He called and asked me to come to his house. I was a very young minister serving in a small rural town. He told me how his granddaughter, as a small child, remembered in exquisite detail a house and a family that had lived across the street from him 60 years earlier. The house had burned down. The family had moved away. All that happened 50 years before his granddaughter was born. How could such a thing could happen, he wanted to know.
She was an elder in the church. She had coffee and cake waiting on the kitchen table when I arrived. Her story was about what happened the night after her mother died. She woke, suddenly, and her mother was sitting on the foot of her bed. Not only did her mother tell her about a hidden savings account that she had put aside for her grandson (which this woman found at the bank and turned over to her son), but her mother continued to visit this way from time to time for two years. She feared I would think she was crazy, but she felt she had to share it with someone.
The man’s story defied everything his religious faith allowed. When I shared with him the beliefs that some hold about reincarnation, he was certain that that was the explanation he was looking for. The woman knew that her mother was visiting her in spirit form. She just needed another human being on this side of things to bear witness with her.
Faith asks us to move beyond our comfort zones. Faith needs a community of witness. Because we are not static beings. Because our existence is not fixed. Ours is a spiritual existence, one that requires relationship.