Sunset on the B8033 near Braco
(Photo: Scott Murray)

(Contnd from blog 92)

The cat and the ‘ghost’

It was in the mid-nineties that a supernatural event occurred in my life that made me pause for thought. Could there be a supernatural side to reality after all, rather than things being naturalistic? I was living on my own in Staffin at the time and I was working on a Gaelic course from home. I had a cat at the time called Sguab (Gaelic for brush). It was well named with its bushy coat. It was a lovely sunny day in the summer. I was having a break from work and sitting in the living room reading the paper when I heard footsteps outside on the gravel. I assumed it was my neighbour. I went outside to have look, but there was no-one there. I was puzzled, for there was no place for someone to hide, it being a detached house in the country.

About an hour and a half later I was working on the computer in another room. I could see the cat sitting in the lobby looking out to the front door, which was wide open. Suddenly it started yowling and its hair stood on end. I went to pick her up and comfort her and she soon settled down. I went out to see what was frightening her. Could it have been a dog? A had a thorough look this time round the house, but there was nothing.

This incident shook me up and to this day remains vivid in my memory. If the cat hadn’t been there and reacted the way it did, I would have assumed I was imagining things. But the cat’s reaction reinforced my belief that there was something objective there. It takes the perceptions of two to make something objective.

The unexpected phonecall

The cat incident and other meaningful coincidences that happened didn’t convince me of the reality of God, but what happened a few years later started a process which was to completely change my mind and heart.

It started with a phonecall out of the blue in the late 90s from Margaret who I hadn’t seen or spoken to since 1964 in Inverness. She was now a widow and living in Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. She said she wanted to tell me something, but couldn’t tell me over the phone. Could we meet the following night in Broadford, Skye, she was going to a Gospel event with a friend and she would like to meet me at the Gospel tent. I was taken by surprise and didn’t know how to answer. I hummed and hawed but said I might meet her there. I thought she was possibly wanting to ‘save’ me, but I didn’t want to be saved at the time. 

Next evening came and I didn’t go. That probably would have been the last I would have heard from her, if it wasn’t for something that happened in the tent. The preacher’s text was Matt. 5.15 “Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under  a bowl …” And then he told people to go and tell other people about the Gospel with the words, “Go David go! Go Margaret go!” Margaret’s friend nudged her on hearing those words. She tried to pursuade her to phone me to see whether I was coming or not. Eventually, and very reluctantly, she did that.

Peacock butterflies on sunflower
(Photo: Scott Murray)

The second phonecall and the dream

I was surprised that she phoned again, but this time I agreed to meet her the following day in a cafe in Portree. It took a few moments to adjust to how we had aged! Thirty-four/five years is a long time. The reason she wanted to see me was to tell me about a dream that continued to trouble her. She had the dream some 4 years previously, but it continued to haunt her. She thought if she met me and told me the dream that it would rid her of her obsession.

In the dream she saw a man standing outside a gate with his back to her. She walked up to him and he turned round. She saw that the man had grey hair and she recognised that it was me, although when she knew me in the 60s I had black hair. She followed me through the gate into a green and luxurious field. She felt very happy, and then much to her dismay, she woke up.

For years afterwards this dream troubled her, and she would cry about it, but at first she kept it to herself. She was a believer and she would pray to God about me. Then she was at a Gospel event in Benbecula and she told this preacher about her dream. He said to her that it was from God, that he had a similar dream before he met his wife. This made it easier for her to tell her friend about it, the friend who went to the Gospel event in Skye.

The aftermath and the fall of the stick

Margaret and I met a few times after our meeting in Portee and eventually we started going together and we married in 2002. I was working and living in Gairloch on the Scottish mainland at the time. I retired from full-time teaching in 2004 and we moved to our home in Staffin.

2008 was to be a momentous year for me. I’ve already referred to the problems I had with naturalism and what John Lennox refers to as postmodern relativism in his book Against the Flow, which is a brilliant study of the book Daniel. The book of Daniel is nothing if not supernatural. Lennox shows clearly why it is important to believe in the supernatural in an age when the supernatural and the reality of God is scoffed at. In 2008 that was my problem, that I found it difficult to believe in the supernatural authority of the Bible.

Then something happened on Monday July 21st 2008 and then again the following Monday which made me change my whole outlook. There is a stick hanging on a hook on the wall just outside our kitchen, it’s  75cm long and used for opening the loft door. We were having our evening meal at about 5pm when this stick fell of the hook with a clatter. I went to investigate. There was nothing that could have made it fall. It ought not to have happened.

For it to happen once was bad enough, but the following Monday as we were lying in bed the same thing happened. We heard the clatter and when I went to investigate the stick was lying on the floor. To say that we were shocked is an understatement. The question for me was, What should I do about it.

(to be contnd)