There are times in our lives, though they may be few, when God punctures the veil between eternity and the here and now. It's as if God pokes a hole, reaches in or down or both, and shakes us at the foundations, begging us to stop, look and listen. Pay attention The Spirit tells the human spirit. Please notice this.
We call these magical moments, revelations, epiphanies, Grace, or simply times of unexplained transformation. Einstein had such a moment when he wrote down E=mc2. Mozart, age four, could learn a piece of music in a half hour. His abilities were astonishing. He was rightly declared a genius, but still there appeared to be something “other” involved. What we casually call genius, is on some level, eternal in character. Galileo was able to challenge centuries of religious belief, by allowing us to see that the earth was not the center of the universe. Even here we must ask if God was not involved in the science which inspired Galileo to be able to claim, at great personal price, a whole new vision of the universe.
When those of us who are not categorized as geniuses have such a moment of insight or raw clarity, we often experience it accompanied by a lump in the throat, being moved to tears, or a pervasive smearing of goosebumps. God seems to have ways of letting us know that a Spirit is present. Is our Higher Power casting a spell upon our soul? Is this a miracle, or is all of Life a miracle? However we wish to describe it, since mere words fail to capture the full experience, we are left with a deep sense of having been touched by God. The heavens have opened for a second or two, but our awareness had grown in size and depth and insight. We have made contact, or been contacted.
My poor attempt here to offer the most basic meaning of a revelation, will not prevent me from further attempting to share one with you. My words may ultimately prove futile and fail, but they are the all I have -- and in this case, we’ve got.
I went to see my sister. She was lying in bed, her hair a shock of snotty yellow, her complexion like congealed wax. She had tubes coming out of her all over the place, and though reassuring that she was still breathing, I saw no real life going on there in the rumpled bed. Her kidneys had shut down in three days, and her whole being now functioned at a far more sluggish pace. They kept trying to drain the fluid from her bloated body, while attempting to get her to sip on ice cubes. It all felt ridiculous and absurd. How did her health and life unravel so quickly? Then I was jarred back to reality by the obvious, her health had been fading for years, just like my own, and often by our own stupid choices – obesity and lack of exercise the most obvious.
I could not get ashamed at this moment, nor pour a thick goopy syrup of guilt all about her being, as I was just as big an offender as she, and in many respects, more so. Plus, what good would guilt do now? To be honest, what real good does guilt ever do, except pummeling us with what we have long known, and even longer had no evident control over? Shame, guilt’s saucy sister, would love to lure us into a pity party any time of day or night, but again, to choose to attend such a dreadful affair is a pure waste of time.
I suddenly saw my sister when she was quite pretty, smaller but not petite, and her eyes sparkled and she had a stunning smile. She was always on the phone, and laughter was incessant. She had longed for a boyfriend for such a long time, but as her weight grew, so did her chances decline. She could land a boy by offering him what he wanted, but she never got what she most wanted, which was to be loved, cherished, and adored, and to have a home and family of her very own.
Somehow, I began to picture her as a mother. I have no idea where the images came from, but I saw her tucking in a couple of kids, and preparing a meal, decorating a Christmas tree, hiding an Easter egg, and whipping up a beautiful cake. I also imagined her being kissed passionately by a guy who looked like one of the dancers on the old AMERICAN BANDSTAND. I even saw her winning a prize, and offering the simplest but kindest acceptance speech, giving all the credit to our mother.
I was then startled by memories long forgotten. They came back to life, a resurrection if you will. The time she let me be the butler at her Halloween party, then made me show all of her friends how good I could dance, especially the “mashed potato”. I thought about how she let me borrow her car to pass my driver’s test, and how she had consoled me when the brakes failed on that same car when I went to Prom, and I rammed the car ahead of me in the infamous line at Memorial Hall.
Her life had always been one of longing and yearning. She was sad much of the time. Trying to find a place or a peace of some kind; trying to fit, or belong, or be a part of something intimate and strong; trying to locate a little joy or happiness or meaning. I never think of my sister as calm or content. I can’t recall a time where she seemed to be comfortable in her own skin. She was a mass of need, and that mass just kept on growing over the years.
The happiest time in her life was when she got to take care of my son a couple of days each week. She was a wondrous Aunt, and my adored their candlelit spaghetti supper, and the never-ending trips to the toy store. I think he loved having her all to himself, and getting away from the overly busy, over-scheduled lives of his clergy parents. The time was just right, and for a while it was a heavenly arrangement.
I felt bad for a moment thinking how distant she and my son had grown, for no other reason than that her need had long ago outgrown his capacity to meet it, and he just often chose to go in hiding to keep himself from being swallowed whole.
I watched her labored breathing for a bit, and said a prayer. I asked for her to be comforted and held in God’s arms. I asked for some mercy for her. I asked her to know she was a good sister, good woman, good friend, good aunt, good soul, and just plain good. It was such a pure and simple prayer, and I was left dumbstruck by the fact I truly believed every word I spoke to God. I was seeing her at this time through God’s eyes. I knew it then, and I know it now. I had, if ever so brief, been given the gracious gift of eternal eyes... Of seeing us as God sees us.
She awoke and reached out for me, as she must have done so often as a little girl. She looked so small, fragile, delicate, and lovely. I imagined how my Dad or Mom picking up their little blonde darling, and squeezing her tight. I went over and gave her a big squeeze. She looked at me as if she knew something was up, but for now, didn’t want to know. She knew her brother was here and she was safe, and the room felt full and cozy. There was love in the room. It was enough. At last.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.