Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Stare

I just found this bit of writing I did after visiting the German History Museum in Berlin right after the New Year. I was hesitant to publish this piece on my blog when I first wrote it because it deals very directly with my conflicting and ever-changing views on religion and spirituality, but now I'm simply curious to hear what others might think about this strange experience I had.

I think what makes this anecdote particularly interesting is that I'm not strictly opposed or supportive of religion at all - I really try to embody the "live and let live" philosophy, do what makes you happy and try to make the world a better place. If we can agree on those things, then we'll get along just fine. Spiritually, I believe there is a force that is both ignorant and unsympathetic to the idea that humans are superior, we are all equal with everything else in the Universe, and Nature is the ruling voice over all things. With that being said, this is what I experienced that day in Berlin on January 2nd, 2012:

" I was at the History of Germany Museum today, a sole adventure because my friend had to work and I don't know another soul in the city. It was actually a very nice experience: I brought my iPod and was able to spend a lot of personal time with each exhibit. Near the beginning of the Early German History section is a wooden crucifix. A somewhat plainly featured Jesus hangs humbly from the cross, his head drooping and his eyes cast downward. Looking at him from a distance one would assume his eyes are closed, forever departed from this sad world, having finally escaped Earthly sufferings. But when I stood directly in front of him and looked up into his face, I saw Him. I wasn’t just looking into the smooth, wooden face of a statue of a man, I was looking into His eyes and he was looking back at me. I had the distinct feeling that I was sharing a moment with someone, the same feeling one gets when they’re being watched and which makes them instinctively look up at the person to share the moment. It was startling, and I tried to avert His gaze by walking to His side, but His eyes followed me. I looked objectively into His face and noticed that there was hardly any detail at all, not even irises or pupils in his eyes to give him a sense of realism. I can’t understand why I felt his gaze so strongly. I have looked many people in the eye, people who are very much alive with all the specificity of human features, and have not felt so strongly the deep attention I felt I was receiving from this wooden depiction of Jesus.

I still feel disturbed by this moment. I am not a religious person, and if I was religious I would definitely not be Christian. Was I being called by God? Was it a sign from the Universe? Or was it a trick of the light? As I walked around him, trying to find the source of this feeling, I thought I saw a tear come from his eye. It was a short moment, I noticed quickly it was just a chipped part of the wood that made up his face. But as I continued to look at him, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was crying, and that he was crying because of me. It felt like he wanted to tell me something but couldn’t, that I was disappointing him somehow and he couldn’t tell me what to do. It was hard to leave him. I felt I had found something very important, that I was receiving a message from someone or something. As I walked away, I looked over my shoulder and noticed he wasn’t looking at me anymore, just staring down as before. But I still felt his sadness. I still feel it now.

I believe in signs, but I believe they come from within ourselves and that the mind perceives them through external messages in order to understand them more concretely than the mind can express to itself. This was a very strong sign that something is not right. I am in a very delicate time in my life, nothing is certain and my actions now are forming who I will become in the future. I'm in a place where I could go in literally any direction I choose, and there are many, many options. I think this was a sign to stay true to what I know is right: that love, kindness, and tolerance must never be sacrificed for the sake of being someone you think you ought to be. I must be vigilant in my protection of the self, to keep pure what remains of who I’ve always been, and to let it become a part of who I will always be."

What troubles me most about this experience, looking back on it, is that I still don't know how to respond or react to how that moment made me feel. It was very powerful. Thinking back on the memory is similar to thinking about a time as a child when I did something wrong and my Mom, Dad, or Oma gave me that bone chilling look of disappointment. And that hopeless feeling that there's nothing you can do to change what you've done, and you can only hope to be good enough for them in the future.

Like I said in the piece, I believe in signs, but I believe that they come from within. I'd love to hear some thoughts and ideas about what this could mean.

It would be especially comforting to hear that its all a bunch of nonsense and everything I saw was just a trick of the light... ah, to be atheist! What luxury!


