Then he said, as if it were a revelation… “That was Him…the air was alive, it was like it had just rained…”Doug Pacheco
On Saturday, just a couple of days ago, I visited my local place where I get my hair cut. I was looking forward to going in and getting out quickly. In fact, I had gone online and “checked in” online just to make sure I had a place in line.
When I got there a little after 10 am, the place was already packed. My favorite stylist wasn’t there but I have a couple of really good back ups so I said I would wait for her. One father with three boys all under 10 years old, came in and the place became a zoo. I like to think that I am patient, but I gotta tell you, these boys were bouncing up and down on the chairs, running in and out the door and yelling at each other for petty little things…in other words, they were being boys.
One by one each boy was called to sit in the chair until at one peaceful, blessed moment, they were all seated. Quiet prevailed…one could hear the staccato “snip, snip” of the scissors. At this moment, a man walked into the shop and said he needed a cut. The lady checked him in and he sat down next to me. He was what I would consider “elderly”. His face shone the battle scars of 70 or 80 years in my estimation. iIwas surprised later to find out his real age. We began to engage in small talk and he mentioned the weather. I said I didn’t mind the drizzling rain as long as it wasn’t cold. He agreed. I mentioned that the fog made the air kind of thick…like a blanket over the landscape.
We sat in relative silence until he looked at me and said, “I decided to come in on my anniversary and get a hair cut.” I said, “Well, congratulations…how many years?” He smiled…looking at me out of the corner of his eye and said, “Two”. I grinned big and was going to tell him I had him beat…that I had been married for 5 years…but he didn’t let me finish. “I don’t mean my wedding anniversary” he said. “No, two years ago, on this day, my left arm went numb, I began sweating and by the time the ambulance arrived at my home, I had not been breathing for 3 minutes… I had a massive heart attack.”
I sat there in reverent silence, blinking at this gentleman and nodding my head up and down. “My wife didn’t really know how to perform the chest compressions and all, but she had tried her best.” When I awakened I was back in my room, with tubes coming out of me, I was a human pin cushion” he said with a sober smile. I asked him, “Can you tell me…can you tell me if you remember being dead?” He drew a long breath and studied me. “It’s interesting how you put that sir” he said slowly. “What made you ask the question THAT way?” “Why didn’t you ask me if I had seen Jesus or a light or something?” I told him that I really didn’t have a reason…that’s just the way the words came out of my mouth. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t quite sure why I had asked it that way either. It was an awkward kind of question.
He smiled very broadly and introduced himself as Don. I introduced myself and we began chatting about that day two years ago.
“I felt as if I had just fallen asleep…and had all kinds of interesting dreams. I knew I was still alive, but I breathed an air that was…well, alive…the air was alive”. I asked what he meant and he told me when he breathed it in, his eyes could see better, and his senses were sharper and he could sense every single cell in his body taking in the air. “I don’t remember seeing or talking to anyone…but I knew that I was very clean, and all around me was fresh and had dimension to it…” this was no time to ask any other questions…I just sat and looked at him as he spoke.
He said, in a very matter of fact way, “You’re a Christian…right?” I nodded yes. He smiled. “What would you call that? Was that the afterlife you think?” Now it was my turn to state matter of factly. “Well, Don, You’re a Christian right? He smiled broadly and said, “Yes…I am.” I asked him, “The Bible says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him. It also says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Don teared up a bit and nodded. “I learned a song years ago that Bill Gaither sang…”Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain…” Then he said, as if it were a revelation… “That was Him…the air was alive, it was like it had just rained…” He put his head down and closed his eyes as if in prayer.
After he looked up I said, “I would call that the Grace of God Don.” He said, “Yes, and as happy as I am to be back with my wife, I must say that it pains me just a bit not to have been able to experience more…to see more…it was so clean and fresh.” The stylist called his name, and he took my hand and said, “I’m 68… how old are you?” I told him I had just turned 61. This time he looked down at me over his glasses.
“Whatever you do, how ever much time you have left…tell people about the air…about the clean fresh air around Jesus.” He patted my shoulder and went to get his hair cut. I was still sitting there waiting for my turn when he was finished and walked by me on his way out. “We’ll meet again my friend.” He said putting on his jacket. We shook hands again and he got into his car and drove away. When my stylist called my name…it had been an hour since I had gotten there. I went and sat in the chair as she began to cut. I’ve never been one for talking much when getting my hair cut, which I suppose is odd since I’m such a big mouth everywhere else.
She finished and I thanked her. Walking out of the shop into the light drizzle, I realized how far from Heaven this world had fallen. But I look forward…to the day that I can breathe in that “living air” that Don experienced, and feel for the first time, what it is like to breathe the atmosphere of God.