I’m not sure that I agree with what I am about to say. That’s part of why I wanted to write in this blog; to put some weird theological, spiritual thoughts in my head out on paper. I may not be sure about what I’m going to say in the next sentence, but…I’m pretty sure I believe in teleportation, and I think I have teleported a couple of times myself.
A few moments in my life cause me to believe I may have temporarily teleported to a different place and, maybe, time. The first took place when I was ten years old sitting alone on the edge of my bed. My family moved from St. Louis, Missouri to the city of Cagayan de Oro in the Southern Philippines in 1997 when I was nine years old. The move was simultaneously wonderful and incredibly painful. The most difficult part of the move was the loss of the land I had grown up on, and the friends and family that we left behind.
In 1997 email had not yet become the staple of long distance communication that it is today. Snail mail (especially overseas and definitely in third world countries) was still the main form of transoceanic conversation. One afternoon, about six or seven months into our move, I received a letter from my cousin Joel. The contents of the letter where typical boyhood topics like the rifle he was saving up for, and the current events of his school and home life.
As I read the descriptions of his life a deep longing for him and my former home flooded my heart. Finishing the letter, I sat silently on the edge of my bed thinking about home and feeling a depth of aching new to me. The loneliness began to spread from my thoughts and heart into my very bones. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t move. I wanted to scream, but there was no sound. It was a new and strange wrestling for my ten-year-old heart.
After allowing my whole body to experience the physicality of this intense emotion I closed my eyes and began to imagine. I pictured myself sitting on the top of the staircase in my grandparents’ home in Doniphan, Missouri. Their guest bedroom was upstairs in the second story of the house and whenever my family visited, which growing up had been often, we stayed in that room. As I sat on the top step of the staircase I allowed the force of my longing and the imagery of my memory to transport me there. I began to see the steps. I noticed the curves and color of the banister and the grain and knots of the wood. I glimpsed the sun streaming in the window slits of the front door at the bottom of the steps. And then the wood began to press against my feet and legs. My right hand felt the wall to my right and my left hand the wood railing to the left. Familiar voices echoed down the hall, and the high-pitched laughter of my Aunt resonated in my ears. The aromas of homemade biscuits and gravy collided with the scent of my Grandma’s seasonal antiques and the fresh country air of Southern Missouri creating a complex symphony of smell.
And then it happened. I was there. It was a fleeting moment, a flickering of a candle flame. But I don’t know how else to explain what I remember except to say that for a brief second in time…I was actually there. And then, just as quickly, I was back in the Philippines.
The second example of teleportation from my life is less of an actual experience and more like a strange recurrent fantasy. I’ve imagined this situation repeatedly since I was a fairly young child. The fantasy usually shows up when something especially difficult in my life is beginning or ending.
Here’s how it goes. God pauses time and teleports me to heaven. He smiles at me and we look at my life together. His arm is around me and with His free hand he points to a moment in the future. In the future we’re walking together, His goodness is more evident than ever, and we are increasingly intimate. He fills my heart with the faith, hope, and love that I need for whatever the situation is and then releases me back into time and life. This has always been a special thought process for me and I think that the imagination of it, the impossibility of it, and the complete childlike ridiculousness of it is significant.
When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up onto the mountain and was transfigured into glory before their eyes he was so close to the cross. Think about how close to death He was. He’d been walking around for three straight years, homeless, often hungry, and surely physically exhausted. He had to be missing home. He had to be filled with longing for the glory of eternity that He possessed and laid aside. Maybe as He prayed He began to see the angels around him. Perhaps He saw the light of intense pride in Father’s eyes. Maybe He felt the full wind of the Spirit fill His lungs and the glory of His majestic throne beneath Him. He began to hear the voices of his closest friends. There was the funny mumble of Mosses’ speech and the high-pitched laughter of Elijah!
And then it happened. He was there. And his endless and fathomless ability to transport, transplant, and teleport heaven to earth allowed even the three surprised disciples to come along for the ride. It was a brief moment, a flickering of a candle flame. Peter said something wildly; God trumped with His declaration, and then it was over. They were back in Israel.
Jesus said that kingdom of heaven belongs to children. Children can fly. Children can teleport. Children can imagine. Children don’t know they can’t do things that men think they can’t. Philip teleported after he baptized the eunuch. The Church was still a child then, and could still teleport anyone it wanted to. Some days I forget that I am as much of a child as I am a man (don’t read childish here…just read child). Sometimes I forget how to fly. Many days I forget to imagine. And there are certainly days that I forget that I can teleport too…but not today. Today I’m going on a trip. I hope to see you there.
– These thoughts were influenced by Madeline L’engle and Jay McCumber.