Experiences of the Divine

On some threads in Purgatory, people have been sharing their experiences of God, the Divine, Transcendence (with or without a capital T), or whatever one wants to call it. For example, Nick Tamen wrote here and A Feminine Force wrote here.

Is there any interest in sharing some of these experiences with one another on a thread where we can express what we've seen/heard/known without having to
1. justify our sanity;
2. enter into debates about how, exactly, we know what we claim to know;
3. defend our experience of the sacred/holy according to someone else's standard of proof;
or
4. argue for the reality of the divine/holy/transcendent.

Here's mine:

Many years ago, I was on a week long private retreat. At the retreat centre, the retreatants committed to "give back to the earth" through an hour of outdoor labour each day. I have never been a gardener, but I was willing to abide by the rule.

One day, my task was to hill and mulch the potatoes in a very ordinary vegetable garden. After about a half hour of potato care, I was surrounded, filled, and overwhelmed with the profound awareness that I was "tending the body of Christ." This was not an intellectual assertion. It was more like a deep knowledge that welled up from within. I knew, in that moment, that the very soil, and indeed all of creation, was Christ's body.

Comments

  • Mr SmiffMr Smiff Shipmate
    I had what I believe to have been one yesterday (Sunday); it didn’t involve visions or anything like that, but it was quite powerful - and hugely welcome!

    I’m a Baptist minister currently on sabbatical, so I’m not at my regular church. Trouble was, I hadn’t particularly planned which church to go to instead. And my head was full of all kinds of crap and **** (which is perhaps another story for another day on another board).

    Anyway, the upshot of this was that the thought of sitting in church, no matter how good the service and how kind the people would’ve been, was not something I felt I could do.

    So I went for a walk instead, feeling slightly guilty because I hadn’t gone to church and going to church is important to me. So what happened next surprised me. I came out of some woodland onto a path which goes round the edge of a meadow. There was nothing special about this place in many ways, it was just a large expanse of grass and wild plants with horses grazing, birds flying etc. But it was so quiet and peaceful and looked so open and beautiful in the brilliant sunlight.

    And all I could as I sat for a while, then walked round, was pray and praise and sing like I hadn’t done in so long. It was amazing, I was amazed! There was something so freeing about it, and it was coming from somewhere beyond me. I felt a real closeness to God, a sense of God’s loving presence that I have not felt for a long, long time.

    At times I was praising, at times I was singing (not too loudly, don’t want to scare the horses!), at times I was in tears as I prayed through all that’s been going on.

    So I know I probably should’ve gone to church. But I also can’t help thinking that God knew what I needed yesterday, probably more than I did, and met me in a way that was quite surprising, quite powerful in its own way, but also very, very welcome.
  • It has occurred to me to wonder if this thread is better suited to All Saints. If so, would a host send it there, please? Thank you.
  • Thank you, Mr Sniff!
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    We will discuss backstage, questioning. One of us will get back to you!
    jedijudy
    Heaven Host
  • I had a powerful experience last year, before starting my training in spiritual direction. I had been praying, and felt curiously dissatisfied with the note on which I had stopped. The door of the relevant chapel leaves one directly in front of the altar of the main church, and opposite a statue of the Mother of God. The sacrament is reserved on the altar, and there is powerful icon alongside the door of the chapel. I found myself caught up in a four-way conversation between me and those three sites, which powerfully confirmed my decision to apply. It also brought me much closer to the Mother of God - the phrase that rang in my ears was "there is more of her in him than people think". I also found myself able to approach the icon, having previously found it forbidding. Somehow, listening to the experience and to the call to apply for the course had brought me closer to the whole scene.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Mr. Sniff you were in church. God came to you in another part of his Kingdom. :heart:
  • It's good to share these experiences - thank you.

    Having a bad evening in a pub on my own (long story), God met me in the person of an OAP who sat next to me, gently hassled me into a conversation I didn't want but really enjoyed, and after a couple of hours talking about life, sheepishly pulled out a bible when I asked him what was in his plastic carrier bag. Then he prayed, and then I went home. Never seen him again. It was quite something, and I often think of it.
  • MoyessaMoyessa Shipmate
    I had a sudden experience during my work day, many years ago, in the 1990s. I was suddenly in a state (I don't want to say place, but it did feel like a different place) where I experienced something like heaven, or God. It was a state where I felt total joy and realized that even all the bad things are for the good. I was in a parking lot at the time and it seemed to last maybe 1-2 minutes.
    Afterwards, even though I was at the beginning of a work day in a job I found very painful, I thought I could probably actually enjoy that day by shifting my perspective. Also, visually the world had changed; the colors were vibrant and intense, very beautiful.

