Friday, June 11, 2010

Spooked

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR’s religion correspondent, wanted to know whether science can present evidence for a spiritual dimension. As she was researching the question, she was a little embarrassed, “spooked” to find herself experiencing transcendence. I count myself among those who believe that spiritual entities touch us at times, that the inner realm breaks into our outer lives with messages. What spooked Hagerty consoles me, and I like to collect stories of this phenomenon.

Annelee Woodstrom was raised in Hitler’s Germany and after World War II came to Minnesota as the bride of an American soldier. She tells this story in her second book, Empty Chairs. Her daughter Sandy was looking forward to a promotion in May. With the raise in pay she planned to buy her parents a new car and they couldn’t talk her out of it. Annelee wrote,
I was happy for Sandy but I was troubled. . . . Without reason, the death skeleton that depicted the Totentanz (Death Dance) in the cemetery chapel in my hometown became a vision that floated through my mind. I couldn’t talk to anyone either because they would think that I had lost my mind. . . .
I looked forward to my children’s visit for Mothers Day, so I tried to clear my mind and feel good. . . . and yet the death skeleton would not leave me. . . .
On Mother’s Day Sandy said, “Mom, I have never been as happy in my life as I am right now. Everything seems to be going my way.” But the death skeleton became bolder. One day Annelee awoke, filled with the skeleton vision and the scent of flowers permeating the room along with a feeling of doom and urgency.
Sandy’s room was being remodeled but the local furniture store could not supply the type of carpet she wanted. On May 18, Annelee insisted her husband Kenny drive with her to Fargo to buy the carpet that very night, all the while oppressed by the thought that someone was going to die. When they came home with the carpet, she insisted that Marvin, their neighbor who built and remodeled homes, lay the carpet that very night.
“Tonight?” Marvin asked unbelieving.
“Yes, tonight.” I looked at the clock. “I know it is 8:30, but I know you can get it done.”
Marvin’s wife Joyce asked, “Why is it so important to have the carpet in tonight? Are you planning a party?”
Annelee didn’t dare say the skeleton vision and the scent of flowers were haunting her. Marvin went to work and laid the carpet for Sandy’s room.
The next two days Annelee drove herself as she had driven her neighbors, working late into the night on teacher duties for the approaching end of school year. In the middle of the night after Saturday May 20, she and Kenny were awakened by their pastor with the news that Sandy had been killed in a car accident.

Conventional science cannot explain Annelee’s premonition. Believers in Spirit, religious and non-religious, disagree on details but their varying explanations all come down to a non-material or spiritual dimension in the universe with which we are connected.

And that comforts me.

The Other Side calls (August 8)
I consider my son and daughter to have had a third set of grandparents, Mazie and Lee. Mazie, who loved to shower gifts on children, passed away, but I still like to visit with Lee, a WWII veteran and lover of history. He led me to much of the information and most of the oral interviews in my Avon centennial history, which got me onto Garrison Keillor's show. Lee gave me a book he was sure I’d enjoy, War Child: Growing Up in Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Lee also was sure I could find a way to get in touch with the author, whom he wanted to meet.

Author Annelee Woodstrom grew up in Bavaria, where American soldier Kenny Woodstrom fell in love with her and persuaded her to marry him and move to Minnesota. I finally did get in touch with Annelee and learned that her book group had read my God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky. (How's that for synchronicity?) Lee and I are rewarded with stories from Annelee. Her account of the Other Side’s insistent nudges when they lost their daughter Sandy is in the post above.
Here is another of her stories:
On Sunday, January 27th, 1998, Kenny was hospitalized at the Veteran's Hospital in Fargo, ND. On Tuesday Kenny told me, "Annelee, I am not coming home this time, I will die here so please call Roy and Linda and tell them to bring the children. I want to talk with them before I leave this earth."

Kenny could not be persuaded to change his mind. So Roy, Linda, and the grandchildren Titus and Liv arrived on Wednesday. Kenny talked with them, recalled the past and was happy they were present. On Friday he wished Freya could come too but assumed she couldn’t as she was working in Atlanta. I told Kenny, "I was not going to tell you, but Freya is flying in to be with you."
"When will she be here?"
"Maybe Sunday or Monday."
Kenny smiled, "Then I wait."
The nurses and doctors who had taken care of Kenny for the past eight years, marveled at his spirit, his clarity of thought and his determination to speak with family and friends. He was so happy to see Freya and visit with her. She was his first-born granddaughter, and he loved her dearly.

By Wednesday, February 6th, he had visited with his family and friends and said, "Now I am ready to go." Kenny drifted at times and seemed asleep. He opened his eyes after one of those absent times, looked at his friends, Janet and Gordon, at me and Dennis, my favorite nephew, and asked, "Why I am back? It was so beautiful where I was. I saw Ma, Dad, Sandy, Eddie, and other friends. They all were waiting for me. So why did I come back?"

The minister, who was also Kenny's friend said, "Kenny, maybe it is not your time to go?" Kenny was completely lucid when he was awake, but when he drifted for a brief time, he always repeated that it was so beautiful where he’d been and they were waiting for him.

