I’m going to change the topic from Donald Trump’s efforts to start World War Three, and take you, dear readers, on a short, mental journey to the legendary island of Patmos.
Patmos is a gorgeous, but tiny island close to the coast of Turkey. It’s also the place where John wrote the Book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, some 2000 years ago.
In a nutshell, Revelation states that God is not some distant figure, clueless and living, compartmentalized, in some far off, gilded region like a Donald Trump on the top floor of a Trump Tower. God is not making it all up as he goes along like Trump, directing now aircraft carriers to bomb North Korea, now whimsically firing off missiles at Syria over chocolate cake.
Revelation states that God has a very hands on approach to helping us in the real world arena of concrete, confusing, muddled life and history. And he has a plan, as well, a big plan. You are a part of that big, dynamic plan. And its good.
I was motivated to make a trip to Patmos in the middle of the Ebola false flag and with the Saatchi Bill on the horizon because one of the most surprising things for me about writing this blog has been encountering God.
Surprising, because this blog mostly concentrates on facts, mechanical causes and effects, and one thing that is perhaps even more boring than these, logical fallacies. This blog goes on and on about the details of biosecurity 4 regulations, for example. You wouldn’t think this would be a place where you would meet God. But when you are fighting evil, extreme evil, evil vaccine plans on a global scale, evil plans to stand down biosecurity regulations to spread a lethal disease, fighting a Spectre like crime organization, God is there as a force, a sword, a shield, directly involved in our struggles.
I have experienced myself, seen myself that whenever God wants to, he can intersect with this world and produce any effect he wishes, not necessarily through dramatic thunderbolts and tempests. God can use the subtlest signs, coincidences, rearrange the sequence of the tiniest of details of events in split seconds to give us tremendous lucky breaks. He can give us dreams, visions, intuitions and inspiration. By opening up our thinking, he can lead us into magically fruitful and protected paths of action.
It is this experience of God’s help over the nine years of writing this blog which makes me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with you, too, right now. He knows you, too, better than you know yourself as Psalm 139 says. He is interested in everything about you. He has a dream for your life.
That might sound implausible to lots of people, sitting reading these words right now.
Prince Harry has just opened up about how he could not talk about the grief he felt over the death of his mother for 20 years, only to find many people can relate to his struggles.
Every day, after all, brings so many pressures, stresses, chores, tasks, problems, upsets, frustrations, we barely have time to breathe, let alone to remember, feel emotions, or reflect on the big questions like God. Most people are emotionally and mentally drained from their work, their tour of duty in a war zone, worn down by bills, health scares, addictions, divorces, off the rail children, family breakdowns, mid life crisies, they have no energy to spare to get out of a chair at the end of the day, let alone read a blog post about a journey to Patmos, especially if our trip to Patmos starts on a depressing, winter evening in December 2014 on the deck of an anonymous, multi deck ship reeking of diesel.
Not what you expected, eh, dear reader? You probably expect to read about “azure blue seas”, “warm breezes ruffling palm trees”, ” scorching heat”. But there has to be some drama, surprise, suspense, no? Anyway, back to our departure.
The seas are wild even inside the harbour as our ship raises its ramp in Piraeus at about 8 o clock on a cold, rainy evening.
To get some idea of just how wild the sea is, imagine standing in a wind tunnel while clinging with red, freezing fingers to a railing. Your eyes are so watery, it’s not easy in to see the tear drop shaped lights of Athens as they fade into the distance over roaring, black waves.
Most of the other passengers on the ship are students returning to their island homes for the Christmas holidays. They are in high spirits, anticipating happiness, and careering around in groups, laughing, taking selfies and singing the lyrics of some new pop hit you have never heard. Their singing and euphoria are delightful until, that is, a dozen fly down a staircase towards you when you have just reached the middle rung and the ship is rolling from side to side. That moment, it is good thing that you are so much older, more jaded and cynical. When you look at them sternly, they see you mean business. You really would force them to jump over the railings rather than budge an inch. They fall silent and proceed to tip toe around you like a no go zone.
There are only a few other “adults” on board, including a doctor who holds a surgery on Patmos on a regular basis. As with so many other small islands in Greece, there is no doctor on Patmos, which has only about 3000 permanent residents.
About half the students collect their bags and disembark in a whirlwind of singing, bustling feet and tumultuous jostling, on the first island where the ship stops.
The ramp goes back up. The ship heads back out into a black, black, endless sea, a bit like your own psyche as you get up in the morning to face another day at the coalface, in the office, toiling away at a desk, a blackboard, a computer screen.
Fearfully, I remember leaning over the railing and looking down expecting to see at least a gleam of light on churning waves below. Yet, the black sea mixed together with the night had become one indistinguishable chaos. There is no moon, no stars, no island lights in sight, just black, black night.
Paradoxically, this far away sea turns out, for all its gusting and roaring, to be one of the most familiar and constant places on earth because it is just like Homer described it 3000 years ago.
Let’s take a quick break now, dear reader, and peruse a bit of Homer to get into the mood…Remember we still have seven hours to go until we reach Patmos.
“What monstrous clouds —
churning the seas in chaos, gales blasting,
raging around my head from every quarter,”
“the deadly gulfs of the barren salt swells”
“crests on endless crests.”
Read seven hours of Homer’s sea storm scenes and you will get the idea of what it is like to take the night ship to Patmos.
The Greek ships may be bigger today. But a winter night over the Aegean Sea still has the same malevolent, annihilating, life destroying aspect as Homer described it, an aspect which filled Odysseus with so much dread, dread of shipwreck on barren islands in endless, barren, salty seas, surging and boiling, underneath chaotic clouds, frothing and swirling like a second sea around far off points of star light.
