Epiphany in slow motion. I suppose that’s the proper description of what began after my “ancient of days” dream. After all, the dream did not turn me into an atheist by any means. Point in fact, it blew open my heart, mind, and soul into realization of what Rudolf Otto in his classic, The Idea of the Holy, terms the mysterium tremendum, that is, the tremendous (or terrible) mystery … perhaps, terrifying Mystery, to be more exact. (Otto, 12-13)
But how could I completely abandon Yahweh, the god of the Hebrews? After all, as Alex Woolf points out in A Short History of the World:
The Hebrews, later known as the Israelites and then the Jews, were an ancient people originally from Mesopotamia, who settled in Canaan… Their kingdoms were never powerful or long-lasting and were dominated by one powerful empire after another. Yet the Hebrews arguably had a greater impact on history than all those who conquered them. Their belief in a single god, which they preserved through centuries of dispersal, foreign rule and persecution, inspired three world religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (30)
No, it was the increasing sense of the mysterium tremendum, terrifying Mystery, that we term “God;” the realization of something much greater and deeper and impenetrable that began to dawn upon me. God … the supranatural … the numinous, the spiritual realm. The unseen intuitively seemed bigger, far more populous than the seen world, awesome and frightening and bewildering … exciting, stimulating, even inspirational. All of this along with the growing sense-idea that the god of the Hebrews was never at any point confined to the Hebrews/Jews.
Along with this came the awareness that the Christian Bible was simply not big enough to contain more than a limited view of the Divine in and through the religious-spiritual experience of primarily one people. I had long before discarded the doctrine of sola scriptura; in my sojourn through Eastern Orthodoxy, I had embraced the idea-belief that holy Tradition was equal, or nearly so, to the holy Scriptures. Now I began moving out beyond the parameters of the Judeo-Christian faith-religion (but without rejecting and throwing away that spiritual faith-tradition.)
One verse from the Psalms of David took on an almost overpowering meaning for me: “Be still and know that I am God.” Ah! But what did I really know about God? The Eternal One, who had revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the One who manifested “him”self in Jesus of Nazareth became more and more for me the all-pervasive Spirit of Light, Life, Love, Purity, Peace and Truth; the Breath of Life; the Geist der Welt, Spirit of the World, or the Spiritus Universum.
All of this finally culminated in an extreme crisis animae, crisis of the soul, on one particular night, followed the next morning by an even greater epiphany…