I am reading a book called “The First Phone Call from Heaven”. It makes you wonder and think about who you would like to hear from but so far I don’t think the phone calls have been a good thing. O, they are filling the local churches with zealots for a miracle. Local stores and their affiliates are raking in profits. It is a field day for reporters. But so far, it is dividing the people from each other and, in some ways, from themselves.
Tess, Katherine, Jack, Doreen, Elias– all have somehow become fixated on the person in their past to a point that they have stopped living forward. Their lives are a waiting for that last contact. Even when cancer ridden Ben lets go and says goodbye to Earth because he no longer fears death, there is anger from those who see the calls as a hoax and so a brainwashing that caused the man to give up hope.
It is unsettling, not a satisfying answer wrapped in a bow and so will attract the reader of Mitch’s books but not the general status quo. I expected this, though, for I have listened to The First Five People You Meet in Heaven so knew his unorthodox style. The 5 people met, in that book, were those who he needed to meet, not those he would have chosen to meet.
If I were one of the 7 who received phone calls, who would I have heard from? There are voices that I was at peace with when they died and voices that were unsettled in the relationship to me and to the world. Which one would take me through the journey inward and then onward that I think will be the end product in this book?
My first thoughts are my dad. I did after all, have a letter to him buried in his coffin. What would he tell me he knows now that he no longer sees through the darkened glass of human finiteness?
Or Merna? Would she be able to tell me she is now at peace and show me the way to move out of this isolation I am in the same way she found ways to help me break the isolation in the years she was a part of my world.
Maybe the woman I don’t know that I hurt by being so focused on me that I couldn’t see her need. There are others in life like that. People who I didn’t see when I needed to. People like the worker who talks to Elias asking him Why he couldn’t forgive. But then I think of the stones cast into Eagle Lake and feel that certain pilgrimage ended on that day.
Would I want to be one of the 7? If I wasn’t, what would my response be? Would I be going out to buy that artifact that was supposed to have brought someone closer to heaven? Would I be closing in away from others, praying fervently without regard to how my choices affected those around me. Would I be Sully whose anger is sending him on the truest response to the “miracle” as he searches to understand and in the process will hopefully come to understand. Somehow, I think he will have the real miracle in the book, whatever that is going to mean.
*rest of this stays in my personal journal as it holds a phone call wish.*