I want to share a story I have had swimming in the furthest confines of my mind.
There is nothing to my knowledge that can speak of complete darkness; true darkness. To every shade and shadow there is form and shape. You might even say that everything we call dark is just a form and shape of true darkness. It is all striving for the place where I find myself now.
And to be honest, I don’t know how I got here.
Trying to remember is difficult here…or is it at this moment? As I muse it seems that everything is difficult, but in a disjointed sort of way like when you wake up and the day is not quite right, or you’re not really entirely present at a meeting, a lunch, or an outing with friends. It seems compounded too as I become more aware of the disjointedness, and soon anxiety takes over. A creeping, crawling fear that somehow this massively feeling, possibly infinite space is going to come crashing down on me. Something is going to lunge out and grab hold of me, and the vice grip of panic seizes and I yell. What I hear is not the shrieking pang of a person in despair. There are no echoes or emanating sounds coming from anywhere, not even from me. There is not even the hint of silence. It is simply naught.
I reach for my mouth from where the sound should have come…and nothing. I try to reach for the rest of my face, and it is as though I have pushed well past my head into the back of me and the space onward for seemingly forever. I am lost. There is nothing I touch, nothing I feel. I bring my hands together, and there are no hands. At least, they never realize each other. Then it occurs to me that there is no dimension to me either. No shape or form. I am not in a room of any shape or magnitude, I am the room.
I calm down, or should I say, process the thought of calm, because I have no body to calm. As overwhelmingly powerful as the panic and fear was, the calm is just as potent. No sooner had I thought calm, than I was calm. There was no doubt to calm and I was it fully.
What is this place? When am I? Why am I here?
There wasn’t continuity to this experience, if it could be called an experience at all. There was just a movement followed in turn by another, and where it was not an instant series of occurrences, it cannot be said that there was time. Questions followed one another, as did realizations, as did calm after fear. However, I could not remember fear or panic, there was only calm. I could not remember the before thoughts, there was just the lingering question. It was the puzzlement that lingered, though, not the words themselves. I was in the state of question, but how could I proceed from here? How does one come to answer a question in this place? In this state? Suddenly the puzzlement became more and more potent, and then there came the flood.
Questions that were too rushed to process even in this place where thought was all I was. My existence, as far I knew, was here, like this, and yet I could not follow the words as they raced across me. I could not even stop to calm myself. The words were an uncountable flock of birds that took flight before my face. Fluttering wings, yes, fluttering, I can hear it, the rustling and frantic flapping. The sound is average at first, but the sound is growing, and unnaturally so. It is roaring and thunderous. I cannot close my ears (because I have none) and there is a powerful, indomitable presence. Nothing begins to shake and tremble, and echoing through nothing is a blast of anything but what I am and where I find myself. It does not seem to stop and I wish to move, I wish to run, but it is vanity. Any longer and I will break…whatever of me is left for the breaking.
I cannot think back to a time, or any for that matter. Thinking has become so unbearably difficult. I am slowly slipping away. It dawns on me that this must be death, and I myself am dead or dying. I know of many who discuss the “after” and what follows at the pass. Yet here I am, not where they spoke of, but certainly not where I was before. Where was I before? How did I come to be here? Like kerosene to a fire, the roar became unfathomably more. I regretted the questions, and then words slipped out from me: I’m sorry. Honestly I could not trace the sentiment, nor did I imagine the words, nor felt them drawn upon in any way. They were alien, yet did not become, but were, yet were not as I am, yet still they emanated from me. A sword cut through, and the deafening softened so greatly that I had the image of being stretched and whipped back in violent vertigo. The words would not leave me, however, and they echoed throughout my disembodied frame, I’m sorry, until finally it all stopped. The noise, the questions, the calm, and panic. The blast, the shaking, even the grand expanse, all of it, was gone. What once was so terribly dark and immeasurable, I who was once so terribly dark and immeasurable was no longer, and my final words were: I’m sorry.
Then suddenly something.
Forming still was more than that which was, which was nothing, and still it was beckoning; moving; commanding. But to where? From whom? I abided, and suddenly persisted. It was absolute, but not like the sound before it, not like the questions, and the fear and trembling. No, this was earnestness, this was want, want of being. I knew it was illogical, even now it is ridiculous to imagine, but I was rushing. Rushing to attend, moving with haste that suddenly was not hasty enough. There was prickling, and burning, and sensations that, in their primordial states, I did not know, but as they too became so did I in recognizing them. Until I was aware of burning, aware of cold, aware of movement, and then I was aware of space. Aware of sense and form. I must have fidgeted in some way because I felt something brush against me.
“Brushing?! Feeling!,” and I could see them, my hands. I was so happy, so grateful for every finite inch of their shapes. I could cry, and I did, and my hands lept to feel tears, and in that moment my hands too were thankful. All of me was grateful, happy beyond words. It never occurred to me in this instant of a flash that there was light, for how else could I see my hands? But when did the light arrive but when I noticed the brushing? Was it not a breeze that directed my eyes to my hands. Then there was the feeling. Someone was beholding me. The rushing sensation had fallen still, and a pit within me dropped hitting every world on the way until it landed firmly in me. I, whoever it is I am, felt inexorably, fully aware. It was then I turned and saw him standing there.
He was nothing spoken about, and yet had all the familiarity of someone better acquainted with me than I myself every could. Here I stood, fully aware of all things, yet there was an unerring realization that he was still greater than I ever could be. I desired to speak, but was held fast by my own workings seeing as I had nothing to say. Indeed, all that was once word was swirling around him as we stood there. Like a cloud surrounding him, was everything that was so unbearable eternities before. A voice, mine I conjectured, were storming him like desperate animals escaping a fire. Yet were I was debilitated beneath the weight of this unyielding force, he stood unmoving and unperturbed.
At some point the awareness became enlightenment. It was not nothing that I was in the dark, but rather everything. All that I was and called my own manifested simultaneously, and surrounded me as it was doing now with him. Yet I could not bear the weight of my own existence, and before the crushing they moved, but not just to anywhere, but the place where all questions go. Before me stood the truth in whatever shape and guise it chose to take, and for me his face was unmistakable but I do not know his name. I have seen the representations of Jesus in frescos, and tapestries, murals, and stained glass windows the size of houses themselves. From the very marble the churches were built to the mosaics that decorate their floors, to even the carnival butter sculptures I would smile at in my youth, I would not fail to recognize Him when I saw him. This was not he.
This was not by whom my salvation was so costly bought . This was not the depiction of the man who gently knocks upon the heart, or who, blood drenched, made Love and Mercy palpable for the entire human race. I cannot describe fully He who stands with ineffable gravitas, but when he opened his mouth, all fell silent. The questions were answered so much so that I, in their satisfaction, no longer had need to hold onto them. Indeed, it was a justification of my enlightenment to know that whatever may come, His words would satisfy me. I was not prepared for what followed.