- Published on Saturday, 15 September 2012 21:09
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(The above photo shows June’s grave marker at Lakewood Cemetery. This marker is oriented in an East-West direction with the top of the marker on the East side. The brass flower vase is located several inches further East and is a permanent type vase that is attached at the base to a receptacle permanently in position. The receptacle and the brass vase are locked together by rotating interlocking flanges. During the winter months the vase is inverted and stored in the base. Neither the grave marker or the vase and base are moveable. I have marked a red cross with white background to indicate the position on June's grave marker where the rose flower that is the subject of this story was found. This photo was taken in June of 2012 after placing a fresh dozen orange-yellow roses in the vase.)
A few days ago, I was talking with Nancy Burton, Development Director of the Benedictine Health Care Center’s Innsbruck Foundation. I had told her of a puzzling event that had recently happened in my life…I could not explain it in terms of my application of any of the laws of nature, my human experiences or the natural sciences…I could not make sense of it…it could not even be explained as a coincidence….What had happened seemed not only improbable but impossible…I cannot recall such a thing ever happening to me before…Nancy’s response was a “God Moment.!”…on reflection, I can think of no better explanation!
What are “God moments?” The secular world talks about occurrences as being “coincidences” or “happenstance,” but as Christians, we recognize that at times we may be blessed in a very special way that permits us to experience the presence of the Living God in the form of an otherwise unexplainable and improbable intervention of an event into our lives…and often when we least expect it… This can take many forms, but in such instances we know in our hearts that the God of the Universe has revealed Himself to us in a special …”God Moment”
I think God moments may be simple unexplained and coincidental type moments that leave us with a feeling that something very special just took place that appeared to be related to God…other God Moments are truly ones that could be described as a miracle of some dimension…a true miracle according to the textbook definition of a miracle is an event that is:
“Unexplainable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God…”
Very few events qualify as true miracles. I like many others, have had human experiences that left me wondering if God had just visited, touched or influenced my life in a special manner. I was looking for a true miracle, large or small for June's web site that would withstand the scrutiny of the “doubting Thomas’s of the secular world…suddenly I found one!...and it included June!
What was my “God Moment?...it took place at June’s gravesite at Lakewood Cemetery where I normally always go every Wednesday noon to leave a dozen fresh roses. The roses are placed in a permanent brass vase and holder that is located 6" inches beyond and East of June’s brass burial marker. This is the marker that contains the grave identifying data such as our names and years of birth…The event took place on the 22nd of August this year (2012). As usual I had brought a dozen fresh roses to replace the previous weeks wilted ones. I vary the colors from week to week. On this occasion they were a combination white and violet with violet sort of trimming the white body of the flower. I have my own routine that I find necessary because of my age and balance problems when I am standing and using my hands and bent over for a period of time…I sit on a folding camp chair next to the vase as I prepare the roses...I go through a procedure of cutting off about 4 inches from the bottom of the stem on all of the long stemmed roses. This makes them fit the vase better and gives them more stability. After the cutting process, I hold the boquet up and view them to see if all appears in order. I then place them in the vase…I add plant food…I then stand back just below the brass marker to again see if they all appear to present a nice appearance…I may decide to clip some addition stems to make them more uniform and or re-arrange them slightly to enhance their appearance…when I am satisfied with their appearance, I say a prayer for June our family, and all the Alzheimer’s victims and caregivers world wide…ask for God’s blessings as well as his intervention with the worlds scientists towards finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. I also promise to return the following week with new roses and then depart the cemetery. If the water level in the vase is not adequate, I go to a nearby public water tap and secure additional water. I have a plastic bag to place the clippings and old flowers so that all appears tidy and neat when I leave.
On this occasion, the water level in the vase did not appear to me to be sufficient. I took the plastic container that I had used to bring the fresh roses and walked to a provided water tap about 100 feet or less away. This public water tap is located on the edge of the nearby service road. I secured the necessary additional water to add to June’s flower vase…at all times I was in sight of June’s grave and her roses. The time involved in getting the water could not have been more than 5 minutes…there were no animals, birds or other humans in sight…the cemetery appeared deserted except for myself…the weather was good and sun was shining…there was no significant wind or strong breeze blowing. The roses when I left for the water were all intact in a nice uniform arrangement…no bent roses or stems or any flower out of place.
