Encounters

Photo Title: “Follow Me”

I remember when the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released.  I was a year or so out of high school. This sci-fi classic was a Steven Spielberg blockbuster about people who encountered friendly extraterrestrials. Cities witnessed flying UFOs, beams of light in darkened skies and scientists share dialogue with aliens via a connection of musical notes. Though we know aliens were there, they emerged as otherworldly backlit shadows near the end of the movie, as character, Roy Neary believes and comes into their presence.

Close Encounters is packed with drama, adventure, and mystery. For me, the film conveyed an almost divine meaning. Nevertheless, the film celebrated its 40th anniversary with re-released versions, the director’s cut, and Blu-ray bonus discs.

This is by no means a review of the movie, but it is a sighting of an encounter, not with flying saucers and fictional beings, but nonetheless a brief review of an event.

2020 was a blur of stained encounters I would like to erase from my memory. As heart wrenching as it is to see a population of people disenfranchised and die in epidemic proportions, amid the overwhelming witness to systemic manifestations there are miracles.

On May 26, 2020 after leaving a graduation drive-by party, the clouds began to grow darker as lights bolted from the sky. As we continued, a strong wind scurried leaves in the road ahead of us and it began to rain. By the time I reached the edge of my mother’s driveway, a torrent unleashed deafening claps of thunder and severe lightning.

As I turned to steer the car in reverse, I heard the explosion of a canon. At that precise moment, a brilliant beam of light appeared in the rear windshield. My mother saw one in the front. The beam lasted a few seconds. It felt like something tried to penetrate the car, so I stopped, thinking we had been hit but there was no impact. Nothing was broken and nothing was missing. The two of us looked at each other in awe, knowing angels covered us like armor, as the strikes (or fiery darts) bounced away. This was not a sci-fi depiction but an experience of being spared by a close encounter of God’s mercy; something we should also give to others.

Though the release of drama and appalling actions display on the screen of our lives, we are not defined by the sighting of deliberate attacks, darts, or descriptors of who others believe we are other than who God says we are.

Having encountered a miracle of the personal kind, I feel a re-releasing of trust in someone bigger than myself in all circumstances, even amid daily distractions. Who do you trust? The power of His presence is not of this world.  

In my life’s script the director’s cut is justified so I can shift from a mediocre existence to one with more capacity to be filled by His spirit.

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