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Center for Action and Contemplation
Keeping Faith with Our Ancestors
Keeping Faith with Our Ancestors

Love Beyond the Veil

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

At CONSPIRE 2021, Dr. Barbara Holmes shared a story of her “beyond the veil” childhood encounter with her deceased Aunt Grace. Meeting her ancestor in this unexpected way influenced her faith journey and provided comfort that she was surrounded by Divine Love:

This particular evening, I was laying on the hassock [in my grandmother’s living room] when something very strange happened. . . .

I became aware in a hypersensitive way of sound that was recognizable to me as music, but at the same time, it was more than music. It was a sound that tuned my soul and it alerted me to the fact that nothing was happening in an ordinary way. For one thing, I was no longer on the hassock. I was floating toward the ceiling in a slow and circular movement that delighted me. I mean, I should have been scared because I could see my slumped body still on the hassock, but I wasn’t afraid at all.

I was happy to the point of bursting, and to top off this sense of euphoria, my beloved, deceased Aunt Grace was there. I didn’t see her, but I knew she was nearby and her closeness to me made me even happier. As I floated toward the ceiling, I thought about calling the adults in the next room, but I had no speech. There was no sense of distress as I approached the ceiling, but I knew that if I did nothing, I would pass through it and leave the Earth forever.

There was only a moment of conflict as I contemplated what it would mean not to be a child, what it would mean to turn to the hassock and to my supine body. I remember a farewell from my Aunt Grace, the fading of the music that was more than music, and then my speech returned. I was elated. I was breathless as I ran to the next room to report to the adults that I flew, I flew and Aunt Grace was playing with me. The mention of my deceased aunt stopped everything.

See, most families would’ve pooh-poohed my account of flying and visitations from a dead relative. But my family has roots in the Gullah culture of South Carolina on my father’s side and the Maryland eastern shore mystics on my mother’s, so they share a belief: everybody knows that the dead come back. They come back and forth to offer warnings, to bring messages from the other side. I was quizzed by the elders.

When I couldn’t come up with any deep wisdom or any important message from the other side . . . one aunt said rather pointedly, “Let us know if she comes to you again.” There it was, I had received affirmation Aunt Grace had been there and might come again. . . .

We live in a world saturated with the love and intentionality of an ever-present God, and we are not alone.


Adapted from Barbara Holmes, “God in Thin Places,” CONSPIRE 2021 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2021), video.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Jeremy Bezanger, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (detail), Egypt, photograph, Unsplash. Jon Tyson, Untitled (detail), 2018, photograph, Unsplash. Rasam, Takht-e-Jamshid (Persepolis) (detail), 2020, Iran, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: Human ancestors leave legacies in physical and cultural bones, while stones carry meaning and memory. How will you listen to the wisdom of your ancestors?

Story from Our Community:

When I was a child, my mother would take us on nature walks in rural Connecticut, often to a special tree we named the Grandfather tree. In the shade of the tree, we would share a picnic of peanut butter sandwiches and milk straight from a jar. In my teen years, I would return alone, finding spiritual strength and comfort from Grandfather tree. I am grateful to the Daily Meditations for stirring the memory and for reigniting my deep gratitude that my parents instilled a reverence and connection for all creation. —Johanna Y.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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