This was my offering to Conversations Journal blog for November of last year.
Calgary, Alberta. November, 1974. I was eleven years old. I began the ten-minute walk from our small bungelow on Hyslop Drive to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church where I would meet up with my fellow Boy’s Brigade troop as I did every Wednesday evening. It was for me, a well-trodden path. From time to time however it had proven perilous. Twice I had been attacked by dogs, once I was accosted by a group of puffed up ne’er-do-wells intent on the scaring the hell out of me (mission accomplished) and once I had injured myself trying to leapfrog the numerous green posts that disallowed vehicle traffic down a pedestrian walkway.
Inasmuch as I understood what it was, I often prayed for God to be with me as I made the relatively short journey. This night was particularly cold, even by Calgary in November standards. The deep, night sky boasted her cavalcade of winter stars in unabashed glory. I began my journey and decided to sing. The only song for which I could scramble together any words was Great is Thy Faithfulness. The words then, as now, tasted like Jesusy hot chocolate on my trembling palette.
I lost myself in the comforting words letting them buoy me up in the starlit dark. A short time later I stopped, the church directly in front of me. Then, something happened, something truly unexplainable; something outside of me that has forever shaped my shallow understanding of an eternal God. I can only describe it as a…knowing. Whoever God was to me at eleven years of age “spoke” silently reassuring words to me that intimated, “I am with you tonight even as I have been so since before you were born.” I couldn’t move. I could hardly breathe. I was at once horrified and blissfully happy. I was…awake. The only thing holding me to the ground was a tractor beam of grace, a mystical awareness of something so far beyond my ken that I am drawn to tears telling it again a lifetime later.
That night so long ago I was confirmed as a mystic. I cannot explain in any rational terms what occurred. No Bible verses flooded to my mind. I didn’t really know any. Nobody’s sound God-advice came to replace my fears. Instead, God somehow shone a spotlight of holy epiphany into my young soul in a way that was far beyond the telling. God gave me my own “I guess you had to be there” moment.
It has nourished me now for almost forty years; God’s wordless invitation into mystery.
Probably the least romantic thing one lover can offer another is to confidently parade, with clinical accuracy, their attributes. If you can easily describe your first kiss, the birth of your first child or the loss of a loved one, then you just might be a prisoner of rationality. You are suffering from a dearth of unknowing in the harsh glare of mere facts. When gazing into the eyes of one who has captured your soul on the film of eternity it’s probably best not to open one’s mouth at all. Just kiss her, you fool.
That is the mystery of God.
An unexpected invitation
I have hidden my head
in the cloak of heaven, singing.
I can smell a fragrance
and watch an evening unfold.
Could this be the dance
of saints and sinners,
women and men,
soldiers and satin,
frail and overpowering,
wise and unstable,
sick and perfect,
praise and calumny?
They swoosh and dance and mingle
with heads up and eyes wide
hands clasped and hearts raised.
Listen for their whispered shouts, loudly silent,
heard only by those
with a need to hear something
they did not expect –