“Stately.” That is what he was. When John walked out to the street in the pre-dawn stillness, his Presence was simply “stately.” And I always greeted him with a “Good morning John.”
A man in his late seventies or early eighties, he moved rather serenely down his drive to deliver his gracious “Hello” and accept the morning newspaper from me. Clothed in his sleeping attire, with proper bath-robe and slippers, all about him was consistently in perfect order … collar set straight, robe tied with sash. A perfect Gentleman in appearance, and, always, in demeanor.
He frequently reminded me that he came out to get the paper for his Bride of many decades. And the pride and satisfaction in his announcement of his mission made clear his joy in knowing a blissful oneness with his beloved. He liked his wife! My “Good morning John” moment became something that I eagerly anticipated each morning.
Then, quite suddenly, he died. I was informed of his passing by his frail and totally distraught wife when she appeared one morning. “I want you to know how much John admired you.” she said. “And how he looked forward to your brief visits on the mornings when he was able to time his going out to coincide with your delivery. He liked that a lot.”
When I came to her house, the next day, I opted to pull my van into her driveway instead of driving by and tossing the paper onto the concrete as usual. I drove as close to the front door as possible, and tossed the newspaper up against its threshold. I knew that john would want it to be as convenient for her retrieval as possible. As I did so, I was aware of John’s approving Presence. And I said (aloud) “Good morning John.” Then, in response to the acute impression that was mine, I responded “You are quite welcome, My Friend.”
This became my daily ritual. Without variance or failing, John’s Presence was tangibly known to my senses. And I continued, as I had before his bodily departure, to look forward to, and enjoy exchanging my “Good morning John” for his Spirit’s greeting. Until that day. The day when I drove to the customary spot … and following the toss of the newspaper, I caught myself in an instant of awareness. I stopped … and took in the strange, still, emptiness of the place. I said nothing, for I was distinctly aware that John was not there. Just as clearly as any physical absence, the absence of his Spirit was profound. And I knew. She was gone. She no longer needed him there. They were gone. I missed them sorely.
Two days later, my knowledge was confirmed by a notice on the community message board. Condolences expressed to her family from the Homeowners Association. I simply nodded my head, as I passed the sign, in affirmation of what I had known for two days.
If you were to ask me if I believe in Spirits, and/or Souls, I would deliver, to you, the same response that Joseph Campbell gave to Bill Moyers in their famous and oft-replayed and re-printed interview that constitutes the majority of “The Power of Myth.” When asked if he was “a Believer” Campbell replied, “No.” “No, I am not a believer,” Campbell explained, “for a Believer is One who has agreed to accept some idea or concept offered, as fact. I have an intimate personal experience with the tenants of what to others is a matter of faith. So, I answer to you, ‘No I am not a Believer … for I am Experienced.' And the experience negates the need for belief.”
So, I say to you, Dear Friend, “No, I am not a Believer in Spirits and Souls.” For, you see, I have just related but one of several personal and intimately embraced experiences in my life that take me from a “Believer” to “Experienced.”
(This account is but one, of many to come, that are the fruits of twenty years invested in service to the residents of the Lake Forest community. My job having been terminated in the process of corporate downsizing and organizational restructuring, I find myself reflecting on a wealth of lovely and enjoyable experiences known over the course of those years. I do hope that you find this one story to be of some interest and/or benefit to you.)
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