My father passed away on a Wednesday in September. On the Sunday before he died; my brother, sister-in-law (to-be) and I, sat in silence next to my father while he slept in his hospice bed. A steady influx of friends and family had been in and out all day to pay their last respects. Everyone had eventually left the room, except for the three of us.
Before I go on; you should know that for some time, I’ve been grappling with the concept of God. While in some ways, I’ve become more spiritual, in other ways I stopped believing that God is an altruistic and omnipotent “being”, but rather a “thing” that lives in each of us, and that “thing” is all around us, in people, and nature, and we live and eat and breathe “it” every single day. Yet, while my father was sleeping and dying; it occurred to me that someone needed to pray for him, but to whom does one pray, if not to the “omnipotent?” I sat there waiting for someone to do it. It couldn’t be me, because I had questioned my very own faith in the altruistic “being” that I was supposed to believe in. Someone else had to pray, but still, praying for my father became increasingly more and more important to me.
I was in turmoil. So, I prayed about it. I prayed to the God that I learned to trust in my youth. I prayed that He would take my father swiftly and without pain when it was his time to go. I prayed for the healing that I hoped would take place in the rest of us, after he was gone. I prayed that God would give me courage to pray out loud and that I wouldn’t mess up The Lord’s Prayer and single-handedly botch my own disbelieving, never been to church dad’s–chance at going to the Heaven. So, out loud I began to recite, “Our father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” My father’s eyes opened and he looked at me in a way that he never had before. When I finished reciting the prayer from memory, he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
It was a sunny day and the moment that I finished the prayer; the house grew dark as if the lights were turned off. And, then it grew light again, and then dark and then light again in quick succession. My siblings and I sat there with our mouths agape. Then, rationale struck me. The clouds had blocked the sun, that’s all. But, after the house grew dark and light again three times, a ray of light came in through the window, and found my father’s right foot. There it glowed and flickered for over five minutes, and illuminated him like nothing I’d ever seen . My siblings and I were flabbergasted and I tried to find the source of light, probably filtering through the trees and coming in through the window where it rested on my father’s foot. But, I couldn’t find the source of light. No matter how hard I tried; I couldn’t find it. I got out my video camera and video-taped the light dancing over my father’s foot. I wanted to prove to myself later that I wasn’t crazy. My father heard our hushed, confused voices and said, “What? What’s happening?’ I told him what had happened and I told him about the light on his foot, that he was too weak to see for himself. He wanted me to bring the camera to him. I showed him what we had witnessed and watched as his face suddenly became peaceful and at ease. I think he had felt something happen too.
Faith has a funny way of rearing its head. Something did happen that day, and I’m not exactly sure what to call it, if nothing short of a miracle for both my father, my siblings and me. But, a minister informed my sister-in-law (to be), that when the house grew dark and light three times; that was the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He said that was for the non-believer in the room. (She didn’t know that I was questioning my faith, rather she assumed since I prayed for him that I was very spiritual.) She hadn’t told him about the ray of light, only that the house went light and dark three times. Then he asked her if a ray of light had found him. When she told him yes, he said that the ray of light was the spiritual cleansing of the person who was dying.
My father didn’t always make the right choices, and I’m still forgiving him for some, but I loved him. On the day of the funeral, a lone Bible sat on a pedestal in a far corner of the room at the funeral home. I hadn’t touched a Bible in years. I walked over and randomly flipped it open, and the pages fell to Leviticus Chapter 5. My eyes went straight to verses 15-19. I read something about he (my dad) must bring forth a ram that was pure in his own estimation (Me? Hardly.) for a trespass offering (The Lord’s Prayer) to forgive him (my dad’s ignorant sins.) Or least that’s my interpretation of all of that. When you are losing someone important to you; believe me, your faith is all you’ve got. I like the idea that my dad is somewhere up above and looking down on me every single day. Without faith; my father has been reduced to a pot full of dust in an urn, buried underground.