Back in the late 1980's I was stationed at a parish which ran a large Catholic school. I was one of the priests at the parish but I was not its Pastor.
The school had a nun who was in charge of religious education. Though I did not agree with her approach, there was nothing I could do about it, as the Pastor let her do whatever she wanted.
One of the things the nun loved to do was to order the entire school to go to confession several times a year. This was one the things I disagreed with because I always believed people should go to confession when they feel a need to confess, not when someone else decides it's time for them to go.
But I had about as much choice in the matter as the poor school kids.
She also decided that the confession should not interfere with the school curriculum, so the confessions were held at the school itself. The school was several stories high. The nun had the ends of two hallways turned into temporary confessionals. She had two chairs placed in each, plus a curtain for privacy. She also decided that all boys should confess on one floor and all girls on another. She decided I would hear the confessions of the boys.
The temporary confessional was very small, the two of us were crammed close together. I suppose the nun had it set up that way so the confessing students could talk with a very soft voice and I would be the only one who could hear what they were saying.
After I heard several confessions, something very strange started happening. I started having very brief flashbacks (for the lack of a better word). For a brief moment each student would change into someone else. At that time I had been studying the phenomenon of reincarnation. I had had flashbacks to past lives before, always at totally unexpected moments, but they were always presumed flashbacks to my own past lives (I said presumed because at the time I was trying to dismiss these flashbacks as nonsense). But this was the first time (actually, the only time) that the flashbacks were about presumed past lives of other people.
Of course, I kept complete control and did not show any sign of anything unusual going on. Though I have to admit I had to use all of my self-control abilities when one of the kids turned into a gremlin!
I do not remember all the details. I only remember the gremlin and one other kid. As a matter of fact, what happened with the other kid was one of the most fascinating experiences of my entire life and had, over the years, a strong influence on my personal viewpoint of reality.
This kid was about 10 or 11 years old. He was a very likeable lad. And I was his favorite priest. I happen to know that because several months later his family moved out of town and he asked his dad to bring him to me to say good-bye.
I am getting into these details because the flashback I am about to describe seems to affirm the common belief that as we go from life to life, we tend to meet our friends from previous lives and be friendly with them again.
This flashback was extremely strong. For one, I cannot tell how long it lasted. I am sure it could not have been too long because it no way interfered with the run of the confession. Yet, the details were so clear that I still remember it all.
In this case, it was not just that he changed briefly to someone else. Everything changed. We were no longer sitting, we were standing. We were no longer at the end of a hallway but outside of a castle. And we were not in the 20th Century America, we were somewhere in ancient Babylonia. Or at least, I somehow "knew" that it was Babylonia.
He was no longer a child. Actually, he turned into a young woman. A very beautiful woman. A very smart woman, too.
I changed as well. I was a young man. I was a very good friend of the woman, though not what you might call a boyfriend. Actually, I was the king of that place and lived in the castle.
She did not live in the castle. But she was the king's close friend. She also was someone he used to discuss the affairs of the kingdom with. She regularly offered her advice/opinion. That the king listened to her was a great benefit to the kingdom, for she was very intelligent and kind.
So, there we were standing on the road outside the castle. It was all very real. I still remember the surroundings. I did not see the castle itself because it was behind my back. There was a stoney wall to my right, apparently a part of the castle fortification. It was not a high wall. I could clearly see the beautiful countryside down below.
The castle road we were standing at was clearly inclined, a road on the side of a hill. I was standing at a higher location, she was at the lower one. Not much lower. After all we were standing next to each other, leaning lightly against the wall.
She was smiling. It was a very friendly encounter. I was smiling as well. I did not see my smile. I saw the whole scene through the eyes of the king, so, naturally, I could not see my face. But, of course, I knew I was smiling.
I am not trying to convince you that this was a true past life experience. For all I know, it simply was a glitch in the Matrix. Whatever it was, it was completely real at the moment. Whether that boy was truly a reincarnation of that woman and I was truly the reincarnation of that king, one thing is sure: She made the king very happy. And I felt that happiness. Pure, innocent happiness. Though just a flashback, it was one of the happiest moments I have experienced in this life. And for that I'm grateful.