I stood in the living room. I folded towels exactly how my mother showed me. I always liked the straight lines and creases she put in the linen. Basil slept with one foot dangling from the leather couch. I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I was in shock. It had been a little more than 24 hours since my drunken father informed me that my brother blew his brains out. I suppose that was as good as any reason to get drunk. Yet, I didn’t care for Dad’s coping mechanism. It was after midnight. My thoughts moved from shock to disbelief. I closed my eyes while I folded the towels. I felt like I was falling inside. Basil jumped, which awakened me from my thoughts. The pressure changed in the air, The front door opened, and Basil began to bark. In the next moments, I heard, thought, or imagined in my heart/mind “I am fully known, perfectly accepted, and forever loved.” It sounded like David in my head. But I shut that thought down very fast.
I felt frightened. I didn’t want to be carried away by an ambulance to a 72 hour stay in a locked facility where tranquilizers and sedatives look like candy. Theologically, I couldn’t say for sure if it was o.k. to communicate with the dead. After that experience, I searched the scriptures for days. Not because I wanted to pull out a Ouija board and summon the spirit of my dead brother, but because I wasn’t sure how to explain my experience. Let me be clear, that because of my life experiences- I have never wanted to be a part of the occult or anything devious; My heart has sought after God a long time- even if my mind chased after men, power, or money for seasons. In 2006, I was a bit of a prideful heretic hunter. I even accused my father of being a heretic. Now after seminary, I know enough to know I know nothing. I don’t attempt to uncover occults or heretics. and I am a bit of a heretic, myself. I do know that if something isn’t based in a Philippians 2 type of love- kenosis- or if it neglects the fruit of the spirit, than its probably not helpful but hurtful. You will know them by their Love. Manipulation, control, hurting others- that’s not love. After ripping apart the scriptures, I moved on to church tradition.
Looking at Church tradition, we find several early renditions of creeds, that believed ALL were present in communion. Those passed on, included. And we hear Christ even talking about the living when asked by the Sadducees about marriage in the resurrection. I do believe in a bodily resurrection. Many of my liberal friends, and atheist friends would scoff at this. Yet, I hope for it.
Early Christians often gathered in cemeteries on Sundays. Some hid among the catacombs. Some even venerated the dead Christians. Folklore and Stories abound about dead bodies who exuded a smell of myrrh. Coptic Christians and Eastern Orthodox still have a deeper sense of mystery about the dead than we do. If you don’t believe me google veneration of the dead.
Other cultures reverence their ancestors. In Mexican Folklore, the dead remain loved and celebrated, Dia De Los Muertos. In Asian cultures, the dead are prayed to for help. In Native American cultures, Ancestors are revered.
My father passed suddenly this May. Less than seven months after my brother transcended. The grief seemed able to undo me. I became emotional at work, unable to keep my feelings hid. I hurt so bad inside. I knew my Dad was jamming with Jesus. Somehow, that didn’t really take away my feelings of loss. Yesterday, as I was driving home I thought of him. I wondered if he could hear me. I said out loud, “Dad, I don’t know if you can hear me- but if you can and are there listening, say a prayer for me.” and then I said, “Jesus, I don’t know jack squat about the afterlife- but maybe you could tell my Dad I loved him.” tears slipped off my chin and hit the steering wheel.
I never attempted to Talk to my brother after that experience or my father. I did not think it wise. I wasn’t sure to what or whom, I’d be communicating. I have already been hospitalized once in my life, and I didn’t want that to reoccur. Yet, I do feel like the Dead hear us, and are somehow present in communion- and even continue to pray. Days after my brother’s body had been turned over to the coroner, I saw a squirrel. I don’t know why, but it reminded me of David. Something he said once, I suppose. David is never far from me.Nor is my Dad. He is always in my thoughts. And although David chose to end his life in the last mad angry 12 hours of his existence, he was a compassionate, funny, creative and soulful being. I think he is o.k. I think he is now fully known, perfectly accepted, and forever loved. and like Paul, I don’t know to much. I see in part. Like a fogged window. One day I will know in full. Until then, Faith -Hope- and Love.
What are your thoughts?