Now, I must get back to Peter and Sunday, February 1, 1970, the longest night of my life. The rest of the day passed without any bizarre events. I probably drank some wine, Haute Sauterne, my favorite for many years. The pain in my face was slowly returning. With or without pain, I had learned to enjoy my daily quota of wine. I fell asleep quickly, but as in the previous five nights, I awoke abruptly in the middle of the night. I seem to recall that the time was around midnight. An unusual craving for food drove me into the kitchen. The craving was so specifically directed toward three different items that I wonder what I would have done had they not been available. I devoured the food like an animal, scooping the cottage cheese out of the container with my fingers and tearing off chunks of French bread and stuffing them into my mouth. The third item I seemed to crave as if it might have had medicinal value was watercress. It was the same watercress I had picked the previous day in Big Tujunga Canyon. Normally, we would not have had this item in our refrigerator.
I probably had spent about five minutes eating in the kitchen when an unexplained sense of calmness settled upon my soul. I turned the light out in the kitchen and walked into our family room. Without realizing how I got there, I found myself on my knees in an attitude of prayer, awe, and expectancy. To the best of my knowledge, I had never before purposed to be on my knees except by conventional constraint. I don’t recall whether our minister asked us to kneel during our wedding ceremony thirteen years earlier, but if so, you have an idea when and where I was last on my knees.
Suddenly, time—past, present, and future—had lost its dimension. I was in a totally different world. I saw a kaleidoscope of my life—actions, motives, drives. Everything I had so carefully concealed from myself and others was revealed to me. The picture was not pretty. The duality of my nature, my motives, everything I had ever suppressed, came alive. I was forced to look at myself. What I saw gave me a terrible shock; I was hollow inside. I had spent almost thirty-seven years of my life trying to please others. Everything I had ever done was a front. I was wearing a mask and the mask had become me.
“Front, front, front; phony, phony, phony; you have lost your personality; you have wasted your life” was the reproach being hurled at my being. “You have never included ME! Your ’I will--I will---I will’ doctrine, your self-sufficiency, your ‘I can-do-anything’ doctrine stinks with conceit!”
I tried to say the Lord’s Prayer, not out loud, but in my spirit. I tried many, many times to say the Prayer. I never succeeded in getting through to the end. “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” was as far as I could get. “Thy Will be done, Thy Will be done, Thy Will be done!” Finally it dawned on me—not MY WILL, but THY WILL be done. I had been so convinced that I could give purpose, direction, and fulfillment to my life that I had no need to ask anyone for direction or help. I was to learn differently!
The next moment I saw that our whole backyard was flooded, and I perceived myself running down a steep incline to get to the faucet as quickly as possible. I stubbed my right toe severely on a mound of earth our boys had formed for a bicycle ramp. This scene had actually happened a few months earlier. Now it was happening to me again, but in another dimension. Was I hallucinating or having a vision? Again and again I saw myself running down the incline, stubbing my toe.
Finally, I asked in these words, “God, what are you trying to show me?”
“Slow down, Peter!” came the reply.
The setting changed to a large field of boulders of many different sizes. The boulders were dying and crying out in agony for someone to save them, to rescue them. I did not understand what I saw. In my spirit I asked,
“God, what does this mean?”
dislodged. Every planet in our solar system left its normal orbit. Their new directions made a collision with our planet inevitable. Maybe five or six more seconds and our world would be destroyed. It was awesome, frightening, inevitable that this would be the end that had been predicted. How could I experience this and live?
It was thus explained to me.
“These are the people who are losing their souls. They are dying slowly; their hearts are turning to stone. They are crying out for help, but no one can hear them anymore. Pride prevents them from asking for help.”
“God,” I asked, “what do you want me to do?”
“Learn the language of those who are dying,” I understood Him to say. To this day I remember that scene—the agonizing cry of the im-prisoned souls within those boulders and God’s instructions to me.
The scene changed again. The very foundations of our world were being
A voice spoke,
“Is there anyone who is willing to stand in the gap? Is there anyone who will give up his life to restrain the hand of judgment of planet earth and its people?”
It seemed as if all of Heaven were assembled, straining, waiting, agonizing until I made a decision. It had to be MY decision. I was taxed to the very limit of my strength.
“Lord, use me,” I said finally. Then it seemed as if all of heaven relaxed and slowly the planets returned to their established orbits. Our world was safe again – at least for now.
The scene shifted. I was standing at the edge of an abyss, gripping a long rope that went deep down into some cavern. Two people, a man and a woman, were hanging on to the rope. I liked the woman. For a long time I strained to remember who she was, but I was never able to identify her. The man was my brother; I liked him too. When I recognized who he was, I received a terrible shock—I saw my brother as the reincarnation of Judas Iscariot! What was I to do?
A voice asked.
“Are you willing to pull on the rope and strain to bring the two to the top?”
