After my baptism, the world was beautiful and wondrous.  It didn’t stay that way.  I believe that we get glimpses of God’s reality during spiritual experiences that let us know we are not alone.  But we always have to go back to real life, strengthened by that memory, but thrust back into life’s struggles.  I could still connect to that heightened perception during intense prayer, but day-to-day life went back to pretty much normal.

            Ah, but prayer itself!  How changed that was.  I felt wrapped up in the air, cradled by it.  It wasn’t until my Torah class in university that I learned why.  The word for Spirit in Hebrew is also the word for Wind and Breath.  So, the Spirit of God in Genesis is also the Wind of God and the Breath of God.  No wonder God speaks to let the Spirit make Creation, “Let there be light!”  You need breath to speak.

            So, I believe I was connected to the Spirit after my baptism.  But that connection grew every time I prayed.  Often, when I was confused or troubled, I would know what to do after I prayed.  I had a sense of the actions I had to take. 

            That summer I went away to work, and I dated Faith.  In the autumn I left for university.  There, miserable without her, I contemplated dropping out of school, giving up on life.  It was childish and immature, but I saw no point to existence without her.  I turned to God in prayer at this time, and my life was changed.

            “I give up!”  I cried out.  “I don’t care anymore!  I don’t want this life!  You need to take it and make it yours, or end it, because I’m done with trying.  Show me what I’m supposed to do, or make it all stop.  Please.”

            This last word was almost a whimper.  I was so tired.  My freshman year had been one of loneliness and depression, made worse by arson at our church and the death of my uncle, with many other events in between.  Someday I may tell that story, but what is relevant is what happened during that prayer.

            I felt the stirring, a wind inside me, and it pushed me to the ground.  The burden on my shoulders had become crushing, all my terror and depression suddenly made physical.  It was as if an invisible hand was holding me down and I began to panic.  I could hardly breathe.  My fingers pressed against the red carpet, and I became supremely aware of every bristle against my skin.  I struggled and got nowhere.  My own strength was insignificant.

            I almost panicked.  Only the awareness that it was the same wind, the same Spirit, kept me from madness.  It was trying to tell me something.  My strength was insignificant, sure.  But God’s strength was always sufficient.  I had been trying to do it all myself.  I surrendered, and stopped fighting.

            The pressure eased, and suddenly I was not kneeling in fear, but in joy.  I felt surrounded by peace and calm.  My arms, pressed against the floor, slid outwards of their own accord.  My legs followed, and then I twisted, rolling onto my back.  The Spirit was moving me.  I felt it stirring in the very fibre of my being.  I knew who I belonged to.  I stood up and walked, sure in that knowledge.

            I find it no coincidence that the path I was led down in the year after that prayer led inexorably to the desert.

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