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Phobias

Recently, a woman sent us a fascinating letter. She had done an internet search on "reincarnation" because she was finding it difficult to believe the story that her four-year-old son was telling her.

She says that this little boy has always been frightened of the shower. Whenever she takes him where he can see the showerhead, he screams and goes into hysterics. She had no idea what could have created this unreasonable fear.

One afternoon, she suggested that he take a shower instead of a tub bath. She says, "He told me a story that sent chills up and down my spine and made me cry." Her four-year-old son said to her, "I don't want to die, Mommy." She was shocked, and asked what he was talking about?

He said, "I died in the shower with my other mommy. The army men made me and Mommy go in the shower with all the other people, and we died."

She concluded her letter by saying that the first thing that came to her mind, of course, was the horror of the Holocaust. However, she had never allowed her child to watch anything on television that dealt with that period of history.

She wrote us to ask whether she should believe her son's story, or whether it was just the product of an overly creative mind. I think most reasonable people would agree that a story like this is far beyond the imaginative capabilities of the average four-year-old. But what authenticates this memory is the phobia to which the story is attached.

For those of us who believe in reincarnation, this type of recall is not surprising. For those who have fought the idea of past lives, this child's witness to these events, which he could not possibly know about otherwise, must give them reason to reconsider their doubts. For me, there is no longer any question that we have all lived multiple lives. And this leads us to consider phobias in a new light.

All of us have our personal phobias. How do we deal with them -- as nuisances, as an example of personal cowardice, as a legacy from poor upbringing? How often do we see them as indicators of a past, which we might otherwise totally ignore? If we go for therapy, do we approach our cure through standard Jungian analysis, or do we have the courage to attack these fears with a past-life regression?

And if we have a child with unreasoning fears, do we belittle the fear, try to talk them out of it, gloss it over and wish it would go away? Or do we have the sensitivity to listen to them deeply, to take their stories seriously, to help them put their fears in a larger context, which could provide healing on a much broader scale?

God gives us many signs to demonstrate his love and caring for us. Perhaps to that list we should add phobias. Growth often comes only when we confront our worst fears.

Posted 2-01-05

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2005