And all of that ultimately led me back to Virginia and a move to Charlottesville in 1995.
So now I was in the right physical home, but what about my spiritual home? Was there such a place on Earth? Could I find ” my” people and truly feel a part of my soul family? That search became an obsession as I navigated the waters of many spiritual outlets, trying to find the one that fit. The irony of it all was that I had it all the time. A.R.E. and later A.U. was my spiritual home and the loving souls who were as attracted to Edgar Cayce and his teachings as I was, were indeed members of my soul family.
So it was when I attended Congress this year, I did so feeling that I had indeed, come “home.” The joyousness of the members attending Congress was contagious. I felt accepted, loved, and at peace. I was where I belonged and all of the time and work I voluntarily give to A.R.E. and A.U. in my various functions as A.R.E. Charlottesville Coordinator, and A.U. Alumni Association President, as well as Congress Workshop Coordinator, made me feel all the more a part of a much greater destiny. Sharing Cayce’s teachings has been both personally and professionally fulfilling to me and the sense of mission does not diminish with the passing of time. Instead it grows more urgent as the years go by.
The “Welcome Home” sign during A.R.E. Congress says so much more than the two words it displays. Those of you who have experienced it know what I’m talking about. Those of you who haven’t, what are you waiting for? The door to your spiritual home is always open and the welcome mat is always out!