    At the time I had no religion, except possibly "anything but Christian". Since I wholeheartedly believed that God had touched me, I started reading all I could to try to obtain a spiritual stance that made sense to me.
    Long story short, about 6 years later, the barriers of my pride, modernity, independence & believed-self-sufficiency, dropped and I accepted the peace of Jesus that was being offered to me, and I accepted that I did (very much) need a Savior.
    It is now amazing to me how resistant I was to that fact. I had always thought the whole concept of there being a Savior was a copout for people who couldn't cope.
    Needless to say, that experience was life-changing. The visual intensity gradually faded over about a day or two. The enormity of the experience for me dwindled slowly until now I have to make a conscious effort to remember that wonderful day.
  • [Thread moved from Heaven to All Saints]
  • DormouseDormouse Shipmate
    I am currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer - it's all been cut out, I've had chemo & am about to start radiotherapy. Right at the beginning of it all, just as I had been diagnosed, I was given a verse from Isaiah 41: I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says "Do not be afraid. I will help you" This has been my mantra when things were a bit difficult.

    One night, when I was in a deal of pain, discomfort and pissed-offness, particularly distressed by the loss of my taste buds and salivary glands, I said to God "OK then, you promised that you will help. So keep your side of the bargain..." And I felt an overwhelming urge to go online, and to research what was happening to me. That simple act of understanding WHY I was going through these different symptoms and, more importantly, what I could do to alleviate them, made all the difference to my outlook.

    OK, it's not a great story of wonderment and beauty, but I honestly believe it was God doing what had been promised. He DID help me.
  • Never experienced anything that in retrospect wasn't either an emotional response to people being kind or showing appreciation of me (the latter probably requires a good bit of the former), or wasn't better explained by some other factor. And yet I persist.
  • I was helping in a church program where we fed approx. 80 homeless people a dinner meal. The food was pre-arranged with different people donating salads, bread, dessert and a main dish. The food was due to arrive one hour before dinner. The main dish did not arrive, a phone call told me the person who had volunteered to cook it was out of town. I had 30 minutes to come up with something. I simple prayed, " Oh Lord help us. " I found two chickens in the refrigerator, and searched through the closet for what I could find. A bag of rice, some spices, and a few cans of vegetables, I used these along with throwing the donated salads into a pot of water, and in 45 minutes we had soup along with bread and cake to feed 80 people. People kept telling us how good the soup was. I will never forget the miracle of that night, how we were able to feed 80 people with two chickens. I now see the story of the loaves and fishes in a whole different light. It made me trust that whatever we can offer no matter how small God can multiply and use for the common good.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    When I close my eyes I see colours. Until fairly recently I thought everyone did, maybe everyone does, but I have come across information that suggests otherwise recently. Please if you do not, then I can tell you most of the time it is nothing to get excited over; what I see ranges from orangey-red to lime-green that morphs into various uninteresting patterns. I presumed a complex response to the thinness of my skin in my eyelids and light (yes it does even happen in a darkened room but I cannot recall if it happens in a complete blackout) with a negative memory effect from lights that I have recently looked at (not quite sure that it right but I can detect their shapes in the patterns). The only thing I found it good for is sending me to sleep.

    The other night for a couple of minutes when I shut my eyes there was a beautiful cyan, no pattern just solid colour.

    That is it.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Never experienced anything that in retrospect wasn't either an emotional response to people being kind or showing appreciation of me (the latter probably requires a good bit of the former), or wasn't better explained by some other factor. And yet I persist.
    Me either. I had thought it a flaw of mine, and then got hit with some really really bad things, experienced such empty desolation, that I realized that perhaps I was looking for something different than what it always mostly kind of there, which isn't very much and isn't very awesome isn't great, ho hum. Disappointment mostly with anti-presence of God experiences.
  • I was helping in a church program where we fed approx. 80 homeless people a dinner meal. The food was pre-arranged with different people donating salads, bread, dessert and a main dish. The food was due to arrive one hour before dinner. The main dish did not arrive, a phone call told me the person who had volunteered to cook it was out of town. I had 30 minutes to come up with something. I simple prayed, " Oh Lord help us. " I found two chickens in the refrigerator, and searched through the closet for what I could find. A bag of rice, some spices, and a few cans of vegetables, I used these along with throwing the donated salads into a pot of water, and in 45 minutes we had soup along with bread and cake to feed 80 people. People kept telling us how good the soup was. I will never forget the miracle of that night, how we were able to feed 80 people with two chickens. I now see the story of the loaves and fishes in a whole different light. It made me trust that whatever we can offer no matter how small God can multiply and use for the common good.

    That is beautiful!
  • I believed what the gospels said about Jesus, and I had asked Jesus to lead me to God, as that is what the gospels told me. I didn't want to talk to anyone about it, to go to any church, or to become religious, of that I was certain. The words 'worship God' kept returning into my mind, but I had no idea what that meant. I imagined prostrating myself on the floor. I prayed to Jesus about it, and it went away.