  1. I had a similar experience when I was about 7. I went next door to a friend's house and they had a bible in the foyer with a picture of Jesus on the cover. I looked down at it and his eyes blinked and his mouth moved. When I looked back all was still, but it both fascinated and terrified me. I have seen and experienced too much in life that speaks to a power "outside" our own consciousness. I know that's not what you want to hear. It's easier to think it comes from within, but I don't believe that anymore. I believe in powerful energies, sources of light and darkness, that surround and influence us all the time. Call this God, Nature, whatever, but we if we are open to it, it will speak to us. Some people are closed to these energies all their lives and never come face to face with its force. The fact that you had this interaction shows that your soul and spirit are open and receptive to the messages being sent. Now all you have to do is interpret them. Remember Oma's dream - that did not come from within - it was a sign from above. It's the reason you even exist. There is something very powerful at work. The only thing you can do is acknowledge it, listen to it, embrace it and hope it visits you again. When the visions and dreams stop it means something has stopped working and shut down. Keep looking and questioning, but don't underestimate what you saw.

    1. Thanks, Dad, that was truly beautiful. I think you're right, its important to be open to the incredible forces and energies that surround us. This has really got me thinking.

  2. I would encourage you to find a book on Jesus, just Jesus and learn what he was about. I found him to be nothing like the one I thought I knew. Like any educational endeavor, once you have learned you can decide for yourself. Too many people make a decision about God or Jesus without ever looking into it. It’s funny but the same people would Google all sorts of information when making a major purchase but reject God without really looking into it.
    In 53 years the one constant I have found is that there are absolutely NO coincidences. Look into it, see where it takes you

    It is equally interesting to study the enemy and the tactics that are used to pull us away from God. One of those tactics... Drum roll please…. Religion. The problem with religion is most want you to see it their way or you’re not an accepted member of the club. Jesus reserves his harshest criticism for the leaders of the church. “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” is just one of many. It's truly a personal thing that you need to discover on your own or it means nothing. You don't have ownership of it.
    I found a loving God when I was an alcoholic, drinking a liter of vodka every day. Almost 21 years ago, on blue hill ave. Dorchester. I cried out to the God of my youth to help me. I surrendered, truly and gave my care over to Him because I couldn’t do it anymore. I never drank again. That was a tangible miracle. There was no force on earth that could have made me do that. Period. I lived it, I know. As I cleared up over the next few years in sobriety I was shocked at how various religions treated the God who loved me so much that he would rescue me from hell on earth. I was always taught that I need to earn my may into Gods favor. I thought didn’t make sense. My kids don’t have to earn my love. I started an intellectual study of the New Testament. I read that I was saved by grace (undeserved favor) not works. I studied Jesus, the man. That’s when things changed for me. I was 50 years old learning things for the 1st time that had NOTHING to do with formal religion. I “belong” to no religion. We meet with other families once a week to sing, pray, worship and learn. We study the bible once a week when we can. We aren’t called to a dutiful obligation. I don’t schedule 45 minutes a week to love my children & do it because “I’m supposed to” By the same token I don’t schedule specific times to have the relationship with my God. We’re called to LIVE better. It's all good. I am a Christian in name because I am a believer in Christ, that’s all. The last 3 years have been the most vibrant years of my life. It's gone from black and white to full 3d color. It wasn’t a lightning bolt either. I don’t even know when it happened. It’s like taking a train at night from one country to another. You don’t know when you left one country and entered the next but when the train gets to the station you know you got there. I could share my testimony on what this Jesus has done in my life and give you my thoughts on what you experienced but it wouldn't serve a purpose. Most times that's what drives people back into their comfortable place, away from what God is trying to tell them. I can tell you that it’s not all hearts and roses . I have been shown clearly what I do well and what I don’t, and how to be better. I’m human it doesn’t always work. My kids make mistakes, I never love them less. There is freedom in God not bondage. I would urge you to follow it up and pay attention to what happens

    1. Thank you so much for this beautiful, profound response. I feel like I know you in a way I never had before. Your story makes me very happy that I decided to post this. Thank you for reading, for your love, and for your support! I will definitely be giving a lot of thought to this.

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  4. JB thats so interesting. In Non western civilizations this type of things happens regularly, especially Africa. Our culture has rejected miraculous things like you experienced for so long we dont think things like miracles can happen. I strongly disgree because I am one. In the book of Acts it says "Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." To get a picture of how profound that statement was at that time, women were lower than low in that culture, yet here they are being told the will prophesy! There are some religions that say "that was then this is now" but essentially its been suppressed in western civilization for centuries, especially with woman. The Bible has extremely important women throughout the old and new testament and they were given profound gifts.