A Memorable Epiphany
Epiphany: "A moment of sudden intuitive understanding; flash of insight; a scene, experience, etc. that occasions such a moment." -Webster's Dictionary
Throughout my life I have often asked myself, "What is freedom?"
I know I am free as long as I obey the laws of the land. Yet, I have been curious to learn more about myself and why, at times, I have not felt totally free. Little did I know the answer would slowly emerge on a Saturday in early April.
This particular Saturday my friend, Jackie, and I, had made arrangements to go on a day trip to a quaint town located in the Pocono mountains.
Prior to this weekend I had read a short excerpt in a magazine that contained a few paragraphs from a book titled, "The Practice Of The Presence Of God," written in the 1600's by a monk named Brother Lawrence. Although I had no desire to become a nun, or to spend my life in a monastery, I had become captivated by Brother Lawrence's claim that he had discovered the secret of the cultivation of a continual sense of God's Presence. I was drawn to his words because I secretly longed to hear a whisper from God and feel that kind of freedom for myself.
I also wanted to find the book. However, my efforts to locate a name and address of the publisher had been unsuccessful.
Jackie and I left around 8:30 a.m. I loved the scenery as we crossed the state line between New York and Pennsylvania. Shortly after a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and pancakes we arrived in the Pocono Mountains. We spotted an old house nestled at the bottom of a hilly driveway with a sign, "Kelly's Antiques."
We entered the building through two wooden doors with stained glass windows. Inside the house were shiny wooden floors covered with all kinds of antique furniture. The environment was charming and tranquil. Upstairs, I admired brass beds, hat boxes from years ago resting on mahogany and maple dressers, as well as, lace scarves and perfume bottles from the 1800s.
Downstairs the owner sat on one of the sofas reading a book. We made eye contact, and we smiled at each other.
We then approached a large room in the back with four awesome windows arched at the top. I stood in front of the window on my far left. Outside, I saw a babbling brook with water streaming forth, sparkling in the sunshine. Bare trees surrounding the water were ready to burst forth with leaf shoots at any time. The brook, sunlight and blue sky framed by the window were beyond breathtaking.
As I listened to a Johnny Mathis tape playing softly in the background, suddenly, I felt as if I were being uplifted into another world, totally unaware of what was going on around me. For a very brief second, I was in Heaven and in touch with God.
The owner gave me permission to take a photo of the babbling brook. As soon as we got into the car, I made a notation in my journal of what I considered to be a magnificent moment in time.
We then went to a bookstore. While Jackie explored another area of the store, I approached a round wire rack full of paperback books. However, I kept thinking about our visit to the antique house. I could not get over the intense feeling of peace I experienced looking out that window.
Glancing at a small paperback book, my eyes widened when I read the title, "The Practice Of The Presence Of God" by Brother Lawrence. Astounded, I picked it up. A phrase flashed through my mind, "I give you the desires of your heart, even when you don't ask." I recalled I never did ask God for assistance in finding the book. Instantly, I knew this was a confirmation that the Holy Spirit was constantly in control of my life.
I purchased the book, and I shared my experience with Jackie. When I arrived home around dinner time, I spotted a letter lying on the kitchen table written by my pen pal, Dalton, from Tennessee. We had been corresponding for five years. I opened his letter, and I read the following words:
"In my prayer time for you, I saw you and Jesus walking along a pathway by a BABBLING BROOK. You were talking animatedly, and He was listening. After you walked a long way, He stopped and gave you a long hug. You both disappeared in a glorious ball of pure light. It was fantastic. I almost cried with joy."
Was it a coincidence I received his letter SEEING me by a BABBLING BROOK the same day I took a photo of one?
Years have since passed. The book by Brother Lawrence has been read so many times that duct tape now covers the binding. One day, with the approach of Spring, I decided to review my journal entries regarding that special event. I had forgotten I pasted my photos alongside the story.
I stared at the photo of the trees with the babbling brook in the background of the antique store. Suddenly, on the far right of the picture, I saw it - a small angel, sitting on the branch of one of the trees. Her face was not visible, but she was holding a tiny ball of light in her hands. I immediately remembered the words in my pen pal's letter to me, "You both disappeared in a glorious ball of pure light..."
"I wonder if I should share this?" I asked myself out loud, always concerned about what others might think. At that moment, a clear, inaudible Voice said, "You will know when it is time."
I called Jackie, and I told her about the picture. She came over the same day. She, too, spotted the angel in the photo.
The next day the alarm clock startled me at 4:30 a.m. Feeling energetic, I put on my sweat suit, raised the kitchen blinds and checked the temperature outside. Snow had fallen overnight.
I began my half-hour walk at 5:05 a.m. All was still except for the crunching sound of my feet in the snow. Fifteen minutes passed, and I began backtracking from my original route. As I looked at the imprints I had left in the snow, it struck me that if they had belonged to someone else, and I tried to walk in them, I still could not be that person. At the same time, I had no right to expect someone else to walk in my footsteps, to think the way that I do.
It was time to share my experience in the Pocono Mountains. I submitted my story to author Kay Allenbaugh, and she included it in her book, "Chocolate For A Woman's Dreams," published in 2001.
I now know what freedom is. I do not have to hide my Light under a bushel, nor does anyone else. If I have a story to tell, I will do so without concern for what others may think. True freedom is to allow others to be themselves and for me to do the same.