“Whoa,” my friend said as she read the plaque next to the T Rex replica, which loomed over both of us in the Museum of Science. “It says that Tyrannosaurus rex had 3-D vision!”
“Cool!” I said and we both imagined for a moment what that would be like. But just for a moment. Quickly, we realized the same thing. We looked at each other silently, a bit sheepishly, and then laughed.
Because, of course, we humans see in 3-D too.
Yes, we know that our world is three-dimensional — that it has depth as well as height and width — but how often do we really think about the full depth of life? Or of ourselves?
Often we merely live on the surface of things. We see and observe, but too often we connect only with what is readily and easily perceived, perceiving and handling without being aware, being ignorant in our busy lives of the fullness of everything around us, especially of ourselves.
While watching the fireworks display of my town’s Old Home Day, I have marveled how a bright green fountain exploding out of a glittering red flower cascades right toward me, wondering what it looks like to the people watching the display from the other side of the river, thinking how it’s too bad that they don’t see the same effect. But then I remember that the common fireworks in town shows aren’t two-dimensional, they aren’t aimed in one direction. They are balls that explode in all directions, full and round and marvelously three-dimensional, even though no human can see it all at once.
Life is like that. I am like that. I don’t always recognize, appreciate, or realize how full and round and marvelously deep life is — how full and round and marvelously deep I am. I came to realize the fullness of this truth only after I became aware of the presence of God.
Being Fully Aware
I was an ordinary person, living an ordinary life (yes, I live my life differently because of my disease and disability, but that doesn’t make it any less ordinary), usually living on the surface of things, knowing about and sometimes feeling the connections between me and other people, as well as other living things around me, but not being fully aware. I confess, I did not believe in the reality of God at the time, happy with this life and material existence being all that there was.
My first knowledge of God’s presence was the kind of awareness that we sense when we are being watched. Like when the hairs raise on the back of your neck because you know that someone is behind you, directing their attention at you. My hairs didn’t literally raise on the back of my neck, but the awareness was there, the knowledge. It wasn’t like someone was just regarding me from behind, however, but also from each side of me, in front of me, above me, and beneath me, all at once and… continually. It was a visceral realization of my real and full presence in real and full space, and the space itself wasn’t empty or lifeless, but full and alive.
My short but seemingly pleasant stint with atheism necessarily ended that day.
Telling the Story of My Conversion
All of these thoughts have been flowing through my mind recently as I’ve been trying to write the story about my journey of faith, of how I converted from nominal Catholic to atheist to spiritual-but-not-religious person to true believing Christian in the Catholic Church. But I’m having difficulties. What is a conversion story? What does it mean? What is it really about?
Is it about finding God? Why, did someone lose Him? Did I say, “Over here! I found Him!”
Is it about being found by God? I certainly didn’t feel like I was lost or missing. And I didn’t have the sense of a warm and loving hand grasping mine and bringing me home. It wasn’t like that.
So… what was it like?
It was like suddenly becoming three-dimensional or, at least, suddenly realizing that I am. Like recognizing that I have 3-D vision.
Or like the fireworks. I can’t see what’s on the other side, but I came to understand that it’s there. I can’t see the round fullness of the exploding colors, but I sense the fullness, sense it deep in my bones, feel it in my mind, know its truth without seeing it. In much the same way, I don’t need to look behind me to know that there is a behind me. I can be looking straightforward and feel the majestic three-dimensionality of my person in this particular space in this particular time, the wholeness of my movement in free space, and likewise be aware of the integrity, the infinite depth and eternal life of me, body and soul, one with God who is always and everywhere.
And I am somehow more alive in the realization.
Through the vision of infinity, God sees the truth about fireworks and the truth about me. Through the vision of faith, I understand and know that I am within the firework, not to one side or to the other, but in the center of the fullness. God is in that center, God is all around and beyond.
Yet there is no beyond to God, Who holds everything at once in the heart of His mind.
© 2018 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.