EXCERPTED FROM:EXPLORING THE AFTERLIFE, VOYAGE BEYOND DOUBT, MY SECOND BOOK
OLD HABITS DIE HARD, RETRIEVING A GRANDMOTHER
Copyright: Bruce A. Moen, All Rights Reserved
"Well, hello Bruce, I heard the Pastor's voice say behind me, "haven't seen you here in a while."
I was sneaking in to pick my daughter from Sunday School between church services. The Pastor's voice let me know I'd been caught with an opening line I'd heard before. Turning to face him I said the first thing that came to mind.
"You know, Pastor I'd come more often, but it doesn't feel honest."
"How's that?" he said, with that naive smile I'm sure ministers must practice in front of a mirror at home.
"I'd come more often if we could come to some understanding about my past life."
"Well, I know we all have things in our past we're not proud of, it's part of being human."
"No, I mean past like a lifetime in the middle eighteen hundreds as a farmer in south western France."
That seemed to stop him, and his smile sagged momentarily.
"I see . . . . maybe you'd like to come to our Saturday morning Bible study?"
I was immediately impressed that he didn't reject me and walk away to smile at better Lutherans. It was the first time in my life anyone from the religion of my youth hadn't either walked away or started a theological debate with me on the spot.
"What time does the group meet?"
"Come by around 8:30 any Saturday morning you'd like to join us."
The following Saturday morning began a period of several years in which I had the privilege of meeting once a week with a wonderful group of people. All were interested in gaining better understanding of the Bible and what it had to say about living their lives. I learned more about what the Bible's message means to me than at any other time of my life. No one was there to convert anyone. It was just a small, close knit group of friends who learned quickly that I didn't necessarily share all their Lutheran beliefs. My favorite rib when I was feeling defensive, which wasn't often, was always the same.
"You know Martin Luther was a Catholic priest who couldn't swallow every belief his Church tried to feed him. So he struck out on his own to find the truth for himself. My only basic disagreement with Lutheranism is that it worships what he said instead of doing what he did."
Fortunately that crack was always met with good-natured laughter. Our discussions were often lively, fun and interesting. Many had come to this church from a different belief system or denomination of Christianity. Not many agreed with the beliefs I held at the time, but they were willing to allow me to have and share them. What a gift that pastor and the rest of the group gave me.
During one of our Bible studies in March of 1994 we were sharing our images of what comes after this life on earth. When my turn came I talked about some of the experiences I had exploring the Afterlife and some of the things I'd found There. After our Bible study ended a friend, named Marla, approached me. Her grandmother had died a little over a year ago and she asked me if I would check on her. A little surprised she felt okay asking me to do such a thing, I told her I'd be happy to. After explaining all I would need was her grandmother's name, Marla wrote it down for me - Gertrude Euphamia Weatherwax.
That facet of doing retrievals still fascinates me. It always works, but I'm still amazed that a person's name serves as an unerring address to find them. Marla's grandmother's name was certainly not common, some might even call it unusual. But it doesn't matter how common the person's name is. I know if I was looking for John Jones I'd be led to the right one. It always works.
For as many times as I had done retrievals by then you'd think I'd be supremely confident. Well I wasn't. After Marla gave me her grandmother's name I followed my usual pattern. I put it off and put it off feeling anxious with maybe I won't be able to do it this time thoughts nagging at me. The time it takes me to actually try to find someone is a measure of my doubt. So Friday night came, I'd be seeing Marla the next morning and I still hadn't tried to find her grandmother. It was part of still having doubt about the validity of my experience that made me worry I'd be unable to find her. I had no good, rational reason to feel that way as successful, verified retrievals had become pretty routine by then. But there was still that nagging doubt that said someday I'd discover somehow I was making it all up in my head. My old beliefs would have to be challenged much more before I could accept this afterlife stuff I was doing as real. Relaxing on my waterbed, Friday evening, I shifted to Focus 27 and checked in with Coach.
"Coach, I'd like to be sure that information comes to me that will let Marla know I found her grandmother and that she's all right.
