Signs and wonders and living in hope

Recently at a family gathering one of my siblings asked a question all of us face as we get older, “Is heaven real? What will happen when we leave this world.?” How real is our faith and how real is eternity? I like to answer with the signs and wonders that happen in the lives of faith filled families. 

Faith is often predicated on being able to separate coincidence from miracle. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Everything is a gift from God. Let me share a few of my family’s stories.

“Isabelle’s fireworks” is related by my niece. Members of the family were called to the hospital after her mom’s passing. “As my family and I drove back to the hospital to be with dad at 4:00 that morning, in the barley field across the road from our family farm fireworks were going off.  

“We told dad about the fireworks when we arrived at the hospital, and he mentioned how he had told mom just before she passed away to give him a sign when she got to heaven. Those fireworks must have been her sign.

“You see our farm is 10 km from the nearest town and 100 km from the nearest city, so the odds were pretty slim that we would see fireworks at the particular moment.”

Then there is the story about my sister’s pressure cooker exploding as she was making soup. Some time later when the baby was grown enough to articulate the event, she saw a picture of her grandfather and said, “I know him. He’s the one who saved me from the hot soup.”

Then there is my nephew who was hit by a train. His truck was totaled. Someone viewing the picture asked how many were killed. My nephew relates how two men took him out of the truck and placed him in the ditch. He was upset that they disappeared and left him there.

Once on a trip to Regina for a Lay Ministries training weekend, I was heading towards Balgonie at dusk. I had just finished praying a Rosary and was thinking of passing a slow-moving truck ahead of me. I decided not to rush. Just then a car passed from the front with no lights on. There was no way I would have seen that car if I had passed. “Thank you, Dad.”

We can live lives of faith, knowing that the Saints who have gone before us and our guardian angels look after us. There are many stories in our family tree that make it easier to face the reality of our journey’s end. It is real. Our journey will end. And there is much to look forward to.

Enjoy the moments when the veil separating us from heaven is thin. Let me give an example: The June following the accidental death of a young Canora man, his family was attending Sunday Mass on the weekend of the Graduation of one of the children. I was assisting with distributing Holy Communion. 

As I watched the family approach to receive the Eucharist, I glanced up at the mother. I noticed an image of her late husband above her and to her left. I can still see the smile on his face. He was still with his family. 

A long time passed before I shared this with anyone. Finally, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I shared the story with the family. Miracles in our daily lives continue to make God an exciting reality.

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By Ken Rolheiser