Voices from beyond – or a shirt pocket
I was alone in the car, looking at the road but lost in thought, when I heard a voice. As hard as it was to believe, it seemed to come from my own heart. It was a woman’s voice.
I have never agreed with the idea that in the face of terror we have two instinctive reactions: fight or flight. I think the third answer is to do nothing, just freeze. It’s usually been my favorite move in the past, and it’s what I did when I heard the voice. I stopped breathing. Then the voice of my heart repeated itself.
I am not a religious person, but I am a researcher. Almost half a century ago, when I was just starting out in the press, my first editor in town, a man who wore green glasses and drank a lot, called me at his office and told me showed a photo. He was from Maharishi Township outside of Phoenix. It appeared to show several people levitating.
People also read…
“Go see what it’s all about,” he said.
I looked at the photo and thought, “If it’s true, I’ll stay at the commune.
But the Maharishi’s supporters hadn’t found a way to defy gravity. They were not levitating, but “jumping”. It was still pretty cool, but not cool enough to make me quit my job.
But I would have. That’s the point. I am a researcher. I envy people who have just seen miracles. Imagine the lucky people who were at the wedding in Cana of Galilee when the party ran out of wine and Jesus, who was a guest, turned six pots of water into wine. And not just wine. Fine wine. “Hey, you saved the good stuff for last,” the people told the groom. They were joking, of course. Everyone was probably thinking the same thing – Thank you, Jesus.
If I had been at the wedding, I would have become a disciple.
It may be natural to have big thoughts as you get older. Something semi-spiritual happened to me shortly before the voice. I was heading north on Interstate 55. I had cruise control set to 75. A woman in an old Cadillac drove past me. She seemed to be around my age. Her hair had that “just done” look like it came from the beauty salon. (I love the idea of a beauty salon, but I understand that’s an outdated concept. The woman in the Cadillac had just gone to her stylist.) She didn’t look at me casually.
A few minutes later I passed her, then a few minutes later she passed me again and got off at the next exit.
“Oh, Maybellene,” I thought.
Is there a woman of my generation who quickly drives a Cadillac down the road and doesn’t consider herself a Maybellene?
She got off in Mason City. It is a small city. I wondered what it was like to be Maybellene in a small town in central Illinois. It’s good, I hope.
Of course, those were just thoughts and the voice was real. I was more scared than scared. Maybe everyone hears the voice at the end. It may not announce good news.
“Invoice. It’s Patsy.
Patsy is one of my wife’s sisters. She is an artist. She lives in Texas. She drinks whiskey sour. I realized his voice was coming from the phone in my shirt pocket. I have a smartphone because my son works for Apple, and it wouldn’t be right for me to stubbornly resist the benefits of having a smartphone. I understand.
But how and why was Patsy talking to me? She said I called her. You must have called me, that’s what she said.
Maybe I called her on the chest. It doesn’t seem possible, but I was there, and I’m telling you, it happened. I realized it was a miracle. As miracles happened, maybe it wasn’t so great. Maybe a scientist from the University of Washington could explain the physics of it. Or the electro-magnetism of it. But that doesn’t seem rational. What did I call my sister-in-law?
I never called her. She’s on my “contacts” list, but that’s because I inherited another family member’s phone. I have “contacts” that I don’t know. I sometimes get calls – more often messages – from some of these strangers. I ignore messages and get impatient with callers.
“You’ve reached the 20th century,” I tell them. “Don’t call again.”
Let me give you some perspective on my miracle. I once visited George Washington’s winter headquarters on the Hudson River. It was a stone house. He lived there with Martha and several assistants. He dictated letters to aides and they then delivered the letters – orders, really – to the distant generals in Washington. It was a terribly inefficient way to wage war. The orders were usually obsolete by the time Washington wrote them, and then his aides galloped off with the obsolete orders in search of the generals, who had often already moved their armies. Usually they were on the run.
That’s how things worked when a message – no matter how urgent – couldn’t be delivered faster than a man on horseback. It’s been that way since we domesticated horses.
If I was somehow able to talk to Washington at his cabin and tell him that I heard a voice when I was alone, he would probably have thought that the Almighty is speaking to those who are willing to listen.
But if I explained to him that it was not the Almighty, but my sister-in-law who drinks whiskey sour, and that I had accidentally called her with a device in my pocket, and this device allows me to talk to people hundreds of miles away, and if a person knows how to use the device, they can even see the person they’re talking to and that person can see them, “How does it work?” a stunned Washington might ask.
“I have no idea,” I said. “Most people have no idea. And I didn’t even want to call her. I called her on the chest.
“It’s a miracle,” he said.