One of the favorite things about my life in recent years is a growing diversity of friendships. I have friends of every color and creed across six continents, representing many religions, as well as atheists and agnostics. I’m not just talking about acquaintances. These are actual friends. People I care about.
In a world where I can share a message in daily writings at the push of a button, it creates an interesting balancing act to share a mainstream message in a group that’s so different.
Upsetting someone with a dogmatic point of view wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but it’s not what my voice is about. I’m not a big believer in walls. I like people who are different from me. There’s comfort in a big tent.
The challenge is that I do, in fact, have a pretty dogmatic “religious” perspective that’s the very foundation of who I am, and also how I see the world. Still yet, I’d never beat anyone over the head with it. Plenty others have gone that route. It doesn’t work. We all know it.
There’s a juxtaposition for an objective journalist who also likes to write from the heart. How I “say” what I write is a constant source of inner conflict. It keeps me up at night.
Finally, know this: If you’re gracious enough to visit this site and read, I care enough about you that I’d never lead you astray. I’d never share anything with you that isn’t true. This really happened.
Now, on with the story …
In Spring 2009, my depression reached critical mass. I hadn’t worked at a real job for six months, carried some heavy relational baggage, and the truth is, I thought I was going to hell for eternity. I believed God erased my name from the book. I’d been taught better. In fact, I knew better. But that’s how depression, and the enemy work. They strike at the very heart of your greatest vulnerability. Completely without purpose now, I can’t convey for you in words how much my heart hurt. I was broken.
I’d taken mostly to the safety of our home where I could keep the doors and windows closed. Walking to the mailbox was a big deal when I could force it. The yard went unmowed. I rarely took out the trash. Sleep was the best escape when I could manage it.
Dana walked me through the greatest part of it all and did the things that needed to be done. She joined me in a nap one weekday afternoon as the rest of the world did normal stuff. Unusually peaceful, no tossing or turning, I faded off.
What happened next wasn’t a dream. I’ve had dreams. This wasn’t one. It took me years to actually put words to it. This was an all-encompassing, seamless experience with no boundaries or definition. It was an otherly realm.
I found myself in a man’s arms, holding me as if a child. He was seated on a big rock, just holding me. There was no verbal exchange. It wasn’t necessary. We were completely at peace together. He rocked me gently and stroked my arm. I was so content. Finally. Some rest.
It was Jesus.
Moments later my focus shifted as he reached to the ground and picked up a large, flat object. I recognized it as a piece of natural slate. You could have written on it with a piece of chalk.
With his palm and forearm, Jesus reached to one side of the rock, and made a slow, smooth, purposeful motion across it, as if to wipe the slate clean. We still didn’t speak, but I understood. And that was it.
There was no time, space or dimension to any of it. I’m giving you the best words I have, though they seem completely inadequate.
I woke up, still very much at peace wondering if I’d really just experienced what I thought. Was that a vision? Now, seven years later, I’m convinced that’s exactly what it was.
God works in mysterious ways. I’m not sure why He shared that experience with me, in that way, and at that time. I think it maybe it was because He knew in my own free will I might’ve done something really stupid. And He wasn’t finished with me yet. Not here. Not yet.
It took me five years to share that story with anyone, and until now it’s only been shared with two people. It was an experience so genuine and pure I felt it might somehow be diminished if I talked out loud about it. Or maybe people would just think I’m crazy. Of course, Dana was the first. She didn’t think I was crazy. She understood. The second was my Camino de Santiago pilgrim friend, Naomi.
Galicia is the last of the three distinct geographic regions on the Camino. It’s spectacular country. As we transitioned gradually from the Meseta into Galicia, I noticed little bits along the roadway in the beginning. Then they became much larger. Then there were fences and rooftops and buildings constructed from it.
There was slate everywhere.
It looked just like the slate in my vision. I couldn’t help but think how significant it was to see clean slate everywhere as I walked the final steps to Santiago. Yes, God works in mysterious ways, indeed.
A clean slate.
For me, that story represents the power of this day.