Sunday, October 31, 2010

A deceased father says a final goodbye from beyond the grave to the son he almost lost


Scott Degenhardt was a rebellious youth, living on the streets, searching for something. His father Ron was a workaholic prosecutor struggling with heavy drinking, never having been able to show affection or express it to his son.

Then, on Valentine's Day, the day Ron was born, fate began to change everything. Ron doubled over with pain, and soon received a death sentence from his doctor: virulent and inoperable esophagal cancer. Ron wrote a simple letter to Scott: "I would like to be closer to you..."

That night, penniless and without transportation, Scott responded to the letter by walking 36 miles along a desolate highway to an interstate in Florida, where he could hitchhike home to Tennessee.

Scott immediately noticed a striking change when he met his father. The man who could never express emotions, now was sharing them freely. He exuded a spirituality and a heightened awareness that had been missing -- as if a light had been turned on.

For eight weeks, father and son got to know one another for the first time in their lives. And by the time the end approached -- as hospital personnel were constantly draining fluid out of Ron's lungs while family members and even nurses stood by crying -- the healing of the father-son relationship was complete. The strong-willed Ron, maintaining a stiff upper lip to the last moment of consciousness, slipped into a coma.

"I love you," Scott told his unconscious father.

That night, after Scott drifted off to sleep, he was abruptly awakened by a whitish vapor that shot over his bed.

Dad! The white, misty translucence hovering over Scott was Ron from the waist up, but looking about 10 years younger, and smiling.

Telepathically, Scott felt Ron's ecstasy at being free of his worn-out body. How does it feel? Scott asked. Ron answered by throwing more joyful feelings into Scott's mind. Exhilarating, but that word doesn't really convey it, Ron's mind said to Scott's.

Ron and Scott both seemed to be on a higher mental and intellectual plane, where thinking was much quicker.

Suddenly, the thought came to Scott. Is this real or a dream? He looked around the room and everything seemed normal -- until he looked downward. He saw himself! His body was lying on the bed, eyes shut, asleep. He was half out of his physical body, sitting up in his spiritual body. His arms were misty and translucent like his father's form.

Scott began to hear the voices of different beings, speaking indistinctly among themselves -- higher spiritual beings, he intuited.

"They're calling me now. I have to go," Ron said. Ron's spiritual form swooshed off in the direction of an opening that Scott sensed in a corner of the room. As the connection closed, Scott lost consciousness. The next thing he knew he was sleeping and being awakened by the ringing of a phone, which his mother answered first.

I know what she's going to say, but let her say it, Scott thought to himself. "It was the hospital," she said. "Your father has died."

"I know... He was just here," Scott replied, and the whole story poured out. Later Scott routinely had his sanity questioned by others, although not his mother. But the afterglow and elation of his mystical experience kept him "supercharged" for weeks afterward. And the experience's indelible mark, to this date, has left Scott with a certainty that death is not the end.

"We do resurrect after we die. We do have a better life waiting for us. It is far better than we can imagine," Scott says.

In 1994, I asked Scott to join other experiencers for a panel I formed to be interviewed with me on The Phil Donahue Show. Scott's life-changing encounter with his deceased father, ironically, became the foundation of what has become a lasting 19-year friendship. At first, Scott had sought me out, knowing that I had written on spiritual, metaphysical and paranormal subjects and hoping for some explanations. I was privileged to help him realize that his moment-of-death vision -- what parapsychologists call a "crisis apparition" -- was common, not an hallucination at all.

Later, Scott formed a near-death experiencers group locally and went on to research and publish a book to help people deal with a near-death experience: Surviving Death. The book is now available in a digital Kindle edition from Amazon.com and can be read on a computer or hand-held device after downloading free Kindle software.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Director Clint Eastwood’s latest intelligent exploration, “Hereafter,” asks what happens when death comes calling

Clint Eastwood, the octogenarian five-time Academy Award winner, has built a reputation as a Hollywood director who turns out engrossing, intelligent movies that break new ground. No flaming car chases with the driver zig-zagging to throw off clinging mutants or zombies. No fights on top of construction booms mounted on skyscraper roofs.

In his new Warner Brothers film Hereafter, director Eastwood weaves together the stories of various people who have been shaken by death – a famous Parisian TV newsreader who undergoes a near-death experience that forever alters her life, a London boy who lost his identical twin brother, and a young woman haunted by a traumatic childhood, among others (the young woman played by director Ron Howard’s daughter).

In the midst of them all is factory worker George Lonegan, portrayed by Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, the Bourne series), a reluctant clairvoyant who apparently has the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead. He wants to run away from his gift, but the desperate bereaved keep pursuing him for answers and for contact with their lost loved ones.

