The Hand of God

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I found God last spring, on a day when the sky looked like grey porridge, riddled with clumps of curdled milk. Thousands of miles from home, I was transported to a state of mind that I have not found since. The small humor of two churches at either end of a street called Hope dissipated as I gazed upward in the Cathedral. Older than anything back in the States, the Anglican Cathedral stood proudly erect, a wise elder watching over Liverpool.
Stepping over the threshold, I sensed something innately different in the vast spaces inside. It was an atmosphere dense with history. Fascination drew me steadily toward something that I could not name, nor even conceive. My footsteps slowed as I approached a stained glass window. Beneath tons of vaulted stone that had stood in this same place for as long as anyone could remember, as if by magic, a tremendous current of emotion flowed through me, nearly knocking me to the stone floor. Looking up at the panes of colored glass, I saw that they somehow made the day look brighter. I traced the fluid colors that trickled from the windows to land all about me; a thousand jewels scattered at my feet – each a hue new and surprising.

A chorus began to sing from someplace behind me, but I did not turn to look. They sounded as a pipe organ, their voices reverberating in the empty space above me. The melody was certain and strong, and embraced by delicate harmonies. It was not a sound that commanded me to listen, or even acknowledge its existence. It was not happy, nor was it sad. It had no tempo, no pulse, no momentum. It was a fluid sort of music, each tone gradually, imperceptibly becoming the next. It danced gracefully between the open spaces in my thoughts, filling me until I reached a completeness that I had never experienced before.
There, in a place kept standing despite the crushing weight of time, filled with a light that flowed easily about my feet, and engulfed in tranquil harmony, I stood transfixed. A single thread connected me to everything, and in that moment, I suddenly realized what people meant when they exclaimed that God was all around them. He was the stone beneath me, sending comforting vibrations through my soul. He was in the music, and in the light, in each slab that had built this place up from nothing.

My father tapped me on the shoulder.

“I think we ought to go now,” he whispered. I said nothing but followed him through throngs of tourists milling around as he strode toward the exit. I cast a lingering backward glance at the pane of stained glass, and took a deep breath. I held it as we stepped out into the rainy, unemployed Liverpool, but I couldn’t hold it for long. I lost God that day, too.





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