Alley of the Unseen Forces

My earliest childhood memory is of a haunting mystical experience I had when I was in first grade. One morning, as I was getting ready to go to school, I experienced a deep sense of panic at the thought of returning to the ridicule and laughter I was receiving from my fellow classmates because of my stutter. Walking down the block with the other kids, the dread became unbearable. I turned the corner and slipped behind some tall bushes. As I watched the other kids going to school, I started to calm down. After a while, the street was empty. I slowly got up, turned down our back alley, and walked back to my house. I snuck into the garage, took my bicycle, and rode off, feeling the urgency of escape. After riding through the neighborhood for a while, I turned down an alley and suddenly stopped.

Autumn leaves swirled around the cracked pavement of the alley, being blown in spiraling waves by the strong Midwestern winds. White billowing clouds swiftly rolled across the bright blue sky above, and the electric power lines gently hummed around me. In an instant all my pains and fears vanished and I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Somehow I felt the power and beauty of the unseen forces at play all around me, and I sensed a presence of something vast and deep and unknown around me and within me. A feeling of safety and peace filled me, and I stood there for what seemed like hours.

Over the years, I have returned to this memory over and over; bathing in the gravity of that experience; and remembering to open to the unseen forces at play in every moment, both within me and all around me.

*Excerpt from Original Gravity: A Personal Narrative Theology Inquiry into the Experience of Seeking, Receiving, and Following Divine Guidance by Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.

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