In this quote from Frederica Mathewes-Green, a noted Orthodox writer, she meditates on the results of her experience in a European church as a young agnostic tourist, in which God spoke to her directly, saying, “I am your life. You think that your life is your name, your personality, your history. But that is not your life. I am your life.”
“This wasn’t one of those woo-woo spiritual experiences where everything goes misty and the next day you wonder if it really happened. It was shockingly real, as if I’d encountered a dimension of reality I’d never known existed before. Years later I read C. S. Lewis’ novella, “The Great Divorce,” which begins with the charming idea that every day a bus crosses the great divide from hell to heaven. Anyone who wants can go, and anyone who wants can stay. The thing is, heaven hurts. It’s too real. The visitors from hell can’t walk on the grass, because the blades pierce their feet like knives. It takes time to grow real enough to endure heaven, a process of unflinching self-discovery and repentance that few are willing to take. At the end of the day, most of the tourists get back on the bus to hell.
This experience in the church was real like that, like grass that pierces your feet. In that explosive moment I found that Jesus was realer than anything I’d ever encountered, the touchstone of reality. It left me with a great hunger for more, so that my whole life is leaning toward him, questing for him, striving to break down the walls inside that shelter me from his gaze. I am looking for him all my life, an addict.”