“The God Moment”
When I returned with the water, I was startled to see one of the Roses had been broken away from or otherwise separated from the long stem and was laying on the grave marker with about 3 inches of stem still attached to the bottom flower portion of the rose…it was oriented with the long axis of the marker and with the flower portion at the top and just above the large letter’s of “BERG” on the marker…see postion indicated on top photo.
It's position with the flower portion properly oriented upwards and properly centered, gave the appearance of a rose that has just been gently placed in position on the gravesite marker...it all happened in less then 5 minutes while I was within sight of the grave site and probably less then 100 feet away! The location or position of the Rose on the marker was measured at approx. 10 inches west of the base of the vase holder. The marker is 24 inches long. The bottom edge of the vase holder is 6 inches to the East of the top edge of the marker.
...immediately without thinking, I responded with anger…who had broken one of June’s roses and placed it on the marker…I quickly realized how ridiculous such a thought was… no one had done this, I was alone in the cemetery and no other humans, animals or birds were anywhere around…there was no weather conditions to account for it, no strong wind blowing…at most a gentle breeze…from the location on the marker, a wind would have to have been very strong from the east…the broken rose and stem were on the west side of the bouquet vase and would have been protected from any such wind by the other roses and the vase…if it had simply broken off at one of the normal stem junctions due to some internal latent defect (of which there was no evidence seen when I trimmed and arranged and inspected the flowers and inspected before I left to walk to the water tap), it would have simply fallen to the base of the vase and would have been several inches from where it was found on the marker. The natural force of gravity would have pulled it directly down to the base...there would have been no force to propel it several inches to the west of the vase...The break was clean at the juncture line, with no ragged edges on any side...
This was not a coincidence type of happening...this was not a matter of applying the law of probability or the likelihood or the random chance of an event taking place...this was an impossible happening under the existing circumstances and the laws of nature!
What is the significance of what happened? I think that God was telling me that he and June were aware of my weekly Wednesday pilgrimages to Lakewood Cemetery with roses for June, followed by my prayers to him. I think it was God sending me a message that June is with him in heaven and God had just returned one of the roses to me as a gift from June and as a reflection of God’s love.
The impossibility of this taking place without other forces acting on the rose can be seen by looking at one of the typical rose arrangements in the photo at the top of the page. Weather or wind damage would be expected to happen to all or to several not to a single rose. The weather was good at the time.
I have done this weekly fresh rose routine now every year since June passed on beginning in the spring of 2009...following the installation of the permanent vase and receptacle just above June’s grave marker. This is a weekly routine without exception every Wednesday, beginning as soon as the weather permits in the spring. It is continued until late fall in October-November…when freezing weather arrives, I discontinue until the next spring…this amounts to approximately 35 new rose bouquets every year with a total todate nearing 150. Never has there been a previous occurrence of this type or even a remotely similar occurrence.
One year I had deer problems…Deer seem to love Roses while ignoring other flowers…During that year, when I returned the following week, on several occasions, the deer had eaten the flowers leaving the stems…never was there any debris or fragments on the marker and only the stems remained in the vase or immediately along side the vase in the grass….The other small animals of the cemetery such as squirrels and rabbits have never been a problem. In any event, there were no deer or other animals anywhere about on this occasion!
I checked with our local WCCO TV weather man for the wind velocity on the Wednesday of this event…(22 August) Chris Shaffer, the Chief Meteorologist advised me that on Wednesday the 22nd, the wind was light and from the northeast at 7.6 mph. He further advised me that the entire month had only light to moderate winds on the Wednesdays of the month with the low of 6.8 to a high of 10.1 mph…during the day on the 22nd, there was off and on light rain. It did not rain while I was at the cemetery. I recalled the sun was shining at the time.
