Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

Thunder boomed and rain torrents blew through town right after Hubby and I ate lunch. I switched off my computer in case of a nearby lightening strike, and peered at the skies. This won’t last.  Soon, the sun came out; I turned my machine back on and forgot the storm.

It was two days before Easter: Good Friday. That evening, I headed for church. Southern daylight is long after sunset and near 7:00 P.M. I drove without my lights on.

When I pushed open the side door to the sanctuary, I was surprised to meet deep silence and semi-darkness. No overhead lights were on and several pillar candles lit the church entry. I thought about the occasion. Nice. A solemn touch.

I entered the usual pew, I knelt and closed my eyes. As I emptied my mind of worldly clutter, the seats around me filled, but no one spoke. After a few minutes, I took a deep breath and sat back. Closing my eyes again, I absorbed more quiet.  Ah!

I felt, rather than heard, my smiley friend, Amy, sit down beside me.  I opened my eyes and gave her a hug.  She held out a white candle in a plastic half-cup on a stick handle. She raised her eyebrows and mouthed, “Did you get one?”

I shook my head. My dark-haired, Irish-fair friend handed me hers, turned and waved to her tall, white-haired husband who stood near the door. He picked up two candles from a bin.

He and Amy knelt and we all shared silence. I glanced around the now-filled church. Behind me, I saw our pastor, his associate and a deacon all robed in white and standing with white-gowned others, waiting to proceed to the altar.

We stood. I heard drum beats. They reminded me of someone nailing a man to a cross.   Looking at the main aisle, I beheld a silent parade. Several young people carried a life-sized cross. Following these, came white-clad men and women who would join the church at Easter.

After other ministers, deacon and associate priests walked our pastor. Robed in white, he slowly mounted the altar area and intoned an opening prayer.  He paused.  “I need to discuss a practical matter. We have no power.  The utility workers are here. Electricity’s on in the Ministry Building and we expect lights at any time.”

Several men in suits and women in dresses came forward carrying long tapers. Father said, “These ushers will help light your pew candles so you can see to read.”

Like small white flowers opening, light blossomed in the pews.   Dotted with light, the congregation was unusually still as we focused on listening.

A full choir of nearly twenty voices blended without accompaniment. It was nearly dark inside and out when Father spoke his homily. Next, the congregation venerated a nearly life-size cross.  After prayers, Father and other priests prepared communion. As the congregation lined up to receive previously sanctified bread and wine, the choir stood and began a collection of chant/song.

I joined the choir in memorized hymns, and pew-by-pew, the candle-carrying flock filed up three aisles to the front of the church.  The slow reverent line always reminded me of a dream I had more than ten years ago.

As if I were sitting on a tree limb above the scene, in the dream, I watched a ragged line of slow-moving men and women file down a long road. One-by-one, each disappeared into heavy mist.

In candlelight, I moved toward the front of the church and the dream image crossed my mind. After receiving the holy meal, I returned to my seat.  I considered the old dream.  Someday, I won’t return to my seat. Instead, I’ll join that ragged line and cross with them into the mist to the ‘other side.’

I knelt.  However, instead of closing my eyes, I glanced to my left.  On the far side of church, another communion line still moved forward, but my breath caught at what I saw beyond the queue.

Reflected in large plain-glass windows, a gray procession also moved toward the altar.  Some ghostly walkers held spots of light. As I watched the darkly mirrored image, I realized the phantoms represented all the people I ever loved who had passed to the other side.  Silently they joined me, no matter their earthly religion.

Emotion choked me. Tears trickled down my cheeks. In spirit, I saw Mother, Daddy, my grandmas and grandpas, aunties, uncles and Cousin Mike. I also saw friends who had crossed to the other side: Phyllis, Helen, Kathryn, and Julie.

Sometimes storms bring unpleasant change. But, without electricity in the semi-dark sanctuary, I was blessed to “see” the presence of my departed loved ones.

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