Monday, October 24, 2011

Pennies from Heaven

My dad used to love to pick up pennies.   If he saw one on the ground he would happily pick it up and say "I got a visit from the good fairy" and would put it in his pocket.    When I was a little girl and I would find a penny, especially a shiny penny, it was as though I had been visited by my fairy godmother - that finding a penny was a sign that I was special.   Even now, as an adult, when I get a shiny penny, it makes me smile.  My father used to tell me that after he was gone that if I saw a penny in an unusual place, that it was his penny from heaven.   I've found pennies in some really random places, like the dishwasher where you would not expect to see them.  My dad loved to cook so seeing a penny in the kitchen let's me know he's around checking out how Max is making seared salmon with a caper and dijon lemon sauce.   It's comforting because I know he's watching over the family. 

I'll be the first one to admit that I lean on my guardian angels for help and recognize when I've gotten a little divine intervention.  It can be as simple as feeling lost and finding that turnoff at the last minute that gets you to your meeting on time or that little voice that told you to grab that important paper that you almost forgot as you rushed out the door.   When my sister Kathy and I drove down from Tallahassee to Fort Myers Beach for my mother's 80th birthday, we found a guardian angel charm on the ground near our car when we got out to get something to eat.   It looked like the angel on the pins that Kathy gave us at my Dad's funeral and that she put on my father's suit in his casket so that we all could still all be connected to him.  For Kathy and me, it was a sign that Dad was with us on the trip and would guide us to our mother's birthday celebration safely.   Sure it could have been pure coincidence, but it made me feel a whole lot better once I found it.  I still have that guardian angel charm on my key chain. 

It's interesting how in this day and age when we have access to computers, the internet, smart phones and any number of technological advances that scream for us to be logical - that many of us still believe in a the supernatural or a higher power.   It not only can make you feel less alone, but it also makes society a more cooperative place to live in.   It's even been studied by a psychologist who is an avowed atheist who experienced his own epiphany when his mother died.    Dr. Jesse Bering's mother passed away on a Sunday night around 9:00 p.m.   He went to bed trying to find some rest before the rigors of planning a funeral would occupy his time.   At 7:00 a.m. the next morning, he heard the chimes outside his mother's window ring softly in the otherwise silent house.  

"It seemed to me ... that she was somehow telling us that she had made it to the other side. You know, cleared customs in heaven," Bering says.  This thought took him aback.  Being an atheist, his perception was guided by the here now.  He prided himself on being a scientist, a psychologist who believed only in the measurable material world. But, he says, he simply couldn't help himself.  "My mind went there. It leapt there," Bering says. "And from a psychological perspective, this was really interesting to me. Because I didn't believe it on the one hand, but on the other hand I experienced it."   He went on to do a number of studies that verified his simple hypothesis:  when we believe that something other worldly is watching, we're more likely to behave in a moral fashion.   We're more cooperative and less likely to cheat.  If the world as we know it does not ask us to answer for our sins, the next one will.   That knowledge has helped guide me in how I treat others.   In fact, the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" is a basic concept in almost every religion known to man with the exception of Satanism in which the the main conceit is "Do unto others as they do to you" which just escalates a bad situation and certainly doesn't foster forgiveness.   

Seven years ago, the kids and I went to visit Kathy.  We went with her and my mom to see Dorothy Oven Park which has an annual holiday light display.   We were touring the park when my mother took this picture on the way out.   I had to leave Tallahassee with the kids and my mother the next morning to drive back to Duluth, Georgia so we took the film (35 mm) to be developed at Costco.  When we looked at the photos, it was clear that at least one or more other worldly figures had been caught on film.   When I showed it to Max, he thought that we might have captured images of ghosts.  One of them seemed to have a tri-cornered hat similar to that of someone in the Revolutionary War.  I wondered if it had been some sort of photo processing mistake and yet none of the other photos had the same image or light spot on them  - this was the only one.    We asked some ghost experts to take a look at it and they asked if it was a digital photo.  Apparently, digital photos can sometimes create abnormalities and "orbs" to fill in pixels in photos.   When they were informed that this was taken on a 35 mm camera, they said that it could be ghosts or something other worldly, but it was inconclusive.  

The next year, we went back more the see the lights then go ghost hunting.   My mother once again had her trusty 35 mm camera with her and took this photo of the kids on a bench swing.    This time, when the photos were developed by my sister. we saw four images standing around the children - seeming to say "Hi - it's us - Happy Holidays."   What's even more striking is that the figure with the tri-corner hat seems to be on the left with with it's mouth wide open.    We really had not gone expecting to capture anything.   We looked at the other photos and there was no cloudiness on the rest of the roll.  I felt a little uncomfortable seeing these misty figures around my kids.   I sent both photos to another ghost expert who e-mailed back something surprising.   To her, they did not even look like ghosts because the apparitions were so white, but rather spirit guides or guardian angels who wanted to let me know that my children were well protected.   She even felt that one of them could be an ancestor who was keeping an eye on the future generation.   My sister felt that the one in the tri-corner hat might be our dad since he was a Revolutionary War buff.   We went back the next year and the next, but have never caught anything other than what we captured those first two times.  Maybe that was all we were meant to see and it was way more than many people get to experience. 

I guess my point with all of this is that we are not alone and we're not meant to be.  I can't provide a pat answer to all the ills,  unfairness and tragedies in the world - to me saying that it's God's will is always such a cop out.   It's up to us to handle what gets thrown our way and hope that our guardian angels are there to catch us.   When it's our time to leave this earth, they'll help to take us to that next level - whether it's heaven or another life if you happen to believe in reincarnation (personally, I don't count anything out because for me anything is possible).   I just try to value the people that I meet as best I can and treat them as I would like to be treated -- with dignity and respect.  And when I find a random shiny penny - I smile, give it to my kids and tell them that it's from their grandfather.  Because at the end of the day nothing is more priceless then a penny from heaven. 

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