April 15, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Touching the lives of loved ones after death

The night my mother died, I was thousands of miles away on a winter photo shoot with my husband and another couple. I was unaware of what was happening in Illinois.

One night, I awoke after a dream in which I searched for Mom in a large, open building with rooms resembling small courtyards. I went from area to area, beginning to panic. Suddenly, Mom was near—smiling, hugging me and telling me I needn’t worry. She was safe and happy. I felt warm and comfortable again then awoke to check the clock.

The next morning, as Paul and I and our friends headed toward our rooms after breakfast, the motel manager intercepted us, saying my sister called to report Mom’s death, which occurred shortly before my dream.

I have shared this with only a few ­others. Some have shared similar ­experiences with me so my interest in such phenomena was already piqued when I learned that well-known Catholic writer Mitch Finley of Spokane, Wash., wrote a book about others’ similar experiences: Whispers of God’s Love: Touching the Lives of Loved Ones After Death (Liguori/Triumph, an imprint of Liguori Publications).

Finley’s introduction emphasizes what all Christians know: “… eternal life is an intimate union with God or the Divine Mystery Christians know as Love, an intimacy which begins here and now and is completed on the other side of natural death.

“It’s not as odd as it may sound … to suggest that those who have died may, on an unpredictable basis, manifest themselves to loved ones still plodding through history,” Finley explains. “If love transcends time and space yet is present in time and space, there is no reason why deceased loved ones may not, on occasion, be present to and communicate in some way with those still living in historical time.”

In his study, the author chose nearly 100 unique experiences from people responding to a letter to the editor sent primarily to Catholic publications, but also to several secular newspapers in big and medium-to-small cities. Not one editor told him “no.”

“I even received a few stories from Canada,” Finley said. “I sent no letters to Canadian newspapers, so how that happened I’ll never know.”

It must have been difficult for him to “pick and choose” what responses would be published. The writers are ordinary people with extraordinary stories that are touching and true, identified by first names only. Some are Catholic religious, both men and women. Also included are writings of a few famous persons as well as Finley’s “Rainbow from My Grandfather.” Delightfully surprising are his poetic and spiritual reflections woven throughout the text.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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