Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mystical Experience

"That you are here--that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse."
~~ From "O Me! O Life!" by Walt Whitman

I remember being at work a few years ago and being jolted by an experience that thrust me into discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood. It was not the type of mystical experience that is characterized by the serenity and ecstasy that so many mystics recount, but rather it was an acute, and profound awareness that I existed, that the universe existed, and that the words from Scripture were not mere symbols on paper, but living, inexorable testamentations of the existence of God. I automatically associated this experience with the image of Jesus Christ, and his mother Mary.

I was outside in the open when this experience occurred, and the sky was clear and blue. Having always possessed an interest in the dialogue between science and religion, I looked up at the sky began to ponder the vast, incomprehensible immensity of all Creation. The idea that I should travel this universe until the end of time, for eons and eons and eons and find no end to it was both mesmerizing and terrifying, for I became cognizant of the fact that I was dealing with qualities infinitely more powerful than I was. I know this is going to sounds silly and exaggerated, but for sometime after this initial experience I was unable to look up at the sky without apprehension.

I have never shared this story with anyone before, not even with my vocations' director, Father Tony. Although the sensation of the experience eludes me, off and on the experience returns but with a variation of the original experience, and maybe not quite as powerful. But these "openings" (to paraphrase Reynolds Price) can surge at any given moment, even while doing the most medial of tasks, and they no longer have to happen in the outdoors.

Today, one of these similar experiences surfaced while I was at a bookstore reaching for a book. It was like waking from a deep sleep. These words rang profoundly in me and left me semi-concussed: "I am here. He exists. Life is not a dream."

If you've ever had an experience that you would describe as mystical, please share.


paramedicgirl said...

Tom, maybe you are supposed to be a priest. Should I start praying for your voation?

paramedicgirl said...

Oops, first day with my new fingers! I meant vocation.

Kimberly said...

What a neat experience you had. I will pray that you find the meaning of this and what God wants from you.

I have never had such an experience, but feel God is there and is letting me know often.

About 6 years ago, I was working for the Visiting Nurse as a Hospice Nurse. I was driving out in the country and came to a secluded county road that lead to the next big town. On the corner was an old man holding a sign that said,"Will work for food." I found it odd that this older man would be on a secluded road with little traffice with his sign. I thought perhaps he was not able to walk very far and that is why he did make it to the road a mile up that was busier.
Anyway, knowing it was just a few miles to the next big town I thought I would go and grap my lunch and lunch (dinner, few snacks, water bottles) for this man and drop it off to him.
I did just that and when I pulled up to give him the food he smiled the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. His eyes were glowing--just like when they say you can see the soul of someone through their eyes, I could see his soul and knew he was a good man. He said to me, "Bless you my child." He then stood there as I did a u-turn in the road to head to my next patients home. It took me all of 20 seconds to do the u-turn and when I was in the direction again that I would be able to see the old man and wave to him ---he was gone. He was not there. I drove further down the road, looked up and down the side of the road, he was just gone as if he vanished in this air.

To this day, I truly believe that was Christ on the side of the road. I have never forgotten his face or his words.
I truly believe it was Christ on that country road waiting for me to pass.

I know that is not like your experience, but I thought I would share it.

"Be still and know that I am God!!"" Wow, God has a wonderful way of showing us He is there.

God bless and know you are in my prayers.

Blessed be God forever!

Rosary for life!!


Tracy said...

Great Post Tom!!!

Kirk said...

A nice post Tom.
Okay I will share something as you asked.
I was in Florence with AGA and with my mother. We went to one of the many churches there to listen to a concert (which incidentally was lovely).
Even though we were at a concert we were still in God's house and so knelt and said our prayers prior to sitting down.
As I finished and was sitting back down I distinctly heard a interior voice say:
'I died for you too, you know.'
It gave me such a start that I turned to see who had said it and found myself staring at a large, realistic Baroque crucifix that had been placed behind glass near to where I sat.
I asked AGA and my mother if they heard anyone say anything just then but they assured they had not and there was just the low murmur of voices in the background. Instead of any nervousness I felt only comfort and to remind myself of the experience I took a photo of the crucifix which came out a little on the dark side but I don't mind. I might post it on my blog one of these days.
I haven't share that with anyone either before now . . .

