Healing Visitation

June 3, 2017 § 6 Comments

Jesus, the Christ, and I—Part 6

In my last post, I talked about how Jesus has appeared to me as a presence and apparition a couple of times in meeting for worship and how this has informed my faith and practice. But those experiences, as important as they were, pale in comparison to a more recent one. Jesus came to me, and to my father, the night my father died. Or at least, that’s how I experienced it.

My father suffered from pretty severe dementia in the last few years of his life. I became quite engaged with his care and we became quite close, in an odd but sweet way that was shaped by both his dementia and our karma. I think he was completely surprised that I stepped up the way that I did.

Soon after receiving the call that he had died, I began weeping uncontrollably. This lasted a long time and was so violent that my wife began to worry.

Then I had a powerful sense of my father’s presence. I asked him to forgive me for all the pain I had caused him; he asked me to forgive him. I was overwhelmed with grief and gratitude and with joy and sorrow. I cried out from my soul.

Then Jesus came. All these feelings, both good and bad, intensified, when I thought that that couldn’t be possible. He had come for my dad, but he stayed with us both for what seemed a long time—many minutes. He did not speak. No one “spoke”—we just stood in each other’s presence.

Then this portal opened, with the light streaming down, the whole thing—only it was for my dad, not for me. And then they left together, but again, all in extremely slow motion, as though they were strolling.

The time that it took and the sense of presence and the intense, light-filled image baked something into my opened and suffering soul. I knew a beautiful, sorrowful peace.

It was maybe half an hour before I could explain to my worried wife what had happened.

I treasure this experience, but I did not come away absolutely convinced that it was “real”. I fully accept that the whole thing could have been a projection of my deep need to reconcile with my dad.  And it did not utterly erase my feelings of guilt and sorrow over our relationship, though it has helped a lot.

Nor did it did generate a new kind of relationship with Jesus, at least not in the traditional forms that I recognize in my Christian friends, one that is central to my religious life. No more than did the earlier experiences of Jesus did this one “convince” me to be a Christian, meaning “convincement” in the traditional Quaker sense of conversion.

However, the experience did deepen and strengthen the relationships that I already had with Jesus. It added a profound thankfulness to the deep respect I felt for the figure I had found in the gospels, who had manifested for me as a reconciler, just as the scriptures had proclaimed. And the figure that had heretofore been a vague and rather distant or abstract visitor in meeting for worship—the experience brought him up close and personal, manifesting in at least a momentary intimacy. And it deepened this germinal faith that I had developed from those prior “visitations”; it confirmed my impulse to act as though there might be a there there, even though I had not been given the full assurance that I see in many of my Christian Friends.

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§ 6 Responses to Healing Visitation

  • I find much of my own story/faith journey has paralleled yours, Steve. Thanks so much for sharing it. I, too, remember the joy of discovering that study can be a form of prayer, and an ecstatic one at that! It was Karen Armstrong in her memoir The Spiral Staircase (I think that’s the title) that offered me that perspective and it made a big difference in my faith journey.

  • I so hope that many are reading your story, Steve!

  • treegestalt says:

    I don’t believe that God anywhere asked people to worship God at his feet, but merely to worship God.

    I’d also say that he himself evidently served as an embodiment of God-at-work, as an appropriate stand-in for God and an illustration of God’s true loving nature — which to this day is too often obscured by false images based on human projection and fear, due to the intrinsically-scary extent of God’s available power (if that could have somehow turned out separable from the awesome extent of God’s available love.)

    Sometimes somebody you know to be an all-too-human person will tell you something quite appropriate to their humanity — and yet you’ll know when you hear it that God is speaking through that interaction.

    How all this all looks to Jesus himself…? Life as us is sufficiently awesome, yes?

    • treegestalt says:

      Interesting unFreudian slip there — where I’d meant to say “I don’t believe that Jesus anywhere asked…”

      The Christian ‘take’ does make these entities turn out “the same thing”, even though I’ve always felt the distinction is also important, and found it most natural to speak of God as ‘God’, of Jesus as ‘Jesus’. (For whatever that’s worth.)

      And the truth probably is that the distinction — so long as we keep in mind Jesus’ life as a human (“low Christology plus high anthropology”) whose historical role and example also carries a necessary chunk of the Message.

  • Betty Steckman says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. For a long time I’ve been caught up in a mix of anger at a God, if there is one, and agnosticism edging on atheism And yet…somehow I feel I’ve been missing something. Like looking through the small end of a telescope and wondering why others get so excited about what they experience. Your essays have helped me in my own explorations. The Buddhists are comfortable in the Not Knowing, making no judgments. I think that for now, that may be my path.

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