I cannot even imagine the wind and weather conditions required to damage the roses in the permanent vase arrangement…in fact I recall one time on a Wednesday in August 2009 when it was raining as I reached the cemetery…I replaced the dozen roses with new ones as the weather continued with a light rain. I was wet as I was leaving Lakewood Cemetery in South Minneapolis. I recall that almost immediately the sky became dark and the rain came down in torrents with high gusty winds…I was almost afraid to drive for fear of having an accident but was afraid to stop. I later learned that a small tornado had passed through south Minneapolis just north of Lakewood Cemetery…I fully expected to find all of June’s roses blown away when I returned the following week…much to my surprise they were all intact and all in the vase but rather wilted looking! Every summer we have rainstorms with high wind and sometimes hail. I have never seen any flower that has been broken from the stem and or dislodged from the vase and laying on the grave marker.
My granddaughter Gretchen photographed the grave site immediately after a heavy rain storm with high winds and with half inch or larger hail. The flowers remained in relatively good condition and none were dislodged from their stems or from the vase. Below is the photo she took on 13 June 2012 of the dozen pink roses...some of the hail can still be seen on the ground and some bits of small vegitation seen on the marker.
Postscript: This single rose flower that is the subject of this story and it’s attached 2-3/4” stem now rides with me in my car and occupies front passenger seat in a center of the seat position and oriented as I found it on the grave marker with the flower upwards…It occupies the same position on the seat that June would occupy if she were able to ride with me and it will continue to occupy and ride in this position until it is no more or I am no more...
June and Alzheimer's
June’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis came in January 1998. June knew at a very early date, the blackness and the depth of the distant approaching Alzheimer’s storm clouds. She displayed a concern for me. I remember well that Sunday (Ca. 1999) when she brought home the “Care Notes” pamphlet from our church - “Handling Grief as a Man.” She said nothing; just left it out for me to find and to read. I remember the time that she detected one of my episodes of emotional sadness as I watched her illness progress. She tried to console me by saying “Don’t worry, I will be alright Stan!” I am sure at the time, we both really knew otherwise.
Thereafter, I lost June slowly, tear drop by tear drop during her long and exhausting journey into the shadows of Alzheimer’s that lasted almost 11 years.
For the first 7 plus years I took care of June at our home. The first 5 years of these years were relatively easy years that only required accommodation for her short term memory problems. We continued to travel extensively and did the many things we had put off in past years. In Years 6 and 7 the disease started closing in on us as we saw June’s personality changes and eventually hallucinations and behavioral changes. In year 8, June went into a nursing home. As the disease progressed she had seizures, lost ability to walk or talk, had difficulty swallowing, eating, and became incontinent. During the last year and a half, she rarely opened her eyes or even responded. Aspiration pneumonia a common Alzheimer’s complication ended her life.
June gave me a lifetime of unconditional love during our 56 year’s marriage and a life with only the regret that it is now over and that June has had to suffer the horrors of Alzheimer's. I owe her and God an unending debt!
Her passing was as if a most beautiful symphony that played during our life together, had now ceased to exist!
Before her Alzheimer's diagnosis our world and her character and personality were represented by a vast sea of bright and beautiful lights. After her Alzheimer's diagnosis, these bright lights all begin to slowly dim. As June slowly slipped deeper into the shadows of Alzheimer's, the lights gradually flickered out one by one. Eventually the time came during the last two years of her life, when the brightness that marked our world and June’s life was replaced by one of darkness.
June rarely ever opened her eyes to a world that was then alien and strange to her. June had become so tired, exhausted and weary that in the last year of her life she lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. God mercifully took June home on the 23rd of October 2008. June's passing leaves me with an emptiness that can never be filled!
(Above photo is June - 1994 - before Alzheimer's became a part of our life)
Audrey Warden - Longmont, Colorado - (17 September 2012): "I do believe in God Moments, I've had it happen to me many times and there's no explanation for it. God just had me in the right place at the right time, every time."
