Sunday, 29 May 2011
Its an experience so powerful that I struggle to talk about it without crying. And I know that to most people, even to believers, it sounds crazy. But I became aware of him very suddenly one night about two and a half months ago.
It hit me like a stereogram - the kind of 3d illusion that you stare at, and it appears to be just a strange pattern, and then all of a sudden it's a sailboat. Or like a an anamorphic image. From the side you can't see it, but bring it around to just the right angle and suddenly its a greek pool. It was like that - like I suddenly becoming aware of a dimension that I hadn't perceived until that moment, a new dimension that totally changes the picture. And like a stereogram, once you see it, you can't unsee it.
But it's not something I saw or heard. If you've ever "felt" a low bassy noise instead of heard it. If you've ever "tasted" a scent, then you can maybe understand - i simply perceived it. It's like those new toothbrushes that play a song through the vibrations against your teeth. You can't "hear" it, but you perceive it. Its so much more powerful than any of these things, but it's the only way I can think to explain the way in which I "feel" it.
And I can only use metaphor to describe it, because what can I compare it to, but something from which we have previous experience. Something we can see or hear. It was like a brilliant star - not a distant sparkly light, but like a close, violent, beautiful, nuclear, powerful, unimaginably large force. Imagine standing before the sun, your fragile human body an imperceptibly small speck in comparison to it. It's light so brilliant you have to shield your eyes. It's heat so radiant that you can't imagine how you are not being incinerated. It was terrifying.
But it was also comforting and beautiful. Well, it's not the best example, but like the hydrogen bomb was both terrifying and comforting and beautiful. You can positively swim in its radiance and warmth. rapture in its beauty, and awe at it's potential for utter desolation.
And I could feel it's love but it was so much more complex than that. And I know how that sounds, you can't "feel" love - but I did. But at the same time, I have rejected and refused it. I've disowned it, and said it wasn't real. And here it is all around me. And I'm afraid. Maybe it will judge me. Maybe it will reject me. maybe it will destroy me. And when it does, I crave it and love it so intensely that I will weep with gratitude as I go.
And I am so drawn to it. I crave it. Like a man lost in the desert craves water. I can't let it go. And I'm afraid that trying to hold it is like trying to keep my eyes crossed to see the sail boat in the stereogram so I close my eyes every few hours and reach out to feel it again. to make sure it's still there. to make sure that it's real. The way a new parent checks their baby when it's quiet, to make sure it's still breathing.
I know why Jesus spoke in parables. How else would explain 'red' to a blind man. The best I can do is metaphor, and it's a pale and hollow description. The most interesting part of this journey is relating all that I learn about God through Christianity - to this one powerful piece of evidence that I know is real. But whatever the outcome of my study, or my attempts to get closer - i will never be the same. my priorities, my fears, my direction, my desires, and my relationships have been forever changed.
Have you ever felt the presence of God? How did it feel? What were you doing when you felt God's presence?