A DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF GOD
An Essay in Six Poems

She

SHE

Out of deep meditation
my eyes opened unexpectedly
to see footprints on top of the water
coming rapidly toward me, one, two, three.

Then a naked woman lay down on the ground
and wrapped Her invisible body around me where I sat
on the flat stone facing Squam Lake in New Hampshire.
This was just past Holderness, on Rte. 3.

I turned away from the lake to look at the forest.
Two huge brown eyes six feet apart were looking at me
with infinite love. I could see the trees through Her eyes.
I didn't see Her gentle smile but I could feel it.

“I AM THAT I AM,” She said. The words
in capital letters appeared then faded in front of me.
She was gone.
I shook.

Hours later, picking up pieces of glass from the path
and stowing them in a can, I ran out of room.
“Your container is not large enough,”
She said in a rich alto voice from the air all around me.

In awe and chaos I went back to the house
and got a bigger jar then picked up
all the rest of the broken glass. As I walked to the trash to
throw it out, She said, “I will help you make a larger container.”

She meant a larger me, a me that could contain
the broken glass of the me I used to be, that smaller
me who could not conceive of All That Is
with a woman's voice and a woman's face.


I was badly shaken up for weeks. Despite a deep, personal relationship with what I had always called God or All-That-Is, it had never occurred to me that He could-or would care to!-take a form of one separate thing that could be perceived by the senses. I was far more disturbed by the fact that God took a human form than by showing up as a woman. I didn’t mind the gender, but I preferred the formless. Plus, God was easier to deal with when I did all the talking. Her voice was absolutely divine. Of course I resisted.

The End of It

THE END OF IT

"I don't believe in you,"
I told God when
He showed up
as a naked,

invisible
woman
walking next to me on the path
by the lake in the New Hampshire woods.

"I believe in you,"
She replied,
and vanished
into thick

air the way only an invisible
woman
could: slowly.

Behind my back, the giddy lake giggled like a lady in love.


God began to approach me several times a day, in both dream and waking life. I was like a deer in the woods, ready to bolt and hide inside the fear that I was making it all up. But I couldn't deny the experience of my senses, or that the content of Her words was as unmistakeably God as was the sound of Her voice. Only God talks like God. Occasionally, She showed up as He, but it was the same person no matter which gender. She was always both All-That-Is and Universal Love while, at the same time, this new form so hard for me to deal with: a person, talking to me. Hardest of all, this person She was, was loving me personally. I mean, like, what? How? Wow?

Puppy Love

PUPPY LOVE

I dream a little dog
has an enormous black Shadow.

The Shadow loves the dog so much it follows it everywhere
and mimics its every movement.

It doesn't criticize
the cranky little dog in any way.

"What an infinitely kind way to raise a child,"
I tell God when I wake up.

"You're not my child," He replies.
"You are one with Me."

God completes me
and I complete God

like a puppy
and its Shadow.


Soon after God began talking to me, when I was still mired deep in confusion, I opened a magazine at random and found myself reading an article on Pan-en-theism, which I had never heard of before. "Pantheism" is the belief all things are alive, animated by God or spirit. "Panentheism" is the belief that the Creator is His Creation, and He can step outside it and then enter it again in any form He chooses. It's a paradox because there is no outside of Creation. I was relieved to find out that other people had not only experienced what I had, they had named it. I exhaled for what felt like the first time in weeks. My poor, beleaguered mind could accept my experience once I had a word for what was going on.

No Raincoat

NO RAINCOAT

I dreamed God gave me a massage
starting with my penis and balls
in a perfunctory manner, without arousal,
then moved on down to my inner thighs,
rubbing them with a heavy sponge
that kept filling up with a special kind of water
and needed frequent squeezing out.

My left calf was full of piteous sighs.

My left foot, flat and in pain, partly numb on the outside,
needed special attention. He put away His sponge
and focused on the instep with His all-powerful fingers.
It was more love than I could bear
even when I was asleep and dreaming,
so I fell much more deeply asleep
and entered another dream
like a cave inside the first dream
where God changed into a Roman soldier
and then to just a head in a plumed helmet
that was still somehow applying careful, intelligent pressure to my left foot
despite the heavy drops of sorrow raining from my toes onto His face.

