Wednesday, April 15, 2009

(2) The Cathedral

Sitting in an inconspicuous back pew, with hardly a living soul
around, I suddenly heard the sound of chanting. Looking behind
me, I saw a large group of monks marching toward the chancel.
They were led by a bishop or abbot. Gasping, I looked about and
the whole cathedral seemed imbued in an altogether different
atmosphere. It suddenly was dark, and I felt that the day had
turned into night. The monks held candles.

Looking around, other than the procession of monks there was no
one else in the cathedral except me! As the monks quietly marched
by, I suddenly had an insight. In my mind's eye I realized that one of
those monks was me! Overwhelmed, like watching a film, the scene
changed. The monk, myself, suddenly was standing before the gate
of the cathedral. Kneeling in prayer, rising, making the sign of the
cross, the monk--myself--climbed onto a horse. Again the scene
quickly shifted. He was riding through Canterbury; and on either
side of his entourage stood hundreds of people, garbed in medieval
clothing. They were cheering him,

It had become obvious that this monk--myself--was leaving Canterbury,
leaving to go to another abbey. I knew the thoughts of this monk. He
was extremely sad, nearly in tears. He did not want to leave, but it
was his duty. And he knew in his heart that he would never ever see
Canterbury again in his lifetime. He was at that point a man of sorrow.

Then the vision evaporated, and I found myself back in my own time.
Sunlight streamed through the cathedral's windows, and I spotted a
few people milling around. Still sitting in that inconspicuous pew, I
was utterly in shock. Just a boy, I hardly knew what to do. So at the
time I did nothing and simply walked out of the cathedral.

The next morning I woke-up in the infirmary. After leaving the cathedral
I had dropped into a dead faint. Upon awakening I had a high fever,
followed by a really bad bout of flu. Plus, I was a very disturbed little

Being so young, I wasn't at all sophisticated when it came to figuring
out this vision I had. At the time I didn't tell anyone about it. (Now that
I am old, it doesn't matter.) However, over the years I figured I had three
choices regarding this incident. (1) I was sick, evidently feverish, so I
was hallucinating. (2) I picked up some sort of past mental residue
mysteriously still implanted in the cathedral. Or (3) I experienced a
past-life vision

As it stands now, I pretty much have focused on my third choice--that
this experience was a past-life vision. Why? Mainly it was a watershed
event, a life determining turning-point. This vision colored my inclination
towards the study of theology and psychology. I had ingested the ancient
Benedictine outlook--and seemed, throughout, to hold to that great
monastic mandate "to seek God." Granted I wandered down some fairly
esoteric avenues in this quest--yet always holding tight to this early vision.

But back to the youngster I was, who finally was released from the
infirmary. Immediately I went back to the cathedral and made a promise
that I would enliven that medieval monk--myself--and somehow bring
him "home." Gads! I didn't even know what I was talking about at the
time. My so-called promise just slipped out, unintended, and I had no
idea what I might have meant by this.

Life's flow keeps moving, however. And somehow those thoughts
seemingly buried deep in one's heart begin to break through into more
concrete acts. Through my years at King's School, besides the usual
curriculum, I began to study theological subjects more seriously on my
own. And, specifically, I started to delve into monastic studies--especially
in relation to the Benedictine presence in Canterbury Cathedral during
the Middle Ages.

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