I think there are times in my life when I am more of an observer than a participant. I don't think this is weird or bad in any way. Just a different way of recording the moments; a different level of cognizance. You seem to know even as a moment transpires that it is different than others. It is being recorded differently, and you know you will always remember the most obscure details. It's as if certain moments occupy all of your senses at once, and that combination unlocks an area of your brain that secures it--locks it in.
In "An American Childhood", Annie Dillard wrote beautifully of the awakening cognitions of children. "Children 10 years old wake up and find themselves here, discover themselves to have been here all along; is this sad? They wake like little sleepwalkers, in full stride; they wake like people brought back from cardiac arrest or from drowning; in medias res, surrounded by familiar people and objects, equipped with a hundred skills. They know the neighborhood, they can read and write, they are old hands at the commonplace mysteries, and yet they feel themselves to have just stepped off the boat, just converged with their bodies, just flown down from a trance, to lodge in an eerily familiar life already well under way."
I feel like I float in and out of my spiritual development in this same way. There are moments in my life where the supernatural connects, rather breaks into, the concrete realities of my life--and I have to stop and stare. I wonder if it is much like Annie Dillard describes. Is this the nature of spiritual development? One day we will fully awaken into the spirit world, looking backward to these brief glimpses? Perhaps this will happen after we leave these bodies and move on?
My husband had a growth removed from his neck yesterday. It appeared out of nowhere and grew quickly to the size of golf ball. Turned out to be nothing; a painful, bloody, messy nothing in the end. The bandages are dramatic--huge and bloody. We had prayed for him before the doctor visit, but my 10 year old daughter wasn't alarmed until she saw the blood and bandages. Then she was visibly shaken. She spoke to me at length about this, and spent a lot of time in prayer. Before she went to sleep, she informed me that she told God it was okay if he took her fish, but that it wouldn't be okay for Him to take her Dad.
The fish died that night.
She was sad about her fish. She felt bad that she told God he could take the fish, but she also had the assurance of His advanced notice. I imagine He did tell her. "I don't think it was a trade", I mused. "I think God was letting you (us) know that it was time for the fish, but not time for Dad". "I know, Mom." Heavy sigh. (it's tough when the parents are as dumb as mud).
Last week, my cousin's 18 year old son and a number of his friends were pulled from a car at a stop light in Queens by a gang of boys. He was robbed (shoes, coat, cell phone, earring) and beaten with a pipe. His face has been rebuilt, wired together. He has been on morphine to control the pain. His family is wracked with anguish and he is not feeling so lucky to be alive right now. He needs our prayers. I will keep you updated on his progress.
As horrible as this is, I know this is a miracle. He lives. There is something supernatural in that knowledge for me right now.
I am sharing these moments in time because I am abnormally amazed by them. I feel like I am looking at them through a safety glass, like the Emperor Scorpion at the Wild Animal Park. I cannot look away. What an incredible creation that scorpion is. As long as he sits in his enclosure, I can observe him without fear. I am oddly not emotional. Not sad. Not angry. Just observing. Now the really weird thing: I see God here. I feel Him near. It's as if all my senses are tuned in and I can hear Him, smell Him. What is going on?
My cousin's son has lived through impossible circumstances. If he turned his head a certain way during the attack, or if he moved a fraction of an inch one way or another the news would be even more grim. A fraction of an inch. My friend's son Tim was playing on a residential street in a safe neighborhood where a car going 25-35 miles per hour hit and killed him. I still can't believe it. I can't understand. Since that day, another friend had a motorcycle accident on a notoriously treacherous road. He was in intensive care for a couple of days after hours of surgery saved his nearly severed leg. He is alive, against all odds. He lives.
My husband works with 2 men who survived accidents that by all accounts should have been fatal. One was hit in the head with a wooden pallet that was thrown from a roof 4 stories above him. He was standing near the dumpster that the pallet was intended for. He lives. Another accidentally drilled into the main power line, blowing up the bottom floor of the building they were working on. He was thrown back from the initial connection with the power main, but he too lives. No fatalities. No one in the area of the explosion. (My own husband had a similar accident last year -- hit the power main with a pick. The contact threw him backward several feet.) I am aware that accidents happen everyday. Some are fatal. Some are not. I am suddenly fascinated by those that are not.
In November, while thinking a dozen things at once, I forgot that I was parked on a busy street. I was rearranging stuff, trying to make room for another passenger. Without thinking I walked widely around the open driver side back door to get to the driver door. I felt the essence of the passing car long before I realized what had happened. It was an odd sensation -- I could feel the heat of it brush so near to me, it was as if it had gone through me. If I focus on this memory, I can recreate the sensation in my mind. It was surreal. I was confused at first, and I looked in the direction that it had gone, not completely sure it had really happened. All that was left of it was the tail lights growing smaller as the car barrelled down the hill. I was a breath away from that car. It all happened so fast, I was afraid to look at the street. For a moment, I felt completely made of spirit, as if I was separated from my body. I wouldn't have been surprised to see the carnage of what was once me splattered on the road. (too many movies: matrix, ghost -- are these sensations suggested?) I looked for witnesses. "am i really here?" i wondered. I felt the pure essence of that miracle -- I still feel it. I look back to that moment in time and know that there is no explanation for what I experienced. I live, because unlike the fish, it is not yet my time to go.
These moments have a common texture. The very essence of them connects them, like a certain fragrance lets you know that there is sage or jasmine nearby. I am observing them, and even as I look they transform. They are supernatural events. They are connected to the fabric of something bigger. They all seem to be a part of the same weird dream. What it is I don't know.
If you were trying to get my attention Lord, you have it. Undivided.
++Thank you for your many mercies, Lord, seen and unseen.