Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve, Adventism and My Aunt Caroline

This night (on Christmas day) my eldest son was born. (You can imagine the jokes when I was wheeled into the ER on Christmas Eve about to give birth and I was admitted to the hospital under my first name, Mary.)

Also--Christmas Eve, my Aunt Caroline was born.

What a privilege to be born on the night Christ was born.

So special.

I take a deep sigh of both sadness and joy as I ponder the miracle of becoming Catholic in a Seventh-day Adventist world. (My world was Seventh-day Adventist, anyway.) Yes, this will be connected with Christmas Eve.

On my Facebook, a cousin posted a picture of my late Aunt Caroline to remember her birthday today.

Happy Birthday Aunt Caroline.

I miss her. And I wish I could explain to her family what happened to me a while ago, but because they are SDA, I can't. They wouldn't believe it because SDAs believe in soul sleep and don't believe anyone goes directly to heaven but sleeps both spirit and body until the resurrection at the Second Coming. They would see my experience as something demonic.

That is the sad part. The happy part is... well I better back up a bit.

Things have been pretty rough for a while for me. And that's okay, not complaining. What a joy to endure suffering to prepare my soul to meet Him face to face one day! But a few months ago, God sent me a dream. Sometimes you just know.... you just know something isn't natural. I don't have dreams this vivid.

In the dream, my husband and I were walking through a huge

bright white-marbled department store. It was clean and glistening white--and it was not like a Belk's or JC Penny--this was more like a rich and glamorous 1950's Neiman Marcus or Sax Fifth Ave. (Since my Aunt Caroline sold furs, I evidently associate her with the big department stores of Dallas in the early 1960's.) 

As my husband and I walked past the shoe department and women's jewelry towards the exit, I glanced up at a woman who was standing at a table. It was kind of like a little restaurant in the old department stores that served elegant snacks and sandwiches. This particular restaurant was up on a few steps--not another floor but a different level on the same floor. I particularly noticed how well-dressed everyone was in the restaurant. Women wearing dresses and hose and high heels, with matching bags. Men were wearing hats and long wool, tailored coats.

The lady standing among the other people looked at me. Not accidentally, but with a sweet intensity. She smiled at me and I had to have a double take. She was radiant. Like--other worldly radiant. She was the most gorgeous creature I have ever seen.

It was my Aunt Caroline.

My husband had my hand and was walking so that my only choice was to turn my head and strain to look at her, now behind me. I swallowed. Oh my gosh. My Aunt Caroline was no longer with us. She had died and yet, there she was. Absolutely. No possibility of mistake. In my dream I realized what was going on. My Aunt
These pictures don't come close to as luxurious as the setting in my dream. 
Caroline was there to give me a smile of encouragement. God had sent my dearest aunt to reach out in love if for only a moment.

In the dream, I stopped Arthur, after we exited the department store and were standing in a multilevel parking garage, and told him I had just seen Aunt Caroline. He believe me and turned around to go back in and see if she were still there.

There she was! She was standing at the exit door looking at us. She had followed us! So she really had been smiling at me! She knew who I was. She was just so beautiful I couldn't stop staring. Young, gorgeous, healthy, happy. 

Arthur took off and met her at the door and for some reason I was having a hard time getting to her. Everything was in slow motion as I ran to her. Not in a bad way.... I wasn't upset, I was profoundly joyful at this mystery. She talked to Arthur but I woke up before I could speak to her. But that last look she gave me, before I awoke was one of the most precious things. Her eyes were full of loving encouragement. I knew that she was in heaven enjoying eternity with the Father. No one could look like that if they were not touched with His holiness.

I have often longed to tell Aunt Caroline's family of this dream, but it would not bring them comfort or happiness. It would be seen as a Catholic attempting to impose spiritualism and the occult on them. So I keep silent.

On this silent and holy night I think not just of the birth of Jesus and my son, but I also remember the wonderful gift I was given, to see another person who shares a birthday with God who has already gone to see her Savior. And soon.... He is coming again.