As I pushed weights in the gym Tracy Chapman asked me in my ear buds; “If you saw the face of God and love would you change? Would you change?” I knew the answer.
I have seen the face of God and love. What’s more I have heard the voice of God and love, which is just one voice. I walked with her under the willow trees and she whispered, “Don’t you think it’s a sin not to recognize the beauty around you as God’s love?” When I asked who I was speaking with she said, “I am the Alpha and Omega. I am you.”
At first I thought I’d lost my mind as these conversations happened often while awake and while asleep. One time she said, “I want you to fall so that I can catch you in my arms and show you the face of heaven.”
When I consulted my priest he said not to worry about it. He asked me if I gained comfort from these conversations. I said that I did. He said then I was having conversations with God. He congratulated me and pulled himself away from his desk, in his jeans and loafers he looked less priestly. I thought about how I had confined priests to a pulpit and God to a remote ideology.
Roughly a year later I died. It was quite unexpected. I had contracted Sepsis, a bloodstream infection, and woke up dying. I was was suffering from hypothermia, my blood pressure was so low I was most certainly dying. By the time the ambulance arrived I was saying good bye to my children and began a long and rapid descent into a very dark tunnel. I felt like I was sliding down a nautilus shell. I stayed in the darkness for awhile. Then as if the sun rose in my mind and body I was covered in bright light and warmth. The light fell on me and through me and I was perfectly warm inside and out. I felt absolute joy and I heard voices chuckling and speaking with smiles saying, “Hey there she is! Hi. We’re glad you made it.” After that, nothing.
Next I remember waking up in an emergency room with stacks of clipboards on me. I was wheeled off to a corner of a fluorescent place with the smell of blood and bleach. From there I began a long eight days in intensive care followed by a gruesome month of healing.
My doctors do not know how it happened or why and more perplexing to them was my total lack of long term affects. They said it was if lightning struck me but left nothing in its wake. They used the word miracle. The long term affects are there but not visible.
So when I saw the face of God and love, both under the willow tree and in my soul’s journey to wherever that place of light might reside– would I change?
Yes. I would know that death while painful is really just another phase in the journey of the spirit. Yes I would know that all that matters is love, joy and gratitude. I heard often from God in that hospital that the point of living is life. The point is enjoying being exactly who I am and being grateful for that. For years I reminded myself of that understanding. Yes, I would change.
But life can be full of distractions and can hide our knowledge of the divine, can drown out the voice of God who lives within all of us and is all of us and can bring a sort of amnesia. So when Tracy Chapman asked me that question I felt momentarily ashamed. I thought that I had forgotten what I saw, forgot that I had seen the face of God and love and forgotten that I changed.
Driving to work I shut off the radio and told God that I missed her. She said; “take a deep breath in. Breathe out now. Do you feel me? ” I did.
It is in breath and silence that we see the face of God and love and we change.