A terrifying struggle tore me to pieces on the inside. How could I let go without destroying the woman? How could I ever live with myself knowing that the woman was forever condemned to live in hell? The two at the end were not pleading with me; they were just hanging on. The dialogue was only within my soul. I had to decide. Guilt would be mine forever if I chose wrong.
I looked at my brother. “Oh, Lord,” I said, “You are building a new world. It is beautiful, clean, undefiled; not one speck of sin is to be found anywhere. You know how contagious sin is. One foul word and the process of contamination will begin all over again. But what about my brother? There must be something redeeming about his life.” I sifted his life. In fact, it seemed as if his life were unrolled before me. I struggled to uncover a part of his personality that was precious. It wasn’t as if there were meanness in his life that would condemn him. It just seemed as if his life were hollow, as if it had no features to enhance that eternal paradise with Christ as King.
My memory and analytical capacity strained to the very limit once more to discover a bright jewel in his life. I saw a little mango plant about eight inches tall. My brother had grafted a new shoot into the fragile, tender stem, which was no thicker than a pencil. He had placed a small plastic bag over the graft to protect it from anything that was unfriendly and harsh. He was eager to show me the plant. I can’t remember now if the graft had taken. I think so. I remarked to myself, “What tenderness in my brother’s soul. In my Father’s house are many mansions. He shall he a gardener. His world shall be a world of plants and trees and flowers. His ideas shall not be multiplied in the hearts of men. He shall commune only with nature.”
(edited into the text on January 27, 2008 – After pondering the above portion of the vision for many years, here is what I know be true – at least true for me. The two people hanging on the end of the rope were me, Peter. The light and the dark in my soul were very pronounced. Whatever I did not like about myself, I projected into others – in this case, my brother. It is human nature to do this. We do this often and whenever we do so, we are unwilling to come to grips with our own fallen and sinful nature. It is impossible for our soul to be cleansed until we stop projecting our sins into others.)
I resolved to pull on the rope as hard as I could. I strained and strained and suddenly found myself to be in my body in our stone block house on Wheatland Avenue in Sunland. I felt dirty, contaminated; my whole being was in an uproar. My soul had been polluted; my mind and body had been polluted. I rushed to the bathroom and stayed for at least an hour.
What was this powerful experience? What did it mean? Was I out of my mind? Had I gone crazy? I recall trying desperately to hold on to my mind. How does a person hold on to his mind? I held on to mine by reminding myself of my responsibility to my family. I have always had an unusually strong sense of responsibility. Promises and commitments are like eternal verities. I must not let go for the sake of my wife and children. “I must not let go! I must not let go! I must not let go!” This sense of duty and responsibility could have been the silver thread that allowed my body, mind, and spirit to become fused again.
I also recall a fleeting thought before I entered into my “Road to Damascus” experience, before “Humpty Dumpty” was dumped off his throne. I had said to myself, “Yes, I believe my relationship with my wife is strong enough that the new Peter who shall emerge will not be cast away.” As the years passed, I would learn how unable we really are to give each other the freedom to grow and to change.
To the best of my knowledge, my wife and children slept throughout the entire episode. I was fearful that they might have witnessed a portion of what had transpired and would have me committed to an institution. But my prayer was answered, my fear unfounded. Everyone had slept soundly. I believe that if anyone had touched me or spoken to me during the trance-like state, the consequences could have been catastrophic for me.
When I finally left the bathroom, my whole being was still in uproar, my intestines raw, my mind whirling. Something mighty had happened. The change in my body chemistry was a powerful witness to the supernatural experience. I felt so very, very unclean.
I went into the living room and looked out the window toward the east. I said to myself, “If I can hold on until I can see the dawn spread across the eastern horizon, I shall live.” The dawn finally came. I started to relax. I went back to bed and fell soundly asleep. I slept late. It was the first day of my leave of absence. When I awoke, I did not swim. I had no strength left to exert my will, to put up a front, to give direction to my life. I was at the mercy of others, at the mercy of the seen and unseen worlds.
I don’t know if I told you about the fascinating adventure and struggle I have had with the question of reincarnation. I think that I have finally arrived at some healthy conclusions on this subject; and I hope to be able to skillfully record the peculiar meandering that my lively imagination has followed. I think that I have discovered some vital links to this jigsaw puzzle of reincarnation, and I would not be afraid to have anyone challenge the way I interpret my experiences and conclusions. Something in my psychic nature had been powerfully wrenched open. I had to learn how to live all over again.
I began to question everything. Something in my psychic nature had been powerfully wrenched open. I had to learn how to live all over again. Who was I? What was the purpose of my life? Was my experience the result of a sick mind? Was I hallucinating? Did I have a vision? Had I talked to God? Was my experience akin to that of Paul on the road to Damascus? Was I the reincarnation of the apostle? How could I possibly ask anyone such questions without being considered a lunatic? Does “Thy will be done” mean that I am not to have a will? During the next year I would become prey to confusing systems of thought. I would become the target of many “goofy” ideas.
