The Books of Mary Bowmaker

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One day the priest called, and he was so concerned at how poorly the baby was that he hurried away to seek a doctor. That night, as she lay in her cot, having difficulty breathing, Norah lay in bed watching her, the cot having been placed at the side of the bed. Suddenly, the room was enveloped in a beautiful perfume, then, astonished, Norah watched as two angels, sweeping wings, widespread, flew over the cot. The baby’s breathing immediately improved, she was well, and grew up to become a healthy mother of three.

The appearance of angels signified a change for the better in Norah’s baby, but in another incident that happened at about the same time, in the late thirties, the paranormal experience heralded a different outcome.

Once again a mother was anxiously watching over her sick baby as he lay in his cradle. What she described as the most wonderful shining light in the shape of a star (could it have been an angel?), appeared and hovered over the cradle. It stayed there for a little while. Then, as she watched, it gradually faded, and as it faded, so the life of the baby gently slipped away.

William Roach, a well-known TV actor who writes and speaks openly about his experiences with ‘the other side’, gives a simple but moving account of help coming from ‘angelic forces’ as he describes them, at a time of great need.

Years ago, after I lost my little girl Edwina at eighteen months, my wife and I were grief stricken and didn’t know how we would cope with the funeral. On the morning of the funeral, the smiling face of Edwina appeared surrounded by a golden glow. With her came a feeling of comfort and love. She appeared with the help of angelic forces.

A well known author’s friend Mary, another writer, and Mary’s sister, helped many Jewish people to escape Nazi Germany just before the outbreak of the war. Years later, Mary featured in This is Your Life, and her author friend, plus many other friends who watched the programme, saw a man standing behind Mary’s chair who had helped her from the Berlin side, been captured, and shot by the SS.

God’s Magic, visible in the tiny, unexpected, and ordinary incidents of life; a sudden whiff of pipe smoke in the kitchen telling her that her father was near.

The significance in seeing a heart shape built out of ‘anything’; steam on a mirror, a leaf, a pattern on a carpet, but unmistakable, and bringing comfort, usually at a time of worry or uncertainty.

The lady who received so much evidence and so many answers from the other side of life that she almost believed she was on a ‘hot-line’.

The artist who paints the future. He has revelations of future events during the sleep state and paints them immediately on waking.

The ordinary incidents of life; the super ordinary; gelling together in a diversity of experience that is life. John Lennon tellingly remarked, ‘Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.’ Many people accept life as ‘just life’, and travel along not looking for any meaning other than to live out their allotted life span to the best of their ability, and that’s it. Finished. The end. No more. The purpose, the loves, the strivings, the successes, the failures, in the final analysis amount to nothing. Everything in a time slot which is, itself, nothing.

Then there are stories; tales, experiences, which, touching even the most cynical and closed of minds cause a little stirring, a little hesitation, as the afterthought is expressed: ‘I don’t believe in anything, but…!’ Experiences as incredible as they are welcome, as fascinating as they are inspiring: ‘I was at the bottom of a black pit’; ‘it was the worst moment of my life’. Experiences; the moment of moments; the highest, the lowest point in a life, and incredibly, an opportunity for the magic to steal in. Possibly in the form of an ultra-real, soft, soothing embrace; or as a sudden jolt of awakening, understanding, certainty. A certainty of being ‘upheld by a power’, given strength; a certainty of there being a reason for everything; and the certainty that we do not face life alone.

Life: the oddest, weirdest, most wonderful, unexpected and mysterious of anything we will ever encounter. Life; shining through every moment, every emotion, the highs, the lows: the unimaginable way things have of working out, enticing us on, giving us hope. And in the amazing way that only life itself can conjure up, possibly in some strange circumstance, or in something as ordinary as meeting a friend for a cup of coffee; or perhaps through the emotion of the inner self, anyone of us can, at any time, touch the ‘true’ self, and find that we too are ‘leaning on the invisible’.

Partakers of what can only be termed God’s magic. The magic that is God.

THE SUMMER HOLIDAY NOW over, the two families waited patiently at the airport for the plane home. Everything had gone according to plan, the whole holiday a success, including the sharing of a big house in Spain. The house had an old part and a new part, the new part housing a play-room; ideal for their four young children.

