CLAIRE EVANS recalls a profound spiritual encounter at the grave of a reverend in Milton Keynes who had baptised her as a child
Most of my friends at school knew I had a ‘gift’ or was a little bit ‘different’. There were times when it was a bit of a party trick, ‘me speaking to dead people’. I was fortunate that I wasn’t ridiculed for it, as apparently it was ‘cool’, and yet I didn’t know any different. It was ‘normal’ for me.
On the weekends, it wasn’t unusual to find myself wandering around an old church yard, trying to read the crumbled stones with their eroded words. I squinted to try and see the names and dates of those who had been laid beneath the soil that was now suffocated by blankets of weeds. Plastic vases with long dead flower heads peeking from behind the vines and long grass enveloping the scatter of head stones
On one particular day, I’d visited a friend of mine who was a ‘Goth’, as we would say in those days. Long black hair, thick black eye liner, and the typical Dr. Martin boots. She was a gentle soul, and looking back now, I wish I had seen more of her, but we grew apart due to our different friendship groups. Her name was Donna. She was as interested in the afterlife as I was, but she didn’t really explore it too much. She enjoyed the stories I would tell her of my experiences and ghostly encounters.
That morning, we decided we would go on a cemetery walk at Woolstone Church in Milton Keynes. Although I knew of the church we were due to visit, I didn’t really know it that well, as it wasn’t from the area where I lived, and I couldn’t recall ever visiting it. I was really excited about going, and even more so when Donna mentioned it was from the 12th century.
It was a beautiful autumn morning, and the sun was low in the clear, blue sky. Trees displayed colours of amber, and a golden carpet of leaves surrounded the church grounds. It truly was as pretty as a picture. There was a real sereneness to the place, a calm that you could actually feel around you like a blanket.
We walked around, trying to find the oldest grave in the cemetery. Something I always liked to do. Donna had stopped to read one of the stones while I carried on further to the front of the graveyard.
As I walked on, I felt an unusual sensation in my body. I felt heavy. tingling at the top of my head. I recognised this feeling. It was spirit energy. I looked around me, checking where Donna was. I couldn’t see her from where I was standing.
I found myself at the foot of a grave. As I stood there, it was like everything else around me faded into the background. It was almost like a circle of heatwaves had created a bubble around me and this grave.
As my mind tried to make sense of what was happening, my heart rate increased, and I could hear the blood pumping through my body and into my head.
Thump, thump, thump.
I was aware my breathing was quicker and shorter, yet I didn’t feel panicked or afraid. I had no awareness of where I was or that Donna was nearby. I felt a rush of warmth spread up from my legs to the top of my head, like I was being hugged.
I could then feel myself being pulled down into the ground, like invisible hands had gently gripped my legs and were pulling me into the earth. I became very dizzy, and for a moment I completely blacked out.
“CLAIRE!!! CLAIRE!! ARE YOU OK?!” Donna’s shouts snapped me out of my daze, and I looked up to see her looking over at me. I felt cold and dampness on my back and then realised I was actually lying on top of the grave. As I came, she helped me up, dusting off the mud and taking off my clothes.
“What the hell happened? Are you okay? Did you fall?”
It took a few seconds for me to understand what she asked me. My mind was whizzing looking for an explanation, but nothing came to me. How did I end up on my back when I was facing the stone? What pulled me down like that?
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. One minute I was standing, and the next you were waking me up. It was weird. I can’t explain it.” I looked back at the gravestone. “I think it might have been a spirit. A ghost, maybe. I don’t know” She looked at the grave.
“Who’s grave, is it?” Donna asked, nodding towards it.
“Let’s have a look,” I said as we leant over the stone and read out.
“Rev. William Henry George,” I told her.
“Well, if he’s a reverend, I can’t imagine he would want to hurt you. Would he?” She asked me, her eyebrows frowning in confusion.
“I don’t think they wanted to hurt me. It was like they wanted me close. I can’t explain it. I know I wasn’t afraid. It felt calm. Warm”.
She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “It must be weird being you. cool though,” and we both laughed and called it a day.
When I got home, I told my mom what had happened. I would always share my paranormal experiences with my mom, as she also has the ‘gift’ and would encourage me to connect with spirit.
“William Henry George?” She peered over her glasses at me with a look of shock on her face.
“Yeah, it was so weird, Mom, like I was being pulled into the grave”.
“Well, that is bloody weird, Claire!” she exclaimed. “That was the church where you were baptised. And that reverend was the one who did it!”
As I digested her words, a real sense of love washed over me. I felt like I was being acknowledged from the grave.
A spirit remembered me after all those years.
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