My brother-in-law Donny spoke matter-of-factly as he described that night, in great detail, what he saw through sleepy eyes. He had dozed off on the couch in the living room, and woke to the feeling that he was being watched. This startled him, prompting him to suddenly open his eyes and lift his head. He rubbed his neck from the awkward neck cramp and turned towards the hall to see his mom standing there, very much alive, looking down at him with a smile and shaking her head. “It’s as if she was laughing at my having dozed off on the couch again,” he explained. “She used to always think I was so funny – guess I should be glad that I can still entertain her!” I feigned a laugh, but deep down I was so frustrated. Regardless of whether or not he was really awake or simply dreamed this, I was so jealous.
When I was a child, I had colorful dreams, sometimes even screaming nightmares. I remember my father rolling his eyes, calling me “a dreamer” with his heavy “Missoura drawl,” and Mom agreed that I had a vivid imagination, as I would recount the adventures I had encountered the night before. But I don’t dream much anymore, or if I do, I just don’t remember them – even tiny glimpses into what I had encountered in my slumber. Oh, how I wished I could see some of my own loved ones. A vision of some sort would be really cool, but I’d even settle for a dream encounter.
I’ve lost several of my favorite people recently: my dad 16 years ago in 1998, my mom in 2010, then my grade school best friend 2 years ago and my 19-year-old son 5 months later in 2012.
Last year, a friend who knew of these longings, told me that a famous psychic would be speaking just a few miles away. Mark Anthony (his “professional” name) owns lots of credibility because he is also a licensed Florida attorney, is well-educated, well spoken, and, as you can imagine, quite charismatic.
I wrestled with the ethics of it all. Christians are prohibited from “conjuring up” the dead (necromancy), and specifically consulting for advice or to predict the future. The logic is that there’s no possible way to discern between your loved one, a good spirit, or an evil one. The “evil one” is a master of disguises, and sure to lead us astray.
But it’s always easy to make an justify exception for yourself for basically anything. First of all, according to Anthony, we’re not conjuring up anyone – the spirits, including our loved ones, are right there with us all the time – we just can’t see them. But a psychic can, apparently. Furthermore, I wasn’t looking for advice or predictions, I just want to know they’re ok. Sounds good, right?
So, of course we were there in his audience. What we didn’t know was that we really needed to get there early, sit in front by the aisle, and be the first to volunteer if he asked for one if we really wanted something for “free” . The idea that he would pull us out of the crowd and describe Mom or Cullen, Mike or Ricky was perhaps unrealistic, even if it happens that way on TV. Shar did pull my arm and tell me to stand up when he asked if anyone knew an elderly woman in a flowery yellow dress. At this point I was back to my skeptical “Missoura show me” cynicism, so I simply rolled my eyes at the thought this might be my Mom. But three others certainly thought it was theirs.
I did feel obliged to give him a “second chance” when we went up afterwards to have him sign one of the books he had authored (I had read it years ago). I also wanted to ask him a question regarding something he had said during his talk. Someone had asked him about feeling so important, being able to connect the living with their loved ones who had “crossed over.” He replied with much humility, that he was just a regular person, that for some reason could pick up on the different “vibration frequencies” that these passed spirits have, much different from our own, since we’re still alive. He said he had the same questions and doubts that everyone else has. But this intrigued me; I was fascinated.
As my turn in the queue to Anthony’s table neared, he looked up, turned to me and kind-of gave me a funny look. I wasn’t sure whether he saw “something” around me, or if he was just perturbed that so many wanted his signature. Just as I was making sure that my “Camino with Cullen” bracelet was hidden, and my Chinese tat of Cullen’s name was tucked under my sleeve, he greeted us and I proceeded to ask him my question.
“Mark, you mentioned having doubts, just like everyone else. What the heck does that mean? If I could see and communicate with the other side, I can’t imagine having any doubts. As a matter of fact, I’d be on TV and the radio, proclaiming from the mountaintops what I had seen!” Frankly I don’t remember his response, because before he answered he said something about knowing St. Francis of Assisi being important to me. Now, I hadn’t told him my name yet, so there’s no way he could know I had once owned “Assisi Animal Hospital,” and since I wasn’t coming from work, I wasn’t wearing scrubs or any other tell-tale animal or vet adornments. So I was in a bit of a WTF mode and I forgot everything else he said to me. Bear in mind that this was also more than a year before our new Pope would take the name of Francis, so even if he had seen me at church or come other Catholic “marker,” he couldn’t even know this.
Whether or not dreams really mean anything, it would still be nice to talk to my son. Or Mom. Or Daddy. Until then I just need to keep plodding forward on “Faith.”
“Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed they who have not seen and have believed.” JN 20:29
Guess having faith is what we’re supposed to do anyway. So although I’d love some kind of a vision or apparition, I really gotta stop demanding one. As I remember, Jesus got pretty upset when people were demanding “signs” so they could believe.
“The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” MK 8-11-12
I suppose the line forming for “people who have made Jesus upset” is another one I’d rather avoid when I leave here.