Ah, Christmas

Ah, Christmas – a time traditionally associated with beginnings, salvation, and joy. But lately, I’ve been spending much of every day at the hospital, and with that comes a constant reminder of death – the anti-Christmas, and small doses of sadness. Death is a subject all paranormal researchers must deal with as we attempt to communicate with deceased human spirits. However, the deeper concept of death, with all its ramifications, is never too far away from any of us, and spending an appreciable amount of time at a hospital underscores the inevitability of it all.

But I have been finding myself more drawn to pre-death – those last few days or hours before the unavoidable sinks in and changes the subject forever. Fortunately, my own situation hasn’t reached that point, but my mother, the reason for my visits, might disagree. She told me yesterday that every time she settles in to sleep, she wonders if she’ll wake up again, and that sometimes, doing so confuses her – she isn’t always certain of where it is she awakes. I find that fascinating and can’t even imagine what it must be like, but it’s easy to recognize her courage. Facing that possibility with such accepting dignity is truly enviable, as she replaces fear and the disturbing prospect of non-existence with elegance and grace.

It is doubtful I’ll live to be 96 as she has. I’m beginning to contemplate my own demise even now, but almost as soon as the thought enters my mind, it is sidetracked by every day life and the immediacy of now. For her, what she sees as an inescapable passing is her now, and in some way, it consumes the majority of her thoughts. It’s difficult to ignore that two-ton elephant in the room, so I attempt to distract her with conversation and trips down Memory Lane, but all avenues return there sooner or later. The strange thing is, the medical powers-that-be are not predicting her demise at all. She, on the other hand, is certain of it.

This will be her first “no show” at the annual family festivities, and we’ll all miss her greatly, but I’ll visit her, so I guess there’s only so much complaining I can do. For some folks, the veil of death will not pass them by – their loved ones will be gone this year. For some, the hospital monitors will be silent; the strange beeping glow will go dark. Death will win this season, as it always does, and for some there will be no holiday celebrations – joyous spirits will forever be irreparably vandalized. I mourn their loss, and having come close, I also relate.

But now it’s Christmas, and I have only things for which to be thankful! Even just one more day is a blessing, and all indications suggest there will be many. So out with the “bah humbugs” and the “woe is me” attitude – this year I receive a gift of life. Death has decided to visit elsewhere.

Author Peg Bracken is reported to have said that “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” I think that must be right, because this year I have them both – what I do with them is up to me. In spite of death and the possibilities it provides; irrespective of the uncertainty of watching loved ones suffer; regardless of potential outcomes and probable certainties, this year the reaper passes us over, and all the stereotypes of the season seem real. I can’t be anything but overjoyed because I have my Christmas miracle. I truly hope each of you find your own. It’s out there, you know – just waiting to happen. When you least expect it. Ah, Christmas. Peace.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Even Pirates Have Integrity

Once upon a time, only a few years ago, I was a marginally respected member of the so-called paranormal community. People came to my book signings and waited patiently for me to write something personal and witty on the title page. I made a few dozen radio appearances and gave several lectures. People seemed to like my writing style, and I felt encouraged in my chosen direction. I was even asked to make an appearance on a national TV program once, which I turned down. I thought my integrity would come into question if I did the show, and no amount of fickle fame is worth one’s good reputation in this field.

Then, life happened. Things changed when almost out of nowhere, family matters became my main concern. They replaced the daily writing regimen, relentless hours of experimentation, late night radio interviews, and book signings. Still, people encouraged me to press on anyway and “bang out” a third book. Tempted is a better word, but I wouldn’t give in, because if I couldn’t do it right, I wouldn’t do it at all. Integrity had to be considered.

Most of us have our own very personal definition of integrity, and I would guess there are as many of those as there are people. Each one of us takes a stand on some kind of perceived principle and draws a line in the sand we refuse to cross. Doing so would be perilous to our self-respect, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does – we’re prepared and willing to stand valiantly and victoriously tall in our principle. After all, there is honor among thieves, people true to a hopeless cause, and religious martyrs. We’ve all heard “just the facts, ma’am,” and “do unto others,” and the unflinching cries of “never compromise” that all represent someone’s notion of integrity.

Personal integrity is often complicated by specific loyalties, one’s individual sense of responsibility, and large amounts of very intimate distinctions. No one appreciates having their integrity brought into question. You can make a pirate walk the plank without a whimper for almost any reason, but question his adherence to the pirate’s code and you’ve got an angry brigand on your hands. I’ve had my paranormal ethic questioned now and then, and you better believe my defense came fast and furious. After all, we spend the better part of a lifetime deciding where to draw those lines in the sand – it’s not likely we’ll allow others to question our sincerity so easily.

Unfortunately, humans just don’t often seem to understand that someone’s self-worth and decency is tied up in their concept of integrity. We’re convinced of our own resolve, but someone else’s? Not so much. I’ve run across a great many paranormal folks with whom I do not agree. I think their premises are based on faulty knowledge, their evidence is weak and suspect, and the conclusions they draw are suspiciously convenient. I’ve had those same things said of me – the only difference being that we each recognized our own integrity, while everyone else’s was questionable at best.

So, it seems the time has come to stop the nonsense. Thank God we’re all so different. It’s truly a blessing to be able to believe in the veracity of others; to not question their virtue simply because it differs from our own. There is not one commonly acceptable set of truths in the paranormal, so with such diversity must surely come an increased opportunity to learn. We should be taking advantage of that, not looking for the “gotcha” moment or laying ready to pounce at the first sign of deviation.

Our paranormal integrity should probably be simple and direct – honesty, and when called for, a willingness to be wrong. Maybe then we can get off each other’s backs and move this field forward to the place of reverence and dignity it deserves. Perhaps this current “paranormal craze” can finally move toward an enduring acceptability and be allowed to grow legitimately. There have always been respected researchers, you know, but with so many new participants, just imagine how much more we could accomplish together. Seems like a waste otherwise, and I think the question of integrity will probably take care of itself.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.