On Thursday, Feb. 7th, during the evening hours I was alone with Kenny. He seemed asleep. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and said to me, "Annelee, I was back and saw Sandy. She is waiting for me and I should go. Look! Do you see her?"
He pointed over to the wall across from where I was standing. I took his hand. He pointed and asked me again, "Don't you see Sandy and her friends? Ma, Dad and Eddie—they are right over there, don't you see?"
I shivered, "No Kenny, I don't see them."
"Oh, maybe you need different glasses. They’re there, waiting for me."
Kenny drifted in and out. We talked about our family, about how lucky we were. We had over 50 years together. After midnight Kenny was sleeping peacefully.

On Friday, the 8th of February, a nurse who had become his friend came and said, “Why don't you and Dennis go for breakfast, and I will ready Kenny for the day. I looked at Kenny who was still sleeping, resting peacefully, so Dennis and I left. On the way back from breakfast, Dennis went up ahead of me, then came back and met me in the hall. Hugging me, he said, "Annelee, Kenny left us while we were gone."

The nurse said, "Kenny wanted to leave while you were gone. It was easier that way for everyone. I want you to know that everyone who took care of Kenny will miss him dearly. He was a special patient and a special man.”

Readers of my blog have read more stories of the Other Side beckoning at the end of life (Check out stories under "Paranormal" in my Index).

From my friend Carol comes a sequel to The Other Side.
My mother died in the early hours of January 1, 2010. At 4:45 in the morning, my brother telephoned to say she was gone and that he was on his way to her residence to meet the folks from the funeral home who were coming to transfer her remains. As we talked briefly, I asked my brother to find out the exact time that my mother had died. For some reason that was important to me and I wanted him to ask the nurse who had been in attendance at her death.

Later that morning my brother telephoned again to tell me that Mother had died at 4:30 a.m. I accepted this, but I was still consumed with the importance of her time of death.

A few days after Mother's funeral my husband and I drove to our home in Arizona and spent the following several days getting settled. Still I had the time of death on my mind. Then one night, when we both were sound asleep, the telephone rang in our bedroom. Twice. Awakening me. I glanced at the clock. It was 4:17 a.m. And there is NO telephone in our bedroom.

I knew this was my mother, telling me at what time she had passed into eternal life. I also knew she was telling me she was safe and happy, and in a good place. I smiled to myself and immediately fell back asleep.

Jung on parapsychology (September 23, 2010)
When I started reading Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts, I felt strongly that it expands on the work of Carl Jung. Seth, the spiritual entity speaking, confirms this in a chapter that overtly builds on Jungian concepts.

Carl Jung challenged literal Christian beliefs while recommending the tradition for guiding people into the spiritual world. Against the grain of conventional opinion, Jung accepted spiritualistic phenomena. Gifted psychics really do know facts not learned through the physical senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, or tasting. Animals really do sense storms and earthquakes before they occur, dreams tell beforehand that someone will die, and clocks stop at the moment of death. My cousin, who was close to my brother, a priest, lit a candle on the day he was dying, several states away from where he was dying. The candle burned out at the moment of death. Such stories about the inner world’s knowledge abound. See also my blogposts indexed under “Paranormal.”

Jung never espoused or repudiated reincarnation, but he was open to the possibility. As for channeling, Jung attended the séances of a teenage girl. In The Portable Jung, Joseph Campbell relates:
He joined the sessions, and for the next two years, meticulously took notes, until, in the end, the medium, feeling her powers failing, began to cheat, and Jung departed.
I follow Jung in his acceptance of parapsychology, which are psychic abilities that neither science nor traditional religion explains. In fact, you can’t read Jung without being drawn into the knowledge that such phenomena exist, that they’re authentic, and that you have experienced or heard about similar events but didn’t let yourself dwell on them because they’re not explainable in terms accepted by our dominant society. They Spook some people.
Jung died in 1961, almost 50 years ago. If he were alive today, I think he might be a student of Seth.

I have always been attracted to evidence of messages from the Other Side. Why does the official Church frown on it? I can only guess and base my guess on its documents, which insist on “the primacy of the Christian faith.” Apparently it’s jealous of its authority; it wants to be THE only vehicle of knowledge about the spiritual world. It’s losing the competition.
While our dominant purveyors of knowledge—science and religion—don’t accept communication from the Other Side, ordinary people do. Here’s an example:
When my brother was very ill, someone was in the hospital room with him at all times. One night he asked everyone to leave; he wanted to spend one night alone in the hospital, he said, and he felt quite well. That night he died, peacefully by himself. We believe he did not want anyone around when he "let go."
Marilyn
This mirrors Annelee’s story about her husband Kenny’s death.

In The Varieties of Religious Experience, philosopher/psychologist William James quotes many persons who experienced the inner dimension, which they call God. They can’t be talked out of believing something spiritual communicated with them, saying things like,
God is more real to me than any thought or thing or person.
God surrounds me like a physical atmosphere.
Because their conviction is based on feelings “much more convincing than results established by mere logic ever are,” writes James, he had little respect for the pooh-poohing of rationalists:
Something in you absolutely knows that that result must be truer than any logic-chopping rationalistic talk, however clever, that may contradict it.
William James, Carl Jung, and Barbara Bradley Haggerty present evidence of a dimension beyond ordinary sensory knowledge from a scientific perspective, which carries much credibility for me. More than religion, their work also consoles and uplifts me.