When I was a child, the bapticostal church I grew up in was my sole authority. The whole church were sweet country folks. most had worked the fields, or managed to somehow graduate high school. I think one minister may have held a bachelors degree in music. Education wasn’t particularly a saintly mark in that world. Anyways- from the pulpit I heard praying to saints was wrong. Despite several biblical texts, including Hebrews 11 that says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, or over and over again where the saints in Revelation make petition and prayers- I heard we shouldn’t seek to communicate with the dead. I recall hearing Biblical texts speaking against what was translated as necromancy, along with a horrible exegesis of Lazarus and the Rich man or the story of King Saul attempting to contact Samuel through the Witch
of Endor. It was taboo to talk about the dead.
But to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord. And Jesus said he’d never leave me or forsake me- and while I don’t think I should pray to the Dead I think it’s perfectly ok to break down in sobbing tears with a heavy heart and ask God to tell my loved ones near by that I miss them.
I have had a few experiences that could not be explained. Last year, almost one year ago- I was attending a fundraiser for the large homeless service agency I work at when my phone would not stop vibrating. Finally, I made my way to the outside to answer the phone. My father drunk. I was so irritated he kept calling me so I asked him what he wanted in a tone not too kind or patient. “David’s Dead.” David’s dead. David’s dead. He howled. I didn’t understand. Dignitaries and hipster friends walked away from the party feeling generous and stumbling a bit from the open bar. I waited on the valet and stared into the light gathering on Peachtree Street. I didn’t understand. David had shot himself.
I walked around zombie-fied putting forth my best appearance. I had to speak to Emory University professors the next day. I had to perform. I did. Then I just left. I left. I ran. I fell down and cried until I vomited. I bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked then in a day. And I wanted to talk to the dead.
I didn’t understand.
He was brilliant. Lovely, gifted- and called. And what is a calling?
The Friday after his passing I stood in my living room, folding clothes, and making sure socks were mated. It was a bit after midnight… To be continued