Baptism into Death and Beyond
by Dr. Pam Bro
On All Souls Day, November 2, I found myself musing about death—especially loved ones who’ve died. When I was in college, my grandmother died. My mom decided not to tell me so as not to upset my studies, but when I found out two months later what she had done, I was furious! I wanted to be able to say goodbye to my beloved piano teacher and baker and big-bosomed, great hugger, Nana—and I felt cheated. I ranted and cried but felt no relief. A few weeks later, I had a dream. In it, Nana called me on the telephone, and I was overjoyed because, though I knew she was dead, here she was talking with me. “Nana,” I cried out, “I love you so much!” And she was so happy to hear my voice that she died (again)!
I don’t possess the gift of talking to dead people, even loved ones of mine who have passed on. There are plenty of folks around this area who do, I suspect. Maybe even you, dear reader. I used to live in the world of "certainties" and PhD's, but more and more I’m choosing to live in the world of Mysteries, of the Unknown or Not-understood. I’m choosing to act on faith from what Edgar Cayce, Dr. Eben Alexander, and others tell us—that consciousness is not tied to the brain, but pre-exists our life and lives on after our death. And as the souls of our beloveds travel on to the next realm(s), they might still appreciate a word of love or encouragement from us. It can’t hurt, and maybe it even cheers them. It can certainly help us cope.
My dear friend John Alton died a year ago. He was 60 years old and succumbed to a ravaging cancer after putting up a super-human fight. When he was near the end of his journey, he wanted to come to my house to visit the bay with me one more time. He never made it. The night he died, around midnight, I jerked around in my bed sensing someone had entered my room. I suspected it was John, popping in to say farewell. Now it was my turn to say good bye.
The next day dawned, an exquisitely sunny, clear sky, fall day. As I walked out over the dunes and onto our bay beach, thinking about special times with John, I spotted fishermen desperately hauling their nets onto the sand. It seemed like they had inadvertently caught a whole school of young fish—“gilled” them, one told me. The fish were too young to eat, yet once they were hooked into the net, you couldn’t easily release them without tearing their gills and killing them. As hundreds flopped helplessly on the beach, I managed to carefully remove dozens of them, flinging them back into the life-giving salt water. Many swam back to their home in the sea, but after an hour, I was exhausted.
Reluctantly, I admitted to God, “Well, I just can’t save them all. I guess I couldn’t save John with my love, and now I have to let him go back to his home in you, don't I?”
Somehow, I felt relief as I walked back down the beach. All of a sudden, I was gripped with the notion to dive into the gentle surf, jeans and all, to baptize myself and John into our new lives. So I did it, and it was glorious! The water was warm and welcoming, the sun so bright—I felt God’s blessing all around us.
It is good to remember your life, John—our deep friendship, your death, our parting, and our baptisms—“Hey, buddy, we got to share in your final wish, after all!” Selah.
Pamela Bro MDiv, MA, PhD
Dr. Pamela Bro is a spiritual counselor for the A.R.E. Health Center & Spa, founder and pastor of Living Waters, a dynamic motivational speaker and workshop leader, and a former associate pastor at Yale University. She holds her doctorate in theology and anthropology from the Chicago Theological Seminary, her masters in divinity from Union Seminary, and her masters in theatre from Schiller College, Berlin, Germany. She has enriched her field of spiritual counseling through her work with the Lakota Indians, Mindfulness Training with Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, and more than forty years of work with the Cayce readings. She has opened to many paths of spirituality and draws upon many spiritual traditions and practices. She is also the author of the book SoulQuest: A Trail Guide to Life (womanquest.org).