Transmissions come in many ways. Weird lights in the desert brush for Moses, circles of multi-colored fire in the sky for Ezekiel, a column of fire for the wanderers in the desert. Baffling lights over the desert highway, the road to Damascus. The beam of pink light that set off years of strange visions and prophecies in Philip K. Dick.
The Virgin of Fatima was an entity of blinding white light, speaking wordlessly to three shepherd children, promising a miracle for the masses on October 13, 1917. When tens of thousands arrived at this Portuguese town, on this overcast day with rain drenching the crowd as it stood in the puddles and the mud, they witnessed a brilliant spinning disc overhead. An eyewitness described the encounter:
“This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamor was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament, and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible.”The testimony of attorney José Garrett.
Reporters from Paris and London witnessed the bizarre phenomena, which included the muddy pastures and standing rainwater turning to warm dry ground in a matter of minutes. The sodden clothing of the multitudes was instantly dried by the intense heat radiated by the spinning disc hovering just above the forty thousand, many of them recoiling from the spectacle, many more kneeling in prayer or wailing in terror. The Great War, World War I, would begin the following summer—16 million people would die in the trenches, and by genocide and starvation. Another 50 million people would lose their lives to the Spanish flu.
Illumination is the beginning of enlightenment. Long before Thomas Edison claimed credit for inventing the light bulb, a beam of light or brilliant flame from a candle or lantern illustrated discovery, knowledge, wisdom, initiation.
We must learn to recognize the divine, especially when it appears in mundane clothes. Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright who led his nation to freedom from the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, describes in Letters To Olga how he was sitting in a prison yard, staring idly at a tree he had seen hundreds of times before, when the sunlight struck the leaves in the breeze in such a way that he went into a trance. He was forever changed. But not completely: He had already chosen the hard road. He was an acclaimed author turned human-rights activist, to the point that his political action robbed him of a comfortable life, and had made him a prisoner in a prison yard, while his nation suffocated. The encounter with the divine gave him new strength:
“I felt a sense of reconciliation, of an almost gentle consent to the inevitable course of things as revealed to me now, and this combined with a carefree determination to face what had to be faced. In that moment, I would even say that I was somehow struck by love, though I don’t know precisely for whom or what.”
Decades later, having fulfilled his destiny and returned to private life, Havel described how such encounters “slumber in our collective unconscious.”
“These experiences surface again and again in the cultural achievements of humanity—and often in individual human experiences as well. In a way that we scarcely understand, they transcend what a person might know in himself or inherit from his ancestors. It seems rather as if something like an antenna were picking up signals from a physically indeterminable transmitter that contains the experience of the entire human race.”
Until next time, be mindful of your antenna.
Music for this episode composed and performed by RedBlueBlackSilver in Joshua Tree, California.