There is the same barrenness, indifference, same privation now as then. No cities, no art, no fire, no warmth, no hearth, no connections, no relationships, no identity, no past or future, no culture, no dreams, nothing that makes life worth living for. Just sea, sea, sea and footfall on a rock surrounded by more sea, sea and sea.
Cliffs hurtle out of the black night, throw a punch at the ship as it shaves past, ploughing through crest upon crest. You are on the look out for more cliffs, when a smooth, pebble shaped island appears on the other side and skims like a disc over the frothing waves heading for us before it, too, slips just as quickly back into the darkness.
The many, uninhabited islands looming out of nowhere, punctuate a sea haunted with howling, impalpable threats with very solid hazards.
At this point, dear reader, I hope you regret having taken this trip with me to Patmos. You thought it was going to be beautiful, poetic, uplifting trip, didn’t you? And now you find yourself adrift in a choatic kind of hell on a nameless ship, sailing from point A to B, on a dust speck of a planet, spinning around in the vastness of the universe, part of just one of trillions of galaxies.
The fight or flight response may be activated in you as it was activated in me back then. Fearfully you might be reaching for your mouse to click on another website just as I fearfully reached for the deck door to get back into the interior of the ship. And only to find the wind on deck had become so strong, I could not prise the door open.
A battle starts between you, the door and the wind. Finally, you manage to outsmart both of them and make it out of a place as difficult to exit as any Cyclops’ cave.
Inside the ship, there is a model of the Aegean Sea spread out on a table. A GPS signal allows you, unfortunately, to track the movement of ship between the islands in real time. You stare for a long time at the tiny, flickering dot. It doesn’t seem to move at all and the dot is still very far indeed from Patmos. An end of the world feelings grips you.
It does not help that one of the handful of passengers still on board the ship is a sunburnt elderly man with an expressionless face like a knotty oak tree, hardened in disapproval towards you too. No chance of some light hearted banter there.
Exhausted, you slump down in a chair under dull fluorescent light draining everything of colour as a clock goes through the motions of imagining there is such a thing as time when, in reality, you now know there is just standstill.
I bet by now you really regret reading this far, dear reader. But wait.
As I sat slumped in a chair, exhausted, I became aware of an incredibly bright light filling my field of vision.
At first, I thought a second set of lights had been turned on inside the ship. But when I looked up, I saw only the same, dull fluorescent strip lighting throbbing on the ceiling as before.
I became aware that the incredible radiance was coming from outside the ship, infusing the horizon in front, brightening the air somewhere between the ship and Patmos, transforming the terrible night into something beautiful, calm, peaceful.
What happened next, I cannot describe, but you will know that by now having read the stilted prose so far, and bear with me.
The brightness of the light moved towards the ship, sending radiance in all directions. It wasn’t a natural light because it was in the middle of pitch black night. It was spiritual light spreading over everything.
I felt a veil was being lifted from my eyes and I recognized the figure of Jesus Christ walking towards the ship on the sea, a gigantic, towering figure.
God illuminates us not like a physical thing, not like the interior of the ship us illuminated by an external source, chairs covered in a fluorescent gleam. God illuminates us by lighting some fiery spark inside us, which flares up and burns with its own flame, making our minds and spirits bright so that darkness becomes as light to us.
We are spirit. The truth is inside us. It just has to be brought to consciousness. When Jesus Christ reveals himself to us, he is somehow familiar, we remember something, someone we knew in another state of being. We can have faith in God because we have something of God, of the divine within us.
At the same time, we don’t have much of the divine left within us. I and God are very different. Whereas I am a fleshy person, sunk in exhaustion in a chair with falling eyelids, Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things, the fire at the centre of all things, the cause and effect, holding all things together, in the palm of his hand.
I can t go towards God or even imagine him. God must reveal himself to me, lift a veil from my darkened minds. God must chose to come towards us, to meet us in a movement, a movement from the infinite world to this finite world. And the amazing thing is that he does chose to meet us when we feel down, depressed and lost.
Yes, dear readers, Jesus Christ, his radiance, glory, broke through that stormy night on that ship sailing to Patmos. Absorbed in his energy field, in his love, I was no longer slumped in my chair drained of energy, but an elemental power, valuable to God in the middle of the endless wind, sea and night.
This world may seem like night to us, hostile, indifferent, cold, meaningless. But there are two worlds. We also belong to God’s world where there is love, peace, meaning, life, purpose, creativity, light, truth and goodness. Each one of us is infinitely valuable to God.
Now, after that turn of events, I hope you think that long trip across the night sea was worth it, after all.
Luckily, we have also, in the meantime, arrived at the island itself. A signal summons any passengers who wish to disembark down to the car deck. The ramp goes up. The ship seemed to be moving very slowly on the sea. But as the harbour flashes by, you suddenly realize it was sailing very fast. Even in the darkness, you can see that Patmos looks completely different, at least from Athens. Oriental looking, white washed, roofless buildings and gigantic palm trees flash by on the quay.
As you walk down the ramp to a hotel, you hear the doctor tell you Patmos is a magical island, but the cave of the Apocalypse is the least interesting thing on it, and a waste of time to go there.
You guessed it. In the next installment, I’m going to ignore the doctor’s advice and take the readers on a short, mental journey to explore the cave of Apocalypse itself. You need to bring a pretty solid pair of shoes with you. We’re going to climb up a pretty steep incline through leafy woods to reach this legendary cave full of surprises.