A few days later–when I was wide awake–
God dropped by to do some repair work on my head.
His fingers went to work, kneading my scalp at the crown
as well as the part of the brain that lies an inch beneath it.

God is All That Is, but He is also outside of His creation
so He can step inside it and interfere
whenever He feels like it, in whatever form He chooses.
(So be careful what you say to strangers.)

Anyway, when God showed up to work on my crown
He was wearing a raincoat for a joke. My left foot
had rained on his face; He wanted to be ready.

Tonight He dropped by the house before I went to bed
and sewed the two of us together, until the top of my head
was connected to the top of His like Siamese twins.

"God," I said, confused, "Why are we joined
at the pineal? And why are you upside down above me?"
I didn't mean to be critical, but I could hear it in my voice.

The drip, drip, drip of heavy rain
on the upturned face of a forest
was His only answer.

I felt so loved I began to cry.
My tears fell down
like little rain.

My Beloved

MY BELOVED

"Someone is with me,"
I said to the crowd of cinnamon ferns.

"She is here,"
I said to the weeping spruce.

I threw up my arms in joy and shouted to the trees,
"She is in the sun, in the grass, and in the everything else."

A hush like falling snow descended
over the hot summer day in the garden.

"I am All That Is," She said,
vibrating the air with the sound of a woman in love.

"I Am My Creation.
I can enter it in any form I choose."

"How do you do that?"
I asked, perplexed by paradox.

"I am God.
I can do anything."

Her invisible form
faded into the sound of birds

singing
of Her endless love.


As the months went by and the conversations got longer, I began to ask God for comments on my life and decisions. Her insights were startlingly unlike anything I would have thought; like rays of penetrating light, to be exact. I decided to try following her suggestions, strictly as an experiment. It felt like a great risk to follow the guidance of an invisible voice; like surrendering authority, even though we were both always clear that She was only giving me information, and I was choosing whether or not to act on it. God's respect for my choices is so high She never insists on belief or even acknowledgement, let alone that I obey her. She is love, and love means respect, first.

She rigorously honored my sense of independence which is so fierce it verges on jealous paranoia. She only answered the questions I asked, only told me what I needed to know, and wouldn't answer a question at all if I needed to find the answer myself. So I didn't have to worry about getting stupefied by idiotic true-believer dependence. Which I was, of course.

The results were, well, divine. I was able to grow much more rapidly into greater love and power without having to use my old way, the "push until it really, really hurts, then change" method. I looked back after a few months of my experiment in following God, and realized that her guidance had been 100% accurate.

"So far," She teased.

"No, I mean it. You're always right. Everything you've ever told me is true."

"Of course it is," She replied. "I am Truth."

After a year, I realized I had to go all the way. For my own peace of mind, I needed to stop testing God and surrender to Her completely.

Of my own free will, in sound mind and body, I chose the path of commitment, devotion, humility . . . and obedience.

"Thy will, not mine, be done," I said.

"Thank you," She said.

Freedom

FREEDOM

My mother used to tie me to the clothesline
So I could run back and forth the whole length of the yard
Without running away and getting lost.
This was in Carrot River, Saskatchewan.
I was two.
I loved the backyard and the weedy dirt
But as soon as she clicked shut the catch that
Attached the rope that went from my little harness to the clothesline
I sat my fat bottom down on the ground and howled
Until the neighbors came out to see who was being murdered.

She had to let me go for decency's sake.

My mother tried to keep me close beside her in the house
But as soon as the phone rang or the oven timer dinged
I was out the screen door and down the street to the filling station
Where I scooted under a car to lie on my back next to the friendly mechanic.
He showed me what he was doing with his big hands and heavy tools
To the dark, dirty innards of the automobile hanging mutely above me
While I soaked up heaven: grit, the smell of oil and gas,
Men's voices, the roar of engines, and no mother.

Several times a week she had to come down to the garage and haul me home
Covered in dirt, snot, and grease, bawling with fury to be confined again.

Fifty-five years later,
God asked me, in Her rich, deep, alto voice,
"Daniel. Will you give me your freedom?"

"Yes," I said, and clicked shut handcuffs of symbolic chain
No one could ever break, not even me. I held out my wrists
To show God I had imprisoned myself in Her name.

"Then I give you yours," She said, and dissolved them.

Freely I obey My Beloved,
Every second,
Every joy.