Thursday, May 2, 2019

Old Soul at the Party

I found it in the mailbox one day. A card inviting me to my friend Meg’s retro-themed dinner party. “Come as a literary character from the 20’s – or come as any writer from the past.”

Meg, the hostess, wore a long black dress with rows of fringe from top to bottom. I showed up as myself: An Old Soul. I came as my favorite writer: myself. Crazy sounding, I know. But it’s true. Why not be honest about it? Most of the current writing I’ve read doesn’t speak to me like my own words. Just being real.

I sat my wallflower self at the table over the spread of hor d'oeuvres while the butterflies mingled, laughing and talking about whatever. The old family dog with his gray chin stood under the table, his head on my lap, eyes looking up at me as if to say, “Hey, it’s you and me, kiddo.” I went into the kitchen and retrieved dog biscuits so the two of us could have our own little party. If dogs could talk he’d have said to me, “Back in my day the only toy we had was a stick.” 

After a while one woman came over and spoke. “So what are you reading these days? An awkward moment. I had to think about it. No New York Times bestsellers, that’s for sure. I wasn’t in the book club. I hardly know what’s out there these days. Finally I basically said I was writing the book I wanted to read: A story about Jonathan: a young man who’s an Old Soul himself, trying to navigate his way through the modern world, struggling to reconcile opposite worldviews. An excerpt showing this Old Soul’s thought process:

“How to find the middle ground between science and superstition? When reading the gospels it was clear that Jesus went about casting out devils and unclean spirits from all those possessed. I found at least 30 deliverance stories from Matthew through John, so there was no denying that he had authority over evil spirits. After sending them scattering he likely brushed off his hands and told his disciples, “Nothing to it. It’s super-natural. Bring ‘em on, I got this.” But nowadays people aren’t demon possessed. That’s crazy talk. Archaic superstition. We’ve advanced beyond all that. We’ve outsmarted the apostles of old and their charismystic ilk.

Jung wrote, ‘Since the world began, mankind has been possessed.’ Evil spirits, renamed, have become unconscious complexes. Nowadays they aren’t cast out but subdued with drugs. Nowadays Legion would be institutionalized for life along with Charles Manson, and his psychotherapy sessions would continue until the day his possessed soul left his body. When asked what made him happiest, he’d tell his shrink, ‘I love it when they come to my room and say, Time for arts and crafts.’ Which was also my sister Lizzie’s favorite part of the day. Nowadays folks aren’t oppressed by demons, they have a chemical imbalance. ‘Nothing a little electroconvulsive therapy and antipsychotics won’t take care of,’ says the White Coat from his hierarchical throne.”

Throughout history Old Souls have struggled to reconcile these opposite worldviews, which is evident in their writings. Mark Twain is the first one that comes to mind. “We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that the savage has because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we have gained by prying into that matter.”

Robert R. McCammon is another. “We were born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of us.” Carl Jung said that “only fools think that everything can be explained. The true substance of the world is inexplicable….”

You might be an Old Soul if you’ve managed to maintain your sense of wonder and belief in miracles in the postmodern age. If you can still view the world through kingdom eyes like Mary Oliver, who communed with God through creation, you might be an Old Soul.

You might be an Old Soul if your vision of the world comes from within rather than from external sources. If the sights and sounds you hear come from dreams and inner visions more often than from a computer or TV screen, you might be one.

What about you? Are you an Old Soul too? I’m not talking literal age but mindset. How would you characterize an Old Soul? What reasons would you have to show up at the party as your Old Soul Self?   


  1. If you are truly an old soul, as you say, then I want to be an old soul, too. You seem to be standing in a perfect place.

    Old Soul On the Run (for Debra)

    When comes the time I can walk beyond the gate,
    from those who show contempt, and pontificate;
    summoned remnants of life's scarcest treasures,
    would need to be spread in portioned measures.
    'Til then, plight of an old soul, is to wait.

    Michael Todd (2019)

    1. Such poetry proves that you, Michael Todd, are already an old soul – which I’ve always known. How beautiful, these lines, which reflect how an old soul thinks. All your poems I’ve read are tell-tale signs. You must have a deep appreciation for literature, especially classic poems – am I right?

    2. I do have such an appreciation, but the writers who Garner my attention, are those in my circles, whom I call friends... Like You.

