Impeccable Timing


A man told me a tale while we were discussing Season One of American Horror Story. It seems that early one crisp Thanksgiving day, while driving down a lonely, local road, he happened upon a transparent person crossing in front of his speeding car. Slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting the figure, the car came to a stop just a few feet away from an unfazed revenant. Yes, he was indeed transparent, seemed to lack one leg, and consisted of a shimmering, unstable substance. The driver was not drunk or otherwise impaired; he wasn’t tired or distracted. It was just a trip down the road for cigarettes on a holiday morning; a trip he had made many times before.

The apparition turned and looked him right in the eyes, offered a beaming smile, and literally tipped his hat, before turning to predictably disappear. “He faded away. He was just gone.” The man went on to say he was shaken, and stayed stopped in the road until the sound of an approaching car snapped him to his senses. He slowly proceeded home, and not knowing how to explain the encounter, kept it to himself for years. “You know,” he confessed, “I might have been driving too fast. Maybe that thing made me slow down so I didn’t hit a tree or something.”

Maybe, I thought, and I remembered reading a similar story a few months earlier concerning a woman trapped in a burning building. She was confronted by a floating apparition who directed her through the maze of fire, and eventually to safety. It was a miracle, and she was completely convinced her life was saved by “the white angel.” Maybe my friend in the car was keeping similar company.

Were these angels? Possibly deceased human spirits sent to save the living from an unnecessary and horrific death? No one will ever know of course, and it requires faith to see this as a backup plan for when our senses and sensibilities fail. But there are those who disbelieve the paranormal verity suggested by both of these incidents; naysayers who can offer no explanation, but plenty of doubt. There always has to be rationality; a real reason – maybe “something more believable.” Because they lied? “Well, let’s just say mistaken.”

My inner believer wants to slap the skeptic right off of some people. I am amazed at our inability to accept one another’s honest testimony. Must we know whether these two incidents were real or imagined; whether they were placed into the mind by a higher power, or manufactured by a subconscious need to survive? All the possible explanations are preposterous, but does it matter?

There are times when the paranormal comes to visit in ways we could not have even imagined, and frequently, we benefit. Often, we lose sight of the true nature of things paranormal – we prefer to make it frightening and menacing. We so easily welcome the notion of demons and monsters; creatures whose only purpose is to suck the life out of us or possess our mortal souls. But the true meaning of such things doesn’t have to be abhorrent. When we least expect it, the paranormal comes bearing gifts – of life, love, and an understanding of what it means to be flawed and in trouble. Sometimes, the paranormal is a good thing to have around. Sometimes it’s timing is impeccable.

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