By Thomas D’Agostino
A Mr. G. from Webster contacted me in regard to some amazing accounts he witnessed growing up in Puerto Rico. He thought a few of them would make great stories for this column. After listening to him for a bit, I was in complete agreement with the accounts he related to me. Here is one of them.
As a young man, Mr. G. lived in a small village where everyone knew each other and were all very close. One man, a shopkeeper was inclined to enjoy libations a bit too often and with full vigor. During these moments of intemperance, he would become quite vocal in his opinions and often using the lord’s name in vain; in other words, a lot of cussing.
Being a god-fearing bunch, the other villagers would turn their ears or leave the room to let him to his own little stints of course language, making the sign of the cross or some other form of repentance for the blessing of his soul.
One day, Mr. G., a youth of twelve years, was in his shop with some of his neighbors. The shopkeeper’s voice from the back room rang out with the usual aggressive and rude tone. There was no one else back there so the group figured he was again intoxicated, cussing and ranting to himself.
After a few minutes, the loud gibbering ceased, only to be replaced by whimpers and pleads for mercy. Thinking there was someone in there to do him harm, they all rushed in but he was alone on the floor drenched in sweat, blubbering like a baby. As they watched in astonishment, the man implored that he would change forever, as he did not wish to go there.
When he had sufficiently regained his faculties, he revealed the cause of his convulsions. While in the back room working and swearing up a storm, he was suddenly confronted with a most horrible vision. The floor directly in front of him began to open and crumble until he could see the fierce orange and red glow of fire. Completely frightened, he peered into the hole and there he saw the depths of hell.
He could feel the pain and anguish of lost souls, the torment and horror the eternal fires. It was as if the devil himself had come to give him a virtual glimpse of what was to be his eternal home after death. The experience was enough to change the shopkeeper for the rest of his life.
First, he swore off alcohol and never used the lord’s name in vain again. He then went as far as to become a man of the cloth, preaching far and wide the good word until the end of his days.
Did he really see hell or was it an alcoholic delusion? Was it the devil that showed him a glimpse of the underworld or perhaps a higher power giving the good man a warning of his fate if he continued down the road he was traveling? I often grew up with my parents and grand parents saying, “The lord works in mysterious ways.”
Either way, the experience was enough to change the shopkeeper in such a way that he led a pious and virtuous life then on, so that his soul would be saved and secure in heaven.
Mr. G. having known and grown up with the man attested to his sincerity. To make such a radical change, one would have to have had a life-changing moment that only a higher power can deliver.
Thank you Mr. G. and I look forward to a few more of your accounts in the future.