Jennifer said...

These may not classify as mystical but they were life altering experiences.

1. My son was conceived when I was on Accutane. I was not Catholic yet. I wore the miraculous medal and prayed the rosary every day. Dr's suggested I abort. My son is perfectly healthy. I know why.

2. I almost died once. Someone found me in a store and called for help. I felt very warmth and loved. Surrounded by it. I felt like an angel was there watching me. I remember looking up and seeing a nurse I know in the ER. I realized that angels are humans too.

3. After not going to confession for a long time I went. After when I was walking through the parking lot in the dead of winter I could smell roses. It brought an immediate sense of peace to me. I looked, there were no roses growing (of course, they don't grow in snow!) and no windows open either. The smell continued until I got into my car. I know where that smell was.

There's been many times in my life when something has happened and changed me right away. I know it was signs and interventions from God. Personally I find these things bring me closer to Him and give me a sense of peace and being loved.

Kimberly said...

You know when I was pregnant for my third child, I had a tumor on my placenta. They had to watch me very closely since the tumor could take the blood supply from the baby. Well, do you know that at my 5 month ultrasound to see if the tumor was growing they found it to be gone. Of course, I was praying hard and wearing my miraculous medat. I also asked everyone to pray for my baby. My doctor was amazed since he had never seen anything like this before. I was blessed to have a CAtholic, pro-life doctor and to be in one of the most pro-life hosptials in the country at the time.

AFter that, we moved to NY (very liberal here) and I lived here 11 days when my daughter was born 10 weeks early. They gave her 20% chance to make it. I prayed so hard, my other children prayed hard (my oldest prayed to St. Jude) and my mother-in-law prayed to St. Gianna. We had all the children at our former Catholic school praying for her as well. I have to say that today I have a brignt eyed and sweet 4 year old daughter named Maria Rose. She loves the Blessed Mother. I know that she is a living miracle and example that God is all around me and my family.
God Bless and thanks for sharing your story!
Blessed Be God forever!

Melody K said...

Our parish church is an old building with a choir loft. That's where I sit most of the time since I sing in the choir. It often seems that one can feel the prayers, almost like an updraft, rising like incense. One Sunday as we were reciting the Creed, I had a feeling of being united to all who had said those words of profession of faith, and all who ever would say them. It was a moment out of time. I don't know that I would call it a mystic experience, but it made a lasting impression on me. Next to the Consecration the Creed is my favorite part of Mass.

Tom in Vegas said...


I would be a fool to say no to you. By all means, pray for me, and I thank you for being so good-hearted.


I LOVE your story about the old man. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? I'm also taken back by the fact that your doctor was pro-life AND Catholic. What an unbeatable combination! Please tell me that the hospital in which you were treated is as still pro-life now as it was back then (I’m almost afraid to know).

BTW, I'm relieved that your baby came through o.k.


What a beautiful story, my friend. I thank you for sharing it with me. You are most fortunate to have been able to attend so many beautiful Churches in Europe!


"I felt very warmth and loved." Many people who have come close to death have reported similar experiences. In these same cases, the fear was taken completely out of dying.


“I had a feeling of being united to all who had said those words of profession of faith...”

Your experiences come much closer than mine to meeting the classic characteristics many mystics have reported. There is often the sensation of becoming part of a unified whole, and feeling no longer a part of time. My experience was also imbued with a sense of feeling a perpetual present as well. Thank you for sharing your story with me:0)

Shirley said...

No mystical experiences for me; just a profound sense of joy when I am in the Real Presence and when I pray properly.Tom, can you be an architect and a priest? I too will pray for discernment of God's will for you.

Tom in Vegas said...


Thank you:0)