The result is what critic Roger Ebert called an “enthralling” movie, which surprised Ebert, who admits he doesn’t believe in “woo-woo.”

Ty Burr chimes in: “Eastwood’s latest is serenely, even masterfully eccentric — the sort of movie that begins with a tsunami and ends with a kiss.”

Besides the movie’s fascinating theme is the fact that Eastwood’s emotional, three-dimensional story makes you truly care about the, shall we say, haunted characters, who are not cardboard cut-outs and clich├ęs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mysterious Stranger Appears out of Nowhere to Help Trapped Woman

NEW YORK CITY -- Donna, 18, made a mistake that can get a person hospitalized or worse in Fun City -- taking the wrong subway and finding yourself alone after riders thin out and melt away to their destinations. Potentially threatening men took notice of her, and her options seemed to be dwindling -- until a mysterious stranger arrived. 

Donna's story began when she rode the Metro North train to Grand Central Station and then hopped on a subway headed toward
Third Street. But after 20 minutes, she realized she was going the wrong way. As she switched trains and doubled back, the few remaining riders exited. Soon, she was on a subway platform somewhere in the one-hundreds -- alone except for an apparent derelict propped against a far wall.  At street level, she was astonished to see that she was smack in the middle of one of New York's most dangerous neighborhoods, surrounded by burned out buildings with broken windows. 

"As I stood there amazed," she recalled, "I saw the most ominous sight: two groups of men, some drinking and not more than 100 feet away. All of them stopping their conversation and noticing me. I felt their ill intentions like a brick hitting me. Heart pounding, I ran back down into the dark dirty subway."
 
Desperately waiting for the next train, she said she felt like "trapped prey about to be devoured." Panicked, she tried to give the appearance of calm and pulled out atrain map.

It was just then that she sensed someone was behind her. Wheeling around, she was startled by a "tall, well-dressed gray-haired man in a black overcoat." 

"You're lost, aren't you?" he asked her, smiling.

She yelped out: "Yes!"

The mysterious stranger immediately pulled a map out of an overcoat pocket, asking her where she needed to go.  

"Third Street..."

"I was so frightened and thanking God for his presence, I didn't question how where the man had come from," Donna recalled.
 
"Oh, you're nowhere near there; this is where you need to be," the man told Donna, pointing out map details and providing specific directions for changing trains. Then, the man suggested: "You keep this map and I will wait here with you." 

After she thanked him, the two stood together silently, and Donna suddenly noticed that all her fear was gone. Although she heard noises at the top of the subway stairs, no one descended. Fifteen minutes later, a train rumbled up, and the stranger said, "Good Luck," as she got on board. 

A few minutes later, Donna looked down at the stranger's map and was surprised to see that the stranger had given her not a general map of New York City, but a color tourist-like local map of the immediate vicinity of Third Street and the surrounding area of the Village. It was precisely where she needed to be. 

"After getting off the train at the correct stop, I walked by a rough-looking group of bikers, attracting some stares, but I quite oddly continued to feel no fear whatsoever, only peace of mind," Donna noted.
 
As she took her final steps home that night, she reflected on how oddly the mysterious stranger had popped up out of nowhere. Except for the drifter, no one had been remotely near her in the instant before she sensed the helpful stranger behind her. Even stranger, it had been a hot August day, yet the Good Samatarian had been dressed in an overcoat for brisk fall or winter weather. And he had just happened to have in his pocket the exact localized map she needed. 

"My only conclusion," said Donna, "was that he was my guardian angel. I felt a certain presence about him immediately that told me I was safe. I had never felt that before and never since.  I find myself searching for that man whenever I feel I'm in danger, but have yet to come across him.  The memory is vivid.  I am now 42 and think of it often."


Friday, October 8, 2010

New Baylor University survey says just over half of Americans believe they have a guardian angel

Just over half of Americans think they are watched over by guardian angels, a fifth claim that they have heard God speaking to them and 16 per cent believe they have been miraculously healed, according to a recent survey by Baylor University reported in The Washington Times.

“Mystical experiences are widespread,” declared Rodney Stark, co-director of Baylor’s  Institute for Studies of Religion, which probed the views of 1,648 adults with 350 questions about their religious life.

The survey, with a four-point margin of error, showed that religious liberals are more likely to believe in paranormal phenomena like UFOs and contact with the dead than religious conservatives.

Baylor researchers reported that American atheists have comprised a stable four percent of the population since 1944.

Europe has more atheists than the U.S., according to the survey, but, except for France at 14 per cent, no European country has more than seven percent of its population declaring atheism.  In the east, though, 12 percent of Japanese are atheists and 14 per cent of Chinese. 

The survey reported regular church attendance at a little more than a third of the American population -- at 36 per cent.

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