This is as good a time as any to tell you the story of how I first came to experience myself as more than just this body and personality.
Although I was raised as a church-going child, I would not have described my parents as particularly spiritual. My dad was an Episcopal minister, and that was his primary livelihood until I was 11. There was no question but that we would attend church, and I did it with gusto. I liked the feeling of being in the church, especially when it was silent. The high ceilings, stained glass, smell of beeswax candles, pipe organ, rich fabrics, hard pews, dark wood…
I sang the hymns and memorized the prayers. My brothers and I snuck over and rang the bell one Saturday, which was fun. We took turns swinging from the bell rope. Later we got spanked. My mother often seemed tense about our behavior around church members.
I liked Jesus from what I’d heard, although he seemed remote, and I pondered on the Holy Ghost. Sacraments – the outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace – held fascination for me, but grace seemed elusive, something that adults were smug about and didn’t let kids in on.
Church-going tapered off in adolescence. In my 20s, I became a “Chreaster,” attending church only at Christmas-Easter .
Fast forward to August 20, 1984. I was on my first ever solitary vacation – five days/4 nights in Santa Fe – at age 31. I left my 3-year-old with her dad and took off from Norman, Oklahoma, where I was working on a degree. It was a budget trip – I drove and stayed at a hostel-type place.
During the days I walked a lot, marveling at the quality of the light and clarity in the air there, and visited museums, art galleries, did the usual touristy stuff in SF.
In the late summers then, and maybe still, the Santa Fe Opera held performances of the most well-known arias performed by opera students from around the country. It was truly only about the singing – none of the dialogue, no sets, no costumes. I’m thinking now that it was a massive audition by opera students for jobs with opera companies, and the public was invited to listen.
The performance was at 9 pm on a Monday night, and I had driven to the opera house earlier that day to get my $5 ticket. I got to explore the marvelous architecture of the Santa Fe opera. It’s an open-air facility. A roof overhangs the stage and cantilevers out over the audience, from what I recall, leaving the sides of the stage open to the beautiful mountain scenery.
I returned at 9 pm, wearing jeans, carrying my backpack. The performances had started. Not many people were there. I stood at the back, just taking it all in. I let my backpack slide to the ground.
A soprano was singing. I have no idea which aria it was, but the sound was beautiful, unearthly.
The skies to the north were storming. From the back, I looked down at the singer and noticed lightning bolts flashing to the sides and behind of the stage. I could almost smell the ozone. I began to feel chills, and then…
… it was as if a bolt of lightning pierced my crown chakra and went down through my body into the earth and stayed there for several long moments.
I didn’t know what hit me, but I definitely felt hit by something. There was no pain, and it didn’t feel like an assault. I was hit by light coming from some unknown source, a light I couldn’t see but could sense.
The experience gradually faded. I could hardly listen to the rest of the performances, I was so puzzled about it. Why me? Why then and there?
I was familiar with the concept of chakras and had been practicing yoga for a couple of years, but I didn’t have anyone to talk about this with who could tell me anything I didn’t already know.
It was an expansive moment in a small life that had no context for it. It shook me. The invisible hand of God threw a different kind of lightning bolt into my head, and it pierced me through and through.
After that, I definitely noticed when my crown chakra was open, and later my third-eye chakra, and so on. I have since come to understand that the crown doesn’t open for many people, and yet all I have to do is put my attention there, and it opens.
My perspective now is that it was an initiation into my energy body. Was I chosen? If so, for what? Who can know the truth of this?
I do know this. It was grace. And I am attracted to energy consciousness, energy movement, energy healing.