The third fall of the stick

In June 2009, almost a year after the first fall of the stick, it fell again. Margaret had completed her part of Island Conversion. I carried on where she left off and mixed a straightforward telling of our story with excursions into science and philosophy. Margaret didn’t like that part of it much and she wanted to take out the more abstruse bits and make it a more engaging read.

She was going to speak to me to discuss this, and as these thoughts crossed her mind she was getting the Hoover out of the cupboard. Just then the stick, which was a few paces away from her, fell off the wall.  It was as if someone or something was giving her a message. But what message? And who was the messenger?

She took it to mean that I should continue with what I was writing, which I did.

This was to be a recurring pattern for a number of years. Something falling as if giving us a message and us pondering about what the message could be.


Winter sunset above Stirling

Winter sunset above Stirling – photo Scott Murray

Reasons for retelling the story

It is eight years since the first fall of the stick in 2008 and I keep asking, and reminding myself, why I keep going on about what happened. There are a number of reasons.

One reason is the way the fall of the stick and other events completely contradicted what I had previously believed. Like many other people I was immersed in the materialist way of looking at things. I don’t mean materialist in the sense of preferring material possessions to spiritual values. That is a problem, but it wasn’t my problem.

My problem was a philosophy that permeates the media, at least in the West, namely, that all that exists is matter or physical energy and that consciousness is merely a modification of matter or an emergent quality of the physical. This belief appears to be the unspoken assumption which informs public discourse of all kinds in the West. I believe it informs secular humanism. I have already spoken of the shock I felt when things happened that completely refuted this belief. Now I am convinced that consciousness and intelligence came first and that life is the creation of that consciousness. The Christian calls this consciousness God.

As I mentioned previously, when I was in my teens I made up my mind that I would find out the truth about life, if I could. I even challenged God to prove his existence to me. And in a poem ‘Sùil air Ais’ (Looking Back), written when I was forty, I demanded a miracle to prove his existence. However, in my wildest dreams I never expected events to happen that contradicted the laws of nature, but when they did I was utterly astonished, and still am.

Another reason for telling the story again is that after writing Island Conversion many other things happened which were equally amazing, if not more so. And these things, I feel, have to be told in sequence.

Religious context

An important factor in all that happened was that they happened in a religious context. Otherwise they wouldn’t have made any sense. Weeks before the stick fell I had started going to the Free Church. And one day after the stick fell, the minister visited us. I told him about the stick falling and asked him what he thought. I’ll never forget what he said – that it could be God trying to get my attention.

The fact that a Free Church minister said this is significant. For I get the feeling that the church’s official position wouldn’t entertain the idea of God communicating with people in that way. God has given his final communication in the Scriptures and through the Holy Spirit and that is how God works. And that, I believe, is certainly true, but, personally, I also believe that God can and does communicate in other ways. Or, if it was not God, who or what was it? Only the Creator, I assume, has control of the constants of nature.

The ex-Catholic and the Jehovah’s Witness

I often wonder what other people think about what happened to us. Sometimes I don’t need to wonder, I’m told in no uncertain terms, not by the irreligious but the religious themselves.

Recently, we went to a gospel meeting in one of the islands. It was a slightly Pentecostal-type event where people gave their testimonies. I ventured foolishly, as it turned out, to give my testimony. The leader of the event was an ex-Catholic who, apparently, looked aghast at anything that hinted at the miraculous or smacked of Catholicism.

I told our story, how the stick fell and so on and I told of a table we had in the hallway with an iconic picture of the Virgin Mary. At the mention of the Virgin Mary, I thought he was going to faint. After I sat down he rubbished my testimony, seeking support from someone he knew in the audience,  and said the fall of the stick was the work of the devil. From his own experience he said he was familiar with demonic effects.

The experience taught me not to give my testimony to a person who has already made up his mind before hearing the full story. Of course, this person didn’t want to hear the full story. His prejudices prevented him from being interested. He only needed to hear one snatch and his mind was already made up.

On another recent occasion, a Jehovah’s Witness came to our door, as they do. When I told him snippets of the story he was quite cynical. He had his own beliefs and agenda which he was eager to impart. He obviously didn’t believe in the divinity of the Son of God, as I do, and so he went his way.