Things Unseen

22 02 2009

It was evening, and I was home alone.  I was a thirteen-year-old, washing the dishes, and the television was on, softly playing some news exposé about the elderly, or something.  The setting was stupidly simple.  All I did was whistle a song from a television commercial, the Cool Mint Listerine ad, where they have this animated bottle swinging from a vine.  Then, during the last few notes of the song, I heard someone join me in whistling the song.

Yeah, I was home alone.  There was no one in the room with me.  I looked up at the family room, where I heard it, but I saw nothing.  It definitely didn’t come from the television.  I rubbed my forehead, and mumbled, “That’s not right.  Now I’m hearing whistling.  This isn’t happening.”  I started back on my working, hoping to forget about it, but then I heard it whistle again.  That time, I knew I heard it.  It was as clear as if some invisible person were in the house with me.  It had that acoustical property, not like something from outside.  Someone whistled like they were testing me to see if I really heard it.  It was like a questioning, ascending tone.  I stood there with a plate and a dishtowel in my hands, thoroughly dumbfounded.  This time, I walked toward the sound.  I pointed at a chair and said, aloud, “I know I heard it come from right about here.”

Then I heard it again, two notes, one higher and one lower, like a “yoo-hoo.”  It came from my right, directly right.  It was definitely in the room with me, on the opposite side of me from the television.  To my right was nothing but a dark hallway.  It didn’t sound like it came from down the hallway, though.  It sounded like it had been right beside me.  I looked down at my dog, and she just looked up at me like nothing in the world was wrong.  Two thoughts sprang to my mind, quickly, that either I was hearing something supernatural, or that someone was in the house with me, playing a trick on me.  The second possibility scared me worse.

Then I heard it again, on the other side.  There was nothing between the sound and me but empty space.  In that direction was only the television, and a wall.  What’s more is that I could have placed the sound at arm’s length, and about half a foot above me.  Whatever it was, it was either tall, or hovering, and it was completely invisible.  It sounded just like a human whistling.  Once again, it sounded like it was testing to see if I really could hear it.  What’s funny about human nature is that we can be terrified by things that we don’t understand, even if no threat appears imminent.  What’s even funnier is how I dealt with it: I went back to doing the dishes.  One might say that I defended myself against the unknown by clinging to the familiar.  I figured there was nothing to be done about it, and I just wanted the whole thing to go away.

And that’s all there was to it.  It left me alone.

Not long after that, maybe a month or so later, I saw my parents standing at the door to my sister’s room, looking a little worried.  Through the door, I saw her crying.  My mom said something about the stress of school getting to her.  She had been doing homework at the time.  Later, I asked my parents what had happened, and my dad said that she had been spooked by noises.  With a certain pride, he later explained how the house creeks a little as it cools down in the evening, making harmless noises.  This would be what’s called a poltergeist, also known as a “noise ghost.”  It’s not a ghost at all, but a product of physics.

A few days later, I asked my sister about it.  Her story didn’t match my parents’.  She was minding her own business, when she heard a voice that distinctly sounded like it was in the room with her.  It said her name.  It was the voice of a male human.  She thought it sounded like he was trying to get her attention.  He stopped when she panicked and started to cry.  This was definitely not the creaking of a heterogeneously cooled house.  This was something like an invisible person.  In retrospect, she didn’t think that this thing was really threatening her.  In fact, considering that it left her alone after she started crying, it probably meant no harm.

The next two years, I could not so much as pee or take a shower without feeling that someone was watching me.  I had become acutely aware that there was something humanoid in my home and completely imperceptible.  Whatever it was could see me, but I could not see it.  I knew of only four things that it could be: a demon, an angel, a human spirit, or God.  I eliminated God from the list right away.  Whatever the thing was, it seemed to be experimenting, which doesn’t fit with an omniscient God.

Was it a demon, or other evil spirit?  I’ve been around one of those before.  I was at the residence of a lesbian, who was toying with membership in a vampire cult, perhaps to replace her fading gang affiliation.  She gets the award for being most likely to ruin her own life in the dumbest way possible.  She was a pathological liar, too.  Her place was oppressive.  The air felt stifling and dense, and I felt about fifty pounds heavier.  I had the distinct impression that something in that place did not want me there, but it was helpless to make me leave.  A demon can only take what you give it, and she was giving it rights to her life.  Looking back on that, I feel pretty strong.  I feel like I had the authority to make it leave.  Had I done so, she probably would have invited it back, and we’d be worse off.  This thing that I heard in my own home didn’t feel anything like that.  There was no oppressive feeling.  It just seemed like an invisible person.

