We all have people and places we like to go to when in need of peace and understanding. Whether it be family, friends or counselling through the medical or religious fields, it’s a comfort to know where to turn when we find ourselves in a dark place. It’s devastating when you realize that you have no one to turn to and nowhere to go.
I’d like to preface this story with the fact that I used to be an atheist, thinking that ghost stories were ridiculous. That’s what made what happened to me such a surprise, even though I can’t definitively say – to this day – exactly what happened. Suffice it to say that I was completely bewildered and soon became a believer.
Without saying too much about my situation, I was going through a tough time where my whole family turned against me and my friends gave me a wide berth, due to an identity crisis that put me in a dark corner. I went for a long drive one gloomy, rainy day and decided to stop when I saw a church in the mist.
Even though I was an atheist, I felt drawn to the imposing structure, which seemed to be more like a shadow in the fog rather than an actual building. As I pulled into the driveway, I could feel an impetus driving me forward and into the building, like tentacles were dragging me in, magnetized by my sorrow.
When I walked up the steps I felt eyes watching me
Strangely enough, I wasn’t afraid, even though I felt all my hairs on my body standing erect, like I’d been electrified. When I went through the door and into the small foyer, I started to see shadows darting here and there. That’s when my fear started to build. I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” I jumped when a voice answered my thoughts.
“Solace.” The voice echoed through the church like a disembodied spirit speaking from the pulpit. I started to shudder but I couldn’t stop myself from walking up the aisle and making my way to the altar. I had to call out, “Is anyone here?” as I assumed that someone was waiting for me, even though the idea was absurd.
I thought that I was dreaming when I saw hundreds of candles suddenly light up on their own, all around the interior of the church. I thought to myself, “This can’t be happening!” I jumped again when the voice responded. “Believe.” I turned around and strained my eyes to see who had spoken to me. Then a shadow came out from the back.
It was at that moment that I started to believe in ghost stories
The shadow figure soon morphed into a large, looming priest wearing a hooded cloak – like a Franciscan monk – but completely transparent! I knew that I was looking at a ghost but I was rooted to the spot. Even though I was afraid, something told me that all was happening the way it was supposed to.
I stood bravely as he approached me and reached out his hand. Not knowing what to do, I stayed still and trembled while he placed his hand on the top of my head. I then felt a blanket of warmth emanating from my head to my toes. I couldn't see the priest's face under the hood but I reveled in the glorious transmission of peace.
I closed my eyes and wept silently as I felt my spirit filling the dark depths of my body. I was transfixed by the flood of images in my mind, such as a bright, blue sky and a brilliant white dove soaring to the heavens. It was all so surreal - until - I was back in my car! I was parked in an empty field with no church or priest to be seen!
It took ages for me to start the car and pull out, as the overwhelming feeling of warmth and peace continued to permeate my soul. Even though I felt like I’d just stepped into the twilight zone, I was not afraid. The rain had ceased and the sun shone though, adding to my feelings of hope and promise for the future.
A few weeks later, I was at work and telling a new friend and trusted colleague about my experience. She advised that it didn’t matter if the church existed or not. She said that God had reached out and touched my soul in my darkest hour. From that day forth, I accepted my identity and at the same time – my connection with the divine!
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