"Okay, Bruce. I'll be glad to help with that," Coach replied in my thoughts.
Then I brought Gertrude's name to mind and moments later I was moving through the familiar, 3D, grainy blackness at a leisurely pace toward an old woman sitting in a chair.
It was an old, high backed, wooden chair sitting near an equally old wooden table. The woman was small and frail looking, sitting bent slightly forward at the waist. She seemed to be in her kitchen, sitting in the only place familiar enough to feel. She looked to be in a very confused, distracted state of mind. It was as if she was unaware of anything in her surroundings beyond her wooden chair. It felt like she had almost no contact with any form of reality you or I would recognize as coherent or sequenced in any way. Whatever was in her awareness seemed fragmented, to the point that she had long ago given up trying to make any sense of things happening around her. Like being locked in a continuous, fragmented dream where none of the bits and pieces related to each other.
Slowly, I moved closer to her, stopping about six or seven feet away. I had no particular plan in mind as to how best to help so I just stood there watching and waiting for Gertrude to notice me. I was waiting for something to happen or occur to me which would resonate with her situation. A way to approach and retrieve her that she'd be able to accept. By this time I'd learned to refrain from jumping into the retrieval process and trying to figure out the right way to do it. During my first retrieval with Rebecca I'd almost lost contact with the little boy in the hospital because I was trying to figure out the right way. That bit of buried treasure taught me a lesson. At least I sometimes now remembered to wait for something to occur to me instead of trying to take control on my own.
As I stood there Gertrude turned slightly in my direction and saw me. A puzzled expression swept over her face as she wondered who I was. In the next instant I could feel Rebecca approaching from behind me and to my right. I hadn't told her anything about Gertrude or that I was planning to find and retrieve her. Still, I could feel Rebecca coming up behind me and she was moving very fast.
In a blur of speed Rebecca passed between me and where Gertrude was sitting. She stopped, standing motionless, to my left and a little behind Gertrude's chair. Next I felt the approach from behind and to my right of two other women. They were moving more slowly toward Gertrude. I watched as they moved, side by side, toward her. These two were dressed up in little-old-lady-bodies and looked to be in their late seventies. The one nearest me I recognized as Rebecca's deceased grandmother whom I'd met and worked with before. I didn't have a clue who the other woman was until Gertrude looked her direction and an expression of recognition filled her body and lit up her face.
"Maggie?. . . . Maggie? . . . What are you doing here?" Gertrude said.
The two old ladies walked to either side of the chair. Gertrude's open-mouthed gaze followed every move of the woman she'd called Maggie. It was like watching a scene in a nursing home with two older residents helping a frail old lady up out of her chair. One on each side of her, they each slowly bent down, reaching for a hand and elbow. The two old ladies gently lifted Gertrude to a standing position. Her gaze was fixed on Maggie the entire time. After helping her take a few shuffling steps the four of them began moving away. Slowly at first, they flew back the direction they came. Then, accelerating rapidly, they quickly disappeared into the blackness.
I had been waiting for something to occur to me as a way to assist Gertrude when the three women appeared. Instead of some clever idea coming along it was all been taken care of as I watched. It didn't occur to me there was anything else I needed to hang around for so I opened my eyes and got up off the bed. After scrounging in the refrigerator for something to eat, I sat down at the table and wrote everything I could remember about the experience.
The next morning being Saturday I went to Bible study as usual. After we'd finished I took Marla aside and told her I was pretty sure I'd found her grandmother. We sat down in a quiet spot and I told her everything I could remember. I was feeling a little anxious about doing this since it was an opportunity to gather evidence of the Afterlife from a real world source. Part of me was worried that none of what I told Marla would match with what she knew. Another part of me was just as worried that all of it would. But in my compulsive habit to verify any information I could, I had to know.