Was it a human spirit?  If it was, then it could have been the boy next door, who was killed in cold blood by his own friend.  That was years earlier.  I was just a little kid, putting together a circular seventy-something-piece Bugs Bunny puzzle with a friend, when a police officer stepped directly over our puzzle to knock on the front door.  After a few words with my mom, the officer left.  I can still remember them hauling away a pre-adolescent boy in handcuffs.  His face was stone cold emotionless.  He had shot the neighbor kid with the family’s own gun.  The Bible says that we are not to contact the dead, as they have no influence on the world of the living.  So I’m forced to rule-out the murdered boy, or any other human spirit as an explanation.

Was it an angel?  It’s the only option left, but it leaves some room for explanation.  Whatever it was, it seemed surprised that a person could hear it.  Generally, I’ve always had the impression that the understanding of angels was static.  One does not think of angels as being surprised by anything.  We don’t think of angels as having angelic technology.  We don’t think of them as actively learning things, and we never think of them as stumbling onto anything or making a mistake.  Let’s imagine the Apostle Paul, lying in his prison chamber, and an angel appears.  The angel takes a quick look around and apologizes, saying that he got the wrong cell.  So the possibility that an angel blew its cover accidentally seems somewhat absurd.

Then, my next question was how a spiritual being, or anything not physical, could move physical air to make physical sound waves.  I could say that I heard the sound in its own element, like a spiritual form of sound, but it fails to explain the acoustical properties of the sound.  The sound waves had to bounce off of the walls, but the house is not a spiritual thing, so spiritual sound waves don’t really make any sense, either.  I could call it a hallucination, but someone else encountered it, too.  I inquired of someone that I thought wiser than myself, asking what we knew about the laws of spirits, and whether angels were subject to their own physical laws, as we are subject to ours.  She replied that it was likely, and she called it “metaphysics.”

Now, I know that there are two meanings for the word.  The first is a well-developed pantheistic belief that, really, has nothing to do with metaphysics in general.  When I refer to metaphysics, what I mean is anything that lies outside of our physical realm.  This includes angels, demons, God, human spirits, and anything else I might have missed.  This experience sparked my interest in that other world.  I wanted to know the mechanism of what had happened.  What I actually learned was almost nothing.

The first thing I must say is this: we are living in their test tube, and they can easily observe us.  However, we cannot easily observe them.  This is important, because these are not just impersonal forces.  These are intelligent beings with their own objectives.  Imagine attempting to negotiate with someone that you know nothing about, who has been observing you for years.  In all likelihood, any deal reached will be entirely to the benefit of the other guy.  What I mean is that if we fail to see the depth of our own ignorance and deal with it appropriately, then we run the risk of falling for a hideous deception.  When encountering a spirit, we cannot presume to know its intentions, or anything else about it.  We must walk carefully.  We must do nothing with the spiritual realm without the help of the Holy Spirit.

The second thing I might say is that it would appear that spirits do still learn things.  The implications of this are enormous.  It explains why angels can change their minds and rebel against God.  They’re still learning, thinking and making decisions.  The significance of this lies in the possibility that spiritual stability today might not be the same tomorrow.  The forces that we do not see may learn things that can affect our world in ways that we did not expect.  Specifically, today we have a human ruler; tomorrow we may have the Beast.  Quite possibly, the day may come when the technology of angels and devils permanently disrupts our way of life.

Other than that, I still don’t really know what happened to me those many years ago, when I was minding my own business, washing dishes.  Maybe in the next life I’ll find out.

The better part of a decade later, I had my own experience in that role.  I was sitting on the roof of the student union building at college (it’s just one of those crazy things that college students might do).  It was the dark of night, and the outside area was lit by floodlights mounted under the eaves of the building.  Along came someone I knew, named Becky.  I called out her name and she stopped in her tracks and looked around.  She stood in the relatively narrow space between one building and the next, a relatively unobstructed area.  I was out of reach of the lights, which made me effectively invisible to her.  The funny thing about human hearing is that we’re really good at identifying the direction of a sound, so long as it’s not above us.  We don’t have a third ear for finding vertical direction.  Hence, when I called out her name, she looked in my direction, but not up.  To her, I seemed to be in the empty space between her and the wall.  I called her name a second time, and she replied, “Where are you?  Am I blind?!”  The hint of panic in her voice brought me back in time to my own similar experience.  I knew what it was like to be in that position.  Shortly, I climbed down a tree and introduced myself.

The earlier situation was actually quite comparable.  If we live in a three-dimensional world, and we interact with a four-dimensional one, then we look for events arising from the other world along the dimensions that we are familiar with.  She looked along the horizon for the source of a voice that was above her.  I looked through three dimensions for the source of a voice that originated from a different level on a fourth dimension.  Walking through walls and disappearing are not only possible but elementary for a being that has freedom of movement along an extra dimension.  I cannot fathom what that must be like.  I guess it’s just another one of those things I’ll have to wait to learn about on the other side of the grave.