The remarkable phenomenon of spiritual illumination.
It is late at night. A man has driven many miles to a house on the shore of a lake. He parks his car and walks down the steps to pier jutting out into the water. On this clear moonlit night he stands and looks up at the great umbrella of stars overhead. A feeling of indescribable peace comes over him and it is not until the rising morning sun breaks the spell that he realizes hours have gone by.
A mother bends over her baby’s bassinet. The little person is peacefully and blissfully asleep. She notices as though for the first time, the shape of his tiny ear. It strikes her as the most exquisite work of art she has ever seen. Peace and joy surge through her, and a sense of lightness which seems to absorb both her and the child for a time. It seems both an instant and an eternity.
It happens to men and women in countless times and places. Is it a brief schizophrenic episode in which their neuroses plays tricks on them? Have they retreated from the real world or are they just beginning to discover it?
All of us are likely to encounter these slivers of eternity; inspiring times of transcendence when we feel at one with the heart of the universe; special moments of beauty, truth and love. C.S. Lewis author of the Narnia stories was, in his youth, an atheist. In his autobiography Surprised by Joy, he recalls how moments of mystical insight crept up on him. They turned his determined belief that there is no God into a growing conviction that he not only exists, but that he was drawing Lewis ‘kicking and struggling, to himself.
It seems there is a part of us that is just too big for the world we are presently living in. In each of us there is an eternal dimension that will never be finally satisfied with the things of time and space. As French seventeenth century inventor, mathematician, physicist and theological writer Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”