Something Wonderful

Dianne Mueller

Jesus said it many of times, “I tell you the truth…”  And yet, in spite of the myriad witnesses to the many miracles he performed, there was still doubt about him.  No one doubted he could perform feats of magic, they just doubted he was the son of the Creator, the son of God Himself.   Rene Descartes said, 

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”   Still and all, we human beings do love being tricked.   We enjoy the sleight of hand with card tricks, or when they make elephants disappear.  We are too sophisticated in the twenty-first century to be taken in by a charlatan, a Ouija board, or a medium who offers to put us in direct touch with our dead relatives.  Yes, we love to be amazed but we don’t like to be fooled. 


The children and I were visiting my parents in Ohio one weekend in September, 1981.  Saturday morning I awoke and walked down the stairs and crossed the living room, heading toward the kitchen.  Why I paused to look out through the open drapes of the picture window, I don’t know.   I looked onto our street, another in a small suburban neighborhood with its 1950’s-style houses.   My gaze stopped on the house directly across from ours, the DeMartin house.  It was early, nothing was going on outside, no cars, no kids playing. 


I turned to my mother, “When did Mr. DeMartin die?”   I didn’t know the family very well, but he always seemed like a nice man, quite large and even jolly looking.


 “He’s not dead.”  Mom didn’t even look up from her newspaper,  her tone matter of fact.


 “Well… yes, he is.”  The knowing was there, in my mind.  Evan DeMartin had passed away, he was now spirit and we were somehow sharing the same plane of existence.  Mr. DeMartin was no longer living but he was still nearby, near his family.  I heard no voice, felt nothing physical, not even a twinge of fear or excitement at his presence.   It was funny that my mother didn’t question me again, but she decided to put this mistaken notion to rest and headed for the phone in the kitchen.


“I’m going to call Carol.”  Carol was our next door neighbor and a close friend of the DeMartin family, and if anyone knew the details of Evan’s death – or for Mom’s sake, IF he was dead - Carol would know.  A short phone call confirmed what I already knew.  Yes, Evan had passed away yesterday from an apparent heart attack.

That was it, it was over and never mentioned again.  We went on with our day.   I had been privileged to experience someone’s life after death but I forgot about it as quickly as it had come to me.  It might seem odd that such a remarkable experience left me unmoved and, worse yet, uncurious, but then it happened again. 


In one of his many letters, canonized in the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote to the new ‘Christ followers’ near Macedonia, in the bustling town of Thessalonica.  Something was obviously happening there because he wrote,


 “Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good…”  Were the Thessalonians having the same kind of beyond reality experience?  Were they knowing the unknowable, perhaps like I did, and attribute these experiences to Christ?  And had they made a mistake by sharing their story with others in the “church” and found themselves disparaged or worse yet condemned as heretics?   If anyone knew what it was like to experience the impossible, to hear and then actually see one who had been executed, it was Paul.  And yet he told us of his experience meeting Jesus on that dusty road to Damascus.  Paul was changed forever.  I had experienced Evan DeMartin’s spirit but I had not been changed.   But remember, I told you it happened again. 


That next time was more odd because I didn’t know the deceased.   I knew her daughter, Evelyn Fisher, one of my old Sunday school teachers, and I knew her children.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. 


We were again visiting the folks and since it was Sunday, and to make Mom happy we went to church.  I was standing out in the narthex talking to some old friends I hadn’t seen since we left Ohio years before.   When the organ began to play a prelude we all began to move slowly toward the sanctuary.   A young girl, perhaps eight or nine years old, was walking just ahead of me, and when she looked back to make sure her mother was following, I looked down at her and suddenly felt compassion for her.  She had lost her grandmother.


“I’m sorry about your grandmother passing away.”  The child stared up at me as if she had no idea what I was talking about.  I felt a tug on my arm. 


Mrs. Fisher overheard me and pulled me aside.  It was her mother, the child’s great-grandmother who had died yesterday; they just hadn’t told the child yet.   At this point you need to know something about spirits of the dead.  They are not bound by space – or distance.  Great-grandmother lived in and died in Florida.  Still no one asked me how I knew she was dead.   And, still, there was no doubt as to how I knew – great-grandmother was there, with me, in her new spirit condition.  Like Evan, perhaps she wanted to be near the people she loved.  That made sense to me.  Why did Evan and this stranger come to me?  I had no idea why, but it’s important that you know it never happened again.  


Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as a though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as if everything is.”   It eventually came to me why I had been so privileged to be in the presence of boundless love - if only for a brief time.  It was God who had been sharing some wonderful news with me, but since I had squandered the gift He must have decided not to waste any more spirit visits on me.  Those visits weren’t important enough to share with anyone and so He stopped sharing with me.  He had given me some very special news and I didn’t do a thing with it, like a Christmas present – one of those dreadful sweaters which I would never wear and so it stayed in the box, hidden in the back of the closet.  I kept the experiences to myself for a long time. 

It had come to me slowly that God used someone else’s departed loved ones to let me know that there was truly a place beyond this life, and that they were now with Him.  Great-grandmother and Evan were both church members and probably expected to be with God at their passing, just as Jesus had promised.  


You might think that events like these two visitations would be uncontainable, that the notion they inspire - that there is a Creator God who still communicates with us - would be irrepressible.  You might think that these stories would naturally burst out of me every time I encountered someone who never saw or heard evidence of God, nor believed the fantastic stories in the Bible.  But the truth is that these visits were so fleeting, and no one ever questioned how I knew things that I had no way of knowing so there was no corroboration of my experiences.   No one joined me in the immediate wonder of it all.  And, of course, the words to describe these visits always seemed inadequate. 


Nearly twenty years later since I finally knew what I needed to do, what I was supposed to do years before.  I was a little nervous at the thought of calling their families but thanks to the internet, I found one of Evan’s sons and then, through our old church, found Mrs. Fisher, who was now living in an assisted living facility.   


I started each conversation with, “I have something wonderful to tell you.”  They both made it easy for me.  Neither John McMartin nor Evelyn Fisher were at all surprised.  John even shared that he always felt his father was near by.   I apologized for waiting so long to share the wonderful news and Mrs. Fisher just said, “Thank you for calling.”