    One evening, a few weeks later, as I prayed, I was given a vision of Jesus in a form of light, like a diamond. A voice which melted me like butter invited me to come to his house, then it was gone.

    I wrestled with it for three days. I really didn't want to, but how could I refuse? I had to tell people where I was going, which was difficult, and go in to a church service on my own. I somehow knew which church to go to. The visiting preacher talked about worship. The vision was affirmed.

    God had plans for me to serve within the church. I needed the personal invitation before I would take that first step. It's been a trek since, but at intervals a special experience brings affirmation once again, and the memory of that first experience still melts my heart.
  • In hard times I have always been able to turn back to very deep and compelling memories of the felt Presence of God holding me close and encouraging me.
  • MaryLouise wrote: »
    In hard times I have always been able to turn back to very deep and compelling memories of the felt Presence of God holding me close and encouraging me.

    Me too MaryLouise. It's hard to describe, except to call it a deep blessing, a sense of peace and joy.

    I hope this thread will be helpful for people, to recognise the similarities in our experiences of God, even though they will each be unique.

  • Yes, that was my hope, too, Raptor Eye. Sometimes it can be helpful to be reminded of our experiences of God, and to remind one another of God's presence.

    I find that I go back to previous experiences as a reminder of the reality of Christ. Re-membering them also re-minds me of how I want to live out my life as part of Christ's body. Otherwise, it is so easy for me to get caught up in the busy-ness of life, and I forget how I want to live out the busy-ness of life.

    Someone has commented that part of the significant shift of mystical experience is not that we see a different world, but that we see the world from a different place, or a different centre. Remembering (in the sense of anamnesis) helps me to return to that centre.
  • I have had dreams of God since about 1994. The dreams are extremely vivid and I wake from them feeling joy, reassurance, and also a deep ache. One time, God (as a beautiful woman) and I sat on a beach and talked for hours (at least it seemed that way in the dream). At one point I turned away from Her and said, "I'm going to forget all of this when I wake up, aren't I?" She took my left hand in both of her hands and said, "Beloved, know that I suffer also from our separation. I am with you always, of course, but you feel My absence and I hate that. But, you must forget these dreams so that you will live your life. If you were able to remember all of your dreams, you would never live in the present. One day I shall call you home and then we shall never be apart. And you will have Me forever."

    That was probably THE best dream of Herself, but I have had others where Jesus showed up and was funny and getting to be silly, which no one wants to think Jesus could be! Anyway...
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    The5thMary, did you ever see the movie "Household Saints"? Jesus made an appearance that was very whimsical and included a miraculous practical joke. :smiley:
  • Yes, I did! That was a great movie but so sad, at the end! I cried buckets!
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I'm at Cropredy. It's 40 years since Sandy Denny left us and the final Fairport Set is very much a tribute. I've just listened in the pissing rain to an amazing set by Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff and then talked to Dave about Tim Renwick's guitar solos and acoustic guitar cutaways being for cissies and now they're playing Who Knows Where the Time Goes and I'm feeling things I never feel about God or in a church. And the link is I never met her so it may feel strange but some people just affect you that way (look up Post WW2 Blues if you don't get it which you won't unless you're into that sort of thing). Encounter with the divine? I don't know. I'm slightly pissed and channeling Martin...

    But that's me for now.
  • Sounds like an encounter with the Divine to me, KarlLB.

    Regardless, enjoy it!
  • This thread is making me weep with joy and appreciation.

    Thank you everyone for sharing such moving and wonderful experiences!

    AFF
  • Now one of those ridiculous set of coincidences that makes no sense happened yesterday. It started with the urge to find more about the Protestant adoption of the Sacred Heart devotions. You can trace my posts on the ship if you like. It involved me in reading more of the Catholic stuff, it always does including the mystical experiences. Find this is Catholic and a different tradition to me.

    I live alone. There is a roof space above my flat and yes we have squirrels or mice in it at present. There is a bedroom directly below my bedroom. Last night I woke twice. Both times I could hear a regular beat coming from the roof like a heartbeat. It was not my heartbeat which is not very regular at the best of times. It was only audible in my bedroom and the two wakings must have been several hours apart. It did not keep me awake.

    Nothing more.
  • Jengie Jon, sounds like you received a special gift whatever the source.
  • Thanks. I think I will accept it as a comfort and leave it at that. If I had not done the earlier reading I think I might have found it upsetting.
  • It's interesting to hear the emotional assessment of these experiences too. The one I mentioned earlier was far from a comfort, but I've since known the gifts of joy, affirmation, and deep love.
Sign In or Register to comment.