Thomas Wictor

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everyone. Though I don’t identify as a Christian, I’m a theist, meaning I believe in God. The reason I can’t call myself a Christian is because I don’t meet the criterion. I can’t say that I believe that Yeshua Ben Yosef of Nazareth was the Christ, or son of God. It’s not that I don’t believe it; I just don’t know. To say that I’m a Christian would be dishonest. Usually I refer to myself as a lapsed Catholic and leave it at that.

As a child I loved Easter. It went beyond the chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, and eggs. It was one of the few times when we were what a family was supposed to be. Here’s my brother Pat with his basket.


You can see one mauve egg “hidden” on the rack of the bike behind him, a green one on the fender of the next bike, and another mauve one on the seat of the tricycle. I liked Easter because we did things together, and it was fun. It was whimsical, out of the ordinary. Magic, even.

Though I can’t make the leap to saying that I believe Jesus is the son of God and died for our sins, I like the image of the man. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover, and I admire Jesus’s wit, his intelligence, and—most of all—his strength. One of the best scenes in cinematic history is when Jesus gives Judah Ben-Hur water, against the orders of the Romans. A centurion shouts at Jesus, uncoils his whip, and marches over to do some damage.

Jesus stands, and the centurion freezes.


He tries to speak but can’t. Fear, shame, and confusion register on his brutish face. He glances away, stares at Jesus again, turns to leave, hangs his head, takes one more look, and then blusters at his men to get the slaves back on the move.

You know what he saw in Jesus, don’t you? Staggering power. I’m glad that they chose an actor with massive shoulders and a muscular back. The historical Jesus was a carpenter. He would’ve been at least twice as strong as any of us.

Despite my inability to call myself a Christian, I’m very fond of Christian iconography, especially angels. I’ve had a few interesting experiences with inexplicable presences that conform to multiple accounts of angelic visitation. Growing up I often heard my name called in a clear, musical tenor voice. I’d go ask Mom what she wanted, and she’d say that she hadn’t said anything.

“It was your guardian angel,” she’d tell me.

I recently learned that Saint Michael the Archangel leaves a feather behind after he checks in on you. In the past two months, Tim and I have found four feathers on his front porch.


They’re very large, and three are white. We don’t have any large, white birds around here. And why are they always on the front porch? Does it mean anything? I don’t know. But I’m named after Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles. Doubting Thomas, as he was known.


He didn’t believe things until he saw them for himself. I’ve seen a lot of things I can’t explain, but they seem to be adding up. On April 10 I wrote about Tim experiencing the overwhelming scent of roses in his house, and then we found a clothespin dragonfly that Mom made.

The scent of roses is associated with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of parental loss. Well, a couple of days ago I learned that Dad always carried with him a laminated prayer card dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. I didn’t know that when I wrote the post about Mom’s dragonfly.

Since I’ve always been fascinated with angels, I couldn’t wait to see Wim Wenders’s film Wings of Desire. It blew me away because it was totally familiar. Everything about it made sense. I kept thinking to myself, Yes, that’s exactly what happens. The movie played in the same theater in Tokyo for three years. I saw it at least twenty times because it calmed and reassured me.

In 2001 I read that Wim Wenders would appear at a bookstore in West Hollywood. I never go to author appearances. In fact, I’ve gone to only four: Margaret Cho, Richard Lewis, Andrew Vachss, and Wim Wenders. Author appearances attract problematic people: sycophants, troublemakers, and the insane. I learned that firsthand, which is why I say, “Thank you, God, for Meniere’s disease.” No appearances! Can’t do ’em. Sorry.

Wenders was appearing to promote his book The Heart is a Sleeping Beauty, cowritten with Donata Wenders. It’s a collection of stills from The Million Dollar Hotel, starring the mind-bogglingly attractive Milla Jovovich. I’m a sucker for those enigmatic Eastern European faces.

My plan was to go to the appearance and tell Wenders how much Wings of Desire meant to me as a work of art. It had profoundly affected me and given me hope. In the crowded bookstore, an officious, thoroughly unpleasant young woman clapped her hands, as though we were nursery schoolers.

“May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please! Mr. and Mrs. Wenders are about to arrive. They will only sign books, and only books that you buy here. You are not to speak to them. You may not ask them questions. You may not ask for a dedication. Is that clear? They are here only to sign books that you purchase. They will not sign anything else. I emphasize: You are not to speak to them other than to say hello. Please form a line here on the right.”

So I bought a copy of The Heart is a Sleeping Beauty and got in line. The Wenderses came in through the back door and sat at the table, and the line began shuffling forward. When each…supplicant was one person away from the table, the officious, unpleasant young woman clutched them by the arm, as though restraining them, and then she pushed them forward. She was a gatekeeper and an aircraft-carrier catapult. The place was perfectly silent except for the squeaking of the Magic Markers that Wenders and his wife used to sign the books.

When I was one person away from the table, the gatekeeper-catapult grabbed my arm. I immediately knocked away her hand. She flinched and looked like she wanted to kill me.

“It’s your turn,” she snapped. “Go!

At the table I handed Wenders my book and said, “Mr. Wenders, I know we’re not supposed to speak to you, but I just wanted to tell you that Wings of Desire is one the best films I’ve ever seen. Thank you for making it.”

He looked up and laughed. “You’re not supposed to speak to me? I wondered why it was so quiet. Who said that?”

“This nice young woman here. I saw Wings of Desire in Tokyo at a theater that played it for three years. I must’ve seen the film twenty times.”

“I know that theater!” he said. “I couldn’t believe it played there for three years!”

“Well, I can. The Japanese loved it, and so do I.”

The gatekeeper-catapult cleared her throat. Wenders glanced at her and smiled at me.

“Can you tell me why you liked my movie so much that you saw it twenty times?” he asked.

“It was the most humane film I’ve ever seen. If God and angels exist, you captured them.”

He seemed taken aback. “What’s your name?”


He laughed. “Tom Tom! Like in Million Dollar Hotel!” After he signed my book, he passed it to his wife and held out his hand. I shook it.

“Goodbye, Tom,” he said. “Thank you for liking my movie.”

Here’s his autograph.


My gut tells me he knows more than he’s letting on. But who knows? Not me.

Not Doubting Thomas.

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