Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Reflecting on ‘The Love That Matters’ by Charles Featherstone (8) Mystical Moments



This is the 8th in a series of posts reflecting on The Love That Matters by Charles Featherstone.  1st post here.

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Some Christians (or adherents to any religion, really) may think that mystical experiences (to the degree that we believe in them at all) are necessarily confined to their faith.  A mystical experience within another faith must necessarily be coming from the devil.  To believe otherwise would be to discredit the exclusivity and rightness of their own faith. 

Admittedly, I struggle with a “disenchanted” faith.  But, I’m not one of those people. 

Charles had three (what I would call) mystical experiences.  All while practicing Islam. 

The 1st:
Sometime during my second prostration – when I bent down to touch my head to the ground, to “grovel before God,” as a future employer would put it – something like a massive spark of electricity hit me right smack in the middle of my head.  Everything was suddenly bright, and blue, and I was breathless.  And exhausted. 
And the words appeared, fully formed in my head: You do not need to be so angry.
They weren’t my words.  I hadn’t thought them.  They came from outside of me.  I had to stop praying and catch my breath.  I rolled over on my back.  What had just happened?  Had God just spoken to me?
 There was no question in my mind.  And no doubt whatsoever.  God had spoken to me.  God had reached inside, put his thought in my head, this thought that wasn’t mine and that I needed so much to hear, to feel, to become a part of me.  It was a tiny moment – it happened in an instant – and yet it was utterly overwhelming.  It engulfed me from the inside, left me gasping and in shock.  It was as if I’d ceased to be an individual human being, ceased to be anything other than an appendage of the infinite. (p 97-98, bold mine)
The 2nd:
Unbidden, and unasked for, God was in my head and body.  Again.  For a moment so brief I’m not sure it could be measured.  And yet so overwhelming it seemed as if the world had, in the moment, stopped.  Words formed: Everything is going exactly as it should be.  Even though they were inside my head, they were not my words.  Not my thoughts. (p 135, bold mine)
And the 3rd:
And then, as had happened twice before in my life, there were words in my head.  Words I knew were not mine.  My love is all that matters.
 But this time there was no electric shock.  Nothing turned blue.  No breathlessness, no halted prayers.  Just these words, gently inhabiting me, words given to me – spoken but not spoken – in the midst of death, terror, and destruction.  In the midst of the worst thing that I and everyone else standing there beneath the fire and smoke had ever experienced.  My love is all that matters. (p 178, bold mine)

You do not need to be so angry.

Everything is going exactly as it should be.

My love is all that matters.

There is nothing particularly special about the words themselves.  They are not complicated or inaccessibly poetic.  They do not reveal some profound wisdom hidden from the foundation of the world, words that had never before been uttered.  Anyone could have spoken these same words.  But for Charles they were charged with life.  They were words for him in that moment, and for him alone.

My thoughts drift to the gifted white stone of Revelation 2, a stone inscribed with a name known only to the one who receives it.  Just a stone with a name?  I imagine it being a name that cuts deep in its healing and profundity, accounting for all things in my existence.  I can’t even imagine what this name would be.  God can speak this name.  That I believe. 

So it’s about the words, sure.  But it’s also more.  It’s the immanence of the divine, the temporary withdrawing of the veil of separation.  A different kind of knowing that is pure gift.

There’s a big part of me that reads these accounts and responds just like his (at the time) girlfriend, Jennifer.
She looked at me with a mixture of awe and disbelief.  “I’m jealous,” she said. (p 98)
But there’s also a part of me that isn’t so sure about that at all.  Do I really want my life interrupted?

Back to 1st post

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