Eight months ago, she felt sorry for me. She was a woman of strong faith, and she was visibly pained when she discovered that I held no religious beliefs about what happened to my “soul” when I die.
“No heaven? No hell?”
“I fear not,” I (think) I told her. “Just a world that continues to move on (for better or worse) without me.”
“Never say never,” I remember her telling me.
“I didn’t say I won’t ever have faith,” I said. “I said I don’t have faith today.”
. . . .
Today, she cried as she spoke of her life’s experiences and how she has been buoyed by her faith despite a lifetime of chronic illness, the early loss of her daughter decades ago and the recent passing of her husband. She is a strong woman and while she doesn’t see it that way, she is grateful for the strength that thinks has been given to her.
Today, for nearly an hour after her visit, she shared her testimony with me. She has seen Jesus. She has witnessed miracles. She has had her prayers answered. After wiping away her last tear with her handkerchief, her gaze moved up and her eyes fixed on mine. “Of course, you don’t believe any of this do you?”
I could have been openly skeptical. I could have dissected each experience, easily explaining away each and every one. I could have asked her what percentage of her prayers have actually been callously dismissed by her creator. I could have asked her why, when she talks to her husband (or Jesus) in her sleep, she considers it is a powerful vision, but when cats walk on stilts while singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain it is but a silly dream. Instead – I decided to tell her the truth:
“Your experiences are real; what I believe has no bearing on that. No one can ever take those experiences from you – they are a gift for you alone to cherish.”
She smiled and reached out for my hand. “You know,” she said, “I believe you’re right.“