Her grandmother had been very confused for the last six to eight months of her life. Although she didn't call it Alzheimer's, by Marla's description it was that level of confusion. For the last few months of Gertrude's life she spent much of her time in the only place she seemed comfortable. That was sitting, like I described, on a wooden chair near the table in her kitchen. Although Marla knew Gertrude's mother's name was Margaret, she thought it very strange that her own daughter would call her Maggie. Listening to Marla I began to feel disoriented and stunned.
It was obvious as we talked that Marla was very uncomfortable and concerned about some of what I'd told her. Her own beliefs held that when we die we're set free from all physical afflictions, welcomed into Heaven and reunited with loved ones who'd passed on before. The idea that her grandmother had been stuck in that chair alone, confused and lost for almost a year of our time greatly bothered her. I remember telling her that's one of the reasons I continued to do the retrieval work I'd learned. It bothered me too.
This retrieval brings up an example of how the circumstances of a person's death can effect their Afterlife experience. Gertrude's confusion near the end of her life Here had become a habit she'd gotten used to. When she entered the Afterlife that habit persisted. She was no longer living in a physical body whose condition controlled her mental state, but the mental habits of confusion and disorientation she acquired in that body persisted. She had given up trying to make sense of her surroundings before she died and in the Afterlife that decision retained its power. At her death she had only been freed of the physical condition which caused her to make that decision. In the Afterlife she would have to change her beliefs and mind set to fully recover.
Comparing notes with Rebecca later, she confirmed every detail of what I'd seen just after she'd arrived with the two other women. Details as small as which side she had approached me from behind were all identical to my notes. I had some pretty strong evidence for my doubt to chew on.
The following week at Bible study Marla told me she'd checked with her own mother, Gertrudes' daughter, who confirmed everything, including Gertrude calling Margaret Maggie.
When I got that piece of information from Marla something inside me winced and squirmed. There was no rational explanation for my knowing Maggie's name. For a few brief moments I felt the world around me quiver and shimmer like a mirage. I felt my Interpreter step to the fore to express the voice of my Doubt. I listened while it rationalized away the experience away in a string of associations.
"Rebecca, she was there. Must have been Rebecca's doing!" my Interpreter opened.
"I suppose it could have somehow been Rebecca."
"Rebecca, oh yes, Rebecca. She's a mind reader, that's it, she just read Marla's mind!
"Marla, oh yes, Marla. Marla knew Gertrude's mother's name was Margaret."
"I guess . . ."
"Guess, oh yes, guess. Maggie was a pretty lucky guess on Rebecca's part."
"But how did I know."
"Know, oh yes, know. You know how to read minds, especially Rebecca's.
You probably just read her mind, you really didn't get anything on your own, she did. None of this proves anything about the reality of the Afterlife."
"Damn it! I don't believe it was Rebecca's lucky guess. You're not getting out of this one that easy. If the Afterlife doesn't exist there's no rational way Rebecca could know Maggie was the name. No other rational way!"
"Rational, oh yes, rational. There you go Bruce! You said it yourself, getting that name was . . . irrational! Irrational . . . oh . . yes . . . irrational. You know what happens to people who become too irrational don't you!"
"Well, yes, go too far and people might think I'm insane."
"That's right! The guys in the white coats might come looking for you!
"They might think I'm a real fruit!"
"Fruit, oh yes fruit. Bruce, are bananas fruit?"
"I wonder if they grow bananas in Brazil?"
The Interpreter as the voice of my Doubt is a deep baritone. Not quite down there with James Earl Jones, but close the same frequency range. That voice sounds very impressive. It doesn't rely on good logic to sway me from accepting my experience. Instead it just keeps bringing associated thoughts and images into my awareness from pre-existing memory. Doubt just seems to pop up with those associations.
The undeniable fact that I'd correctly received Maggie's name should have been enough evidence to alleviate my doubt. It was enough to make my world shake and shimmer, but when that stopped I still doubted the reality of the experience. I still wasn't absolutely certain it proved the existence of the Afterlife. All it proved is that beliefs and doubts can put up very strong resistance.
Return to the list of Articles \
Conversation Board \
Frequently Asked Questions \