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An amazing review by Helen Rivas Galván published online in Somos en escrito
Facing the Light is a collection of metaphysical encounters that seem to progress from an initial, unintended “chance” encounter with a being from a parallel dimension, to the deliberate pursuit of a state of silence wherein perfection and love can be found. Each story has a different protagonist (generically and collectively here called “man”); however, it could plausibly be the same person that is experiencing distinct encounters, and again, could possibly correspond to the author’s own journey towards creating a perfect metaphysical and philosophical state in which to contemplate the light of eternity.
“I remember the night when I closed my eyes and eternity opened before me…..
“When he said ‘Come’ I woke gently and followed him into the warm darkness. A door opened and we walked toward our encounter with eternity.”
Thus begins a life-long journey marked by several mystical and metaphysical encounters with beings who offer “man” glimpses into the vastness of eternity and its contrast to the earth’s reality. The experiences contrast darkness and light, devastation and perfection, calm and terror, and fear and peace. Man learns to listen and reflect on the meaning of his life; rid himself of worries and fears that weigh him down; and find calm, peace and love. He experiences all this within the realm of silence in each encounter.
The first encounter in “On the Porch” opens up the depths of the universe with the explanation of some of the mysteries of infinity. This allows man to reflect on the meaning of his life. Man is overwhelmed by the immensity and mystery of space, but also left with the feeling that the magic of that world remains within him and he belongs to it. “His visions showed me that part of me had a life apart from me in another world, an unknown world of which no one outside it could have any real idea.”
Very soon, another short encounter in the same story leaves man with the notion that he and the stranger will meet again, but not without some suffering involved. That knowledge will neither fade the magic of the encounter nor the feeling of wanting to be a part of the splendor of that mystic and silent world.
Another encounter in “With Wisdom in the Desert” comes through a ‘metaphysical accident’ with someone from another world, but which man knows had “…been sleeping in me and now she was awake.” Wisdom exudes completeness, confidence, light and simplicity; while man has built a fortress around his psyche with enough defenses to keep out intruders.
Eventually giving in to his fears, man finally allows Wisdom to touch him and let her power break the façade that has blocked his access to peace. With the majority of his worries, anxieties and fears gone, man realizes that his whole being has changed. And he acknowledges that it had been a long process for both of them: “Altogether she had worked on me for forty years.”
Over time, as recounted in both “Out of the Ravine” and “In the Sangre de Cristo”, man has more encounters with the stranger who walks and talks with him. “Peace itself had come to pay me a visit.” Peace is radiant with light and speaks in silence. The inner struggle that man fights against being shaken morally and drawn by the strength of the silence, “being killed with his kindness”, ends when he decides to trust and accept peace as a way of life. He will then seek it at every opportunity. “Peace took over…..As for going back to my old life, it no longer seemed possible.”
In the story “In the Rowboat”, man learns that he can remain calm in the midst of pain and suffering, by “…listening to peace’s very heartbeat” which gives one confidence while remaining engrossed and yet detached from the pain. The stranger he observes being tossed about in the sea for weeks conveys to him that “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.”
As man continues on his journey, he continues to seek peace and love, while at the same time resisting surrendering his “… destiny to the controlling ways of peace and submit to a force that would all but dissolve me in its peacefulness.”
Throughout his journey, man has learned to trust and realize that his journey will take him through roads where he might be lost, “…where all the roads I cannot see lead directly to eternity.” But the stranger has assured him that “To arrive at what you do not know you must go by a way you do not know. To arrive at what you are not you must travel through what you are.”
He has also learned to discern between the strangers that appear, and the worlds that are opened up for him. While two different strangers display a world of grandeur, beauty and splendor, their promises of that glory require distinct demands in return. While the stranger in “Out of the Ravine” “…traced in stark, peaceful outlines the conditions of his covenant, which as a matter of fact amounted to neither more nor less than following blindly in his footsteps” the one in “On the Beach” had a different petition: “His prize was big and beautiful and in return for it he wanted worship.” But in the sunlight, it became clear that with the latter, “…his heroic trappings (were) mere tinsel, a sad and lonely world with bright things in it. I saw that what he promised he could never give.”
The story that is perhaps the most intriguing as far as its connection and significance to the author’s own journey, if in fact we may make this association, is the third story, “A Room at the Clare.” It is difficult to say this is another encounter that “man” experiences, since this protagonist is the only female in the ten stories, and the only one with a name: Wyre de Lusa. Wyre could represent the author’s own reflection of her life, the vision of light, and the realization that she coveted and would pursue that light. “A piece of her now detached itself from her and ran shrieking from her. But what was left drew from that new sight a fervent love. It worked within her to open for her a door into a state of feeling unlike anything to which she was used. She remained wholly abandoned and a stranger to her old self so that her eyes, ever intent upon that object, were fixed and she seemed completely insensible.”
“What is this new light,” she asked, “that now shines through me and strikes my heart?”
“But now I have seen your splendor and my heart has been wounded by a life and logic apart from me. And I am its victim. The man at the helm sang about peace and his singing was more beautiful than anything I have ever heard. My heart is glad and my spirit rejoices.”
In just a little over 100 pages, the author has conveyed mystical encounters in a simple manner, with little dialogue; yet the messages that are delivered by the strangers that man encounters are deceivingly simple and overwhelmingly complex. It is the journey of a man living in two dimensions, wanting both worlds, yet afraid to let go of his earthly self for fear he might end up with half a soul. It is a journey fraught with strangeness, but guided by friendly, if overbearingly bright and gentle, creatures.
Love seems to be the end of the journey. Together with silence, it is the perfection found in the heart of the light of eternity. However, it would seem that the brilliance cannot be absorbed in one instance, and man is gently assisted to live in that world, one ‘day’ at a time. But in a world without time, the reader may ask how long it actually takes, and will man eventually reach the state where he can be totally absorbed in light?
As mortals, we may someday expect to walk into the infinite path of eternity. Perhaps a message the reader may gain from this series of stories is that eternity is too bright and overwhelming to take in all at once. We can prepare for it by taking an inner journey that entails: faith that our journey will end with a place in eternity; letting go of our fears, anxieties, and worries; listening to our silence, allowing peace and love into our hearts. However, all this preparation will not necessarily guarantee that we will someday reach perfection. In a world without time, our ultimate journey may begin when we step into eternity and forever move toward perfection, one eternal step at a time. Whether we may ever be totally absorbed in that world or not, that journey will have to start with blindly following that glorious light when it says “Come.”