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Hope in the Afterlife

Norman Vincent Peale recounts his experience of comfort from beyond by his beloved parents.

Norman Vincent Peale

My father, who died at 85 after a distinguished career as a physician and minister, had struggled against a very real fear of death. But after his funeral, my stepmother dreamed that he came to her and said, “Don’t ever worry about dying. There’s nothing to it!” The dream was so vivid that she woke up, astounded. And I believe that he did come to reassure her, because that is precisely the phrase I had heard him use a thousand times to dismiss something as unimportant.

Years before, when news reached me that my mother had died, I was alone in my office, numb with grief. There was a Bible on my desk, and I put my hand on it, staring blindly out the window. As I did so, I felt a pair of hands touch my head, gently, lovingly, unmistakably. Was it an illusion? A hallucination? I don’t think so. I think my mother was permitted to reach across the gulf of death to touch and reassure me.

Once when I was preaching at a big church convocation in Georgia, I had the most startling experience of all. At the end, the presiding bishop asked all the ministers in the audience to come forward and sing a hymn.

Watching them come down the aisles, I suddenly saw my father among them. I saw him as plainly as when he was alive. He seemed about 40, vital and handsome, singing with the others. When he smiled at me and put up his hand in an old familiar gesture, for several unforgettable seconds it was as if my father and I were alone in that big auditorium. Then he was gone. But he was there, and I know that someday, somewhere, I’ll meet him again.

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