What Kind Of Evidence?
So, my question is What would you make of it if the following happened to you?
I had a roommate a few years ago. He was a rather militant atheist as was I, at the time. He had the following experiences, which I know to be true.
He was 20 at the time. He had been in a relationship with a boy named James for just over two years. They had met only twice, and he lived in Texas, whereas we lived in NYC. Nonetheless, they spoke everyday, wrote letters, etc. James was a couple years younger and when his parents found out he was a homo they took away his phone, computer, cut his hair, and sent him to a Christian school. Soon, after a short while of communicating with my friend Allen via mutual friends, James called it off, and then had somewhat of a breakdown. Allen was upset, naturally. At this same time I was gifted a CD called Messages From Spirit. It was a guided meditation that leads you in asking "Spirit" for guidance. Then you just have to keep your eyes peeled for 'messages' or symbols, things that stick out in your daily life. It came with a booklet/dictionary of symbols that would help you interpret what they meant. I gave it to Allen and he actually listened to it. His questions were, of course, 'does James still love me' and 'what should I do next' (because from the way the breakup went James gave the impression that he was now going to be straight and said that he hated Allen and wished he'd just disappear).
I had endless fun making fun of this ridiculousness. The next morning, I dragged moping Allen to jog on the beach with me, something I did most days. After running two sections (sections are what we call the strips separated by jetties) we saw rose petals all over the shore and floating on the water, pink and white, easily thousands. They covered the water from jetty to jetty, about 150 feet wide, and out to about 70 feet off the shore. Allen noted that this must be a sign. I admitted that I at least, in five years of running by every morning and some evenings, had never seen anything like that. We kept going and ran across a big pile of organized shells. Again, Allen noted it must be a sign. I commented, exact words, "And what pray tell dear Allen are scallop shells a sign of, exactly?" He didn't respond except to say that we would consult the booklet upon returning home. On the run back I pointed out a ship offshore, which Allen noted as another sign. Again, I was suspicious that a ship was a sign of anything relevant to the situation. However, it was true that large ships rarely passed where we saw it pass.
Upon getting back to the apartment, we consulted the booklet. White roses are the sign for divine love, pink roses are the sign of romantic love. Okay, iffy, but okay, relevant. Shells were not listed in the booklet, so I googled "scallop shell"... otherwise known, it turns out, as the Shell of Saint James (thank you Wiki). And finally, a ship indicates a trip. I reminded that we were going to take a trip to Florida in two weeks, to stay with my Dad and little brothers. Allen thought it might mean he should go to Texas.
I said it was interesting and left the room, to go to my own room. Allen came into my room and sat on the bed saying "it's a little weird, huh?" I said, "I guess". He got up to leave and on his way out knocked down three books I had on my shelf by the door, two written be James Merrill and one by James Joyce.
At this point, I wasn't convinced of anything. But fast-forward two weeks and we're in Florida at my dad's house on Valentines day.
We were sitting upstairs when Allen got a text from Courtney, a mutual friend of ours and James' saying that he, James, had been really a mess lately. I suggested, half-jokingly, that Allen do the Messages meditation again, which he did. Right after, we went downstairs to the backyard for the BBQ we were having. My brother Daniel who was 7 at the time comes up to Allen and starts singing a song which goes "Fifty, nifty, United States, fromt he thirteen original cooolonieesss...". Allen starts crying and goes inside. James once sang that same song to Allen and then Allen would insist that James sing it on a frequent basis. It was a big point of contention between them whether the song was popular or not. Allen had never heard it, he ran it by me more than a year ago at that point, and I'd never heard it.
At that point, I heard the doorbell and went to the door. It was UPS with an Amazon delivery. I had ordered a book. I opened the packaged only to find that it was not the book I'd ordered but a book of PostSecret cards. Disappointed, I went to find Allen. I went up to the guest room where he was doing the Message meditation yet again. I asked what the question was. It was 'Does James love me?' Not a minute later does a helium balloon alight on our balcony with the words I Love You written on it. Admittedly, I'd tied the balloon to the chair I was sitting in write beneath those windows, but still. Allen looked at me and said, "Maybe I should go to Texas? What's in your hand?" I told him it was a book but not the one I ordered, and handed it over. Allen said out loud, "Should I go to Texas?" and then, as if he knew it would be there, opened the book I'd just mistakenly received to a random middle page with a facsimile of a PostSecret that read 'Take that trip you're thinking of. It'll be good.' He looked at me and said. "At this point I'm waiting for a burning bush to talk to me or for the clouds to just open up". And I understood what he meant.
As it turned out, it was good. Allen would go to Texas for four months but he wouldn't see James. However, a long while after he'd returned to New York, James finally came around and told Allen it meant the world to him that he'd gone to be there, and they're still best friends. Happy ending.