I was a whirling dervish, my feet moving faster and faster, my arms stretching effortlessly upward, hands tracing circles in the air. Every part of my body moved – hips, shoulders, head, heart. I could not help myself. The music started slowly, the band on the stage singing words I did not know. As a drum beat faster and faster, the musicians sang the lyrics over and over again, setting me spinning with a surprisingly familiar delight.
Sometimes I sang along, but mostly I danced, free, exuberant, exultant.
I have had this particular experience just twice in my life. The first time was about 14 years ago, in an autumn forest in northern Ontario. I rustled alone through the fallen leaves of birch and oak, breathing in the scents of a world settling into sleep even as I sensed myself coming fully awake. As I took in the sights and smells, music, playing on my iPod was filling my head, spilling down through my body, coursing through my arms, my legs, charging through my heart, setting my feet on fire. I danced. All alone in the forest, I danced.
I do not remember what song was playing that day. But I know I heard it as an anthem, feeling my heart swell with loyalty, patriotism and passion. Not for a country. But for a kingdom. Not for a government. But for a king.
I love the country of my birth and citizenship, but it does not hold my ultimate allegiance. Long ago I pledged myself to a kingdom that has no country, but it does have dominion. I serve a king who has no visible throne, whom I cannot see but believe is ever present.
Every once in a while, something happens and I glimpse the Kingdom. I cross through the curtain into what the ancient Celts called the thin place, and I know without a doubt that I am somehow suspended between earth and heaven, experiencing both places simultaneously. Recognizing earth, because that is where I come from, glimpsing heaven, because that is where I truly belong.
I’ve crossed into the thin place by many routes: through a well-crafted line in a book, under the rising sun, swimming in a deep, cold lake. Sometimes the stars in the night sky lead me there. Sometimes I find myself suspended in the thin place as I listen to the stories, questions and answers shared in our writers’ group, and I am left speechless.
Once, an angelic emissary disguised as a taxi driver led me into the thin place. A slow drive across Toronto left lots of time for conversation. He peppered me with questions, testing my knowledge of my king. I tried my best to answer and then, as I stepped out of the car, I paused to ask his name.
“Emmanuel,” he said to me.
“Ah,” I said, marvelling: “God with us.”
But, most recently, music was my guide. And I danced, whirling like a dervish into the thin place, slipping for the briefest of moments into the kingdom, paying allegiance to my king.
Amrita vani teri, amrita vani teri
Jai jai Yeshu, jai jai ho,
Jai jai Pita, ,jai jai ho
Jai jai Putra, jai jai ho
Paawana Aatma, jai jai ho
Jeewana data, jai jai ho
©Lynda MacGibbon 2017