My name is Matthew. An old man named Peter Stone impressed me with what you may call radical ideas. Then, he told me it would become my mission to elaborate and share those ideas with you. The thing is; old man Stone died before dealing me in on these secrets as our visits became more frequent. That may sound spooky to you that some old dead guy turned the tables and started visiting me. Our visits started some time ago at a nursing home. It’s been just shy of fifty years since that day. As a pastor of a small church, that was my job. Visit the nearly dead to say a few prayers and hear some confessions about sins that are long forgotten. After all this time, that first meeting still stands out in my memory. He said he never knew his purpose and felt most of his life had been on the sidelines just watching events and other people. One line he spoke really got my attention. He said, “I’ve seen the back of the house.”
When pressed, he explained the older one gets the clearer the picture gets of what’s next from behind the scenes. He did have an opinion about preachers being half assed. That lead me to think he may have been an atheist, but he corrected me saying there are too many religions and God wanted no part of them. The concept challenged me, so I challenged him to do something about it and make that message a mission; a reason to keep living.
It wasn’t too long after that day that we held a funeral service for Peter Stone. That day there were no family members or friends, just a care taker from the home. About a week later a lawyer representing the home called to say he was the executor for Mr. Stone. That’s when I learned the old man had named me in his will to inherit his library of books. He mentioned in his will that his books may help me grow in understanding from the back of the house. I had to laugh when the lawyer asked what that meant, and explained just an old man rambling.
A week later a man known fairly well around Mechanicsville as an antique dealer came to visit. He came to the church office and sugar coated his way past the secretary. The man known as T.J. walked in dressed the way he dressed every day wearing one of his Stetson Cowboy hats. The El Presidente black hat had set him back over nine hundred dollars and was one of many used to brand the man around town. T.J. never told anyone what the T.J. stood for, but he had the letters embroidered under the red roses on that day’s black cowboy shirt. The letter ‘T’ on the right pocket and the ‘J’ on the left pocket. Some days the shirts might be denim with tan horses raring, however, the letter always displayed on each pocket. He liked to stand out showing off his diamond studded horseshoe ring. Some say it was his height, as he stood about five six with a big beer gut hanging over his silver belt buckle. T.J. sat on the sofa and propped his cowboy boots on the ottoman, “I understand a passed brother named Peter Stone named you to inherit some books.”
“That’s what I’ve heard.”
“Since I have been hired to liquidate the assets of the estate, it occurred to me to ask if you want me to auction the books off or arrange to have them delivered.”
“I really didn’t know the man. Just one of the retirement homes on my circuit,”
“He must have liked you. You are the only individual listed by name in the will.”
That idea the man thought something of me played on my mind and just selling off a few books did not sit well, “No, the books would be nice to add to the church library. Can’t be too many of them.”
T.J. smiled and said he'd have his men drop them off. A week later I knew what he meant by the smile. The beeping warning got me out of the office to see a twelve foot yellow box truck backing up to the church office. A big picture of T.J. smoking a cigar was displayed on each side with his slogan Call T.J. Timeless Things. Just right.
“Reverend,” he said rolling out of the truck cab. “A few books for you.”
When he unlocked the back roll up door on the truck box, the thing was stacked full of box after box, “Turns out the old man had quite a library. The inventory sheet listed close to four thousand books.”
So, now that we are up to date, what was in those books? Of course, the more pressing issue concerns what old man Stone has been telling me, and if those conversations have something to do with you. He told me about a spooky universe. That universe he said had nothing to do with ghosts. That universe related to science as a quote from Albert Einstein when he spoke of a theory in quantum physics called the quantum entanglement. The scientist said that the whole idea was spooky action at a distance. Stone said to look it up in one of his books. That’s where I learned in standard quantum theory, particles have no definite states, only relative probabilities of being one thing or another until they are measured. The theory goes on to explain when two particles interact; they can become entangled as both particles come together. To me that meant that as far as science goes, nothing exists if it can not be measured. We can measure atoms, particles, cells, DNA, but one thing that can not be measured is the debatable existence of the ether. The belief is there is ether that fills the universe, some say dark matter that is the energy force that becomes the sea that floats the planets, solar systems, and galaxies across the universe. A force field of energy that some have written has every thought, and every answer to everything within. This is where the universe does become spooky. The flow of all minds lives in eternity that can not be measured. Science can’t measure it, so religions have popped up across time trying to explain in terms we can measure. We can measure the image of some bearded old man dealing out punishment, but the definition will always be debated.
After reading these accounts, the weight of another sleepless night pressed against me. Earlier just after midnight, rain had danced loud stomps in the metal gutters over the patio, and once ended, a chorus of frogs and crickets celebrated the end of their torment. Something must have frightened them as every insect and amphibian instantly stopped. Quiet bound and trapped me. From the darkness and silence I heard Peter Stone speak, “Do not be afraid my young friend.”
Strangely enough, there was no fear, yet more of a comfort and calm feeling in the presence of this voice. “Have you found joy in the books left to you?” he asked.
“That’s quite a library to go through.”
“The right books will call to you when the time is right.”
“You must have quite an education,” my comment prompted an answer.
“Not the way you think,” he said. “There were no diplomas on any of my walls. However, each of us manages to accumulate a substantial education throughout life if we live long enough.”
Experiences such as this would normally raise skepticism. That feeling of doubt had grown in me from my younger days as a minister. All the bogus believers telling me over and over they talked with God. That was my job to convey talking to god as a way to muddle through their lives. This was the thing that drove me away from that profession to seek another path. That night lying in bed, a conversation with a dead man must have been a sham my imagination concocted. The man continued, “What good did all the years of your study in a seminary do you?”
“That was an education to qualify me to become ordained.”
“Nevertheless, you chucked the job. So much for education.”
“How could someone with so many books negate the importance of education?”
“Like I said, we all find all the education we need. As an example, my father was raised on a farm back around the turn of the century when work in the fields was more important than the time it took to finish the sixth grade. When he grew up, he moved to the city and owned a grocery store that he ran successfully without a diploma. But, when it came to education, as a boy he learned how to kill a hog without killing his family with tainted meat. Now, that my young friend is an education.”
“What’s this have to do with me?”
“You have just begun your true education. The first step was stepping away from that identity of preacher. Remember what I said that day you visited me in the home for the nearly dead? I said there are too many religions. The thing you should seek and the one purpose you should follow is to find that relationship with God. Reading about the quantum entanglement is a beginning. Once you understand the ether is real.”
A bright light flashed across my room and reflected a glare from the bureau mirror. Peter Stone was gone, although the light was only my neighbor’s headlights as the car turned into the drive next door. I listen to the car become quiet and the car door shut. The night was still enough to follow the sounds of his footsteps to the front door and metallic clinking of keys needed to passage past solid walls. My world became real again.