Teresa Mayo - Maryville, Tennessee - (17 September 2912): "I love reading about your God moment. I would not have tried to explain it any other way, but I can see the forensic scientist in you trying to make sure that there was no other possibility. I also love the fact that you keep it in your passenger seat & why. I've never read or heard of such a love story of yours. The love that you have for June is inspiring."
Linda Brannan - Glasgow, United Kingdom - (18 September 2012): "God was in the detail here ".....thats all I can say. You were given rose as sign shes around always Stanton, bless ....yea had some moments like this, I then know my loved ones are with me."
Bridie Breen - Manchester, United Kingdom - (18 September 2012): "Thankfully in this life, science has it's place and not all that happens is open to ordinary explanation. I believe these moments allow us to be comforted in loss , by those who have passed to the next life. We are but a drop of rain. When we feel the warmth of angel touch in tiny moments, it makes me know for sure, that those who we have loved greatly and still miss, are not that far from us, as we carry on living out our own lives. It's a matter of faith. No reason necessary."
Dianne Cogar - Springfield, Ohio - (18 September 2012): "What a beautiful story , I can totally relate! I believe "God Moments" are present to us all, though, unfortunately, many have never recalled being so blessed by the presence of the spiritual world. Myself, I could write a book about my own encounters I've experienced down through the years, but, in all honesty, I never thought my "God Moments" would interest anyone else...Not every one is so blessed to recognize , or chooses to believe in a "God Moment," but I believe God delivers these special messages (Moments ) to everyone at one time or another in their life. Myself, I don't go looking for these blessings, they seem to surround me whenever God thinks I need reassurance that someone cares."
Ada Padron Criscione - Egewater, New Jersey - (19 Septemeber 2012): "I want to thank you for sharing this "God Moments". It took me some time to finish reading it because I knew that I needed to read it slowly. I knew that all the words would fill my heart and some things you just need to savor slowly. I want to also thank you for your constant prayers for the Alzheimer's community - I felt your prayer as a caregiver even though we had not met yet. I know for sure that God is always in constant communnication with us sometimes a perfect rose is placed in a most perfect way as a reminder that we are never alone. I know that he cradles us kindly and all we need to do is keep our hearts open to his love. When we do that, sometimes we will notice a scent of flowers or perfume or hear a bird calling or a small dog barking where there is none. Or feel a warm breeze touch our cheek when we are quietly meditating. All "God Moments" when we are not afraid to receive. Bless you and thank you for the constant thoughts you share with us. It has made me a better person."
Pastor Dave Glesne - Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fridley, Minnesota - (19 September 2012): "This is a remarkable occurrence in light of the careful analysis of the physical and human conditions that Wednesday! The clean juncture stem would be unnatural for any wind element or animal to be the source. I do believe in God supernaturally intervening in the natural cause and effect world we live in. He has created and designed this world to be a cause and effect world. A natural cause produces and effect and that effect becomes a cause for another effect, etc. etc. I understand a miracle to occur when God acts into the natural cause and effect and becomes a first cause. Such a first cause cannot be explained by any other natural cause or effect. It is a miracle of God – a God happening or “God Moment” as you speak of it. Our world view as Christians is an open world view where God is really there and He can act into the world He has created. We have no problem with miracles intellectually. From a human perspective, it looks like God acted wonderfully in your life that day! What an encouragement from our Heavenly Father!!"
Catherine Jones-Hatcher - Richmond, Virginia - (19 september 2012): "... explaining the UNexplainable..... I, too, have had "God Moments"in my life, aren't they wonderfully comforting??? So glad you feel June ( and God) reached out to you."
Richard Criscione - Cliffside Park, NewJersey - (20 September 2012): "I truly believe your "God Moment" , and , it was your relentless love for June , through the intercession with God, that brought it to fruition. God speaks to us often ,however ,many do not hear Him, and because their faith is not strong enough to allow it . Your love , faith , and dedication to June , AND God, has allowed you to be gifted with this occurence, and the privilage to appreciate it."
Amy Stiel Almas - Waterford, Michigan - (19 April 2013): "I believe! ! Thank you for sharing these amazing occurrences."
June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on: