It was a day like any other, but isn’t that always the way…
The Quickening was unexpected….it came without warning.
I was startled by the first outlines of it...
It's like the feeling you get when you’re driving down the highway
in heavy fog and suddenly you see the dark shadow of a truck
looming right in front of you.
The scene is already set and you are suddenly on stage.
I had gotten on the elevator still bee-stung over Tim’s last remark.
"Girl...you need to get you some!"...his southern euphemism for sex.
Tim could always read me that way.
I had been celibate again for an excruciatingly long time.
What made him pick this moment to tease me so cruelly?
It was obvious that I had endured this sexual tension for a long time.
It had peaked and subsided several times.
I scowled at him as I stalked out and headed for the elevator.
I was off to the diner to pick up some burgers to get us through
another long night of work on the showroom.
On the elevator ride down, the atmosphere around me shifted subtly.
I felt my hair stand on end and a faint tremor rippled through my body...
like a prolonged shiver.
I felt charged with a sudden aliveness.
The visceral feel of it...a soft, yet commanding, rippling up the spine…
a mild trembling in my limbs.
I struggled to feel my feet touching the ground as I walked down the street.
The trembling increased by degrees, overtaking my whole body. .
I shivered from head to toe on that warm summer night.
I wondered that I could walk at all.
Thank God it was dark and the streets of downtown Atlanta nearly deserted.
At least no one would see me like this.
My senses became strangely acute…everything heightened…on high alert.
The sensation, though strange, was delicious.
It got stronger as I walked the 3 blocks to the diner.
I waited for my food, hoping no one standing nearby would notice.
I couldn’t control what was happening.
It had been a long time since I had felt the Quickening.
It took a long minute to place it.
"Wow," I thought. I used to feel this sort of thing when something of spiritual significance was happening…or about to happen.
I hurried out with the burgers and headed back to the showroom.
It was nearly midnight. The trembling intensified, my senses further heightened.
As I rounded the last corner and headed into the alley toward the service elevator,
a slight movement caught my eye. I spotted a young man on the loading dock,
sifting through some discarded cardboard.
I felt a lightning-fast jolt in the pit of my stomach.
It was, in part, sexual, as well...as if a huge magnet had been activated.
As I approached, I saw a tall, skinny white boy with dreadlocks...
not exactly my type.
Then, seemingly random impressions started dropping into my mind.
'New York…French-Canadian…bookstore…22 years old…Oregon coast…
long bicycle trips…artist.'
Then a weighty pause...and finally...'suicide.'
Much of that was familiar to me from my own history…except for the last ominous detail. I wasn't sure what to do with it.
What was going on?
The trembling intensified.
I felt a compelling urge to go talk to him, despite the strange circumstances...
There was an urgency to it. Never mind the safety of a move like that.
I just had to do it.
I walked toward him, wondering what I would say.
Something inside counseled, 'Keep it light.'
I was just a few steps away.
I saw a bicycle. We were across the alley from the Greyhound bus station.
I quipped nervously with as much of a grin as I could muster,
“Hey there…are you on holiday or are you running away from home?”
He looked up, startled.
I continued on like a fool saying “I’ve run away from home a couple of times myself…
I highly recommend it!”
He engaged me.
“It was either this,” indicating the bike, “or throw myself in front of a subway train.”
He wasn't kidding...
'Think faster!' my mind cried.
“Travellin’ kinda light, aren’t ya?"
“Yeah. I’ve got my bike, the clothes on my back and this book.
It was kind of a snap decision.”
I asked him what he was up to...had he eaten?
Where would he spend the night?
He was hoping to take a bus to Savannah the next day,
but he needed to make a box for his bike.
He wouldn’t be moving on till the next morning according to the bus schedule.
“Why don’t you come upstairs…I’ve got a little space and a sleeping bag
you can use for the night. Hope you like hamburgers.”
“I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 yrs.”
“That ends tonight,” I said, with a strange finality.
We headed toward the elevator.
“I don’t know how I’m going to explain you to my partner.”
I felt a strange familiarity with this young stranger.
His body language indicated something similar.
He had caught himself making an instinctive lunge toward me.
There was a delicate but fast dance unfolding.
I was still trembling...still in an altered reality.
“Maybe I’ll tell him you’re my long-lost brother from Portland.”
A silly remark.
He said he was from the Oregon coast.
“Where did you just fly in from?”
I suddenly remembered the random thoughts.
When I turned my back, I felt an unexpected touch.
His knuckle brushed up my spine touching at several points.
It was electrifying.
That touch conveyed information, but nothing that I could articulate.
It was from another realm. It took my breath away.
We took the elevator up to the 13th floor.
By the time we got there we were conspiring and laughing like old friends.
I introduced Patrick to Tim and told him simply that Patrick was staying
Tim sized things up quickly after the initial shock.
We ate together and then Tim asked Patrick if he'd like to give us a hand
with the work for a few days. We needed the extra help. Patrick nodded and Tim
got him started.
About an hour later, Tim caught my eye and tossed me the keys to his trailer
out in the country.
“Why don’t you two call it a night? I’ll finish up here.
You take Patrick out to the old place…You remember how to get there, right?
Don’t come back before noon tomorrow. Got that?
Make sure he gets all the rest he needs.”
I was shocked. Tim seemed to know more about what was happening
than I did. I could feel it.
I took the keys, gathered up my things and told Patrick we had a place to stay
for the night.
We drove most of an hour toward Tim's land near Stone Mountain.
Tim had told me these were Native sacred healing grounds.
Tim was three-quarters Cherokee. His grandfather had been a medicine man.
Tim was never far from his Knowing…
Patrick and I spoke little, but there was little need to talk.
I felt that curious deep sense of familiarity again…
A couple of times I thought to ask him a question and each time he offered the answer before I could ask…as though he'd read my mind.
When we found Tim's place, we opened the old gate, drove through
and closed it behind us.
The car made its way up the narrow farm track in the dark.
The atmosphere inside the car shifted and I had the thought that Patrick
was going to kiss me, quickly followed by the thought of making love
to this dread-locked hippie stranger who was probably half my age.
I was celibate again...painfully so...and not given to one night stands.
Tim’s remark was echoing in my ear...
This was just all too much...
Patrick read my thoughts again.
He reached over gently and touched my chin, turning my face toward his.
He waited, allowing me time to read him as well.
When he leaned forward to kiss me, I felt like I was going over the edge
of a waterfall.
I interrupted him. “How old are you?” although I already knew the answer.
He was 22...the random thoughts.
I guess I just needed to hear him say it.
“22,” he laughed softly and just to keep things equal, he asked with mock politeness,
"How old are you?"
I knew he couldn’t care less.
“44.” I answered weakly.
“I know.” he said.
He continued on to the kiss as if none of that mattered.
I squirmed, but another part of me knew that this was more right than anything
I’d ever experienced with a man before.
'It doesn’t get much stranger than this,' I thought.
Something inside me broke.
I looked up to the sky and said 'Give me a sign! I need to know that this is from You!'
I had to know. This was too crazy. And yet, it wasn’t…
Suddenly, there was an answering flash of lightning overhead...on a cloudless night.
Lightning has been my totem for a long time.
There was another flash...and another.
Without a word, we slipped out of our clothes and began to make love under the stars. An atmosphere descended around us and seemed to take over our bodies.
The lightning flashed all around us till dawn...we were mesmerized by the strange lightning show. We made love under the stars with no awkwardness or shame.
We had no control over what was happening. We were engulfed in an amazing energy….
It was power, it was love, it was healing. There was a strange quality to what was happening…almost as though we were 2 other people than ourselves. As if, for that time, we had become divine embodiments...superhuman...beyond, yet in these bodies. When we made love, we were one. We were tireless and there was a strange heat and sweat that poured from our bodies all through the night. Neither of us was physically capable of that much intensity over so much time. We made love for nearly 6 hrs. without slowing. We asked each other how it was even possible for our bodies to be like that. It was otherworldly. Neither of us understood the experience of those hours.
One thing we knew. The lovemaking was for our healing. As if we were healing each other…on every level. And something indefinable was with us in that healing. When it came to an end, we were ecstatic and we were one. There was only energy and joyous innocence. We slept entwined as though we had been together forever.
In the morning we showered outside at the old water pump under the warm Georgia sun. We were like children…easy together, naked, with no barriers.
We made love again for several more hours.
Finally we drove back to Atlanta. I wondered how much Tim would know. Probably everything, knowing him. It would hurt him. But life was complex these days. It was as I expected. He was resigned. We were never lovers, but we could have been under different circumstances and we each knew it deeply. He foresaw this. And he graciously did his part in it, even though he had hoped to be that person one day.
He went home to get some sleep.
I felt that there was much unfinished between Patrick and I, but he still had to make his way to Savannah. We decided to drive there. Suddenly schedules didn’t matter. We would take our time, hit some back roads. First we would get him a change of clothes. He had nothing with him. We tried several stores without success and then he opted for the Good Will store. I hadn’t been inside a Good Will for many years. He playfully found several things that were just right. Patrick was simple and down to earth. There was lightness about him. And he was certainly unconventional. At one point, I had to ask what a nice-looking white boy like him was doing with dreadlocks. He answered "My parents owned a beauty school." His bit for being his own person...(this was long before dreads became fashionable)
Patrick never remembered to eat. I got a few things for the road trip, just in case. He didn’t seem to be tethered to much down here. We drove slowly toward our place of parting in Savannah. Again, we spoke little. It was obvious that he read my every thought. We talked a bit about God. I thought it, he answered it. He laughed when I played the latest music. He liked the oldies. He took the wheel for awhile. At some point Patrick turned onto a secluded road and stopped the car. He gallantly escorted me to a grassy spot beneath an ancient tree. He twirled me around as if we were at the Queen’s Ball. He was beautifully elegant. In that same manner, we disrobed and continued our dance. When our courtly dance concluded, he produced a blanket from the car and we laid down on it and we made love again. Who was he? And what kind of effect was he having on me? And I on him? There was something about him that was higher. And he seemed to recognize something in me… Was he a man or an angel?
In our last hours together, Patrick told me about his suicide attempt in New York. He had become increasingly obsessed with death over a few months' time. It was invading his dreams, showing up in his artwork, dogging him relentlessly. He felt that this life was too painful.
He was too sensitive to deal with it all.
Finally, he broke under the strain. It was a warm Saturday night in Manhattan. Midtown was thronged with couples enjoying a night out on the town. Patrick made his way through the crowds to a church. That was where he wanted to end his existence. He stepped over the hedge onto the church grounds and laid on the ground gazing up at the tall church spire and the sky beyond. It was there that he cut his wrists with a razor. He lay there bleeding, seeking release from this life, his pain pouring out to heaven.
It was taking too long, he thought. Something was wrong! Things weren't going as planned.
Suddenly Patrick heard a voice inside telling him to get up!! He stumbled to his feet. The spell was broken. He knew he wanted to live. He made his way on to the sidewalk and headed toward a hospital. As he made his way through the crowds, he asked people for help. No one paid him any attention. He was bleeding more profusely now, his pants and shoes were drenched in blood. No one helped. Finally he made it 16 blocks to the hospital where he collapsed near the entrance. The medics took him inside. He had lost so much blood that the doctors could not figure out how he had made it on his own. It had happened 3 weeks ago...
I reached out and took his wrist. Three cuts...recent.
How had I not noticed them?
I left Patrick in Savannah. A few days that felt like a small eternity.
He gave me his contact information in New York and his parent's address in Oregon, promising to stay in touch.
I drove back to Atlanta thoughtfully...
A few weeks passed. I wondered how and where Patrick was. He had hoped to leave New York City and attend an art college in Savannah.
Meanwhile, the company I was working for sent me on an unexpected trip to New York City. I packed my bag and rushed to the airport. Once there, I would find a way to sandwich some time in to see what had become of Patrick. I called his apartment. No answer. I went to the bookstore that he had worked at before he'd gone missing the day of his suicide attempt. Just 2 wks later, as he left the store, the urge had hit again but on this day he had taken the first plane anywhere and landed in Atlanta.
"Hi...is Patrick here?"
The owners, a middle-aged married couple took a careful look at me and asked, "Are you Debbie?"
I saw the worried looks on their faces. I nodded and braced myself. Their words tumbled out, both of them talking at once. "Patrick's gone! He's disappeared again...just like the other times. We paid him on Friday and that's the last we've heard from him. It's been 5 days! Thank God you've come! He told us all about you. We've looked everywhere! No one else has seen him either!"
This was the worst possible news. Patrick was in trouble. Suicidal again. We shared all the information we had. There wasn't much to go on. I had 3 days in New York and much of it had to be devoted to work. I had lived in New York for 10 years, so I knew my way around, but I also knew how impossible it would be to find a needle in THIS haystack.
With a heavy heart, I retraced my steps...his apartment, favorite restaurants in little India, every place I could think of. I worked in between countless phone calls that lead only to his voice mail and calls to the couple at the bookstore. Beyond that, I paced and prayed and called out to him. I walked the streets endlessly, my heart breaking. Three days and nights passed like that. I knew nothing. I was exhausted. It was time to go. I hailed a cab as late as I dared and asked him to rush to the airport via the bookshop. "Wait for me!! Please don't go! I'll pay you extra!" I ran in to say goodbye and to concede defeat.
I was utterly miserable.
I found them at the back of the store. The owners were beaming through their tears. Patrick had just walked in moments before. He ran to me, scooped me up and hugged me so tightly.
When he put me down, he opened his hand and showed me a crumpled photo of me that we had taken in Georgia before parting. He cried and said, "This picture of you kept me alive. I held onto it through everything. I knew you'd come!"
He had walked the streets himself for 3 days and nights battling the urge to take his life again. I saw the dark circles under his ravaged eyes. So much pain. He was going to stay with the couple for awhile...rest and get on his feet.
The timing of everything was so unbelievable...
I made my flight with a relieved heart.
About a month later, I returned to New York and spent a few days with Patrick. He was in a much better place. There was a light in his eyes again and the little smile that played around his face.
We were in a special kind of reality when we were together. It was as true in New York City as it was in Atlanta and Stone Mountain. Night and day meant little, the city was our playground, his apartment a love nest. We made love in every room as if to imprint my energy in his space, leaving only when we were famished. One very early morning we wandered into a Polish club at 4am to eat, drink and play pool. I don't know what kind of special atmosphere accompanied us, but the regulars, the salt-of-the-earth kindly folks gathered around, coaching my pool shots while keeping the banter and vodka flowing. We laughed till we ached as they translated their earthy humor.
I began to understand more of his past and the things he struggled with. He had some serious wounds around his mother. Something murderous. His anger turned in on himself?
Again, somehow he struck me as more angelic than human.
Too sensitive for this world...
Life was pulling us in different directions again. I wasn't sure when we'd meet again.
We knew there was no need to plan.
A few months later the phone rang. I picked it up and answered without thinking. "Hello my Heart..."
The words just tumbled out. Could those words have come out of my mouth? I heard them. My face flushed with embarrassment.
It was Patrick...
about a year and a half later, I was driving down a country road. Suddenly, as if popping through a veil, Patrick...or rather, the essence of Patrick was sitting next to me like before. My hair stood on end. I smelled him...the Indian spice smell of him. I realized some oldies music was playing on the radio...just like before.
I understood also that he was no longer struggling...no longer in a body.
It had all become more than he could bear and he had ended his life...and his pain.
I also understood in that moment that there was mercy...not condemnation as I had been taught.
Patrick rode with me for some time. He had come to show me and to say goodbye.
Then he vanished.
In the aftermath, several things became clear to me from this extraordinary experience.
Our meeting was incredibly orchestrated. There were details too numerous and personal to recount here, but none of this was happenstance. Our connection had weight and purpose beyond what humans can do for each other.
Were we transfigured into divine aspects of ourselves? Were we taken over by divine beings in the lovemaking? Neither of us had ever experienced anything approaching this. We were tireless, not in control. We poured heat...a supernatural heat. It was for deep, deep healing for both of us.
It was life-giving in a way that can't be described. It gave us the ability to go on.
After our brief time together, I was so profoundly satisfied and fed from the experience that I did not desire sex for 2 years. Beyond earthly satisfaction.
We have some connection that I do not understand fully. We had been sent to each other. From the moment we met, the psychic information that was given, his knuckle brushing up my spine unexpectedly, conveying energy and information.
He was more than he appeared to be.
The mind-reading, the closeness, the lightning sign, New York, his sitting beside me in the car...
These beyond-the-ordinary experiences have been a hallmark of my life since my spiritual training began. It is dictated by an inner and outer force. There is no particular pattern or rhythm to it. It is something I have learned to live with. It has made my life work well. I understand it more in retrospect. I have found it to be unerring. I find it fascinating to be guided in this important aspect. Sexual energy and the desire for intimacy are powerfully charged dimensions of our lives. Their force is potent. If used wisely it can empower our lives and take us into higher dimensions of love and spirit.
Conversely, if misused, we can pay a heavy price.
We are living within a Divine Mystery...