After midnight early this morning I had my second incredible dream. I am trying to capture as much of the dream as possible in another document. It was a five hour conversation with God. Again, I was in a semi/super-conscious state. It was like a fire hose of images and information. Way too much to capture in a simple blog post. I will have to break it up and spend some time meditating on the messages.
Talking with a new friend yesterday, we discussed the interesting methods of how God came into our lives and our observations on others. I mentioned that I did not feel I came to God. Rather, God found me. I hadn’t been looking for God but, in retrospect, I was lost and desperate. My unhappiness was based in many areas. An inability to forgive myself, a feeling that I was on the wrong path, and that the further I went down the path, the farther I was getting from my own salvation. I was living the way our society judges success: money, toys, promotions, etc. I had tried to escape my own responsibility for my salvation through alcohol and later food. However, when I finally came to the realization that spiritually I was missing something important, everything changed for me. Not overnight, perhaps, but in so many critical ways.
My friend, to the contrary, simply realized that his life was good. Like me, he was born and raised Christian and had drifted into a more agnostic perspective. My friend reflected on his good fortune and felt he needed to express his thanks. A big Steven Covey fan, he had dedicated time each week to developing his mind, maintaining his body, and cultivating relationships of the heart. However, he was missing a contribution to his spiritual well being and this led him back to the church. Although born and raised Protestant, he found the relative anonymity of the Catholic church refreshing. He wanted to go to church to develop his relationship with God and did not want the experience of intense neighborly fellowship that smaller churches represent. After two years, he discovered he enjoyed it and decided to officially join the Catholic Church.
While my connection was with St. Maximus the Confessor, my friend found St. Augustine called to his heart. We reflected that regardless of your religion, there are so many wonderful and life changing observations by the saints that everyone of every faith could appreciate. It is unfortunate that because they have the title “Saint” and are therefore associated with the Catholic Church, people avoid them on general principle.
If you haven’t read Dark Night of the Soul, it is a hauntingly beautiful work. As I read it, I developed a new appreciation for my own experiences. Growing up and throughout college I had occasional night terrors. As I came to the final chapters of the book, I had three more after escaping them for over a decade. Coincidentally, the chapters of the book were well-timed for my experiences.
As a child and as a young adult (through college), I would dread the semi-conscious state of paralysis that would occur. Trapped, unable to breath or move I was visited by terrifying entities. I specifically remember one in college where a black cloud with red eyes appeared in the room and slowly covered me as I struggled. Without warning it lunged over my prone body suffocating me under its presence. When I asked my brother whether he ever experienced them, he said that he did not remember night terrors but he did remember the red eyes in the bedroom we shared growing up.
As I finished God Doesn’t Whisper, I had three in the space of two weeks. The first was a strange dream that felt like a night terror where I was being dragged powerlessly by an entity through a cavern-like hallway. I saw my brother sitting next to the wall and that drove me to call him with the question. At a point, I stopped being terrified and willed my body to stand up. If you thought I was surprised by demonstrating this ability to control myself, you should have seen the face of the entity. It turned around and, although emotionally featureless, expressed concern that I read as “You should not be able to do that”. Then the dream ended.
The next night terror was inside my home as a malevolent spirit in this dream state was turning on and off lights, setting a fire in the fire place, and tormenting me. I ran through the house in this dream state willing my body to move and took a page from the movie the Exorcist yelling over and over “The Power of Christ Compels You to Leave!”. I was so vocal, I actually woke my wife and she woke me up.
The third one occurred the day before publishing. However, this one was different than ever before. Strangely, this one left me a souvenir. I awoke with the terrified paralysis and saw a white shimmering figure next to the bed. Again, I could not breathe but I did not feel threatened. It took all my will to raise up and will my arm to reach out and touch this being. My hand felt chilled as I swiped at the shimmer. I awoke immediately and felt something underneath me. It was my wife’s boarding pass for our trip to Minneapolis when I had the huge revelation that we are each responsible for our own salvation. That confession and forgiveness are key components of our lives today, not waiting for judgment day. How it appeared underneath me after being missing/thrown away six months ago cannot be explained. I asked my wife and she could not remember the last time she had seen it.
After these three events, I finishing reading the final chapters of Dark Night of the Soul. Many of the parallels and examples St John of the Cross speaks about reflect my experiences of Night Terrors. The soul, weighed down by sin and unworthiness, trembles paralyzed by the Divine presence. He also described the beings as dark shapes with Divine intentions. It reminded me of a quote from the movie Jacob’s Ladder when Danny Aiello’s character is talking to Tim Robbins. Per the entry in Wikipedia, he cites the 14th-century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart: “Eckhart saw Hell too. He said, ‘The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you’, he said. ‘They’re freeing your soul. So, if you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth.'”
Perhaps the semi-conscious state is actually a super-conscious state. Perhaps the terrors and entities are there to help somehow. The next time, I promise myself, I will say a quick prayer and let go of my fear and attachments in these moments. The alternative is that this life is a delicate simulation to help me overcome the spiritual obstacles I have on my own path to salvation.
