When I was 53 years old, I struggled with my own dark night of the soul. I prayed to God to send me a lifeline. Two weeks later, on a hot summer evening, I sat, aimless and depressed, on the back deck of my bungalow in North Bay, Ont., with my dog. Suddenly, an eerie calm came over me and I was compelled to go for a walk.
The sounds of street traffic, the buzz of air conditioners and cicadas, the ringing of crickets and the lapping waves of Lake Nipissing vanished. It was as if God had turned the volume off.
Looking on either side of me, the houses, the trees and the lake faded into a golden mist. It felt like I was walking above the street, as if the soles of my sandals had become a hovercraft. My hyperactive border collie was equally calm. As I walked, with no destination in mind, an incredible sense of peace and love welled up. I remember thinking, “If this is heaven, sign me up.”
After a half-hour of walking in this new state of bliss, God spoke to me. It was as if God was typing a message, one letter at a time, in my brain: “E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g w-i-l-l b-e a-l-r-i-g-h-t,” it said.
When I started to head home, the sounds of the night gradually returned, the houses and trees misted back, and I felt the pavement under my sandals. My life began to right itself, and within six months I had a publishing contract for my first novel. It remains the most profound experience of my life; I got a sneak peek at heaven.
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Modern science has made the world more comprehensible, although in many respects it seems more mysterious. Maybe superstition was more widespread in the first century than it is today (however, the dreams of Leafs fans and the widespread interest in astrology make me wonder).
Not everything in the world has a physical explanation. How do we explain the existence of life in a sterile universe? What we might think we know ultimately remains a mystery. And mysteries like the Resurrection require a leap of faith. As an adage states: “Theology is the study of God, religion is the worship of God and mysticism is the experience of God.”
I’ve experienced God. In doing so, my mind went silent and my ego relinquished itself. The awakening of my soul allowed for proof of God’s existence. The Resurrection is a great demonstration of God’s power. My moments of mysticism let me experience that power and made the literal reality of the Resurrection plausible.
Rod Carley is an author in North Bay, Ont. Latitude 46 Publishing is releasing his new collection of short stories, Grin Reaping, in June. This piece first appeared in Broadview’s April/May 2022 issue with the title “A sneak peek at heaven.”
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