IIn 2005, I had my first child. Nothing prepared me for that moment and the overwhelming love that filled me. I spent a long time looking into her eyes, admiring her perfect features. She had known love before, but not on this level. My heart sings with joy. I think there is no greater love than this.
But a few months later, he was proven wrong. Something woke me up in the middle of the night. Surprisingly, it wasn't my little girl crying for milk; it was a swirling sensation of energy rippling through me.
As this feeling reached my head, a light flashed across my inner vision. Along with the light came an indescribable love. My love for my daughter pales in comparison. Even then, long before the erosion of time and memory took its toll, I was speechless. Suffice to say, if love were measured like an earthquake, it would exceed the Richter scale.
Then, mysteriously like light and love, came and went out.
The next morning, I told my then-husband about my experience. He thought it was a dream. This hurt me deeply. If my own husband, knowing my character and emotions, doesn't believe that I know the difference between reality and fantasy, then I have no hope that other people will believe me.
As a writer, I want to share this experience with others. But as a rational person, I dare not. I was terrified of ridicule and the effect it might have on my professional reputation.
I kept this experience in a closet in my mind; hidden, out of sight.
However, over time, other unusual experiences occurred. Some of them included vortices circling above my head and electrical surges going through my body, rendering my phone unusable.
I could no longer ignore them and soon learned that they were considered occult in nature. According to Evelyn Underhill (1915), one of England's most famous Christian mystics, "mysticism is the art of working with reality." Others substitute "God" or "divine" "Reality". In fact, this is what it's like to experience Unity with our creators. From a young age, I attended a Christian church and believed in God, and I never needed proof to maintain my faith. In fact, I didn't expect to receive a certificate and was surprised when I did.
I researched mystical experiences. My findings underscore the need to speak up.
The religious writer Rufus Jones (1930) said, "For every man who writes a book there are hundreds of nameless, silent mystics." It moved me. There must be thousands of people around the world who keep these experiences to themselves, either without access to share them, or in fear of persecution. I realized that in a truly spiritual way, I needed to do two things: face my own fears and share my experiences with others so they didn't feel alone. I feel obligated. Keeping silent doesn't help anyone. "Coming out" will pave the way for others and make conversation possible, if only among other mystics.
My research also highlights the fact that mystical experiences are not exclusive to saints and seers. They don't just happen in the past, either. Writers have been documenting their mystical experiences since time immemorial, including contemporary writers such as Richard Bach and Sophie Burnham.
existbridge forever(1984), Bach wrote about an almost identical experience to mine, only hers happened in broad daylight, and she found love in her partner rather than her child. He wrote:
Light just represents, represents something brighter than light, represents¡ Amal!The thought so strong that it is so strong is an interesting thought feather next to what a great love enveloped me.
Burnham recounted a similar experience at Machu Picchu, Peru (1997):
No one could see the light spilling from her hands and skin. Nobody knows that we all shine like gods with this spiritual stuff, with love.
T. S. Eliot, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Alfred (Lord) Tennyson, Rabindranath Tagore, and Philip Pullman, among others, also had mystical experiences. These experiences are as varied as individuals, from more love and light to experiences of unity consciousness.
Nor are these experiences limited to creatives, but rather their mission to understand the world through words and images. For this reason, mystical writers and artists most often attempt to document these transcendent moments.
I say "intent" because mystical experiences, by their intrinsic nature, go beyond the usual limitations of our bodily senses. The poet T. S. Eliot realized this when he spoke of his mystical visions. These experiences may not be able to communicate verbally to others, he suggested. Also, due to their elusive nature, it can be difficult to remember them afterwards.
Lord Tennyson summed up this limitation in an excerpt from his poem "Two Voices":
"Besides, something is or seems to be touching me with mysterious flashes, like glimpses of forgotten dreams—from nowhere; for there are no words to declare."
John Higgs takes this further in his book on William Blake (2021). He said, "Experiencing a mystical state where you understand that everything is love can be life-changing, but simply being told that everything is love can have as much emotional impact as reading a greeting card."
Passing on these experiences to others can seem mundane and tedious. How do you adequately describe events that others have not acquired empirical knowledge of? It's like describing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to a deaf person, or the colors of a rainbow to a blind person. There is no way to tell about the experience to an audience who lacks the senses and therefore cannot perceive it. While the average person doesn't lack the senses to experience mystical events, it's hard to comprehend if it's beyond any experience you've had so far.
That doesn't bode well for those hoping to come out of the mystery closet. If the average person on the street doesn't understand, any cryptic narrative can be dismissed as a figment of the imagination, just as my ex-husband dismissed my cryptic satire as a dream in 2005.
But let's backtrack for a moment. Recently, the colored LED lights stopped working. A friend helped me test the remote. The remote control uses infrared light waves. Although we are exposed to infrared light waves every day, they are imperceptible to the human eye.
My friend directed me to look at the sensor light on the remote. I can't see any light with my naked eye. He then told me to look at the light from the sensor through the camera lens. Through the lens, I can see flickering lights.
It's a simple example, and while it's not perfect, I think it shows in a way that we're missing a lot. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It just shows that it's beyond the reach of our senses.
Can mystical experiences be similar because they transcend the average human reality? Perhaps it is only in moments of heightened emotion or altered consciousness that we glimpse something beyond. When the way we perceive is intensified, the veil is lifted.
I was theorizing in an effort to justify the experiences when no reason was needed. they arericeReality. Obviously, while I may be out, I still fear retaliation.
Philip Pullman avoided using the word "mysterious" when referring to his own experience, sharing the following in a 2002 lecture to Oxford University:
The whole universe is connected by threads, chains, and domains of meaning, of which I am a part. Each condition lasts about half an hour and then fades away. I almost never talk about it because it seems like such an intimate thing.
It describes what many call the mystical: a transcendent experience of oneness with the universe. I can't help but wonder if the reason he rarely talks about his experiences is because of something other than "privacy". Regardless, it's public now, and by sharing your experience, you can provide motivation for others to share their own stories.
As for me, as of today, I'm officially out. It's time to add another contemporary voice to the roster of authors sharing their mystical experiences. I hope it encourages others not to hide behind these beautiful moments, denying them and making a sound.
Rebecca Colby is an award-winning author, poet and screenwriter. He has published more than forty children's books, most recentlycastle built by kingsyesBeatrice and her bunnies, published in partnership with the National Trust.