An experience I’ve seen people have as a hospice chaplain and pastor is mystical experiences, where it’s as if a veil is lifted and for a moment people can see through into the other world we enter in death through resurrection so they can see that the one they love is fine, to free them to live free here in this world.
I’d looked for such an experience on the death of my wife, only encountering a deadening silence. Grief and trauma were like a dark shadow over me, with me way uncertain and path unclear.
Then I had a mystical experience like this at the installation of the Rev. Caleb Tabor at St Cyprian’s of Oxford. I was there to support my friend as he began his pastorate. When they said the prayer recognizing the communion of the saints, recognizing that as we take communion all who went before us into glory stand with us at the table, I saw a flash of light and saw what looked like my dear late wife standing tall, without any scoliosis, braces, crutches, or wheelchair as she had in this world, now dancing joyously with arms waving to the heavens …on the altar of communion.
I prayed that morning by her burial place at the church before going to my church’s 8:45 service for some sign that all I believe about heaven was not just true but true for her. I got a text from our dear friend Ivy Lake Light on the spot about all the many ways she has felt Kat’s presence this week. And then that. I feel like at that church, which with its drawing together different races, cultures, languages, and sexualities in the land of “Blood Done Signed My Name” is a picture of how Kat viewed heaven, the loving Spirit of God let me glimpse behind the veil and know in a deeper way that my dear departed darling is at peace, sweet peace, delivered from all that concealed her true beauty which shined through despite every physical pain or judgment the world gave her due to her disability or sexuality anyway, yet now shines without spot, wrinkle, or room for judging glance.
Looking back I see signs of such a breaking in of the other world into my life. I have seen so many deer come along my path, blocking me in the road as I drive. I even had to chase after my dogs who went running after a family of deer in the woods near where I live. A dear friend who is an Objibwe two spirit tells me that among his people such events recurring as they have are viewed as a loved one’s spirit sending messages, love notes if you will, from the other world. Deer he says are in his culture symbols of the protective love of a family , a way of telling me that my dear Kat is not just looking out for me but all of those she calls family, which for Kat was more than just blood relations but all whom she loved, cared for, and embraced in a deep profound way.
Is it any wonder I find hamsahs everywhere, like the hamsah our dear friend the late Rabbi Jernigan blessed for her? Every Abrahamic faith has a hamsah, a hand open in love and giving with an all-seeing eye in it. In each religion it is linked to a strong woman of God, and pictures the feminine side of God’s nature — mothering, life giving, fiercely protective of the ones God deems as family as a mother or sister would be. When we had our last meeting about her memorial, a group of people of all faiths sat down at dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant and what did we see? Hamsahs hanging brightly colored on every wall, encircling us. It is as if the Holy Spirit, whom I see as a mothering sisterly presence of God as many Jewish & Christian mystics have experienced Her to be, was whispering a message to me: Kat’s spirit goes on. She now has filled all lives and all places so that the same passionate fierce love she lived in this world now can guide, help, and protect others in this world from where she is in the next. May it be so.