Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Voice From Beyond

Desperation sometimes lands me in unexpected places. Yesterday is a prime example of that. I was asked to sing for a funeral, not because I am a great singer, but because I CAN sing decently, and the church was desperate for another soprano. It was a little weird. I won't go into details as to why, but it was knee-quivering weird just being there.

Nevertheless, I was glad to be able to help out. The granddaughter of the deceased is a former classmate of mine, and I am grateful that I was given the privilege of honoring her grandmother with beautiful A Cappella hymns. I am also grateful to have been present to experience something that may forever be emblazened in my brain as a realization that I have evolved and continue to evolve to higher spiritual planes. That experience is the subject of this post.

We sang a few hymns as requested by the family. My uncle, who was also singing with us, then went to the front to read the obituary. That was followed by a recorded hymn which included four different solos. If you have never really listened to A Cappella music, it can be hauntingly beautiful. In this case, haunting and beautiful are both understatements.

The first solo was sung by Melody, a daughter of the deceased, who was most certainly prophetically named. She has such a rich, beautiful contralto voice. Goodness knows it would be almost impossible for a son or daughter to sing at their parent's funeral, but thanks to technology, everyone will remember her resonant, unquivering voice delivering its message of triumph for her mother.

The second and third solos were sung by two ladies, both dear friends of the first soloist and members of the same singing group. Again, their voices are simply beautiful, and their recorded solos resonated through the church auditorium with an almost indescribable richness.

Then came the fourth solo. I don't know that I would have reacted the same way had I heard the song in a different setting, yet because we were at a funeral, my reaction was one that will be remembered for a very long time. The fourth soloist was a tenor. His voice was sweet and familiar. The wife he had left behind was sitting on the pew beside me as the other "desperation soprano". You see, Deryl left us a few years back to go hang out with his Jesus. Cancer took him from this dimension at a very young age. Yet there he was, right in our midst. His voice was as alive and full of beauty as it had ever been. I struggled to hold it together. I was not ABOUT to cry. No sir. Not me. I sat as still as a rock, not even daring to breathe. I swallowed hard a couple of times. I cut my eyes sideways enough to notice his widow reach for a tissue and wipe her eyes.

Let's be clear...he was the auditorium...with us. It was like he was heaven's usher reaching his hand out to the spirit of the lady whose body lay in the casket, his pure sweet voice singing its song to guide her confidently to her eternal home and the arms of her Father. Shivers literally rocked my entire body. My throat gets tight and my eyes well up even now as I think about it. Yes, he was there. I could not see him, but I certainly felt him.

There are those who say the deceased cross over and never come back to us. They base this belief on the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus found in the New Testament. In that story, both the rich man and Lazarus die. Lazarus goes to paradise and the rich man finds himself in torment begging for a drink of water to cool his burning unquenchable thirst. When Abraham insists that Lazarus cannot and will not cross over to bring the rich man water, the rich man asks Abraham to let Lazarus go back to warn the rich man's brothers about the impending doom that awaits them. Again Abraham refuses to honor the request citing that it would do no good as they would not listen to a dead man's ghost anymore than they would listen to the prophets.

Many people for any number of reasons have their spiritual radar turned off. For them, as it was for the rich man's brothers, it would be a total waste of time for a spiritual being to attempt to communicate. They would reject the communication attempt as a figment of their imagination or attribute it to something they could easily explain away such as too much alcohol, fatigue, or being overly emotional and distraught.

Yet for those who are open and receptive, visits from the spiritual realm are a peaceful reminder that we are interconnected throughout eternity. Those of us who still possess a mortal body find comfort in knowing that even in passing, our loved ones are merely changed, not gone. They have been set free of the physical restrictions that the rest of us must still endure for awhile longer. Sometimes they find ways to let us know everything is okay. Other times, they provide us with a playful reminder of the things they loved.

Some Christians will see this description as contradictory to scripture. Others reading this will release a resounding AMEN and follow up with thanks for having the courage to put into words the things they have secretly felt for quite some time. Still others will simply say, "I never really thought about it like that. Maybe so, maybe not."

Jesus Christ came in part to enlighten us. A portion of his task was to lift our thinking and intentions to a higher plane--one on which we could fully communicate with him and with the Father. He told his disciples that's why he spoke in parables. The average person was incapable of understanding the spiritual message behind his stories. Yet his disciples, those whom he had chosen and those who had chosen him had been elevated to higher plane of enlightenment and understanding. They had the ability to "get it".

Saturday morning, when I realized what I was feeling as I heard the beautiful voice from beyond, I held a small celebration inside of my heart. I have come such a very long ways from where I once was. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to understand the many ways in which God communicates with his chosen ones. Some have the luxury of willingly choosing to communicate with God. Others like Saul of Tarsus and Angie of Texas had to be dropped square on their heads before they would or even could allow themselves to be lifted up to higher planes where communication with God is possible. I would suggest the need for aspirin, but the elevation and being in the presence of the Great Physician has done wonders for coping with the pain that I occasionally experience.

Hey Deryl, thanks for stopping by. It's been way too long. Let's do it again some time. Maybe next time a few more of your friends will get to experience your presence. 'Til then........

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