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Excerpt from "A Mosaic Heart: Reshaping the Shards of a Shattered Life"

by Terry Jones-Brady

I began to study the story of Persephone and her mother, Demeter, said to be one of the most important in Hellenic mythology. The story, which spoke to my heart,
follows here in an abbreviated form: One day Persephone, a beautiful young woman, was out picking flowers. Hades, the god of the dead, abducted her and tossed her into his chariot. He hurled the chariot down into his underworld kingdom before the other gods and goddesses could stop him. Stricken with grief for her lost daughter, Demeter, who was the vibrant goddess of agriculture, refused to let the crops grow. The harvest withered. Demeter disguised herself as an old crone and roamed the earth searching for Persephone. The Olympian gods eventually intervened, allowing Persephone to rise from the netherworld and rejoin her mother for six
months out of every year. 

I traveled to Greece with some friends and visited Eleusis, the spot where the disguised Demeter is said to have ended up and where the Greeks held an annual festival in pre-Christian times. In explanations of the central myth of Demeter, as it was apparently played out in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone is Demeter’s daughter as well as Demeter’s own younger self. 

In philosophical moments I had asked of myself: Who is the mother, who the daughter? According to mythology, I could be both. That was oddly comforting. Being both, teacher and student, reinforced my belief in Oneness, Connectedness, non-Fragmentation. All abstract terms that popped into my head and helped
me when I yearned to understand the incomprehensible. I knew that my tiny and helpless infants came to teach their birth mother the secrets of loving fully and unconditionally.

In mythological explanations of the netherworld, we don’t stay there forever. That was a comfort—to know I would emerge into fresh air and new life. And so it was. They were gone. They were all gone, having taught their tender, tough lessons. Was I an unwilling student, a slow learner? Did I grasp the message embedded in my loves’ lifetimes? I hope so, but it was hard learning. 
Later, still alone, I began to feel that I was being reincarnated in the same body within this lifetime. Although I was certainly aware of the process of reincarnation, I had never heard of this phenomenon, of reincarnation into one’s present body. As the saying goes, “When the student is willing,  the teacher appears.” The words of a teacher came to my attention, to elucidate my gleanings and lend credibility to my expanding awareness—a woman no longer living on the earth who had been a respected spiritual teacher during her time here. Eva Broch Pierrakos was her name. She spoke in her teachings and lectures of exactly this concept, in Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 230 (1996 edition). She stated in her lecture, “But there is one phenomenon that I would like to discuss here and that is usually neglected or
denied in spiritual teachings: A person who is truly on a path of accelerated development can, and frequently does, literally reincarnate in the same lifetime.”
I’d been convinced of this occurrence in my own life, but I’d been reluctant to mention it because of bizarre associations. “Ordinary” reincarnation is sufficiently out of the mainstream that I hesitated to take the concept a single mystical, metaphysical, or esoteric step further. So I was excited to read of Eva Pierrakos and her work. Other  writers and researchers in past-life regression have pointed
out that a near-death experience (NDE) can be a catalyst for similar transformation within one lifetime. In my own experience, the catalyst was not my own NDE but the vicarious experience of death as I traveled with my children and husband on their journeys. 
My purpose in writing about intra-life reincarnation, my belief in the Oneness of life and that death is not to be feared, is twofold. First, I’m setting the stage for a later chapter, when I’ll write much more about my new life. Second, I need to emphasize the paradox of recognizing my daughters’ deaths as the acceptable outworking of their lives’ plans, juxtaposed against my huge need for the consolation
that could only come—and then just partially— from moving and memorable memorial services. Writing about funerals thrust me into remembrance of encounters with core truths and experiences of things unseen that occur during the darkest nights of the soul. This is where we enter the place of heart knowing that existed before and beyond the intellect. Soon after I turned forty, and continuing over the next twenty years, I lived through the deaths and funerals of my daughters, my husband, and my parents. Five deaths and five ritualized memorials. My father was eulogized in a small Episcopal chapel in Oregon. My mother’s very simple and private ceremony
took place in the front yard of a home where we had lived during my childhood. There were the splendid Episcopal liturgies for my daughters. Finally, there was the
elaborately staged community memorial service for my husband held in Town Point Park in Norfolk, normally a venue for festivals and fun. Funerary rites are absolutely necessary for the bereaved, and I think also for the deceased as they transition into the afterlife, their gossamer spirits hovering around their services of final tribute. 

There was an exhibit of funerary urns at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, during the summer of 2002. The exhibit, Cinerary Urns, featured the works of glass artist William Morris. Exquisitely textured, vibrantly colored, these urns of amazing beauty and spirituality stood empty upon display stands, as the artist’s tribute to personal and collective grief following September 11, 2001. In an introductory piece to the exhibit, Morris wrote: “It is beyond our ideas and thoughts about death that the true mystery and beauty begin.” I agree.

A Mosaic Heart ISBN 978-0-615-51720-9, Quartet Books May be purchased from Amazon.com for kindle version, print orders,   .www.terryjones-brady.com.

A native of Virginia, Terry discovered and nourished her acting talent growing up in California and majoring in dramatic art at UC Berkeley. In pursuit of a career in the theater, she threw herself into acting, dancing and voice instruction in New York with some of the luminaries of the day and went on to many promising roles as she traveled the country performing. A chance engagement with a repertory theater in Virginia brought Terry back to her home state, where she settled into domestic life with the husband and family about whom this book was written. Former teacher of students with learning disabilities, poet, master gardener, certified spiritual director and recipient of the prestigious William Brenner Nonfiction Prize at the Hampton Roads Annual Writers' Conference in 2010, Terry now lives in the bucolic woods of southeastern Virginia with husband Kevin Brady, their English bulldog, Mia, and Johnnie, a feisty cockatiel.

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