    3. I am wealthy in my friends. ~Shakespeare

  2. Debra, your words here have truly touched my heart and the core of my being. I must be an Old Soul, when it comes right down to it, because as long as I can remember, I've always tried to reconcile the vagaries of the present with the truth that has prevailed throughout history.In this day and age, too many people are willing to forsake one fad for the newer one, embrace the next shiny object and neglect the old that seems to have lost its allure and brilliance.
    And I, too, would bring my own writing to the party. Whether people believe me or not, I KNOW the Holy Spirit sat right beside me as I composed those novels. They were never meant to bring glory to me, but to God. I pray that others would see/feel/hear/experience that when reading them.
    Blessings, dear friend!


    1. Martha, no doubt about it. You ARE an old soul, which is evident in your writing as well. If you brought your words to the party, people would come alive! The creative spirit of Christ appears to always sit down with you when you write. And to have finished all the books in the series in that period of time is further evidence of Divine inspiration flowing like a river of grace.

  3. The other day, a blogger complained in her new post that we, people, seem to have lost our "within". I totally agree with her view.

    I believe that everything good comes from within. Nowadays, people are looking for a "quick fix" to their problems, outside, among external factors.
    I still trust my "within" and rely on it. In this respect I see myself an old soul.

    1. DUTA, truth! “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” ~ Howard Thurman

  4. What a beautiful piece Debra, brought to our attention by Michael Todd. I can relate to all of this and I love that theme for a party!!

    1. Thank you, Sleeping Queen. The host of the party, Meg, is a fun-loving soul. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I think there are many more of us than we are aware, Old Souls, sojourning our current trip here in a slightly different manner. Many of us do not outwardly exhibit differentness, or perhaps we do and fool ourselves that no one recognizes that differentness beneath our social masks!

    There is the cousin of the Old Soul, dubbed Imposter Syndrome, where we all are ducks on the visual surface, with our feet paddlling madly just out of sight to maintain outward calm, equilibrium, and equanimity. Never quite feeling we fit in, measure up, look like, act like, others.

    I have often opined that every single one of us feels “different”, set apart, not like all the others, because we humans tend to compare our insides - the chaos, the emotions, the fears, the differentness - to everyone elses’ outsides. We forget that everyone engages in stage dressing! But then I have this type of discussion with someone, and find that they don’t think in that way, as I do, and they find my thoughts and experiences quite unusual.

    I have accepted, for the most part, that I am, indeed, a good bit outside what is considered the norm. It appears that I am in good Old Soul company with you, Debra. :)

    Dawn from Healing Morning (I am replying via my phone & am not sure it will identify me.)

    1. Beautifully said, Dawn. So true that we don’t often exhibit our true natures beneath the social masks; the masks, of course, enable us to be all things to all people, as awkward at it may feel at times. I’d love to quote you on that 2nd paragraph, if that’s okay. Love this metaphor:

      “There is the cousin of the Old Soul, dubbed Imposter Syndrome, where we all are ducks on the visual surface, with our feet paddling madly just out of sight to maintain outward calm, equilibrium, and equanimity. Never quite feeling we fit in, measure up, look like, act like, others.”

      Stage dressing is right, all the world being the stage. Our entrances and exits being social settings, be it school or college or church or the workplace or wherever we are that our various costumes are required.

      Thank you for weighing in and sharing your thoughts, Dawn. I’m missed your words. I haven’t been very active in blogosphere myself, as I’ve said, but I’m grateful to hear from you. Healing prayers always.

  6. I would have been sitting next to you, trying to get the dog's head on to my lap, as I have found in moments of extreme discomfort in a crowded room, a dog coming alongside me can offer deeper comfort than any human.

    The Michaek Todd quote is me: waiting.
    I like the concept of old souls.
    I hang out in the writings of the Dessert Fathers, and soak up their ways of coping with a world they didn't much like.

    I enjoyed Dawn's comment too, especially about the various costumes required.I wear very bright colours when I most need cheering up, and dull colours when I'd rather not be with others at all, but in attending anyway, I'm trying to merge and not be seen.
    To have the very first interraction with a new person be that question - what are you reading these days? - appealed to me, as it might be possible to skip small talk altogether and get into an interesting conversation.
    You being so brave, Debra, and admitting to writing the story you wanted to read... could have led to a most deep and meaningful chat!

  7. I love your old soul, Mary! Dog is God spelled backwards, which means to me that they are his creature ambassadors sent to comfort and love unconditionally.

    The Dessert Fathers are my buddies too, many of whom I need to revisit soon.

    Amen! I say we skip the small talk and talk about the deep things of God ASAP :-)

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