When the Universe calls – Answer
Since the dawn of time, humans have sought the divine. Humanity has always had a dual nature – intellectual and spiritual. These twin poles are the magnetic field of the human spirit. Spirit, which is derived from breath, animates life. And it is this nonphysical somethingness that inspires all human ingenuity and spirituality. Perhaps it is symbolic communication that distinguishes us most from other animals. In this way, language can be simultaneously humanity’s most sacred and profane creation. God must have been one of the words created in any language. The ancient etymology of the word God includes the concept of invoking: to call upon with earnestness. How do you know when God answers your sincere entreaties? You will know, because God speaks in your voice.
The title of this post comes from personal experience. Months ago I was talking with my wife about faith, and I told her I did not have to believe because I know. This is the core of my faith which is not organized around any exclusive religious doctrines, but is grounded instead in knowing there is a supreme spirit. Once again, however you label this celestial presence is blessedly up to you to decide. Whatever attracts your spirit is sacred to you. We shouldn’t allow terminology to prevent us from expressing ourselves. I know there is a divine Universe which responds to our fervent prayers, because I have experienced it directly. In movies the voice of God is usually a gravelly, authoritative baritone who intones in lofty ways about the bigness of things. Many famous actors have portrayed the voice of God: Morgan Freeman, Charlton Heston, Graham Chapman. But God speaks not through the ear but through the heart and in your voice. And like billions of people, God first spoke to me in a time of desperate need.
Years ago, I was laying on the couch, running the day’s events through my head. In our old two bedroom house with a basement, I slept on the couch so that each of my kids could have their own private space. Without warning, my heart began to pound wildly like a fish flopping on a drum-head. The pain was immediate and terrifying. I gasped for air in little sips. My limbs seemed to petrify. I rolled onto my side hoping that would offer some relief.
Deeper pain pierced my upper chest. Lightning exploded behind my eyes. Fragmented images of my life tore through my frightened mind. The white hot iron spear in my chest drove away the memories. Gruesome electric tendrils slithered across my clammy torso. The veins in my neck stiffened. My heart fluttered in random palpitations. The chaotic heartbeats sent my mind reeling away. In growing crimson-tipped terror, I cried out into the darkness. Somehow, I remembered reading one should cough as a sort of crude self-CPR. Mercifully, the coughing spasms triggered a calming reaction. The pounding in my skull fell silent. It was as if it a red-hot iron had been plunged into cool water.
I took a minute before sliding my feet over the edge of the couch and sitting upright. The pain eased. My breathing grew deeper. The iron band around my chest loosened. My heart’s erratic beat slowed and became regular. My eyes burned from tears. Until then I had not realized I had been crying.
Is this how it ends? Is this my fate? How can this be all there is?
In the rush of life returning, countless thought-fragments exploded into being and ricocheted around my quavering mind. In a profound moment of clarity, a single word manifested from out of nothingness – CHANGE.
The word Change – entered my mind from the Universe beyond consciousness. It was as if the word had lain dormant until touched by a ray of light. The voicelessly uttered word awoke from my heart into my mind. A point of pure light illuminated the latent path ahead. From that moment, I swore to try and find my true course across the untrammeled ever-unfolding landscape ahead.
The next day I bought nicotine patches and ceremoniously tossed my last cigarettes into the garbage. After a couple weeks, my children noticed I was humming to myself more often. My sweet kids applauded my decision to stop smoking. They diplomatically suggested I change my diet too while I was at it. They will always be my greatest blessing. Over the next year, I lost sixty-five pounds. Whenever my coworkers asked how I lost weight, I said simply, “Eat with chopsticks and get moving”. Meaning switch from an all Western diet. But diet alone is not enough, you must change your lifestyle towards healthier alternatives. During this time, I dove deeper into Eastern philosophy, art and meditation, allowing my spiritual nature to blossom.
A couple of years later, the Great Recession had begun. I found myself trying to cobble together a way forward after losing my job. I grasped at freelance jobs, and worked at night in a parking lot. The breaking point on that job came when a mentally unstable co-worker hanged himself in the break room. The horrible after-images of scuff marks on the wall and strange drawings troubled my mind for a long time. At the same time, I had to try anything to make ends meet. But they seldom met. It was the most turbulent time in my life. The ten-thousand stresses coalesced into a cruel boulder under which my spirit was slowly being crushed. The full weight of life came crashing down one fateful day.
I was cleaning the basement when I experienced my second major coronary catastrophe. My legs buckled. Blackness began to creep along the edges of my vision. After several painful breaths, I was lying supine on the cold cement floor. I called out to what I can only call the divine force. I cast my soul into the timeless Void and was delivered from oblivion. A loving presence enveloped me. In an instant, the hammer blows to my chest stopped. An ethereal hand reached into my chest. Divine energy gently cradled my heart as a warm clarifying flow washed away the suffering. The cataclysm in my spasming heart calmed. A soothing warmth spread throughout my body. It was as if my very soul was cleansed. Once again transcendent words emanated from the center of my consciousness – you will be okay. Thereafter, when faced with adversity, I knew I was not alone.
From that day to this, I have had faith in what I simply call the Universe. The same omniscient and omnipresent energy flows through all sacred texts under a multitude of names. For millennia, various wise teachers, sacred texts and inspirational artists have illuminated many redeeming paths. Everyone should explore the incredible richness of humanity’s spiritual and intellectual treasure. We must find common ground with one another. We live on a planet with over 7.8 billion people. In these troubling times, we all need to find ways to make our shared home more peaceful. With 7,800,000,000 voices of God calling out with love and compassion, we can change our world. Peace and Love to you all.