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“The Woman and the Cave”

We all have visions, why don’t we discuss them more?

“I inhaled the scent of myrrh flowing from the depths of the cave as I held up my torch to turn the corner. The sweet aroma that covered his shroud floated through the air, masking any stench of death and decay. My heart pounded louder and louder as I stood at the corner where the breach in the cave’s walls opened and I closed my eyes. I didn’t know what I was going to find. The stone was moved when we came here to his tomb. Who moved it? Was someone tending to his body on this day it was our turn? Did someone take him away? My God, what has happened here. . .”

When I wrote “The Woman and the Cave,” I did not expect the words that poured out so effortlessly. It was a vision; my eyes were closed as I was typing, and I didn’t really know what was happening. Before I hurriedly sat at my computer to type, I was busy doing other things. I was picking up the house, getting ready to make lunch and then get back to work. But you see, visions don’t come when WE want them to, nor when we ask them to, nor when it’s most convenient. I have experienced quite the opposite. And in discussions about my visions with clergy, my spiritual director, and my therapist, the fact that they come when they want to and not when I want them to, is the reason they all believe me that these visions are true and real.

But you see, visions don’t come when WE want them to, nor when we ask them to, nor when it’s most convenient.

So why is it that discussing visions has become so taboo? Why aren’t we, as Christians and spiritual people, having more open conversations about our visions and sharing them with others? The answer is simple: fear. There is fear in being that vulnerable, fear in people thinking we’re crazy, fear in a long history of mystical suppression, especially when it comes to women. I am here to say that I am sick of fear. I spent so much of my life living in fear of being judged by others and it was a darn waste. I don’t want to end my time on this earth not having shared my life’s experiences (and visions) and helping others open up to do the same. Friends, your visions are real. Stop living in fear of being judged about your visions from God. God didn’t give us visions in the first place for us to just suppress them as “crazy thoughts of a seemingly ill mind.” God gave us visions for us to SEE, for us to SHARE, and for us to learn and grow from.

One week before lockdown last year, I was given a vision like I’ve never experienced before. The whole time I was flipping the light switch on and off, opening and closing my eyes, taking my glasses off and putting them back on, because I thought my creative mind was playing tricks on me. But it wasn’t…

I was standing in front of my home altar getting ready to light some candles and pray, when the image hanging on the wall above started to shift and change on its own. It’s a standard Jesus of the Sacred Heart/white Jesus image in the same frame as one of Mother Mary. It’s definitely not my favorite portrayal of Jesus, nor my favorite painting, but a friend gave it to me, and it has meaning, so there it sits.

Jesus’ hand started to move, his finger pointing to his heart. His chest lifted, filling breath through his body. His face started to change; a smile emerged, then his lips started to move. He was saying “Kristen, listen to me, I need you to listen.”

I was so taken aback by what I was witnessing, I just stood there in shock with tears welling up in my eyes, “could this be real? Am I really seeing this right now?” Little did I know, that was just the beginning: the image of Jesus started to shift and transform into a flipbook of images flashing before me; different faces, different skin tones, different hand positions, different colors of clothing, different facial features, all the while breath moving through the body, inhaling and exhaling as each image metamorphasized into another. Tears streamed down my face as I took in this bold and beautiful image before me. I couldn’t believe my eyes and I kept flicking the light switch on and off, opening and closing my eyes – what is happening?

Today, a year later, I know exactly what this vision foretold. When my spiritual director and priest both asked me what I thought this vision meant, I couldn’t answer, but today I have no doubt it was telling me of the icons I’d be writing over the next year; that the bright and bold colors of clothing and skin tones would be a new way of portraying the Saints and inviting people into their lives.

I am sharing these stories with you in hopes you will feel more comfortable sharing your own visions, friends. God wants us to share them. It’s not about proving anything. It’s not about trying to convert someone to believe what we believe. And it’s definitely not about living in fear. It’s about owning the gifts that have been given to us, that the world has given us, that nature has given us. The lives of the Saints and holy figures of our history are chalk-full of visionaries and mystics. We must stop being so afraid of talking about it. Visions are nothing to be ashamed of.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

- Catherine of Siena -

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