My daily communication with the Guides continued for many years, though Lily steadfastly refused to identify himself until they began dictating material for Companions Along the Way, a book about ten of my previous lives in which I had known Arthur Ford. At last Lily declared that in one of his incarnations he had been Savonarola, the martyred Italian Dominican priest who was burned on a cross in fifteenth-century Florence for refusing to retract his fiery writings against the corruption of the Catholic Church and the de Medici court. At that point I could not have identified Savonarola if asked, but the Guides wrote of him: "He was mystical; a sensitive who was aware of others' intentions and secret thoughts, but he was practical in his application of the laws of God to man, desiring freedom and equality for all men and eager to direct them inward to the search for God rather than outward to the search for personal gain. Some considered him a fanatic, and perhaps he was, in his burning zeal to reform state and humankind, but so powerful was his message and his performance that he influenced the course of history and rang a bell for liberty that is still to be heard. A godly man who gave his life for those ideals that knew no boundaries of nation or creed."
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, I soon discovered, was equally laudatory about Savonarola. In a 1950s volume it recounts that he was "born to an excellent family in 1452, scorned court life and entered a Dominican order, where he wrote poems of burning indignation against the corruption of Church and court. A mystic, he had prophetic visions that came true, and he seemed to read others' minds." It further states that for a time he even became the lawgiver for Florence, "relieving the suffering of the starving and reducing taxes on the lower classes. He guarded the public weal with extraordinary wisdom" and almost overnight changed pleasure-loving Florence into an ascetic regime. "Because he assailed the corruption of the Vatican and Pope Alexander VI, the Borgia who bought the papal throne, he was excommunicated and after forty days of torture was given a mock trial. But he refused to recant his charges and bravely submitted to burning on a cross. He left behind an immense number of devotional and moral
essays, numerous sermons, some poems, and a political treatise on the government of Florence." I was astonished to learn that everything the Guides had written about this notable figure was thus verified.
The Guides contributed that Arthur Ford was then an intimate counselor and assistant to Savonarola, "who threw in his lot with this man who had the power to lift humankind out of itself to higher planes of wisdom." They said Ford was then known as Father Gabrielli and that I did not know them then because I was not incarnate during that horrendous period. But the Guides, in Companions Along the Way, related other lifetimes when both Lily and Ford were my father, which could explain why they have been willing to put up with me and communicate through all of these decades. They also recounted numerous lifetimes when my husband, Bob, and I were said to have been husband and wife.
The Guides and I continued to collaborate on books until, after publication of my fifteenth one, Bob declared in exasperation: "If you write another book, I'm leaving." I knew the threat was an idle one, but subconsciously it influenced me. Perhaps I should be paying more attention to my husband instead of spreading the teachings of unseen Guides to unknown readers. I seemed unable to start another book. I continued to correspond occasionally with the Guides, but I lacked the inspiration to disseminate it.
We moved from Washington, D.C., to Naples, Florida, and life sailed smoothly along until Bob's health began to fail. On a Sunday night, January 31, 1993, I had just slipped into bed when the telephone rang. Lifting the receiver, I listened in stunned silence as a female voice began, "Mrs. Montgomery, I'm sorry to tell you that your husband is gone."
"Gone!" I finally found the voice to say.
"Yes," the nurse at the nursing home where Bob was a new resident continued, "I checked on him only a short time ago and he seemed all right, but when I went in just now I found him dead. We're not permitted to keep a body here overnight. What arrangements do you want to make?" Thus ended my fifty-seven years of marriage to Bob Montgomery . . . or so it seemed.
Strange how the mental processes continue to function almost automatically while the emotional system goes into numbed shock. I called my sister, Margaret Forry, in Indianapolis, and she said she would be on the first available flight. Then I dialed my second cousin, Phil Cunningham, who spends the winter season at a nearby villa, and that wonderful man said he would go immediately to the nursing home and oversee the removal of Bob's body to Hodges Funeral Home. The next morning I went with Phil to identify the remains and supply information for Bob's obituary. Margaret arrived later that day, and after Bob's body was cremated, we held a memorial service with close friends on Friday.
Meanwhile, I had managed to perform all the perfunctory tasks: notifying our lawyer, the bank, and Bob's relatives, and meeting with our good friend Ninette Peterson, an ordained minister whom Bob and I had previously chosen to conduct our services if she were available when our time came.
Outwardly I was functioning normally. Inwardly I felt like a robot who had been put on automatic pilot. I couldn't cry. I couldn't grieve. As a matter of fact, I dared not grieve, because I was acutely aware of my Guides' warning about that many years before, while writing A Search for the Truth. In a chapter of that book, entitled "The Selfishness of Grief," the Guides detailed how overly grieving survivors keep a loved one Earthbound and thereby retard the spiritual progress of a soul newly crossed into the spirit plane. Bob was the best person I have ever known. He deserved better than a grieving widow who was feeling sorry for herself and moaning about her loss.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The World to Come by Ruth Montgomery, bestselling author of A World Beyond. Copyright © 1999 by Ruth Montgomery. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.