Well, the mailbag has ended my search for the person who coined the phrase “God Winks” for those communications from the other side. Its author is a lovely soul named Squire Rushnell (spelled SQuire Rushnell, for reasons I cannot fathom). He knew of me before I knew of him.
Dear Rabbi Gellman, I’m the Godwink Guy ... SQuire Rushnell. I’ve long been an admirer of you and your late colleague Monsignor Tom Hartman. Great work. Fabulous title ... God Squad. The term Godwink was coined in my first book, “When God Winks.” Subsequently, my dear wife and I have turned out 12 books filled with astonishing Godwink Stories ... five have been produced as Hallmark or Netflix movies ... and I even ran “GMA” prior to your delightful God Squad segments. Wishes for wondrous Godwinks. — SQuire Rushnell, www.godwinks.com. Glass Ball Finials
So you used to be my boss! Thank you for treating Tommy and me so kindly during our tenure as the religion reporters for “Good Morning, America.” My only objection to those appearances was that we were turned into what I called catastrophologists. Whenever there was some catastrophe anywhere in the world we would be called in to explain how it was all perfectly compatible with a just and loving God. My view is that if every flood, earthquake and hurricane is evidence of a malingering deity, then as Robert Frost said in a poem, “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”
One small question. You seem to confine God winks to natural events. You wrote that God winks are, “ A personal signal or message, directly from a higher power, usually, but not always, in the form of a coincidence.” Though I agree that some God winks are purely natural events like ladybugs landing on the finger of a relative who loved ladybugs, but some of the God winks I have received go way beyond loving ladybugs. There are stories of books flying across rooms or lights turning on for no reason or direct spoken communications from dead relatives, or other acts of clearly supernatural nature. I think that these God winks, if real, confront us all with the possibility that communiques from Heaven.com might often be much more powerful that mere coincidences. Because I am half rational, credentialed philosopher and half whacked-out mystic I cannot decide, but what I am convinced of is that those we loved and who have cast off their earthly garments and taken up residence beyond the pearly gates still love us and watch over us in ways we cannot always comprehend.
Tommy got to me so I cannot gainsay the existence of moments when the other side melts into our side. My faith includes the deep belief that we are not alone, but are accompanied in this life and received in the next life by those we loved and that we shall not be separated from them forever. This belief gives me comfort and helps me to hold onto the belief that our spiritual journey does not end at the grave.
And then there are stories like this from SB.
Dear Rabbi Gellman, I have no doubt whatsoever that the dead have the ability to make contact with the living. Being close to my husband’s grandmother, I was nudged by my mother to stand in line during an All Saints Day ceremony to sign her name in a book to receive prayers from the parishioners. Just as the person in front of me walked up to sign a name, the smell of grandma’s perfume was very apparent. I looked around and there was only a man behind me. I smiled with a warm heart that she was there with me. She also visited her daughter, my mother-in-law, on the first birthday after her death. On that day, my mother-in-law, being home alone all day was surprised to find a ceiling fan on in her room. It was not on a switch, it was a pull chain. She had to climb on her bed to turn it off. She knew it was a sign from her mother. After my sweet sister died from a terrible disease, and being close to her, I was devastated. My father often called her his little bird because she was small in stature. Soon after, bluebirds started to appear in our yard, which never happened before. One would also follow me on my walks in the neighborhood from lamp posts to trees. While my parents and brother were visiting, we were all sitting outside and two little bluebirds sat in the tree close to us for almost 30 minutes — — a memorable and special moment for all of us. Love your column,
Keep those God winks coming and thank you, dear SQuire.
Glass Finial Send all questions and comments to The God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.