Verbal descriptions of spiritual experiences cannot capture the wonder of them. I have no words large enough or rich enough to communicate the vision that came to me. It was not a physical vision. But, nonetheless, it was as lucid and as real as anything I have seen with my physical eyes. The best description I have for it is that it was of a heavenly court. Not angels exactly as we think of them. But heavenly beings with light emanating from them and all around. And in the midst of them all, there was a being of the most exquisite, overwhelming love.Becoming a Sun p. 4
This text from the preface of my book shares an experience I had as a young man. I’ve never had a near-death experience, but I imagine it might be similar. For me, it was like a dream, yet I was fully awake.
The Pew Research Center reports that about half of the U.S. public has a religious or mystical experience, which they define as a “moment of sudden religious insight or awakening.” I can’t speak for what anyone else might experience. I just know that what I saw changed my life, and it has never left me.
Even writing about it now, feelings of awe overwhelm me. I grasp for words to characterize it…holy, sacred, majestic. But they hardly touch what it was. Such experiences transcend religion and human spirituality or any attempt to define what happened in human terms.
In this Christmas season, there is so much about it that can seem tired and old. I listen to some Christmas songs and think, I’ve already reached my lifetime quota for hearing that one.
But still, I imagine that there were people on that first Christmas day who had an experience like mine. Some were common people, shepherds, who heard angels’ voices and saw a heavenly light. Some were wise men from the east. (My guess is Persia.) Of course, there were the mother and father at the center of the miracle. And the human heart yearns to touch that mystery at this time of year.
On this Christmas Eve, I affirm that our mystical experiences are true. We don’t have to define, interpret, or justify them to anyone. And we certainly must not deny them to ourselves. If we allow them to, they define us and what our life is all about.
Every human being is already a sun on the inside—a being of intense love and light. The difference is that some people have the vision and courage to become a sun on the outside. This difference is our human destiny.