Last April I was in Puerto Vallarta for 5 days for my cousin’s wedding. The trip had been filled with the usual family joys and tensions, and while I enjoyed the beach and the pool and the margaritas – I was at the same time having incredibly vivid and strange dreams, and was missing my husband and daughters, who had not been able to join me on this trip.
On my last day in Mexico, a feeling of foreboding had been haunting me, but I made it to the airport and had no sense of trouble when I got on my flight home to Toronto at 3:30pm that Sunday afternoon.
We knew at takeoff that there was stormy weather in Toronto. For whatever reason, our plane arrived early in Toronto air space, just in time to catch the tail end of the storm. And so, since we were early, we had to circle the airport in rough turbulence the likes of which I have never experienced. I am a seasoned flyer, and turbulence does not generally upset me, so perhaps it was because the turbulence went on so long (I think about 10 minutes although it felt like hours) and was so unrelentingly rough that in the midst of it, I started to cry. Not just a few tears, but hot streaming tears down my face and quiet gasping sobs I tried to pretend was coughing. I buried my face in my book to hide my tears, embarrassed for anyone to see how upset I was.
As the turbulence went on and on, I took a moment to look around and I saw white knuckles clenched on arm rests and people with their eyes closed and their lips moving, and I heard people using their air-sickness bags.
So in that moment I was actually afraid for my life.
And I knew at one point that it didn’t matter to me if I died, I just wanted to see my children and my husband again, to tell them I loved them and hold them in my arms. I knew they were waiting for me on the ground below…and dramatic as it sounds now, I didn’t want my girls to grow up without a mother.
It may not surprise you to hear that in that moment I started talking with God. Praying.
Mostly I hoped he would help me to stop crying. And I promised him anything if he would make it possible for me to see my children again. And then I heard these words in a loud, clear, almost booming male voice:
“Write the words, speak the words, write every single word.”
And I heard this over and over again as the plane was tossed through the air. With every plummet and creak on the plane, every jolting movement I heard: “Write. The. Words., Speak. The. Words., Write. Every. Single. Word. Hear my roaring words in your heart and write the words.”
So loud and clear and so unexpected were these words that I looked up and down the aisles to see if someone was speaking, I looked around to see if others were hearing what I was hearing. They were not. These words were for me.
And so, as you do when speaking with God on a storm-tossed airplane over Pearson, I promised him everything. I whispered to him through my tears that I would write the words, write every single word, that I would speak the words, that I would hear and write and speak the words he has placed, like a roaring storm, in my heart.
And so I write…because this is not a directive that you ignore.
Certainly, when we landed (and everyone on the plane with me clapped and cheered when our wheels finally touched the runway) I was overjoyed to see my family, I laughed and cried to see them and I hugged them so tight they couldn’t breathe. And they laughed at me because it had only been 5 days. But I have a renewed sense of gratitude for them. I am less willing now to be parted from them.
And I wasn’t sure that I was ever supposed to write about this experience, which happened 8 months ago. And perhaps today as I post this I will be able to laugh at my fear of writing about the very experience that drives me to continue writing. And since that day in April, in my moments of doubt, in moments of meditation, when I ask the Divine how I can serve not myself but a higher purpose, the answer is always the same: write. Write every single word. Write what’s in your heart.
I do not get the sense that I am supposed to write fiction or poetry although I am certain that I could.
I am supposed to write what’s in my heart because someone, somewhere is supposed to read it, to hear it…perhaps it’s you.
Perhaps you too have had a direct encounter with the Divine, and your purpose or the way forward has been revealed to you in a beautiful and transformative way.
Perhaps you have made changes, small or sweeping, to your life based on that encounter, so filled with wisdom, truth and love.
And perhaps, like me, you know how blessed you are, you know you have been changed by your encounter with the divine storm. In a moment of terror or grief or pain you were cracked open, and the light got in.
And so I strive to remain open to further direction and guidance. Whether flying through a storm, or safe on my meditation cushion, or walking the forest trails…I listen. I write. I speak.
And I am so very grateful that I can.