I was jostled out of a restless sleep to the sound of soothing thunder; but it wasn’t coming from outside. I tried to move but it seemed that someone had filled my entire body with sand and I was unable to move a muscle. There was a silent stillness absorbing the entire room. Then, I heard it again.
An overwhelming sense of weightless peace permeated my entire body and I was able to rise to my feet. Looking around, I noticed my roommates were still out cold a few feet away from me. Just a few hours earlier, we were all partying on our first night in our new apartment. I remembered smoking a bowl of some really potent weed, just before we all passed out on the living room floor. Guided back into the present moment, I couldn’t shake the resonance of the thunderous voice that seemed to be coming from the depths of my own heart; its sound booming inside my chest. The Voice was filled with such intense passion and authoritative power, yet it dripped with the deepest tenderness and gentle affection. Although the Voice’s kindness seemed to contradict very much of what I thought I knew about him, I knew that this had to be God.
My heart felt like it had been lassoed by a rope of light and I was drawn to the stairs. My feet began to move across the room and the closer I got, terror began to grip my heart like a vise. I stood at the foot of the stairs, overwhelmed by fear when I heard the Voice speak again.
“Go up the stairs.”
I thought to myself, “I am not going up there! It’s dark and scary and I’m afraid! I don’t want to!” My only grid for any of this stuff was movies I had seen, like ‘The Exorcist’ and other horror films that terrorized me as a kid. I had no idea what was going on and although part of me wondered if I was losing my mind, I knew that ultimately everything would be okay and, somehow, it all felt totally normal. The rapid swirl of anxious thoughts came to a halt when the Voice interrupted with such tender reassurance.
“It’s okay. I’m with you! Don’t be afraid. Go up the stairs.”
Suddenly, an explosion of liquid peace obliterated the chaos from the center of my chest and tangibly permeated my entire being. I knew that my invisible companion was right. I had nothing to be afraid of. I knew he was telling the truth. Slowly, I ascended the staircase and found myself walking into what would be my bedroom. As soon as I stepped through the threshold of the doorway, I felt something like an invisible egg crack over the top of my head, and as it did, a warm liquid peace dripped down my entire body. I was overwhelmed with ecstatic pleasure.
The Voice spoke again, with affectionate enthusiasm, “You don’t need to be in here. Go into the master bedroom.”
“But this feels so good! I don’t want to leave!”
“You don’t need to be in here. Go into the master bedroom,” the Voice tenderly insisted.
Its words dripped with kindness and made me feel like everything was right in the world; it was impossible to disobey. I couldn’t help but do everything the Voice asked, no matter how much I thought I didn’t want to. As I walked into the unfurnished master bedroom, a light came on; it was unlike any other light I had ever seen and it had an otherworldly, whimsical feel about it that reminded me of stories like ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ It wasn’t like the moon, the sun, or the stars; or even like a lamp of any sort we’ve ever seen in this world. This light was like a fog in which each droplet of vapor was itself, a golden sun. The entire room was filled with this glorious, golden light and when I breathed it in it was smooth and savory, as if the air was made of honey. I felt my body dancing beneath me and as I looked down, I noticed my palms had gone face up and my feet were doing a little jig. I knew I wasn’t controlling it and I didn’t care one bit! I felt so happy and free! My mouth began to move and from the tip of my tongue, I heard words whispered in a language I had never heard before, but in my mind, I understood the words, “Lord, bless this house in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It was all foreign to me, and completely outside of my paradigm for what was even possible, yet it felt so right and I knew that it was good.
The lasso of light began tugging my heart once again, as I was drawn to the closet on my left. The door was open, but everything on the other side of the threshold was covered in inky black darkness; so dark, it seemed, that if you were to reach out and touch it, your hand would be covered in tar. I slowly started toward the closet and the closer I got, fear began to terrorize my heart again. I stood at the threshold as everything in my peripheral view was filled with the wonderful honey light that I had come to love while everything directly in front of me was filled with inky blackness that threatened to tarnish my soul.
“Go into the closet,” the Voice said tenderly.
“What?! I’m not going in there! It’s so dark and I’m terrified!”
“It’s okay. I’m with you! Don’t be afraid,” I could feel the Voice smile with deep affection as another explosion of liquid peace permeated my soul from the deepest depths of my being. I knew he was telling me the truth.
I knew that I would be okay and I stepped into the closet.
Once inside, the warm comfort of my invisible companion seemed to have vanished and I felt alone again. “But he told me he would be with me,” I reassured myself. Suddenly I heard a different voice.
“Who do you think you are, you loser? What do you think you’re doing here? You’re a nobody! You’re weak! You’ll never amount to anything, you piece of shit!”
It felt yucky and dark; and its words cut to the deepest depths of who I thought myself to be. It was telling me things that I had already believed about myself. Who was I to think that I could ever amount to anything when all my life, I’ve just been a depressed loser who never could seem to succeed at anything. After all, I always ran away from my problems and made up excuses to get out of difficult situations.
“You’re such a coward! You sissy! You’re a nobody! You are such a loser!” It wouldn’t let up.
I put my hands over my ears and yelled, “Shut up! Shut up! Stop it! Stop!”
The bullying voice got louder and gave absolutely no sign of stopping soon. It, too, seemed to be coming from inside; but not like the other Voice. The Voice of Love that so tenderly awakened my heart earlier, seemed to come from a much, much deeper place inside my chest. This nasty, impish, cackle seemed to be coming from my head, yet it also felt to be slightly outside of me. Suddenly, I felt a passionate roar resonate in the depths of me and I reached out to where it sounded like the voice might have been coming from and grabbed what I later found out was a stack of towels. Out of my mouth came the words, “In the name of Jesus, be quiet and get out!” A pair of nasty, painted eyes, like those that might have belonged to the corpse of a 19th century prostitute, flashed in my mind’s eye and, with a loud shriek, vanished.
The warmth of my invisible companion’s presence seemed to have returned, although he never actually left; I slumped over, leaving the closet and crawling into the bathtub just a few feet away. I felt a warm invisible blanket wrap itself around me as the walls began to sing to me, joined by the porcelain tub and the molecules of air that filled my lungs, “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.” The song, sung with deep tenderness and passionate affection created a torrential downpour of tears, mingled with snot as I sobbed. I began to remember many of the shameful things I had done in my life and insisted on telling Him I didn’t deserve this kind of love. Through the tears, I yelled that I wasn’t good enough.
In that moment, I felt like my perspective became that of the entire universe and I saw all of creation joining in the song; the stars of every distant galaxy, the comets and the planets that have yet to be discovered, the sun and our moon, along with every blade of grass and every tree, joined every cell in my body in the song of love that in that moment, was just for me, “I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you! I do! I do! I do! I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you! I do! I do! I do!” I melted under the torrent of such great love, that although he saw everything that I had ever done to hurt myself and others; and although I had spent many years cursing and scoffing at the idea of God; He held absolutely none of it against me and passionately desired that I feel innocent and pure, as though I had just been born.