The Familiar Face: Trust Your Knowing

by Walter Lacey

Something unexpected happened to me while attending a middle school chorus performance in 2008. I was there to watch my daughter Abigail perform with 25 other middle school girls. Besides Abigail, there was one other girl in the chorus who, for me anyway, stood out.

When I saw her my first thought was, “I’ve seen that that girl before.”

She didn’t look like one of Abigail’s friends from a nearby town we used to live in, and she was too young for our paths to have crossed anywhere else. I thought she probably reminded me of someone I once knew when I was in school or sometime later. After I got back home, I tried recalling the faces of young women in my past who I thought this girl could have reminded me of. But I couldn’t think of anyone who seemed to match her looks, so I disregarded the idea.

Then, in the spring of the following year, our family attended another chorus performance to watch Abigail. The mystery girl was there and, again, a strong feeling of recognition came over me when I saw her. What was it, I thought, that made her seem so familiar to me? I started pairing faces in my mind to hers—long, dark hair, dark eyes, high cheekbones, full lips. But I still couldn’t recall anyone who looked like her.

We attended another performance in the fall of 2009. That sense of knowing the girl who stood one row down from Abigail drew my attention to her like some unknown force. I went through my visual inventory of faces, trying to add as many as my memory would allow.

It was as if I had seen her countless times before. But where would that have been?

These cerebral searches I carried out each time I saw the mystery girl were getting me nowhere closer to identifying who she reminded me of. I started comparing her to people I didn’t even know: actresses, athletes, TV personalities. It was useless and tiresome. There was no one that seemed to resemble her. So I stopped trying to make a match. But I still couldn’t stop the persistent and perplexing feeling that I somehow knew her.

When Abigail completed the eighth grade, she brought home a yearbook. We all looked at her pictures and of course there was one of Abigail with the chorus. I pointed to the girl I seemed to recognize. “Who’s that?” I asked. “That’s Ashley,” Abigail answered. “She’s real nice, but I don’t know her that well. Since the two of us weren’t in the same group, we didn’t have any classes together.” Now there was a name to go with the face.

Abigail didn’t join the chorus in the ninth grade. During that year I gradually came to accept the fact that Ashley didn’t remind me of anyone I knew, either personally or through the media, at least not in this life. I grew to believe that somehow I had glimpsed beyond Ashley and recognized her higher self. I felt there was nothing left to account for my feeling of knowing her. She was the first person I recognized outside of my family from a soul perspective, which to me was a pretty amazing and wonderful experience.

In the tenth grade Abigail and Ashley were in three classes together and also the chorus. They had become friends. They went on a field trip to New York City. Abigail said that some people even thought they were sisters. I never felt that their being assigned to the same classes and becoming friends was coincidental.

I didn’t actually meet Ashley until 2013, a couple of months after I talked to a woman who channels the Akashic records. A repository of sorts in the 5th dimension, the Akashic records are supposed to contain everything that has happened in the universe and everything that will happen. The channeler had been “reading” the Akashic records for people around the world for many years. I had some questions for her about my life, but towards the end of our talk, I asked her if she could find out if I had shared any past lives with several people.

Since I had such a strong feeling of recognition for Ashley, but no recall of a previous life with her, I thought it would be interesting to see if the channeler could discover anything about her in my Akashic records. All she needed was a first and last name. What she told me was something I never would have expected. This is most of what channeler said:

“Yes. You’ve had many past lives with her [Ashley] and they’ve been quite intense. In most of your life times the two of you have been men together in some kind of brotherhood, like you’ve been soldiers in battle together, you’ve been actual brothers and you’ve been priests in a clan or cohort. You’ve had lives as women as well, but there’s really this sense of brotherhood between you and Ashley. And there’s a sense that the two of you as individuals have a lot more to do with the greater life purpose that you’re a part of, like this greater brotherhood, and you’re doing work in that very differently. She’s called to do work in the world working through issues, kind of guiding people or leading people.

“Where for you, you’re doing this work through your personal path. The work that you’re doing for this group or brotherhood is based on how you are shedding your layers and becoming more true to yourself and dropping your karma. And through doing that personal work you end up serving the brotherhood. You and Ashley will cross paths and feel connected undeniably, but ultimately it’s because you’re part of a greater mission.”

This to me was so out of the realm from what I would consider being a typical answer, and so detailed, that I felt I had to consider it. But what should I make of it? I’m not one to accept things blindly, especially something like a subjective truth. And as tantalizing as this description is, it left me wondering whether the information was true, half true or hardly true at all.

At the very least, I believe it does contain a kernel of truth. And as for my own subjective truth:

Recognizing Ashley, it makes me stop and think about who we really are beneath all the protective layers we put on, our interconnectedness with one another and the eternal nature of life.

Walter Lacey graduated from the University of Wisconsin where he attended the School of Journalism. He lives with his wife and two children in Massachusetts.  His most recent work, a memoir titled “Connecting the Dots”, deals with the exploration of a past life and appears in  Contact him via email at

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