A Holy Encounter
In writing this, I am attempting a truly impossible task. I am attempting to describe a personal revelatory experience in words. As the book: ‘A Course in Miracles’ states: Revelation is intensely personal and cannot be meaningfully translated. That is why any attempt to describe it in words is impossible. Revelation induces only experience. My description is therefore doomed to failure. I don’t even know why I am attempting it. But I always was a sucker for attempting the impossible!
In the past, I have never been willing to write about this experience because it was so intensely personal. I didn’t even mention it to my wife (in whom I confide everything) for three days. After 22 years, much heart searching and with considerable diffidence, I now commit the details to print for the first time.
First of all, I must explain that I have suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) for some 35 years. I now have this thoroughly under control, largely as a result of my own efforts and I have written a book about my adventures.
So here goes with my story: It was December 23, 1976. I was by myself in our sitting room. My sons were in the kitchen with their mother, preparing for the Christmas festivities. I was having a particularly bad day with the ME and was also in the middle of a bad bout of ‘flu, which had reached its climax. I had just about enough energy to watch television. I remember that the programme changed to one called ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ – a particularly boring serial. But I simply didn’t have enough energy to get up to change channels (we didn’t have a remote control in those days).
At that point, I remember quite clearly deciding that I had had enough and that I wasn’t going to struggle any more. I would give in completely and spend the rest of my life in bed watching TV. Looking back on those last two sentences, I realise that they don’t even begin to describe my state of mind, because they make it sound as if I made a decision, which is not the case – I was past making decisions. But I can’t think of any other words to use. Words are only symbols and are totally inadequate to express the sense of total abdication from life which I felt. I wasn’t suicidal – suicide would have called for a decision and would, in any case, have required far too much effort to carry out. I can only describe the feeling as one of utter and complete disinterest and surrender. What happened next is, as I have said, impossible to put into words, but I’ll try.
I shall have to describe the encounter in two parts. First what I saw; second what I felt. However, both occurred simultaneously.
The image that I saw persisted for only a very short time, perhaps about 1/10 second. (My film production experience enabled me to evaluate this interval). The image was well defined but I only assimilated part of it. This isn’t surprising, bearing in mind its transience. I clearly saw the figure of a man, almost in profile, dressed in a long off-white robe, sitting about six feet away from me, about two feet to the left of the TV screen, in a place where there was nothing to sit on. A fold of cloth ran from his right knee to his left ankle. I didn’t have time to see his head clearly. He did not move or speak. I have never been able to attach any meaning or importance to these details, except insofar as they acted as a symbol for what I felt.
What I felt was much more impressive, much more important and persisted for some three months before gradually fading away. I do not have the feeling with me today, but I remember it with absolute clarity.
To be precise, it wasn’t a feeling, or a thought, or an emotion at all. It was a gift. A gift of absolute 100% certainty. It was a gift of Knowledge, as opposed to mere belief or perception or evaluation. At that moment, and for some three months afterwards, I was absolutely certain of who the figure was. I was absolutely certain that it was the figure of Jesus. Words cannot portray the degree of certainty which I was given. The word revelation is the only word which adequately describes an experience which was actually indescribable.
At the time, and for many years afterwards, I was quite unable to understand the meaning of this experience in relation to my personal life. But it was absolutely clear to me that Jesus was still alive, that he was working in the world and that there is no death. All of which, at the time, seemed to be of little importance relative to my personal suffering. My illness, my irritability and my despondency continued unabated. I certainly did not suddenly become a better person, any less sick or any easier to live with. For some odd reason, this didn’t surprise or disappoint me.
If the visual experience had occurred on its own, I might possibly have dismissed it as a brief hallucination caused by a combination of ME and ‘flu. But, when combined with the mind experience, the episode was clearly absolutely real. It was the most real thing that has happened to me in the whole of my 70-odd years of life on this planet. To this day, the whole experience remains vividly imprinted on my memory. Over the intervening years it has had a profound and practical effect upon my thinking and upon my daily activities.
It was a further 10 years before I began to understand the significance of the experience..
In 1986, I ‘accidentally’ discovered ‘A Course in Miracles’. In 1989 this discovery resulted in my decision to found Overton Studios Trust, a UK Registered Charity which specialises in the production of videos, books and articles which explore the healing power of the teachings of Jesus in relation to the healing of ME and CFS. I now also write, and speak throughout the UK, about what I call the ‘Body-management’ and ‘Mind-management’ of ME and CFS.
Finally, in 1994, whilst sorting out some dates for my book ‘A Life Worth Living’, I suddenly realised that the experience coincided precisely with the start of my recovery from ME, which had been deteriorating up to that point. This was both surprising and gratifying.
In retrospect, the experience was clearly a precursor to a radical change in the direction of my life. I believe that it also helped with the (very slow) healing of my ME. I am still learning about its meaning today.
As a direct result of the experience, and of the ensuing change in the direction of my life, I now realise that, if I can learn how to think as Jesus does, then he will literally come into my life and live with me. By that I mean that his thinking principles will live in my mind and will be accessible to me at need, in a practical way. As the Course says: I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me. Not that I claim to be without periods of doubt and darkness – these still occur and can be deep and distressing. But the light between them is getting brighter.
There are one or two final points that I must make. The experience was totally unexpected. There was no warning. The whole episode lasted for only fraction of a second – a time interval entirely disproportionate to the power of the experience. I (my ego) did not ‘organise’ it. I would love to have another such experience, but there is no way in which I can even begin to encourage this, except by remaining open to the possibility of it. There was no sudden miraculous healing, either physical or mental – it took a further 22 years for this to happen and even now my healing is by no means complete. I am in no way special. I was not ‘deserving’ in any way. I don’t know whether my story has any meaning for anyone other than myself. But if my description touches just one other person, I shall be content.
Written by Dr Michael Midgley