Leonard was a wealthy retired
construction baron and a member of the United
Methodist church I pastored near Bloomfield,
NY. In the summer of 1998 I decided Leonard
needed a pastoral visit. He was distraught at
his cousin's decision to face his last days
alone as cancer ravaged his body. I wanted to
console Leonard and offer his cousin support.
But I thought there was a more urgent reason to
console Leonard. A few years earlier, his son
Jeff was flying a small plane, when engine
failure claimed the lives of Jeff, his wife
Karen, and their two children. A policeman
interrupted Leonard's dinner and made no effort
to spare him the ghastly details.
When I showed up unannounced at his country
home, Leonard wasn't there, but his wife, Helen
warmly greeted me. I commented on how hard it
must be to adjust to the tragic death of her
son and his family. She smiled cryptically and
assured me that it was not much of a problem at
all. Jeff had contacted Leonard in a reassuring
visit from beyond the grave. She warned me that
Leonard was very reluctant to talk about this
Curiosity overwhelmed me. The next time I saw
Leonard I gently broached the subject. A
frightened expression crept over his face. He
was worried about what I might think of his
credibility. This upset me because Leonard and
I had a great relationship of trust. But I
sensed that he had a most unique story to tell
and could not resist prodding him to share his
story. Finally, he consented.
day after Jeff died, a grief-stricken Leonard
took a ride in his son's truck. As he pulled
out of his driveway, he noticed a man coming up
from the ditch by the highway. It was Jeff!
Jeff asked his Dad if he could drive "for old
time's sake." Absolutely stunned, Leonard
moved over. Jeff assured him that Karen and the
children were in a much better place and were
adjusting marvelously to their heavenly home.
He also offered a full description of his
financial affairs and investments to help his
Dad tie up loose ends. After about two miles,
Jeff pulled the truck over and wistfully said,
"I'm not permitted to drive any further.
Good-bye, Dad. Don't worry. We're all just
fine." With that he wandered towards the wooded
area beside the highway and simply vanished.
Leonard was in shock. Had this really happened?
The next day, Leonard went for a long walk in
the woods behind his house. Suddenly, he was
overwhelmed by sadness and sat down on a log to
weep. Moments later, he heard someone coming.
It was Karen, Jeff's deceased wife. She looked
at him sternly and asked, "What are you doing
here? Didn't Jeff tell you that we're all
fine? You get back in the house and comfort
Mom!" Shocked out of his weeping, Leonard just
floated back home. These two incidents greatly
diminished his grief.
But now Leonard gazed at me apprehensively,
fearing my skepticism. Perhaps, my face
betrayed skeptical dismay. I had known many
widows and widowers who had been contacted in
amazing ways by deceased spouses. But a
deceased son who drove his old truck? This was
hard for me to process--a postmortem encounter
that rivals Christ's resurrection in its
physicality. I quickly thanked Leonard for
the incredible gift he bestowed on me by sharing
these experiences. Leonard had told no one of
these visitations. But clearly they were the
most treasured experiences of his life. He was
a man of integrity and had no reason to lie to
me. It still sends shivers down my spine when I
think of the profound effect this miracle had on