Links. On ESP and Christianity.

I once was doing wire work at a friend’s house. We were in a medieval reenactment group together and I was making decades. Decades are like short rosaries. Instead of having five groups of ten beads, it only has one set. These were used during the Reformation by Catholics. It was a way of being true to their faith but doing it secret, because openly being a Catholic then was a ticket to jail or the gallows. Decades were small enough to be held in the palm of the hand. They could pray the rosary while they walked and not be obvious about it.

decade

I was Christian then, but not openly so. Now that I think about it, making decades was perfect for me. The symbolism is striking. I was practicing my faith but quietly. Being Christian wouldn’t mean a jail term or death, but it still wasn’t very popular.

It still isn’t. This is in part because of so many people who say they are Christian with their words but not with their actions.

My friend and I had not discussed our religious practices. We had discussed something else though – a sort of ESP that we shared.

She knew I was weird. I seem to remember she termed it being “eclectic” but I think “eccentric” is more fitting. I’ve always had an extra sense. I’ve always known and seen more than just what was on the surface. I’ve always heard the under-layer of meaning. It is why I tutor people who have learning disabilities. I can understand them when nobody else can.

She had this same sense. Hers was a little different, and she hadn’t acknowledged it as long as I had, but it was still there. Over time, we had shared many experiences about what we saw together, comparing notes.

She saw me making this decade, this symbol of faith. She saw how precise and exacting I was with the links. She knew from watching me that I’d done this a lot. My links are all equal. You don’t get that kind of precision unless you practice.

She looked at me and asked “How can you make something like this if you are eclectic?”

This was the moment. I could show her who I really am, or I could hide.

I took a breath in and prayed for the right words. I could alienate her forever, but I thought she might understand. I had helped them move recently and seen Bibles while I was packing. I knew I wasn’t going too far into enemy territory. But I also knew they weren’t practicing. If they had a bunch of pagan items around then I’d be even more worried about what I was going to say. I wasn’t going to preach to her, but I was certainly going to share with her some of my truth.

I looked up from my work and said “Nobody was weirder than Jesus. He walked on water, he made the blind see, and he brought the dead back to life.” I smiled and took another breath in, and waited for her reaction.

This opened her eyes. Shortly after that she and her family started going to church.

Loving Jesus and being weird are totally compatible. If you have an extra sense, an extra way of knowing, it is a gift from God. It doesn’t separate you from God. It is a way to know God. Using it in the service of others is a way to show love to God.

Snake handling 2 (how memorizing some Irish saved the day)

About twenty years ago I was walking at night in downtown Chattanooga with a friend named John and came to a restaurant/bar called the Pickle Barrel. This was a common place among my friends to hang out. It was/is a ramshackle building set in a triangle bit of property at an odd intersection. They serve sandwiches that go well with beer, which is their main trade.

We saw another friend, named Malcolm there, who was with a stranger. I don’t remember much about how the stranger looked. I think he was skinny and had stringy hair. I think he was wearing the standard college student uniform of a worn t-shirt and Goodwill-bought pants. I probably wouldn’t even have looked at him twice if he wasn’t sitting with a friend of mine.

The stranger was sitting across from me at the round wooden table and we started talking. I got a sense from him that he wasn’t exactly what he appeared to be. I can’t explain how I came to this conclusion. Suffice it to say my “spidey sense” was tingling. He then started talking about magic. I don’t know what got in to me, but I “pushed” a little and said “Don’t talk about magic unless you talk about real, true magic.”

I’ll back up a little, here. We have in my family something I call “the push.” It isn’t something we talk about. If you have it, you know, and if you don’t, you’ll never know. The only time it is mentioned is if you figure out you have it and you start asking around. It makes it very confusing, because you feel like you are alone and strange. I’ve discovered other people who have it who aren’t in my family. People who have it generate a sort of magnetism. The idea of The Force also resonates with this concept.

I call it “the push” because that is what it feels like. It has the same feeling that a physical push has, but no muscles are used. It is mental/spiritual. Just like the Force, it can be used for good or bad. I use it when assisting others when there are language or processing problems. It can be a way to bridge communication gaps. It is helpful when communicating with people who are mentally disabled, or very young. However, I’ve seen one family member use it to get people to do what he wants them to do, rather than what is best for them. I’ve seen people use it to play people like puppets. I’ve seen people think that they are special, and the power goes to their heads.

So, back to the story. The stranger took my hands and started chanting something, in some language I don’t know. This may sound strange but it felt as if time slowed down and everything centered around us. It appeared that the lights and colors got much brighter and more intense. No – I wasn’t high or drunk. I asked Malcolm and John later if they saw him take my hands and start chanting and they both said no. Nothing different happened for them.

Everything different happened for me. I felt trapped. I felt that this guy meant nothing but harm for me. I felt the same kind of terror I would suspect I’d feel if a person had a gun up against my head and I was forced up against a wall. I was alone. I didn’t know what to do.

Fortunately I have a habit of memorizing things. I’d memorized the bit of Irish from Sinead O’Connor’s first album, from the song “Never Get Old”. Enya speaks it. It starts with the sounds “oh rourk she or du dein, gol et toe hue.” This is as close as I can approximate it. It takes about a minute to say. It sounds pretty cool. I’d memorized it pretty well, and can still recite it today.

He dropped my hands, stopped chanting, and cowered.

Everything went back to normal, of a sort. Time resumed its normal pace, and the lights and colors stopped being so intense. Our friends rejoined the conversation, and I looked at the guy warily. Not long later I got up to go to the bathroom and he followed me. He crouched down and held out his hand in supplication, and asked me to teach him what I knew.

I refused to touch his hand, partly in fear for what that contact would do this time.

I replied that how dare he attack me. I had not done anything to him. I had not provoked an attack. I had not deserved such behavior.

I replied that I am a servant of God, and that any of my power comes from serving God. I assured him that God is more powerful than anything he could dream up. I advised he follow God, and know that true power comes from being in His service.

Later I reflected on the words I’d used. I realized that the words were from Psalm 91, lines 11-13. I’ve Included 9-10 for background.

9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

I’ve since found a version of it in Irish. It looks like this –

11 Óir thug sé ordú da aingil i do thaobh
tú a chosaint i do shlite go léir:
12 Iompróidh siad thú lena lámha
sula mbuailfí do chos in aghaidh chloiche.
13 Satlóidh tú ar an leon is ar an nathair:
gheobhaidh tú de chosa sa leon óg is a dragan.*

This was the most appropriate thing I could have said at the moment. I give thanks to God that He gave me the mind and the will to memorize something so useful, and the ability to recall it at the right time.

We may not be able to see the angels God sends us, but they are still there.
It is also helpful to know that sometimes we are the angels. God works through us to help others.
Our calling is to align ourselves with God, and let the healing of the world happen through us. We are the bridge for God’s love.

We are told that we are the ones we have been waiting for. We are told that we are Christ’s hands and feet in this world.

Perhaps I read fantasy and science fiction because I want to find similar stories to explain these kinds of experiences I’ve had. Perhaps I’m sharing these stories to tell you that you aren’t alone. This sounds like a crazy story, but it is true. May it be of help to you.