Sheridan, Clare – I, lying on my bed of fear, removed myself consciously in spirit to the feet of Father John
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
My Crowded Sanctuary – Clare Sheridan
I took my problem to Father John. It was more in the nature of a confession that I poured out: 'Those noises in the sky-you know Father, those noises-you know those engines of war- they fill me with fear. I am asking for help and strength and courage. . . .'
It was not necessary to string words together at all; he understood.
'Sister, why don't you come here when there are noises in the sky? This place was ever a sanctuary. Souls have sought refuge here in all times of danger. Always there have been wars.'
'It is so far to come in the night,' I protested, but I had misunderstood. Father John meant that I should come to him in spirit.
I had not long to wait; that very night the test recurred. I refrained from importuning the telephone centre. I did not get up-I lay still on my bed and concentrated. Gradually my heart ceased to throb unevenly, and I found myself crossing the park. I could not get to Father John by simply wishing - I had to get myself there, past the sentry at the gate, who did not see me, past the house, which was all dark and still, up the steps to the Chapel door, which was stiff and heavy to open, and which I closed behind me by leaning all my weight against it. I was safe now. Father John held my hands, and no words passed between us. There was nothing to explain, for he knew and expected me. I was conscious of the raucous noise above our heads, but I seemed to hear it dimly, as one hears things through a fading anaesthetic.
Only when the noise suddenly grew louder I found myself crying in a tone of panic, 'Father John! Father John!' But it was not from any fear other than the fear of being forced back to my body a fear of slipping away from the Chapel. For a moment it seemed as if I could not hold on. But Father John held my hands firmly, as though he would not let me go. It seemed as if time was not, and I still have no idea whether I stayed an hour or only a minute.
But when the All Clear sounded I was back in my body and filled with a strange exhilaration. For the first time I had won a victory over myself, and I was smiling and half laughing with pleasure and satisfaction. Several times more I was able to repeat the experiment, until one night my 'according to plan' was thrown out of gear by Heyward. He had found it altogether too noisy, and had come into the kitchen, where I proceeded to boil a kettle for tea.
But while the kettle was boiling I went back to my room and lay me down, and escaped in spirit to Father John to explain why I couldn't come! From that time onward I was conscious of a change, and that it was not any longer necessary to seek sanctuary.
My fear had resolved itself into nothing more than an ill-at-ease sensation.
It was not long after this experience that I read in a life of St Clare what claimed to be a proof of her miraculous powers. The occasion was a feast of the Church, and she was prevented by illness from attending the celebration of High Mass. When a sister nun told her how regrettable had been her absence, Clare informed her that she was there, had seen everything that happened, and had taken part in every detail of the celebration with the other nuns. If the Catholic Church regards this as a miraculous occurrence, one can only say that we to-day are living in an age of miracles. Actually there was nothing easier or more natural, viewed in the light of psychic knowledge, than that Clare, lying on her bed of sickness, should transport herself consciously in spirit to the church; or that I, lying on my bed of fear, should remove myself consciously in spirit to the feet of Father John.