Bandit and I went for a walk this week with my new friend Beth. I met her a few years ago when I interviewed her for a pet magazine, and although we’ve kept in touch on Facebook, I confess that when she asked if Bandit and I wanted to go for a walk with her, I was afraid she’d find me boring in person. I suggested we go to Mt. Hope Cemetery, where I knew Bandit could meander about on a long leash and we’d have a nice walk.
I also knew that I’d have something to talk about, seeing as how I’m obsessed with a few of the residents at Mt. Hope and have been researching their histories. If I wasn’t interesting, maybe they would be. (You remember Emma Moore and Sarah Bardwell?)
Yes, I babbled.
But fortunately, Beth not only enjoyed the stories, she had a few of her own. And they were more interesting than mine, by a mile.
As you might expect walking through a cemetery, our conversation turned at some point to spirits, the spiritual world and the soul. Beth shared a super story about a ghostly experience she had and then asked if I’d ever heard about the ghost stories at the downtown library? I’d heard the building was haunted but I’d never heard the actual stories.
Beth told me that the library was once the city’s train station, and that library employees have seen a vision of a train pulling up to the building, the doors opening and people disembarking. She remarked that she wasn’t sure the vision was spirits, but instead perhaps a glimpse into an alternate reality, that while our reality was happening the reality for the people on the train was happening simultaneously.
That led to musings – if we can see that reality (the people on the train), can they see us? And if so, what must they think? If you are a soul with a body (versus a body with a soul), can the soul be in two realities at the same time? What if in another reality you had a bad experience with, say, religion? Does that explain your aversion to the church in this reality? What if in another reality you’re successfully pursing your destiny, but in this reality you’re not? Can that account for frustration and dissatisfaction and an inexplicable yearning for something you can’t put your finger on?
Some of this we talked about and some of it may have occurred in my head later, on the ride home. But the truth is that 1) Beth is the most awesome new friend I’ve ever had, and 2) someone else thinks about this stuff, too, and since that someone else is educated and intelligent and well-respected, I’m not crazy.
In the church? That kind of talk gets you labeled cuckoo.
In evangelical Christianity, there’s an obvious emphasis on eternity. And to explain eternity, Christians often explain that God is outside of our dimension, that we humans have a linear view of time and space, that it’s like we’re on a piece of paper moving along a flat timeline while God is outside of the piece of paper, seeing it in its full dimension.
Ironically, talk about alternate realities and other lives would have the church ladies shaking their heads at me and whispering, “Well, bless your heart. I’ll pray for you.”
Except you can’t have a God outside of our time and space dimensions and not be open to alternate and simultaneous realities.
Is there another me, writing at the exact same moment I’m writing this? Maybe with a pen and notebook? Or chalk and slate? Does Alternate Me wait until a project is due before starting it? Drink copious amounts of tea on deadline? Does she have hundreds of books stacked around the house – or maybe work in a 19th century library or is right now rolling scrolls in the library at Ephesus? Is there a dog at her feet, or one nudging her arm for attention?
In that alternate reality, is Scout still alive?
Today’s lesson: as I’ve opened myself to thoughts and theories outside of organized religion, my belief in eternity and God and the supernatural has only been strengthened. Probably not in the direction any pastor would want me to go. But if you think about it, how can religion (with the teaching that the soul is eternal) and this theory of alternate realities be in conflict?
This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.
Other posts about Mt. Hope Cemetery:
Stories from the grave – another walk through Mt. Hope Cemetery
I’d blame Lottie, if she wasn’t dead
Emma Moore, Sarah Bardwell and me
Seasons of Mt. Hope Cemetery (pictures)