Last night I watched a television show about a man who heard voices. Or said he did, anyway. And he wasn’t a schizophrenic living out the rest of his days in a mental hospital on heavy doses of medication. Quite the opposite. Rather than a curse, his “condition” had given him a rather appealing life, complete with a big home, a fancy car, nice clothes, and a fat bank account.
All because of the voices.
The money comes from despairing family members and loved ones of those who have shed their mortal coils and gone over to what he calls “the other side.” He hears them, he says. He hears the dead. And he’s more than willing—for a small fee—to “cross over” to “the other side” and convey a message from the dead to the living.
What this side is or where it is or what it looks like are things he said he’d rather not get into, though I’m not sure why. It would seem to me that knowing what sort of calming and joyful paradise a person’s lost loved ones were in would bring just as much comfort as hearing their words from a third party. But the ways of the psychic are mysterious and unknowable (according to him, anyway). The rules are different but no less forgiving if broken.
As much as I wanted to laugh at his antics—boy, could that guy act!—I couldn’t dismiss his claims. There’s a lot I don’t buy into as far as the paranormal goes, but hearing the voices of those who have passed on? Absolutely. And not only do I believe it happens, I believe it happens to me.
Granted, it isn’t in such a fantastical way as what happens to the guy on television. When the voices come, they don’t make me seize up. Don’t make me speak in weird accents, either. And I doubt very much that after they’re done saying whatever they need to say, I give a very serious look into the nearest television camera. It’s much slighter than that. Like a whisper.
My grandmother spoke to me a few days ago. I was doing a little work in the yard and a blue jay decided to fly into the tree above me and sing. A lot was on my mind that day. Lots to do, lots waiting after that. I was tired. Not the sort of tired you feel after you’ve accomplished something, but the bad tired, the sort that seems to push down on you like a wall. I leaned on my rake and looked up into the branches. That’s when I heard her.
An image flashed into my mind of her and I in the garden when I was a boy. We’d been picking beans and shucking corn and digging potatoes, and I’d said something to the effect that it didn’t matter how much work we did, there would always be more. And just then a blue jay had flown onto the telephone line and started to sing. And I remembered her saying, “Birds have to do a lot of work. They have to build nests and look for food and find water. But they still find cause to sing while they’re working.”
The neighbor I had growing up spoke to me a few days later. I was hanging curtains in the living room and not having a very successful go at it. I had ten minutes before I had to leave and pick up the kids, and the temptation was to just hurry up and get it done. That’s when I heard him. He was a builder, and a good one. Another image flashed into my mind, this of me standing out in his workshop and shaking his calloused hand and him saying, “Want to know the secret of good building? It’s doing it and knowing God’s watching.”
I took my time then. Did it right. Like he would have.
This isn’t extraordinary by any means. Not merely the property of rich and famous psychics. This is something we all are given.
Yes, the dead speak to us. They live on elsewhere, but also here. They whisper when we need them, appearing not as shadows in abandoned houses but as the people they were in our hearts. Guiding us. Keeping eye on us.
And reminding us of the wisdom they still hold.