Sitting in the airport lounge reflecting on it all, the parents quizzed the children, ‘You didn’t seem to use the playroom, why didn’t you?’ Suddenly the whole atmosphere of carefree happiness changed as they froze on the spot at the reply: ‘Because it was full with the other children; they didn’t want us.’

As far as the parents were concerned, there were no other children in the house, but they also knew that their little ones would not, could not, invent such a story.

Later, at home, Geoff confessed to the hairs on his arms ‘standing up’ as he gently questioned his young daughter about the ‘other children’, going icy cold at her nonchalant reply. ‘A little Spanish girl often came and sat on my bed talking to me.’

The fact that the experience of seeing ‘spirit children’ in the playroom was accepted as ordinary, nothing special, to the human children involved, is proof yet again as we have been taught to believe, that children (therefore all of us at some time), are born with this ‘spirituality’ – a natural awareness of spirit, which we so often lose growing up as we do in a material world. An incident that was natural, and therefore acceptable to the children, was processed as something ‘paranormal’, extraordinary, in the minds of the parents. According to Geoff, one of the fathers involved, he still goes cold, and the hairs on his arms still stand up, when he thinks about it.

(As an afterthought, it is interesting to note that the playroom was situated in the new part of the house and therefore, apparently, the children were witnessing the appearance of real spirit children and not a ‘replay of a memory’ or an ‘image from the past’, as in ‘ghost’, which might have been the case had it taken place in the old part.)

There are endless extraordinary stories, incidents, happenings, in daily life that are not necessarily easy to understand; or perhaps we are not meant to understand them at that particular point. But then, to pursue the argument, if we are not meant to understand them, why do they happen? (I don’t suppose those are the sort of things a priest was meaning when he talked recently about ‘the mysteries of life’.) But it does seem to be that there is a ‘working out behind the scenes’, a weaving and interweaving, so to speak, a preparation for what is about to happen. We could liken it to a play where there is often as much going on behind the scenes as out front. Kathleen Walker sensed something was different; bits and pieces, thoughts, feelings, incidents, all not adding up to anything, until later, when they began to make sense; but here is Kathleen’s story.

It was 1986, and Kathleen was living in Hamilton, three miles south of Glasgow, with John her husband, who was forty-six years old, and son Stewart, twenty-one years old. Kathleen made a marvellous and quick recovery from a hysterectomy operation. She was out and about so quickly it was commented on, but it was only later, after the tragedy, that an elderly lady said to her, ‘That’s why you made such a rapid recovery, God knew what you had to bear.’ It is thought-provoking that leading up to the tragedy her husband John seemed to talk about his family more than he had ever done. He mentioned especially his mother, who had died when he was two years old, and dwelt on reminiscences. Kathleen remembers feeling that she must be sure to have his sister’s phone number and address in her diary, never having thought like that before in all their years of marriage, because John had the information.

They booked a holiday to Tenerife. Although at the time money was tight, they decided to make the effort and travel club class on the plane so that John could go in the cockpit during the flight and talk to the captain (his hobby was making and flying model planes). Not long before the holiday the airline wrote asking if they would accept a refund and travel ordinary class, as club class had been overbooked. Although the cheaper fare would have been welcome at the time, they decided ‘no’, they would stick with club class for John’s sake, as they might never get another chance. The holiday and the flight were a big success.

Not long before the tragic event, a Saturday, the family went out shopping (with Kathleen’s cousin Virginia and her family who were visiting them for the weekend). They were in Woolworth’s playing around on a machine where you put a finger in and it gives a health statement. One after the other they tried the machine, Virginia giving a running commentary on each statement. When it came to John’s turn, she said, ‘And as for you John, you should be dead with a reading like that.’

A few weeks later, John, never ill, arrived at the sports centre as usual for his game of squash. He collapsed and died during the game.

Apparently seeing an angel can be as ordinary as going to the shops or as mystical as the deepest revelations we read about in the Bible.

It was 1938 and the grim days leading up to the start of the Second World War. No one felt safe, and poverty was the norm. In a small old seaport town, somewhere in the North East of England, lived Norah. Her home was a flat on the ground floor, part of a short terrace of old houses situated in the centre of the town. Norah’s husband Jack, a merchant seaman, was on duty at sea and she had no idea when he would return. She had two older children to look after, and a sickly baby of a few months to care for. The tiny girl – the mother called her ‘miracle baby’ as she weighed only four pounds at birth – had developed serious chest problems.