by Michael McGinnis
One of the most memorable events of my childhood was the night I saw God. At least that's what I thought at the time. I was about 4 years old, living in Tahsis, B.C., and I had woken up in the middle of the night. I turned on the light by my bed and looked through the open doorway of my bedroom into the hall. Then a bearded man, dressed in a white robe, walked by my doorway down the hall. He didn't look at me in the room. The most religious thing I could think of to do at that moment was pull the covers up over my head and pray that nothing would pull them off me. But the next morning I had recovered from the fright and reported excitedly to my parents about my important, though brief, visitor.
I wonder how many other people have extraordinary experiences like this — which are clearly not dreams or hallucinations for them — and tell no one of them for fear of ridicule. Or perhaps these special events lessen in importance as time passes and we settle more into the ways of this world and lose our childhood dreams. My guess is that many of us, maybe even most of us, have had exceptional encounters of some kind, though most are lost to our memory now or even to our conscious awareness when they happened.
When small children tell their parents about something special which is not from our everyday world, that does not mean it is not real! We should encourage our children to tell us about their experiences; we might learn something ourselves. God knows how much the innocence of their dreams is needed by adults who can't move their attentions away from their problems in this world.
My nocturnal visitor had a strong effect on me, as he intended. I took Sunday School very seriously, and for several years I thought about God quite a lot. He had started me on a path of development in life that continues yet. That brief visit had an air of significance to me, of being connected to truth — enough so, that a two second passing encounter left me searching for a way to return to that uniqueness. Could that type of experience be one I could have again, particularly when, as an adult, I would not necessarily have to hide under the covers? I wanted to bring profound experiences like that to me, rather than wait for another miracle to happen, which it might not do. As a young child this thought didn't occur to me, but I did start thinking about this later on.
Each of us faces the same question. What are we to make of this life? How do we understand it, and what do we do with it? We are all searching for the answers. Christmas is the time of year that celebrates one answer to that search that we all engage in when we are fully alive. I wish you every success in your search! As a child I started my search for truth, and for God, impelled by a very strange event. Whatever the event is in your life that makes you seek truth, you honor it by doing your best to find the answers to the riddle of your own life. The temporary shock and fright I had as a child diminished into insignificance alongside the wonder of the event since then. The person I saw then was a spiritual traveler, something like a saint, who can appear to people to change their lives in a positive way. He certainly changed mine, and I thank him for it!