The world is full of people who want to recruit others to believe as they do, act as they do, and assume the standards they have. Their work is known as proselytizing. I became totally defenseless and thereby the mark of every scrupulous and unscrupulous belief of others. It almost seemed that others wanted to unload into me, to manifest themselves through me. What happens to us when we have no will is fascinating and tragic at the same time. I have never been involved in spiritualism; but I imagine that I must have been a choice medium for all kinds of spirits. There is a big difference between never asking for direction, having no direction, and always asking “Father what is Thy perfect will for my life?”
Whether my wife went to work that day, I cannot recall. I believe she stayed home. She knew something was wrong. There must have been an eerie feeling around my personality. There was no hint in her words or actions that she had been a witness to what had happened during the night. I just drifted through the day, grateful that I did not have to go to work.
Sometime during the day I noticed the remaining capsules of Dilantin that were sitting on the kitchen counter. “Maybe the Dilantin has caused me to have these strange experiences,” I thought. “Yes, that must be it. As soon as the poison is out of my system, I’ll be all right again.”
The idea was as if someone had rescued me. I shared it with Josephine. “Yes,” she said, “you’re right; it must be the effects of the Dilantin.” We both seemed to cling to the notion as if it were a lifesaver. I subsequently agreed that if I should demonstrate any further bizarre behavior, my wife could commit me to a mental hospital. The effects of the Dilantin would eventually wear off, I thought, and everything would be all right. I no longer felt threatened. It was as simple as ABC. Why hadn’t we thought of it earlier?
A few hours later—it must have been around five o’clock—I began to drink my normal quota of wine. Rather, I gulped it down. I remember sitting on a bar stool at our kitchen counter and breathing in an agitated manner – not for long, just a few breaths actually. Then I lost consciousness. The events of the next several hours do not exist for me except as others have related them.
Before I continue to narrate this strange adventure, dear Phyllis, I would like to pause for a moment. Imagine yourself in our kitchen on Mt. Whitney where you have been before. Your sister is baking peanut butter cookies at ten o’clock at night. It is October 23, 1975. Almost six years have passed. I have had much time to sort out my life, to separate the wheat from the chaff. The process of sifting has been painful, yet very fascinating, a real adventure.
I am finding out that sensitive people do not have to apologize for being sensitive. We are persons who have been ushered into a new world. We have been initiated into mysteries that elude the grasp of our ordinary five senses. We do not have to be ashamed of these experiences or hide them, but we do have to share them with discretion. Sometimes we arrive at some new insight. At first, it is unformed and fragile. When someone else comes to almost identical conclusions and expresses them, we are encouraged and grateful. I was thrilled yesterday when I discovered the following two paragraphs in a book entitled The Meaning of Persons by Dr. Paul Tournier:
There comes to me a mystic, who on several occasions has had visions. I am enthralled by what he tells me. I discover that this apparently rational man has a profound intuition regarding spiritual matters, amounting to veritable revelations. Only once, he tells me, did he broach the subject with
his brother, not openly, but by a discreet allusion; and he felt, or thought he felt, that his brother was beginning to wonder if he was quite sane. Since then he has carefully kept his treasures to himself. Now I understand why he asked me a moment ago what difference there was between visions and hallucinations.
The more costly an experience is to us, the greater its significance in our lives and the more it occupies our minds—and also the more we are afraid of its being misunderstood, or that it will be cheapened by some misapplied remark or suspicions. The more refined and subtle our minds, the more vulnerable they are. When we are alone we are haunted with doubts about the genuineness of our deepest intuitions and feelings—like my friend the mystic. What hurts him in fact is the contrast between his life as seen by others, and his secret life, which is entirely dominated by the visions he has had.
By the way, Paul Tournier is a Swiss physician and a prolific author. He is one of the best friends we sensitive people have. I have read three of his other books; they are all excellent. Maybe I shall have an opportunity to share a few more lines from his books later on. I am telling you this so that you and whoever will eventually read these words will not feel so isolated. The world is full of mystics in hiding. Some are in convents, some in mental institutions, some in prisons, and many in ordinary jobs. We are beginning to learn how to live in the world without being a part of it. We are beginning to learn with whom we can share our intimate experiences. We are learning to put up a shield against those who mock our experiences and will not accept us the way we were created. We realize that our sensitivity is a gift from God. We pity those who are all intellect, all reason, all dollars and cents. We pity those who consider it a waste of money to hang a painting of the Madonna and Child in their living rooms. We pity those who do not allow themselves to be admonished by these words of St. Paul:
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrew 13:2)
I did not reach the oasis of such thoughts and conclusions for nearly six years. First, I had to learn that my own peanut-size brain was very important yet totally dependent upon the grace of God. I had to grow up all over again, a very humiliating idea for a man who had meticulously observed all the conventions established by our society.