In March 2011, as I awaited a tsunami in Hawaii, my midlife crisis was answered by an incredible dream. I was shown the mechanics of something wonderful. The message was simple: all I needed was imagination and will to create change in the world. I had been unhappy for a decade, feeling I was a victim of soul-crushing societal programming and parental pressures to climb the corporate ladder and found that happiness was promised just over the next hill time and time again. I felt like the cranky old man who tells stories of how he had to walk uphill to school in the snow both ways as a child.
After the dream, I took charge of my life. I started writing, lost 100 pounds, and got back into shape. Over the next two years I wrote in hotel rooms, on dinner napkins, on airplanes, and texted myself ideas as I drove or hiked: whenever inspiration struck. I incorporated what I saw in that first dream into my own life and into the observations of the world around me. I captured every epiphany I experienced until I had over 300 pages of notes and anecdotes.
As I edited God, Gravity, and the Change Between the Couch Cushions, I came to a fork in the road. I felt the journey ahead was my choice. I could apply what I learned to serve myself or to serve others. I tried for two years to deny my experience as religious intervention. You see, I was raised Lutheran. What my wife likes to call “Catholic-Lite”. However, I had never felt a connection to God or my church. I grew more agnostic with each passing year until I actually became anti-organized religion. I wasn’t an Atheist or anti-God, but I saw the transgressions and failures of organized religion as a fatal flaw in logic and reason. This was compounded by such news as religious groups attempting to pass laws against critical thinking. I had my degree in systems engineering and although science and religion did not conflict with each other in my life, when your neighbor builds a fence it makes you wonder why.
My journey of discovery would have been easier to explain as a religious experience but I wasn’t ready to admit that to myself. The elation I felt and the epiphanies that I saw, even the choice of words I used to describe my new understanding were unlike anything I had written before. I always loved science fiction and if given the choice, I imagined writing such a book later in life. Philosophy was not my strong suit. In college, I earned a ‘C’ in Philosophy. However, the tone and texture of my writing was now focused on philosophy and ethics.
In late February 2013, everything was rushing to a decisive point. My visions became more insistent and during a trip to Minnesota to visit family, the dam final broke. During an incredible night I learned the power of confession and forgiveness and that ultimately, we are each responsible for our own salvation. I had chosen the path to follow God and the Divine Pattern of God’s Image within myself. I would endeavor to annihilate my own ego and piously remove myself from earthly attachments. In the space my ego had occupied within my heart, I would endeavor to fill that emptiness with the Holy Spirit and God’s Grace and to become an instrument of His Will.
In April 2013, two events happened at nearly the same time. Several numbers kept coming up in my life and one night I ‘Googled’ the number 662 on a lark. That simple action opened a flood gate of discovery. One coincidence became two, then four, then sixteen onward and upward at a geometric rate. As I turned this corner of discovery, I was reunited with an old friend, David. David was in my unit in Alaska and an old friend from my Support Platoon. I knew David was Catholic so as we caught up, I described what I experienced and he shared some of his own experiences from Iraq. Although I attributed my original dream and all the subsequent life changing experiences to God, I was still firmly against organized religion. However, in a single evening talking with David, even that final bulwark collapsed.
I started to read. A LOT. Mainly early Christian Mystics and several Saints that I encountered along the way. I wasn’t looking for answers. I was looking for teachers able to craft their experiences and contemplation on the Divine in such a way so that I may discover my own truths within my heart. I’ll share each of those books and what I learned from them in future blog posts. It is heartbreaking that so many unhappy people in desperate need of spiritual counsel from all faiths avoid such authors because they associate Saints with the Catholic Church. I am not Catholic but I assure you that there are no better spokespeople or resources for such diverse and intrinsically valuable contemplation as these legends of spirituality.
Last week my friend Cress suggested incorporating a regular blog to support my goals of telling my story and helping reach out to others. Although many of these blog posts may be incorporated in various forms to future publications, my goal is to simply capture the daily thoughts, ideas, and observations that occur and reflections on past events in a new light.
Just announcing the upload and release of God Doesn’t Whisper on Amazon. For Prime members it is free to borrow. I look forward to everyone’s feedback.
Just imagining the Guardian has the entire presentation and now several web-based companies are trying to explain their discreet relationship with the NSA. However, if the Bear Trap is set, they will be in for a surprise.
After uploading God, Gravity, and the Change Between the Couch Cushions last Friday I promised myself to take a few days off. I caught up on chores, walked the dogs a bunch, and enjoyed a few movie marathons.
Now I am screening the book with a few friends and family counting on them to help identify any errors for me and provide constructive feedback. After staring at a screen for months without the benefit of a professional editor I know that some mistakes slipped through the process. Hopefully they will help me catch them before I actively share it with the rest of the world.
Back to work on the second book now. As I said in GGCBCC, the first book represented a philosophy around pattern recognition and everyday observations of the human condition while the second book will focus on theological concepts surrounding the Divine Pattern and my experiences.
God, Gravity, and the Change Between the Couch Cushions has been uploaded and released on Amazon. For Prime members it is free to borrow. I look forward to everyone’s feedback.
On April 19th, 2013, I wrote this letter. I was in the middle of finishing a chapter for my book GGBCCC. In the midst of typing, my train of thought was interrupted and Letter to Lucifer from The Witness just came out. I did not sit down intending to write it.
This is just a letter, perhaps two pages in length. I included it with God doesn’t Whisper. I was moved to write it in a heavenly ecstasy of emotion.
I usually put it up for free download once a month.